Rochester Hills resident Paige Webb was a junior at Stoney Creek High School when she first heard about a General Motors (GM) program teaching high school students about automotive design. A year later, she took third place in a national vehicle design contest held by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) on what a future Dodge vehicle may look like.
"I have always been creative and done sketching, but I had an art teacher who told me to join GM's 'You Make A Difference' program. They accept about 30 students who have to send their artwork. If they see a baseline of skill, then the designers teach you how transportation design works," she said. "I decided to try it out, and luckily I got in. It was a really cool experience. After that ended, I heard about the FCA’s "Drive for Design' competitions, and took what I learned from GM to that."
Launched in 2013, the FCA contest allows U.S. high school students in grades 10-12 to enter their own designs on what a new performance Dodge may look like 30 years in the future. The submissions must be original work of the artist, with winners winning potential scholarships, special design courses at Lawrence Technological University, and other prizes. Entries are judged by FCA designers, who consider craftsmanship, design quality, illustration and originality.
Webb's design was one of three winners selected in the contest, behind a teen from Macon, Georgia, and another from Delmar, Delaware. As the third-place winner, Webb received an iPad Pro and Apple 2 Pencil, for sketching and drawing; a two-week design course at Lawrence Tech, and special attendance to the Eyes On Design car show.
"When I draw, I like to use speed form, which isn't exactly vehicles. They are forms of lines that look fast and moving. So, I sketch brief speedforms – just movement on paper – and add Dodge to it," she said. "For me, I saw that blood orange and this mean face of Dodge. I take those shapes and add a speedform to it and make a realistic vehicle out of it. Then I sketched it, scanned over it, and it's a new form and something that doesn't exist."
The design is a blend of a sleek coupe that maintains the image of a classic muscle car of the future, rather than an out-of-this-world sports prototype.
"It's not forever in the future, so I didn't want to make something too crazy," she said. "It's fun to come up with futuristic vehicles, but I learned a lot about sticking to existing criteria."
Her idea in some of the angles and classic Dodge orange color was to create something new that still evokes a Dodge design. The approach, she later learned, is one that designers typically incorporate to maintain signature brands.
Today, Webb is attending Oakland University and plans to continue a college path and career in automotive design.
"To be honest, I had no idea what I wanted to do (before)," she said. “I was just going through school and working on art skills in general and not knowing where to apply."
Outside of her studies and design, she enjoys sketching landscapes and other designs, writing and reading. Her art has also been on display at Rochester's Dessert Oasis Coffee Roasters.
"I like to do work that is in front of me," she said. “I just look around and sketch."
Photo: Jean Lannen