I’m going into my second year BA Fine Art degree at the University of ***** this following September. I am only really sticking because I have been offered a ERASMUS study abroad for a term.

HOWEVER, I want to pursue a career in product/furniture design (maybe even industrial) as I feel it gives me more of a challenge in collaborating creativity along side technical skill.

Do I have a chance in pursuing this career considering my background is creative but not technical-design focused?

QUALS: ALEVEL Art and Design, Psychology, English Lit and a Foundation Degree.

  • I am considering a Masters in Product/Furniture design but I have no idea in how to get there/produce an appropriate portfolio. (I am familiar with a fine art type of portfolio).

  • I am also attempting to self educate myself through design thinking/manufacturing materials books.

I could do with some truthful answers as to whether or not I can realistically work in that field, even if I study my socks off around my current degree.

Any advice would be really helpful!

What is your current area of study? I only ask because I have a BFA in ID, so if it’s in functional art or something then maybe there might be more transferable studio work than say painting.

A Masters is not a shortcut to a basic design education. In my opinion, an ID Masters should be for more or less experienced Industrial Designers that want to dig deeper into ID and design in general, seeking answers that span wider than the field.
For me actually, my masters was less focused on ID and broadened my horizon in other fields of design. And it was great.
But it was essential that I knew the craft and technique of designing before I embarked on my Masters.

The fact that you are not sure how to put together a portfolio is making me suspect that you are not qualified to get anything useful out of the Masters course. It won’t teach you the basics and you might very well be left in the dust once the curriculum picks up.

My advice would be to get a degree in what you want to work with. Not focus on the prospect of an exchange semester. You are paying for that term by getting a degree in Fine Art that you don’t want to practice.

If you are asking if Fine Art is close enough in order to become a Furniture/Industrial Designer? I’d say no. Supplementing with reading might be helpful and inspiring but it will not make up for actually designing and working with your hands.
Apart from the differences in philosophy and purpose of design and art, it also won’t teach you a lot of the craft that is required and you might miss the network.

This might be the most given advice on these boards: get an ID / Furniture BA if that is what you are passionate about.

Thank you for your advice.

Well I am not concentrating heavily on ID, as I have left it as a suggestion but it is common for Fine Art students to go into Product / Furniture Design. (I have emailed about a potential Masters course to a University and they said that they accept students from a Fine Arts background).
Well in my opinion, a portfolio is simply a collection of your work - I just don’t know about any recommended layouts as my portfolio for university was images positioned on a page. Is a design portfolio much different to this only of numerous sketches and outcomes?

Fine art is very flexible in allowing people to be creative in 3D and still be accepted. I think in this situation, the best solution would be to gain experience of client- and user-focused design processes to get a substantial job in industry. This being through an internship/apprenticeship possibly. I am simply using my degree as time to experiment with materials/whether or not this is a phase or an actual interest … I have never been properly introduced to design until recently so I don’t feel it necessary to quit my degree as such.

Aye, I’ve been looking into site specific artwork and interventions in public space, so this varies across architecture and everyday life - using installations and sculpture.

This is a good idea and in my opinion will bring you more than a Masters degree.

Of course, the discussions about the similarities and differences between Fine Art and Design are as old as Art and Design itself and without knowing your work, it is hard to pass judgment.
I will say however, that traditionally Art and Design are aiming at different targets and spring from different sources.

As a reference for outstanding design portfolios, I’d recommend this thread which should give you a good idea about the structure and layout: Favorite portfolios

Maybe you can post some work here which you would use to apply to internships at Design studios?
It would make it a lot easier to give you a more targeted and educated opinion.

I have recently been in contact with the Graphic Design department at the my university and they have suggested I possibly transfer.

Do you think this is a better option for me? as I would be able to learn and practice a research-based approach to visual ideas?

A design portfolio really shows you can get to grips with a brief and have the knowledge and skills to research and propose a solution for it, and also that you can communicate that proposal effectively. Lots of these things map to art practice, of course, but whole user-focused, user-tested aspect is naturally missing.

I really feel that transferring will definitely offer me more opportunities by the way the design thinking process can be applicable to many aspects in the field. Thus, preparing me with an adequate portfolio for a masters.

If this is still your ultimate goal then I would switch to a Product/Furniture Design degree. I don’t think switching to Graphic would really do much, just seems like a diversion.

Yes it is completely achievable to reach the end goal of Furniture/Product design while not having a degree and being completely self taught but if you’re going to go to school for something, which it looks like you are, do it for something you’re passionate about.

Does your current university have an ID department, or would you have to transfer as well?

ell put, exactly. And how it is in the cases of masters in most any other field. For some reason people think design is different, and some schools will happily take the tuition money.

Playing devils advocate: Although you’ll learn methodologies, you might not get the hands on experience from your graphic design degree.

I thought I might chime in here as I’m currently half way through my Masters in Design (ID Focused) now. There are definitely two streams of people who enter into the MFA program I’m in, one that has a vaguely related to but not design background and the others who have a grounding in design. Personally I have a BFA in ID which I always thought taught me the basic skills but never got to the really deep thought, enter masters.

The other stream seem to be wanting to transfer into design, much easier with Graphic and Interaction, not so much with Industrial. We have a core skillset that most employers want to see, and a masters isn’t going to give you those skills, it will assume you have or are developing them yourself. So I know this is a cliche answer but if you have the drive to self teach what others learn through the course of an undergrad then go for it. In the class around me I see many who make it happen, spend hours sketching after class, take undergrad courses as electives and will graduate with a portfolio that shows the Design skillset and the deep thought of a masters program.

Unfortunately as Yo said, they will take your money and not ground you in those skills, so it is really all on you

Also as a side note the quickest way you can get those skills is going out there and applying them, rarely would I suggest going straight from undergrad to masters, the experience of those years between, even if not directly related, helps.

Thank you for all your replies, much appreciated.

I recently watched ‘Objectified’ and this has made me reconsider my degree at the moment altogether. I am considering applying for UCAS this winter in PD, whilst doing my second year in Fine Art. That way I keep my options open and if I get a place, then the least I can do is try it out.
A few people have said to use my art degree to experiment with that, to finish it because it will open new fields ahead. However, I don’t want to see my university education go to waste when I actually want to learn something significant and useful.
I feel I really like incorporating science alongside art and have previously explored this through psychology, neuroscience and refraction. If I pursue a career in Design, I can still continue with my art in my spare time if I wished.