How does a Graphic Designer get into Industrial Design?

I’m currently a fourth year student at the Memphis College of Arts in Memphis, TN. My major is Design Arts with a concentration in Graphic Design. I’ve recently become very interested in industrial and product design as well as non-web interactive design. However the curriculum at my school is (supposedly) based off of the old Bauhaus methods and the head of the graphic design department who is also the only teacher of the required design courses at the school is very closed minded about what design is and especially what good design is. The focus of the program is centered mainly on print and the majority of that is handmade book formats. I feel like my creativity and affinity towards technology and new design is being stifled in this program, so I am looking outside of school for ways to get into the industrial design community.

I have no desire to change my major at this point, but if anyone has any suggestions for ways I could begin to shift my discipline and career path towards the industrial and interactive side of design it would be much appreciated. I don’t know where to start. I feel as though I need to develop my skills as well as develop connections in the field.

I understand that industrial design often requires expensive industry standard equipment and processes to complete final realizations of designs. How do students of industrial design normally create portfolio pieces? (I see a lot of 3-D modeling out there. But do students normally have final physical pieces in their portfolios? Should I invest in taking a 3-D modeling class?)

I’m just searching for resources that can point me in the industrial design direction. Any information would helpful.

Before you can even hope to do any designing or modelling in 3D, you should ask yourself: “Can I think in 3D?” Can you vizualize an object in your head and then rotate it around and understand it’s form?

If you can’t think in the Z plane, I’m not sure I’d advise trying to work in it.

This is not a fleeting whimsical interest in industrial design. I do have experience in working in 3-D, but I consider myself on a beginner level. Some of it is more sculptural, but I do have experience in industry standard processes such as CNC and Laser technology. I can easily visualize things in 3-D space, and physically making them is only limited by my resources. My 3-D modeling experience is where I am lacking. The only program I am familiar with is Google Sketch-Up which I know is a very simple and stripped down program.
Therefore I am asking for information (blogs, articles, exercises) that will help me to move more into the industrial field.

Actually you need not worry about X,Y,Z AXIS at all…
We designers shouldn’t be worrying about stuff like that when it comes to designing, as you can learn and improve it along the way.

Industrial/Product Design isn’t all about visualizing in 3D, perhaps i would put in this way,Industrial/Product Design is all about your IDEAS which makes your product a good or a bad product.
Ever wonder how Designers deal with 3D modeling in the past without 3D CAD programs?
But we do have wonderful masterpiece that existed since then till now, such an irony isn’t it?

Well, but if you really need to know about the list of programs we use to do 3D modeling:
Autocad,Solidworks,3D Max,Rhino,Google Sketch etc.

The way about to design a product is all up to the designer, there isn’t a rule on how you should go about it at all.
So no worries, you can start designing a product even if you’re a graphic designer. :smiley:
If you’re good in sketching, you could even sketch out a 3D Product of your Design, that would WOW people even more ey… :!:

The reason why we developed or create a life model of our design is to test the product. For example to see how it feels when handling the actual product and more. It all boils down on what your aiming in your design and what is your design for…(there’s more to it, i can go on all day…haha)

When your design comes to a stage where you want to make a model/mock-up/prototype, then you could ask some experience people to guide you on it, i bet Core77 have plenty of info on it as well. :wink:

Before you even start thinking about learning a 3D software (which is not really needed for you to start exploring ID) I would encourage you to put pen to paper and start sketching. Sketch what you see around you, pick a product and explore how you can make it better, pick a problem and explore how you can solve it through design. ID is not really about learning some fancy software, it is about solving problems through design. If you can apply design to problem solving you are on your way to ID.

Now what do I suggest you focus on to get into ID? I would say start with packaging. Packaging is a great mix of ID and GD all wrapped up in one. A great package needs great graphics but will not work with out a great structure to go along with it. There are very few graphic designers that can think in both realms. Most wait for someone to give them a structure and then they apply graphics to it based on what the structure guys tell them. If you can master how to visualize a final package both structurally and graphically, how it will appear on shelf, and how it effects the user both emotionally and physically, you can them move to consumer products.

Just my two cents. Hope this helps.

Actually you need not worry about X,Y,Z AXIS at all…
We designers shouldn’t be worrying about stuff like that when it comes to designing, as you can learn and improve it along the way.

Industrial/Product Design isn’t all about visualizing in 3D, perhaps i would put in this way,Industrial/Product Design is all about your IDEAS which makes your product a good or a bad product.
Ever wonder how Designers deal with 3D modeling in the past without 3D CAD programs?
But we do have wonderful masterpiece that existed since then till now, such an irony isn’t it?

Perhaps I wasn’t clear when I said you need to think in 3D - I’m not talking about deciding which software you are going to use and maybe which tools in the software will get a nice model of the form you have in your head. What I mean by thinking in 3D is having that form in in your head in the first place.

As to ID not being all about visualizing in 3D – I’m not sure I follow you. Please elaborate

Thinking in 3D is only one part of ID. Like I mentioned in my previous post, ID is about problem solving. Whether it is a product, a process, or an interface these are all areas where ID can be applied. Yes I agree you need to be able to think of the form of any object, but this is something that one can learn with experience.

If understanding three dimensional form and space is something that can be learned over time - so be it. I can’t speak to that. I suppose I was always lucky enough to be able to do it naturally. I can’t even imagine how hard it would be for someone who doesn’t have that ability - if that is indeed the case, my hat’s off to those who had to learn it over time.

I absolutely agree that packaging design would be a great segue from graphic design to industrial design.

