Boys love cars, firetrucks, tractors, and flying machines. John Mellberg designed them.
John won the 2nd National Senior Award in the Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild in 1966, and started his career working at General Motors Design Staff. John is also one of two contacts for the Automotive Design Guild featured on Dean’s Garage. Part One features some of the highlights of John’s career from 1966 through 1983.
1966 Fisher Body Craftsman’s Guild 2nd, Nat’l Sr. award winning entry
John Melberg’s 1966 2nd National Sr. Award winner. Photo courtesy of John Mellberg. John Mellberg wrote, “Becoming a Guild participant opened my eyes to the world of automotive vehicle design, and lead to what has become a lifelong career as a creative designer. The Guild set many of us upon this same journey, and was a great recruiting base for GM Design.”
John Mellberg writes:
“As for the several places I’ve worked at over the years, let me say that each place had its own unique products to be designed, and also challenges to be met, problems to be solved. The one common link between all of them of course is their people. I’ve had the good fortune to work with so many talented people both inside each company as well as design consultants and contracted craftsmen and technicians who all helped contribute to and support project initiatives. Working like this, we all learn from each other. Long term bonds and friendships have grown out of these working relationships that enrich ones life experience. It’s heartwarming to realize the great camaraderie that exists within our profession.
And ‘thank you’ to Gary Smith, speaking on behalf of all my fellow designer friends and colleagues, as we really appreciate your fine website which is devoted to sharing things about automotive design and product design as well. You’re preserving a colorful, exciting, noble and rich profession while revealing its dynamic history for all to see and learn about, especially those with aspirations about becoming designers too!”
1968 Art Institute of Chicago and University of Chicago Graduate, Transportation and Product Design
1968-1972 Sr. Designer, GM Styling: Adv. Pontiac Studio (’68–’70), Chevy Studio No. 2 (’70–’72). Contributed to design of F-Body Firebird concept vehicle, ’7X Pontiac Astra, ’73 Chevrolet Nova SS Hatchback, ’73 Laguna.
“My design career after graduation from The Schools of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago began at General Motors Styling and introduced me to the automotive creative design process, which has served as the foundation upon which all my subsequent work as a creative automotive designer, has been realized.
While at GM Styling I further learned from my peers and from actual applications practice how to visualize 3D automotive shapes and forms, expressing my concept ideas through hand-drawn sketches, full-color renderings, full-size tape layout and airbrushed renderings, supervision of scale and full-scale clay model development, leading to full-scale mock-ups and prototype vehicles.
My contributions and responsibilities involved the visual and verbal communication of my ideas, giving sculptural clay modelers, studio tech engineers and skilled craftsmen sufficient information and guidance for them to translate my ideas and concepts into scale and full-scale 3D sculptured automotive forms, while contributing as a team member collectively focused on accomplishing project goals/objectives established by our Styling Studio CHIEF Designer. Our team efforts were then presented to Executive Design Staff Management for their council, review and final approval.
I’ve successfully used these creative design skill sets and tools learned while at GM Styling as my career has evolved, and continue adding to this design experience base of knowledge.”
A few of John’s “rescued” studio sketches
1972-1983 AG Styling Supervisor, J.I. Case Co.
1990-1993 Managing Designer, Case Corp.
1970s-1990s Airships International
“I worked on and off for Airships International from the late 1970s through the late 1990s. My work was triggered by political/military defense strategies that the Principal at AI had 1st hand information about, and when government funding was allocated to ‘alternate forms’ of defense systems. My work was to support presentations to be made showing various roles a metalclad airship could play in various ‘theatres.’”