Before I.M. Pei, Cesar Pelli and other top architects submit final plans to a client, they hire Los Angeles-based illustrator Carlos Diniz to show the world what their buildings and public spaces will look like. Diniz and his staff of 15 use pen, brush and computer to create seductive renderings of multimillion-dollar projects worldwide; these drawings often determine the client's final selection. "We make pictures to tell the story and to make the project look convincing," he explains.
Phoenix-born Diniz attended Art Center College of Design but switched from industrial design to architecture after visiting Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright's studio in Scottsdale, Ariz. One of his first major jobs, in 1957, was a series of 40 promotional illustrations for an oceanfront development in Laguna Niguel. "I spent the fee on a Ferrari. It wasn't the best way to impress new clients," he recalls ruefully.
Today, architects pay Diniz top dollar to help them win competitions, and developers look to him to win over review boards and potential tenants. To fulfill these expectations, he becomes a member of the design team, fleshing out schematic concepts and animating streets with light and shade and the bustle of human activity. Colleague Jay Vance, a former cartoonist, specializes in drawing figures that look as though they belong there.