2022 was a landmark year for the Porsche 911 RSR. One of the most successful racecars in the company’s history, it raced for the final time as a Porsche works team car in November at the 8 Hours of Bahrain. It was also a big event for the man who designed the livery for its big goodbye, Andy Werner.
The LA-based, German-born artist has become one of the most sought-after designers in the motorsport world in a very short space of time, with helmets and racecar liveries a speciality. Here he talks about his story, his race helmet art and how he designed Porsche racecar liveries.
Designing the liveries for the last ever Porsche 911 RSR
The liveries of the two final works team Porsche 911 RSR racecars for the 8 Hours of Bahrain race are indicative of the trademark style that Andy Werner has created in recent years. They incorporate subtly rendered elements and geometric designs, like the colours of previous 911 RSR racecars – and you can see nods to classic Porsche racecar designs of the past, like the Salzburg and Rothmans liveries – as well as smart typographical details. These include a list of all the works team drivers over the racecar’s ten-year lifespan as well as the word ‘goodbye’ in the languages of the countries where it achieved race wins. It’s a smart mix of unfussy, arresting design and distinctive personal touches that relate to each project.
Andy started out in his working life in Munich, as a designer for design and advertising agencies. But motorsport had always been a big passion of his since a child. Combining his two interests of design and motor racing was his dream, but he didn’t know where to start. So, he started by creating his own concepts.
“When Porsche entered the LMP1 (Le Mans Prototype 1) championships in 2014 with the 919 Hybrid I just made – for myself – some private concept designs,” says Andy. “And I just put it on my website. And that was it. Back then, I had no clue how to use social media to my advantage. You forget that Instagram, Behance and those kinds of platforms were not so big and prevalent back then.”
Designing virtual liveries for eSport racecars
Andy’s concepts were so realistic – involving livery design, sponsors, team branding, race suits and even clothing for the crew – that one person who viewed his website thought they were the real designs for the new Porsche LMP1 team and shared it on Reddit. At which point things really took off. Companies and individuals began contacting Andy about working with him, including teams involved in both the real and virtual racing worlds. It was his work designing the liveries of virtual racecars with top iRacing team, Coanda Simsport, that brought him to the attention of Porsche, who asked Andy to design the liveries for their virtual Le Mans Series race cars in 2020.
One of the biggest goals to achieve in life as a livery designer is to do it for the Porsche team at Le Mans
At a time when the world was locked down, online eSports were the only way to race. Shortly after, Porsche told Andy that they loved his work so much that when the 24 Hours of Le Mans returned to the legendary Le Sarthe track that September, having been postponed by three months, they wanted to put Andy’s designs on the real Porsche 911 RSR racecars that the works team would be sending out for the race.
“It was so crazy,” says Andy. “Huge. That’s one of the biggest goals to achieve in life as a livery designer – doing it for the Porsche team at Le Mans.”
Designing a Porsche racecar livery
Today, young motorsports fans will be excited by livery designs like Andy’s – just like he was when he watched Formula One as a child in the early 1990s. Being wowed by the colours and the patterns of some of the greatest ever racecars were the catalyst for Andy to try his hand at designing some himself. “I was seven in 1993, but even then, when I watched races, I was already focusing on the look of the cars rather than what was actually happening on the track,” he says. “I was fascinated by the branding and why Michael Schumacher’s Benetton had a higher nose than all the other cars, which had downward noses. Those cars are still some of the most beautiful ever made. So, with pen and paper then, I started replicating them as precisely as possible myself.”
Although these days, when it comes to designing a Porsche racecar livery, it’s purely digital for Andy. No pen, no paper. And no iPad or digital pens either. He designs exclusively on his MacBook, with an external GPU for faster rendering of the designs. “I don't even have a mouse or an external monitor. Nothing,” says Andy, as he explains his particular methodology.
“Right from the start I use 3D renderings,” he continues. “That’s because I immediately get a feeling on how it will work from the start and what the reflections will look like when the light connects with the car. Sometimes, if you make a design using a 2D graphic, it may look good there – but when you put it on the car, you realise that it’s totally not working. I’d go for quality over quantity. That means instead of suggesting [to a client] 10 designs, where eight designs don’t work, I prefer to focus on three or four designs using a 3D model.”
Virtual vs real racecar livery design
Having started out his livery design career in the virtual racing world, these days Andy’s work is dominated by work on real racecars. For the most part Andy approaches them in the same way, he says, but there are some important distinctions between the two.
“The process is a little different because when you do something for a virtual car, there are no physical limits,” says Andy. “You have way more freedom. You don’t have to think about where and how the car is stickered on a real car, for example. You will probably notice that virtual liveries look more spectacular and complicated than real life cars.”
The explanation, he explains, is that these stickers add extra weight – which, understandably, isn’t good for racecars, while the shape of real racecars today are “way more complicated” than back in the 1990s, for example. “But I approach virtual livery designs as a great playground to try out design ideas,” says Andy. “I’ll create a design for a virtual team and come up with an idea that I know could translate to a real car. And they can often work much better in reality.”
Andy Werner on race helmet design
While it’s designing Porsche racecar liveries that has brought Andy to wider attention, he is also now making a name for himself in a closely-related discipline – motorsport helmet design. More so than racecar livery designs, which are usually approved by committee, they give Andy the freedom to explore the personality and the interests of the person he’s designing the helmet for. Everybody, he says, is different. Some drivers present him with a very detailed and narrow focus of what they want, others just ask Andy to let his imagination run wild.
“I always like to include small details that relate to the driver on the helmet,” says Andy about his motorsport helmet design. “For example, I’m currently working on a design for the CEO of Singer Vehicle Design. He has four children – three boys and a newborn daughter, called Lily. So, I’ve designed the shape of the boys on the back of the helmet and added a lily flower above it. It was the same kind of detail I put into a helmet for Jenson Button in 2020, after he had a son. Working in this kind of detail is what I really love to do. They may be small, but they mean a great deal to each driver.”
Attention to detail. Adding personal touches. Taking inspiration from history. But always looking to the future. When it comes to motorsport livery – and helmet – design, it feels like Andy Werner is at the front of the grid.