ID for non-artists?

The quick rundown:
I have a bachelor’s in women’s studies.
I understand (through these forums) that master’s programs (besides Pratt’s) are not as good as getting a bachelor’s in ID.
I have a portfolio that is very graphic design heavy.

Why I think I would be good at industrial design:
I love the problem solving aspect. The logic behind how to create within constraints, especially when considering all eco-aspects of a product, is especially appealing. I want to be able to actually make the inventions that are in my head, as well as improve existing products (cradle to cradle and the design of everyday things were two of my most “a-ha moment” books last year).

Why I think I would not be so good at industrial design:
I have never sculpted, molded, or built anything.
I cannot draw.
The art part is not what draws me to the field.

My questions:
help? I am so lost in trying to figure out where to apply or if to apply (do I take a bunch of city college art classes to get into the “art mood” and then go for a second BA? or just buy some software and a fancy computer and teach myself the basics, try to get an internship, read a bunch of books, etc?) Does drawing and sculpting become easier (through traditional programs–cca’s is my favorite so far–or pratt’s masters)? Without 3d experience, could I even get into a program like Pratt’s?

Would getting a CAD certificate get me in the door (at the base/entry level) of school and/or a design firm?

Is there another way to help create and adjust products without getting a degree in industrial design?

(those who can, do; those who can’t…? consult? watch? envy?)

Thanks for your help.

one way or another you’ll need to draw to do ID, and likely to get into an ID program.

that being said, i believe that sketching/drawing CAN be learned. take classes, practice at home, read books, etc.

if you cant draw, 3D apps wont get you anywhere, fast.

perhaps you may be more interested at an engineering program. mech or other eng could have overlap to your skills (problem solving, etc.), and normally drawing and creative skills are not required in the same capacity as ID.

alternately, you could explore the CAD route and be a draftsperson that is more in the technical side of things rather than the problem solving/creative side.

best of luck,


Show us some examples of this graphic design heavy portfolio, or some examples so people can gauge your sensibilities. The folks around here are visual people.

About the art side of things there are some boundaries that you have to overcome, but it’s not unattainable it just takes time and practice. How long it takes to be proficiently just depends on aptitude. Take a life drawing class at your local community college if you don’t get noticeably better by the end you’ll have a idea were you’re at. You might surprise yourself.

Also with your previous background might mesh well with you.

I came from the same place. In high school they told me I had great left brain problem solving skills, and like you I really fell in love with the problem solving side of I.D.

I couldn’t draw or sculpt or anything, but I was great at autocadd. The first year of I.D. school was all art, I freaked out and I applied for transfer to some Mechanical Engineering schools.

I stuck around for the second year which was the first year of I.D. and by the end I loved it. I spent a lot of time and learned to draw, if you want to do it you can through a 4 year bachlors.

You can do all that extra reading and get internships while your in the program too.

10/04 2nd year

8/06 3rd year

This is a huge red flag because you say you want to build things, but you’ve never tried. You know that famous quote about 1% inspiration, 99% persperation? It’s absolutely true! Browse the Industrial Design portfolios on Coroflot to check out your competition.

But I’m picking up on the fact that what you’re REALLY interested in is a way to make the world a better place through design (ecology, usability etc.) You can still do that without being a “designer.” I think you should explore related support fields, like Design Research, Strategic Planning, Eco-consulting, Usability Engineering etc. It’s a great time to get into these specialties, and you really can make the world a better place through design, without ever picking up a pencil and paper.