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Behind the Contest

How was Toyota’s Dream Car Art Contest started, and why?

Toyota held the first Dream Car Art Contest in 2004 ahead of EXPO 2005 AICHI, JAPAN. With rising rates of car ownership in Japan’s Asian neighbors, the contest was intended to give children in these countries and regions an opportunity to share their dreams and hopes for the future of cars.

It was expanded into a global competition starting with the 5th contest in 2011 and 2016 will mark the 10th anniversary of this contest. The number of countries, regions, and participants has grown every year. With a total of three million children from 90 countries and regions participating so far, the contest is drawing greater and greater visibility around the world.

Amazing ideas are born from dreams.

According to Yoichi Miyazaki, Managing Officer at Toyota, “We hold this contest because children are our future, and we want to inspire them and encourage them to be imaginative. Amazing ideas are born from dreams. We hope that drawing their dream cars lets the children not only have fun but also realize how vital their dreams are.”

What kinds of hopes and dreams are expressed in the children’s artwork?
We interviewed one of the participants, Jose Manuel Bastida (Canary Islands, age 13 at the time of his submission). His dream car, the “Toyota Arctic Car,” produces ice and snow by absorbing sea water to regenerate Arctic ice. Jose has always been interested in environmental issues, and he “got the idea when I saw in the news that the Arctic icecap is shrinking.” The drawing took him about two months to complete. “My favorite part is the overall coloring. Also, I like the ice crystals on the back of the car. They were really hard to draw. In order to make the ice look real, I practiced drawing it again and again beforehand.”

Making dream cars a driving force behind engineers’ creativity

The contest starts at the national level with competitions in individual countries and regions. The entries selected there advance to the global contest, and the winners are announced at the global awards ceremony in August.

The global contest’s review committee is chaired by President Akio Toyoda and includes members from Toyota as well as external experts in the arts and automotive sciences. The committee not only evaluates the entries in terms of their composition and use of color, but also examines the hopes and dreams conveyed by the children’s artwork in light of their concepts. The entire review process takes a total of three months.

One of the committee members is Prof. Keiichi Makino, a cartoonist himself and professor at Kyoto University of Art & Design. The 2015 submissions surprised him with their high quality: “All of the entries show exceptional maturity.” Prof. Makino says he was particularly drawn to the unique and creative ideas behind the submissions. He hopes that one day Toyota’s engineers can make the children’s dream cars into a reality. “I think what would make the contest even more meaningful is encouraging engineers to exercise their creativity—exploring how to bring the children’s designs to life instead of dismissing them as technically infeasible.”

Another committee member is Manjot Bedi, a creative director involved in advertising for companies including Toyota. Bedi, too, was awed by the entries. “I’m impressed by the children’s level of thinking. They seem to have identified real-world issues based on their own investigations and reflected those in their artwork. That’s truly amazing! They’re aware of social issues and trying to find their own answers. It’s inspiring to see them come up with their own solutions and share them with the world.”

Bedi also notes that this year’s contest showed a marked increase in submissions tackling problems like linguistic and educational issues, natural disasters, and war. Children around the world appear to be dreaming bigger than ever before.