Fireball Tim Lawrence is an amazing artist who has designed cars, boats, planes, and spaceships for about 400 movies, including Batman, Jurassic Park, and Avengers. The team atgot him to take quick break from the drawing board to answer a few questions.
This story originally appeared in R&T Crew, Road & Track’s magazine for kids. For more information,.
How did you get started designing cars for movies?
I went to the ArtCenter College of Design and answered an ad at school that said, “Design a Movie Car!” Little did I know that the sketches I sent in would end up being the design for the Batmobile in the 1989 Batman film. From then on, with the help of my mentor Syd Mead, I was hooked.
How do you come up with such cool-looking ideas?
As an artist, you have to trust those ideas that bubble up inside you. For the Batmobile, “intimidation” was the key to the design. It needed to scare the bejeezus out of the Joker!
What’s the process like for designing a movie car?
I get a script from the movie studio, I make notes on what it needs to do, and then I just start sketching like a madman! Sometimes I make hundreds of sketches. Then I add color with markers and scan everything into the computer to finish and add the flash.
What is something about movie cars that most people don’t know?
That they are just like actors! They can be easy to work with or temperamental. They can be calm and cool or throw a tantrum. In either case, you just have to be patient and tell them that they are doing a good job!
What’s it like when you see one of your drawings come to life?
Oh, it’s the best thing ever. Going to the movies and watching people’s faces as a car jumps a bridge and knowing you were a big part of that? It’s very rewarding.
Which of your designs do you wish you got to keep in your driveway?
That’s a tough one, but certainly the Batmobile. I don’t think anyone’s driveway is big enough for it, though. The muscle car I designed for Son of The Mask was awesome too. It was a Holden Monaro V8 from Australia, and it was fast!
What was your favorite subject in school?
Art was always my favorite in school, but at home, my parents were very good at feeding my passion. I always got die-cast cars like Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Dinkys, and Corgis, and art supplies for birthdays and Christmases. I still do! There’s nothing else I really want. Creative expression brings me the most joy, and I’ll do it forever.
What is your advice to kids who hope to design cars one day?
Start now. Start today doing what you love. Start and don’t stop. Ever.
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