Storyboard: Brad Kappel

Creativity in motion

When I was a kid, my dad was a commercial pilot for American Airlines. I was young and hyperactive with too many ideas bouncing around in my head. To keep me busy, my dad made sure that I knew the models of every airplane he ever flew. This was the first time I remember thinking about an object in motion: something with volume and heft, something that was intricately designed and could move fast, something that looked cool. The bigger and more awesome the plane, the better—that was my philosophy.

After a while, my obsession with planes became an obsession with cars. I still remember when the Dodge Viper came out in the early 90s—it was a momentous occasion for a gear-obsessed kid like me. Soon, I began collecting model cars, taking them apart and then putting them back together. I began to see how all the little pieces fit together. Even with my tiny model car, you could open the doors, pop the trunk, fiddle with the wheels. I could imagine some larger version of it physically occupying a space somewhere.

And so my car mania began. Something was calling to me, beckoning me towards this incredible world of making things. I still don’t know if I’ve ever quite found a word for it.

Before I came to ArtCenter, I worked as both a General Manager and sales manager for automotive companies. It didn’t matter that the job wasn’t necessarily creative—at the time, it was enough for me to just be around the cars. Back then, I had no idea there was a connection between my love for cars and some sort of educational outlet.

ArtCenter taught me all that and then some. I remember first learning about the school when I was doing a Google search on “how to become an automotive designer.” After a few serendipitous clicks, I was eventually led to the ArtCenter website. My eyes went wide with childlike glee when I saw photographs of current students all standing around exquisite looking model cars. “This,” I told myself, “this is where I was meant to be.”

My increasingly busy social life is just one of the many things I’d have to credit to ArtCenter. Nearly every notable situation I’ve found myself in in the last couple of years, whether it be at an auto show or having a “moment” at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, has been made possible by my time spent there. The College will always have my greatest thanks because my teachers and peers provided me with the tools I need to have both visibility and utility in the world. My ability to communicate has also improved immensely: if you present me with a problem, give me thirty minutes and maybe a couple of like-minded individuals to work on formulating a solution, I will get it done one way or another.

Above all, there is a tremendous sense of family at ArtCenter that doesn’t get talked about often. A great deal of the time, it can feel like we’re all chipping away at our own individual pursuits, but the truth is that it’s not just the students and faculty that make up the family here. It’s the people who work in the cafeteria. It’s the groundskeepers who you see on your way to class every day. It’s the people who have made the decision to be here, to be present in the moment, as creatives and as people. I do hope you consider supporting this incredible place and the sense of family and unity that we’ve built here.

Brad Kappel
BS 2016 Transportation Design

My eyes went wide with childlike glee when I saw photographs of current students all standing around exquisite looking model cars. “This,” I told myself, “this is where I was meant to be.”

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