Is a career in design right for me?

What does it take to be a designer? I’m an English undergrad, but I have a real passion for design and I want to know whether industrial design would be something I could be good at. What sort of qualities should a designer possess and what kinds of things should I expect?

This, as I am sure you already suspected, is a very difficult question to answer.
ID and Design in general is a very diverse field and it is next to impossible to tick off a list and tell you what it takes to become a successful designer.

Design is not like accounting, where you could argue that given that someone is good with numbers, hence he would have a knack for accounting.
Some might say that you have to be able to express yourself through sketching, be creative and have a strong aesthetic sense or be able to solve complex problems in simple ways.
But truth be told, all these things can be learned and nobody truly knows where ones talents lie before entering a program.

What I would advice you to do is to find the nearest college that offers an ID program and talk to faculty, students and staff to find out more and get a sense of the field.

However, what definitely can be said is that it will take a lot of time, effort, determination and a decent amount of luck to make it. It is by no means a casual career.

On the first day of class in ID foundation when I was a student (after we set up our mayline parallel rules… Google it) the head of of the department addressed the class and said:

“There are designers and connoisseurs of design. Both of them love design, but only one group is good at it. If you are a connoisseur, we thank you for you patronage but the door is behind you. In this department we teach designers.”

It was a rough opening statement but a true one. For some, no matter how hard they worked or how much they loved design, they were just not designers.

So here is a checklist. You might be a designer if:

  • You buy something just to take it apart.

You spend hours aimlessly wondering around hardware stores just looking at fasteners.

The first thing you do when you pick up something is say a way it could be better.

You compulsively draw things from you imagination to the point where others think it might be a problem.

You just know how to fix stuff, hack stuff, and jerry rig things.

When you see a piece of furniture you love, your first reaction is not to compliment it, but to say “I bet I could make that cheaper” then you do.

You have 3-5 unfinished projects in various states.

You can quote just about any line from Star Wars Episodes IV - VI.

You know what “Ironman CAD” is.

You know at least 3 of the following people or companies: Jonnathan Ive, James Dyson, Muji, Raymond Lowey, DWR, Herman Miller, Eames, MacGuyver.

You own old things that don’t work just because you like them.

You don’t read directions.because you can figure it out.

You build stuff.

You find the show “How Stuff Is Made” interesting.

A conversation with your friends sounds like a Top Gear episode.

If you have about a half dozen of those traits, you may be a designer. The only way to find out is to jump in both feet. Be poster said it well, it is not a casual career. There is no dabbling.

for the win

nice read for a Friday morning before my day goes crazy.

If you have a real passion, there shouldn’t be a question. You’ll hate everything else.