Clark Lincoln’s jaw-dropping illustrations were an inspiration to me in terms of technique, composition, and design. I spent many years in Buick Exterior I studio, and it was there that I believe we worked together for a short time.

He definitely influenced my rendering style. Most designers used markers and chalk on vellum, not bond paper.  But over time I developed a variation of Clark’s technique on bond. One thing for sure. You needed a fresh $300 set of Berol Prismacolor markers to attempt to emulate Clark’s marker technique.

Before I left GM in 1988, Clark’s Alias renderings were starting to show up. They were outstanding. I wanted very much to learn Alias, but I never got the chance. —Gary


My Career

by Clark Lincoln

I hired in at GM Design in ’69, having an offer from both GM and Ford following a couple of years in an ID Studio in Detroit doing product design. This was my first design job after I returned from Viet Nam. I served four years or so after graduating (MA Industrial Design)) from Michigan State in ’62.

My first three years were working in experimental interior design under Jim McCormack. After a short break from GM to go into my wife’s family business (which was a mistake) I came back and was put into exterior working with Phil Garcia (“El Piloto”) in one of the Advanced Studios. I did spend a few months working with Wayne Cherry at Vauxhall sometime during the late ’70s.

Then in the early ’80s I was promoted to Assistant Chief Designer in Pontiac Studio with Terry Henline to be followed several years later by a promotion to Chief Designer of one of the Advanced Studios. It was in this position that I was given the assignment to work with the Canadian company Alias to develop a new product they created to provide studio designers a user friendly 3D CAD system. This was a very interesting and, as it turned out, very far reaching project as today this system is used world wide in design studios.

About 1996 I was transferred to Truck 1 Studio as Chief Designer, where I remained until I retired in 2001. We did the full size pickups for Chevy and GMC—the moneymakers for the corporation.

All through my career, design concept presentation was very important to me. It was not enough to just draw a great design, it had to be presented in a compelling way. This was mainly important, so I felt anyway, to get the attention of the bosses during a review. I remember one thing I worked out that really worked well was to work small on typewriter size bond paper with ball point pens and markers. This way when the boss came in and looked at all the design renderings, they had to walk up and lean in to see my stuff rather than stand back indifferently and scan a bunch of large pieces. You KNEW they were looking at your stuff! A little ego stroke that we all needed.

You can see this technique in several of the pieces attached here. The most evident is in the Cadillac V-16 sketch.

Photos and text provided by Clark Lincoln. Printed by permission.


  1. Juergen Stoldt

    I had the pleasure working with Clark on a Pontiac project at Opel Styling in Germany and occasional in the studios at GM Design and learned that Clark was more than just a great designer. He understood the whole process of car design and recognized and appreciated the talents of others involved in designing a car like the engineers and sculptors. It was a pleasure working with him. Juergen Stoldt

  2. Tony Miller

    I’d never seen Clark’s work before. He has a beautiful and unique rendering style.

  3. I remember being so impressed with Clark’s work at GM. It is great to see some of those fantasic pieces of automotive art. Thanks Gary!

  4. Dave Maurer

    What a blast from the past! I had the good fortune of working with Clark one summer during college at that “ID office in Detroit” he mentions. Sounding more like a law office than a design studio; the firm was called Wilson, Hopkins, Fetty and Kitts. I spent the entire summer designing tire treads and aftermarket wheels. While drawing tire treads wasn’t my idea of a dream assignment, Clark was a natural born mentor and convinced me that what I was doing was really important. It was a great summer!

  5. Dennis F. Otto

    Very nice renderings; he certainly studied Syd Mead’s composition style and then adopted it into his own format. Nice! I too mostly used bond in lieu of vellum; far more permanent back in the days when I used Ad Markers, long before my CAID software was created. DFO (ACCD 1-74)

  6. David Karpik

    Clark truly could pen emotion; ideas just seemed to come alive. I had the great pleasure of working with Clark on non-automobile projects like the Manta and BLADE snowmobiles. One thing was foresure his designs were always based around the mechanical side of the vehicle, meaning they were renderings that actually could be produced. And yes, he is a great mentor and friend.

  7. Donald Young

    As his nephew I treasured his drawings and coveted them as a teenager. His drawing of the futuristic car with fighter jet in background I received from him as teenager (late 70’s) and still have. His love and skill for dirt and trial motocross for years and of course race car design, building, and still racing today is a testament to his purity and love for the elegant machines and his “hands on” design. From the Italian scooter and early hot rods he was breaking down and building I saw from pictures as him as a teenager to race cars built from molds in his garage at his house in Michigan post retirement, he lives and breathes his designs.

  8. Pete Petersen

    Clark is a technology adopter, was a great boss and a talented designer !

    I enjoyed working for him while I was at General Motors.

  9. John Manoogian II

    Clark was an inspiration for those of us that worked with him. His work always got my attention.
    Thanks Gary, for showing his work.

  10. This is simply outstanding! I have always marveled at how the masters of design back in the 50’s and 60’s were able to create compelling designs not just from an aesthetic standpoint but by effective story telling.

    It’s in such a class of it’s own and a pleasure to go through these articles. So thankful to Gary Smith for putting a site like this together!

    Highly inspirational to get access to the brilliant minds of our time.


  11. Charlie

    Just discovered Clark’s work to-day I am happy to have had the opportunity to see his work. The above renderings are immediately identifiable with many of to-day’s cars and how interesting to see that Clark is also an aircraft designer 🙂 Wonderful renderings and I assume they were all done using ballpoint and markers. Excellent daraughtsmanship. Love this stuff.

  12. Phillip E. Payne

    Death of a computer has delayed my visiting Dean’s Garage as frequent as desired. What a delight to find this coverage of an excellent designer now that my computer lives again.

    I was unaware of Clark Lincoln, as he me, during our careers and that’s the downside of being so sequestered inside the styling studio confines of competing

    Clark’s work is superb. His designs are top notch and easily understood by his strong talents of illustrating and presenting. Clark’s intuitive graphic sense is obvious in each sketch, further captivating the attention of management during reviews, I’m sure. I especially love the graphics displayed in the beautiful Hawk design illustration.

    Bravo, Clark!! Wish we had bumped into each other during our careers.

    Phil Payne

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