Recap: IDSA Michigan's Sketch Battle Royale 2019


On November 15, 2019, IDSA Michigan hosted a Sketch Battle Royale at Western Michigan University's Richmond Institute for Design and Innovation in Kalamazoo, MI. The evening united more than 60 designers, students and creatives across discplines for a rousing game of player versus player combat to be the last one standing. Ten surprise rounds of sketching and prototyping, each lasting about five minutes, yielded an outpouring of creativity and memorable experiences for all in attendance.


"There was a high level of excitement that was caused by the spontaneous nature of the event," says Todd Kauranen, IDSA, organizer and chair of the IDSA MI chapter. "The unknown subject matter and material at the beginning of each round leveled the playing field among professionals and students alike."

Voting took place after each round, culminating in first, second and third place winners. One vote per person, per round was cast using small Post-Its stuck to the wall, with organizers assigned to tally for accuracy. The topics and materials for each round varied wildly, with competitors whipping their pieces together with scrap materials, sharpies, paper and multi-paneled storyboards.

"Subject matter heavily relied on divergent thinking and brought forth some really creative ideas that ignited a playful atmosphere," Kauranen recalls.

Once competitors made it through the first and second rounds, people loosened up and really put their hearts into the event. Smiles and laughter ensued throughout the entire evening."

Indeed, the rounds ran the creativity gamut, from "designing a travel mug" using paper and tape to "blind sketching" on whiteboards to drawing a selfie on butcher paper on the floor from a standing position, using a three-foot dowel rod with a sharpie tied to the end.

"It's not often that design students have an opportunity to network with students from other schools, especially to be creative," says Jon Maroney, industrial design program chair at Kendall College of Art and Design, Ferris State University. "It's great for them to see how unique each student really is in their own style of creativity and communication."

First-place winner Luke Hedman, who teaches Product Design Engineering Technology at FSU, also recognized the event as an opportunity for students to broaden their skill sets. 

"Our program places strong emphasis on sketching as an engineering design tool," he says. "I think that there is a misconception among engineers that sketching is an optional skill, but it is actually the fastest way to work through a design problem. Most engineers do not realize that sketching is not about art; it is about visual communication. Any thought can be made better by discussing it with another person, and a design is just a thought that also has a shape. 

The Sketch Battle Royale was an absolute blast. I will definitely be participating again in the future, and next time, I am going to bring a team with me."

1st - Luke Hedman, Assistant Professor at Ferris State University
2nd - Jarod Lawrence, industrial design student at Kendall College of Art and Design
3rd - Ben Zeiderveen, industrial design professional at DISHER

1st - Mr. Coffee Pour Over Coffee Maker 
2nd - KitchenAid Coffee Maker
3rd - KitchenAid Stand Mixer 

Prize bags with Copic marker sets, hardbound and softcover sketchbooks, candy and IDSA swag

Photos courtesy of Todd Kauranen and WMU.