Good designers follow the rules. Exceptional designers know when to trust their instincts. David Byron took this advice to heart as a student and continues to pass it on to his students today. His widely acclaimed S5S Raptor concept is proof that a designer’s vision should not be compromised.
“I remember hearing one of my professors say, ‘I am being paid to be a designer; I should be a designer,’” said Byron. “This makes sense. You as the designer should be the one making the design decisions. If you can survive CCS’ rigorous transportation design program, you are more than qualified. Criticism should never stand in the way of your vision.”
Byron is the design director at Saleen. In this position, he designs as well as plays an active role in the administrative and product planning aspect of the company. He moved into this position in June (2009) after spending two years as a senior designer at ASC (American Specialty Cars) assigned to Saleen projects.
“When I first hired in at ASC in 2004, I worked primarily on General Motors projects,” explained Byron. “Then the opportunity arose to design the Raptor—every inch of it. I used a pencil and paper to sketch out the concept, took the idea on screen to add a third dimension and shaped a clay model. From this model, Saleen manufactured the Raptor for the New York International Auto Show. I supervised the entire process… This vehicle became my ‘claim to fame’ and helped me land the job as design director.”
Other vehicles designed by Byron include the 2006 Malibu SS and 2008 Buick LaCrosse. He recently worked on the body and interior of the Saleen S281, a highly stylized Mustang.
“There’s nothing like seeing a car you designed driving down the road,” said Byron. “It’s what excites me as I go into work every day, eager to design something new.”
Byron considers CCS the start of his career. Student projects, such as the GM Autonomy and Lexus LX SUV, provided him with real world experience, and encouragement from professors provided him with inspiration.
“I remember one my instructors, Ralph Gilles, saying that it’s not following the rules that sells cars; it’s getting consumers to feel the emotions—the cool factor,” said Byron.
The designer returned to CCS in 2008 to teach digital visual communication, which covers color, rendering, drawing and using industry software (PhotoShop and Sketchbook). He also teaches workshops as part of the National Fine Arts Festival, organized through the Assemblies of God.
“Each year about 32,000 students compete to take part in the festival,” said Byron. “This year it was held in Orlando. I enjoy having the opportunity to share a little about my career with upcoming designers. Hopefully I’ve inspired them as much as they inspire me.”
- Graduation Year: 2004
- Employer: Saleen (Troy, Michigan)
- Title: Design director
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