Persona: Ivan Shmatov – Audi Sport Designer and Instagram Design Entrepreneur

words: George Achorn, drawings: Ivan Shmatov

Editor’s Note: This article originally ran in the Q2_2021 issue of quattro Magazine. If you would like to subscribe to quattro Magazine, please join Audi Club here.

“If you are passionate, you must do what you love.” It’s a personal credo and something to live by for Ivan Shmatov, a 32-year-old designer on the Audi Design Team. He’s also an auto enthusiast and artist who has also been getting noticed outside of the Audi brand studios on visual-focused platforms like Instagram.

Ivan was born and raised in Moscow, at a time when exposure to any Audi, much less the Audi Design Team studios around the world as he is today, was unlikely at best. Soviet-era cars weren’t exactly cutting edge, but the simplicity helped him get an early start. At the age of just seven, Ivan’s grandfather put him behind the wheel of an old Volga. Throw in some ice to slide on and the car momentarily tilting up on two wheels was probably inevitable. As Ivan grew, his grandfather had a friend who was test driver for Western cars coming into the Soviet Union. That all gained Shmatov further exposure, so his automotive tastes quickly became more worldly, which was probably inevitable as well.

From his grandfather, Ivan got the car bug but it was his grandmother to whom he credits early exposure to design; she was an architectural engineer. He blended these two early interests when he went off to study transportation design at Moscow’s Stroganov Academy for art.

At Stroganov, Shmatov’s skills and inspirations became more refined. A professor at Stroganov had been a student of notable modern artist Wassilly Kandinsky. Kandinsky’s own Moscow background wasn’t lost on Ivan and the artist’s movement into Germany to join Bauhaus is also notable here. Clean, modern, Bauhaus-inspired design has been a guiding theme in Audi design over the years.

The theme with Audi went further than kindred design inspirations. A dean at Stroganov had a friend at Audi Russia. Via this relationship, Ivan met Klemens Rossnagel who traveled the world seeking design talent for Audi. With Shmatov, the Audi designer didn’t see refined skill just yet, but he did see potential. Rossnagel encouraged Shmatov to push harder, helping the young Russian gain some intern work for Audi, something he’d follow with entry into the prestigious European automotive design school Hochschule Pforzheim near Stuttgart. For Ivan, Pforzheim meant an incredible opportunity to hone his skills and Audi remained intriguing. He’d developed a particular appreciation for Bauhaus-inspired automotive designs Audi had become known for – the MK1 TT, C5 A6, and A2. These cars were most fascinating to his eye and he liked the blend of architecture in their designs.

Considering his background, his Kandinsky/Bauhaus inspiration, and his time working for Audi, it seemed kismetic when he ended up living in Münich not far from where Kandinsky resided when at Bauhaus, and of course, when he took a position on the Audi Design Team.

More specifically, he joined the small team of designers dedicated to work with Audi Sport specifically on motorsport subject matter, from race liveries to racecars themselves. Led by Dirk van Braeckel, whose own work includes the iconic Audi 90 IMSA GTO, this group’s competition focus is something we intend to revisit in detail for a future issue.

Outside of work, Ivan’s love of automotive design carries him even further. Over time and in an effort to fuel his own desire to buy a vintage Porsche 911, Shmatov set up an Instagram account @sell_porsche_to_buy_porsche. The name is meant as a literal sharing of his intent to sell drawings in order to save money and buy a G-body Porsche 911 Targa in California. The idea is to drive the car from Los Angeles to New York with his kids, making them part of the process and visiting friends he’s made along the way. Ivan wants to have fun, and he also wants to teach his children that if you have a dream, you set a goal and then go about achieving it.

Ivan’s commissioned work itself is quite unique. This digital side-hustling might seem quite close to the work he does in his day job, but as compared to the state-of-the-art digital processes used at work, Shmatov also calls on traditional skills learned at Stroganov to form these drawings in a quite analog fashion. They are sketched quite ironically “old school” on paper.

When he takes on a job, Shmatov sketches the subject car until he’s happy with his results. Those sketches remain in his sketchbooks; originals Ivan flatly states are not for sale, nor are those books something he’ll ever part with. The form Ivan delivers may vary; typically museum-quality prints though sometimes digital format and even printed in life-size every once in a while. Pricing also varies, depending on time spent or the process and format of the printing.

In the beginning, the focus of his commissioned sketches was mostly Porsche. With Ivan’s goal to buy one for himself, that was the natural starting point. Over time though, the scope of his subjects has grown. He was notably brought back to Audi in this format when he penned an RS2 Avant as part of a series he did for a calendar by JP Performance.

When quattro Magazine approached Ivan to do a story on his passion and the most unique position it has afforded him in the car world, Ivan agreed to do some work specifically for these pages. Of course, focus on the original or “ur” quattro was a must. For that, we wanted to simulate an owner’s commissioning, so turned to Cameron Kendall’s red Group 4 quattro featured in our magazine several years ago (quattro Quarterly, Fall 2018, pp. 26-29).

Worth noting, the subjects don’t have to be vintage. Yes, JP’s RS2 and Cameron’s ur quattro are rad-era classics at this point, but Ivan shares he’s also willing to work on the latest models like the current RS 6 Avant. Having fun is the main thing for Ivan, and of course teaching his kids life lessons with automotive artwork, whether that is seeing him achieve his goal or simply seeing the fire the sketching brings to their eyes. For now, owners interested in commissioning him to draw their cars contact him on Instagram.

Editor’s Note: To listen to the full interview with Ivan, check out the latest episode of Audi Club’s Unfair Advantage Podcast for the full interview.

Listen to the Podcast:

Find Ivan Shmatov on Instagram: