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Issue 10 Issue 09 Issue 08 Issue 07

Outer Circle is Art Center’s alumni publication and features alumni-driven content and stories. Produced by Art Center’s Office of Alumni Relations and the Marketing and Communications Department, the Fall 2008 issue is Outer Circle’s inaugural digital issue.  If you have story ideas for inclusion in future Outer Circle publications, please contact the Alumni Relations office at 626.396.2305 or email alumni@artcenter.edu.


Editorial Director
Vanessa Silberman

Design Director Steve Sieler

Kristine Bowne, Matt O’Brien

Lara Warren, Sasha Watson

Design Paul Gillis

Web site production
Chuck Spangler

Cover Illustration
Josh Cochran, ILLU ‘05

Transportation Design Alumni Profiles

J Mays (TRAN, ’80)

“Design for meaning, not just style.”

The name J Mays often appears on lists of the most influential car designers of our time. Upon graduating from Art Center in 1980, he went straight to Audi Germany. He would spend the next 14 years with Audi, working on vehicles including the Audi 100, the Volkswagen Golf, the Volkswagen Polo and the Audi AVUS concept car. Among the accomplishments for which he’s best known is the Volkswagen Concept One, which was eventually produced as the new VW Beetle. In 1998, Mays joined Ford Motor Company as Head of Design. He leads a team of 1,400 people as he oversees the seven brands: Aston Martin, Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercury and Volvo.

What led you to a career in transportation design?

I was doing so poorly in journalism school at the University of Oklahoma that I had to find another profession. By complete accident, I found out there was a place you could go to learn to draw cars, and that grown men could actually get paid to do this.

What do you see as your most exciting career achievement?

I’d say surviving is my most exciting career achievement. I’ve been in the auto industry for 28 years—it’s hard to believe—and I’ve had the opportunity to work on some wonderful cars. But the growing process of going from Art Center to Audi, and helping to be a part of the team that created the design DNA that’s still on the road at Audi and then being given the opportunity at Ford Motor Company to be responsible for seven fantastic brands… That was an unbelievable milestone in my career, too.

Where do you see transportation design going?

It’s very easy to see that we’re going to be driving considerably more fuel-efficient cars in the next 5-10 years. That mindshift has finally taken hold in the U.S. in the last few months. Though we know how to design fuel-efficient cars in Europe, now we’re going to be able to do it in the U.S. A smaller, fuel-efficient vehicle in the U.S. will be a different animal. Europeans drive from point A to point B, while Americans live in their cars.

Luciano BoveNikolai CornellHerald BelkerMarek DjordjevicChristophe DupontRon HillJoshua HoffeldGeza LocziJ MaysStd MeadShiro NakamuraDavid O'ConnellFrank SaucedoAi SuEric TothDoug Wilson