My point is that you did learn it through observation and practice. You probably started as a kid drawing different objects, eventually learned how to draw in perspective, and so on. This is what I am referring to. With great practice and observation I think this could happen. Now this is based on the assumption that the poster has basic design skills such as sketching skills, composition skills, etc…

I do how ever agree that most of us this comes naturally.

to everyone who has replied: thank you very much for the input. :slight_smile: I will take your suggestions and run with them!

Sorry I didn´t read all the well intended bibble babble of fellow designers about
what it takes to be an industrial designer, but what me strikes in your first post
is the shallowness of the design lecture you mentioned. Perhaps you should edit
out the name of the exact institute you are attending. But what is far more important, if it
really doesn´t offer anything beyond BAUHAUS (which is save starting ground),
you should run with your money, as it won´t make you a graphics designer as
well.

Are your peers after that school employed as designers? It might not be that
bad then…

Perhaps I wasn’t clear when I said you need to think in 3D - I’m not talking about deciding which software you are going to use and maybe which tools in the software will get a nice model of the form you have in your head. What I mean by thinking in 3D is having that form in in your head in the first place

Hi there skyarrow,
Perhaps you get me wrong as well, i’m not talking about what programs makes a good product rendering. I was emphasizing on what makes Industrial Design/Product Design. Let me post to you a friendly question, before you get to the part of " 3D form in mind " , please do share with me the process of how your ideation goes, how do you get to that part of “3D form in mind” to be exact. You definitely have to sort out the problems of the product before you go into the form you had in your mind, without the process of problem solving, your product would be just another “duplication” of the rest.

" Problem solving " of what package ID had mention is also a part of the process in Industrial Design. If i can visualize a complex 3D form in mind but yet playing no purpose of solving the problem of the product itself, then i guess it would just be a waste of time or effort. Definitely i would not deny that by being able to visualize in 3D is important, but as i’ve mention you can learn it through time & practices. By the way, i assume that 3D animators do acquire skills of 3D Visualization as well, but is that all about Digital Animation ? Perhaps not… :slight_smile:

Unless you’re trying to say visualizing the problem in your head, where leads to the technical part… perhaps that is what you meant ? ( by not being able to visualize in your head, you won’t be able to sketch it out ? ) is that what you meant ? :slight_smile:

No, I am not happy with the current program at my school. That is why I am seeking out advice and direction outside of the classroom. I understand that if I limit myself to the projects assigned at my school, and never look out into the rest of the world and what everyone else is doing, I will never be able to call myself a designer of any kind, or at least not a good one.

But my school’s problem’s are not the reason I posted this thread. I’m coming here as an individual who is looking to better herself as a design and shift her career path towards something more compelling than hand-binding books with abstracted nonsense imagery inside. I provided the information about my school to give some background information about my skills in both disciplines.

And most of my current classmates have or have had jobs or internships as designers, including myself. As for those I know out of those who have graduated, some of them are doing very well while I’ve heard of others having trouble getting a job.

there’s an immediate need for graphic designers in ID firms, and corporate design houses. you could get a job and migrate over time.
A few things like product graphics need specific materials and process information you didn’t get in GD classes. you may try to pick those up first.

hi jlego,

i am a recent graduate in industrial design. i just wanted to say you should try to get an internship in industrial design! i think this will answer most of your questions and it’s the only way to find out if you like working in the field of industrial design. so you can find out if it’s worth learning all these tools. i think it’s always difficult to get your first job after studying so do your best and don’t think about that too much :slight_smile: .

A lot to read through, I tried to skim most of it.

I’ll just say, from a very pragmatic point of view, why would a corporation or product design consulting group hire someone trained as a graphic designer as an industrial designer when their a good supply of talented trained industrial designers?

It’s all about the work though, so post your portfolio. It will help guide the conversation.

The most straight forward way is to get a trainee job in a model building company. One which manufactures 3D objects for architects and prototypes. You will learn about the materials, the equiptment, see and use the 3D packages, meet and talk with the right people to learn from. After a year of that you will have a sense of direction.

I work on computer but spend an enormous amount of time working with my hands. Drawing and painting things that I see in 3D in my head. Doing illustrations for commercials and billboards. I started in 3D model building and branched out but still do 3D work. There are many 3D model building houses in the USA and in Europe who still flourish and produce great work despite the dirth of 3D modeling programmes.

HI

ID workfield is quite big so there many directions to go.

In my exprerience:
The key is to solve problems and ask right questions. What is the essence of each project and major factors affecting it. In industrial design you must sometimes be able to make compromises and balancing the final outcome. You must be also able to handle many variables and deal with lots of uncertainty. It really helps if you can understand the “whole” manufacturing process of your client etc. As time goes on you have more experiece and things arent that painful :slight_smile:

If I would have graphic design background I would probably concentrate on UI design. And the whole 3d field is there because it “helps” you to create products not 3d-models.

BR
JK

Great question. I asked the same thing 5 years ago and was told that there was no connection at all, completely different animals. After going back to school for 4 years and getting a degree I can honestly say that I spoke to the wrong people. The two are definitely different animals but related and there are many things that are transferable.

Sketching is a definite necessity, as is doing research (no need to recreate the wheel - but improve it, yes). As for software, it’s ridiculously expensive to purchase, steep in the learning curve (speaking of SW and Alias) and not very intuitive. That said, it is amazing what can be done with it and if you get a chance to pick up some skills they will go a long way.

Best bet - sketch, sketch and sketch some more.

Good luck.

hi

also, an understanding of ergonomics would help