Scratch this itch outside a career?

It’s long story but basically I have a place at Central St Martin’s to do the Product Design BA which, it’s slowly coming to bear, I don’t think I’ll be able to take up because I can’t afford it and I can’t get loans (it would be my second degree- another latecomer to ID here). I want to study ID because I want to make things and help people. I’ve read these boards a bit and it really looks like you can’t get into a 9-5 without formal training. Dream over!

That said, I’ve just finished ‘Daily Rituals’ about artists, writers etc and the meat and potatoes of when in the day they wrote or painted or so on- it’s a collection of daily routines. Quite a few had full time jobs, and wrote or painted on the side until they could do it full time, if they ever could. I’ve always been under the impression that having a creative career, full time, is a pipe dream anyway (maybe this is a corollary of growing up dirt poor- ‘you go into a secure profession, gotdammit!’- is always ringing round my head). My plan is now to see if I can manage to study abroad, or just keep this as a hobby, and maybe I’ll manage to get something into production in ten years time through a kickstarter or something like that. Maybe I’ll design something for schoolkids that you can just print off at school. Maybe I’ll go into software and make something free to download.

What was the kicker, for those of you who decided to take the plunge, that ID had to be full time? Can you ever get anywhere working on your own time like this?

Your comment/question was a bit confusing.
Don’t think of design as Art but rather as a business. You will be taking direction, comments, constraints, limitations, deadlines, etc. from clients. Making something great & successful takes years of education and years of experience.
ID was a no brainer. You get to design and get paid to do it. A lot of designers do it on their own as freelancers but that’s usually after a few years of experience.
It sounds like you’re trying to avoid life. Working 9-5. Successful people work more than 8 hrs a day. Entrepeneurs/inventors usually have a 9-5 job and work on their passion on the side until it can generate the necessary income.
What was your first degree on?

Thank you for replying. My first degree was in History. What do you mean when you say it sounds like I’m trying to avoid life? Not computing that part. I have a 9-5, work at a gallery on the side and do odd jobs as well if that clarifies anything

First, there is a large difference between work and a hobby.

Next, there is a large difference between industrial designer and entrepreneur.

If you want to do ID as a hobby, don’t expect to make any money, expect to lose money.

If you plan on a Kickstarter or launch anything, expect ID to be about 2% of your time.

That said, after a 40+ year career in ID, I do plan on designing and making stuff in retirement. As a hobby. I stand a 50/50 chance of not losing money.

Thank you, I’m not in this for the money so that part is ok by me.

Sorry, a bit harsh on my part but your comments were all over the place.

If you want to make things and help people then volunteer at Habitat for Humanity. The realistic truth is that a lot of ID jobs are about helping the client make money not just helping people.
An artist or writer creates for themselves hoping a client will eventually pay for their specific work. A designer gets paid to meet the clients goals.
You can’t afford ID so your plan is to study abroad? Is it free over there?
There’s professional people with kickstarters that fail…you think you have a better chance by keeping it as a hobby?
Maybe you’ll go into software? So is software your backup plan? What happened to ID?

It just sounds like you don’t know what to do. And then you take for granted the education needed for ID or Software programming, almost like wanting the ideal job with a good income without doing the legwork. I get the impression that even if you studied ID you would find it “not what you expected” and would start to look for another career.

If you want to do something creative, try Etsy or Shapeways. If you are passionate about ID then find an affordable school and move there and get a part time job doing something or as a tutor. If you are good, then maybe you don’t have to put in the 4-5 years needed and you can start your business or get an ID job before graduating.

I appreciate that my first post was vague- I’ve been thinking & working on this for years and the whole situation is tied up with a lot of personal and financial stuff that didn’t seem appropriate for the board, so I kept it out, but I think it’s caused this confusion. Basically I was all set to embark on a second degree & work my way up but a parental bereavement changed that, in the least of ways, financially. There is other stuff with health and family etc which basically means I can’t do an ID bachelors without making my remaining parent’s life very difficult, into retirement even, because of the finances and family history involved. I’m looking for higher paid jobs, but in the meantime I’m trying to think, Can I justify this really? Is there a way I can do what I came to be interested in ID for, without a degree? What do I really actually want? As vague as it was, I am getting answers out of this thread.

Also yes they are much cheaper abroad- Eindhoven is about £1,500 for the whole course, compared to £27,000 in the UK. I want to learn, hence the degree place, so I’m willing to put in the hours to learn software, woodworking- to be terrible and keep going and be frustrated and all of it- my first degree was not a walk in the park- I’m just racking my brains thinking about what else I can do.

Forgot to add- looked up working part time in Eindhoven to pay for living costs and student rents are way too high to be working part time, with tax deductions on top, let alone getting the amount of necessary hours on a student visa

Sometimes writing things down helps you sort through your thoughts. Sorry about your loss.
So what happened with your history degree? Doesn’t pay enough, you don’t like it?
Don’t know how hard things are health wise & financially (and I don’t expect you to elaborate) but is it worth it or feasible to pursue a second degree?
Maybe try to get a job with a good pay and work on the weekends and at night on ID. There are plenty of books and youtube videos explaining the profession.
Good luck and I hope you can find some answers to help guide your decisions.

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fwiw, ID certainly can be an apprentice trade. That happens to be pretty rare, but I have seen it (not personally).

And for some reason the thought bunches the undies of recent grads.

I am curious to see if the OP made any progress with this and if there is any other advice out there.

My story is similar, I studied (undergrad and postgrad) in finance/business and I am now looking at a career change to ID. Given financial and time issues (I am mid 30s), the idea of needing to study 4 years (standard for ID in Australia) before then starting again at the bottom is difficult for me - particularly given the need to either work only part time for 4 years or take substantially longer to graduate.

Ideally, I would prefer to enter the industry sooner and I acknowledge that this would be a very entry level position - but then learn on the job. But I know this is uncommon, if entirely impossible… Similarly to the OP, I am considering doing it ‘on the side’ although there is the real risk of never achieving much in the design world that way.

Any thoughts/comments/ideas?

Find an ID firm or NPD department that will hire you for your current skill set. Then do double duty, your job while apprenticing ID. As a potential employer, I would be very interested in a candidate like that. It shows a go-getter attitude and if you are not good at ID, I don’t care because I have you in your original job.

Unfortunately for you, I can’t think of a reason for needing a finance person. I don’t know what job you can do to get a foot into the door. Do you have any upstream marketing experience?

What interests you about ID. What would be your ideal job? What do you envision you will be doing 8 hrs a day on your first ID job?
Maybe if we know more about your specific goals we can offer more targeted advice.

Hi Dain,

If someone came to you for a job in finance/business and told you they have no degree but want you to employ them how do you think it would go?

I am Australian and there is a lot of competition for entry level ID jobs but I still think it would be possible to get a job provided you have awesome folio of work. Depending on what industry you want to go into another alternative is to back yourself and start your own business. Another option would be to find a 1-2yr graduate diploma in ID and see if they let you enter it based on your folio of work.

Hopefully that helps.

Thanks for the comments.

iab - I like this idea, I have worked as a business analyst which is about getting requirements/understanding needs etc - kind of like part of the design process. I could imagine an operations/general manager role could be a possibility although few and far between. This would also help with having an income while learning.

FH13 - I like the idea of creating a physical product (having worked in a service industry for many years), particularly the actual designing (sketching/CAD) part. I would expect that the first job would be a lot of mundane work, which is also why I am trying to understand the realities of the industry as I don’t really have the time to spend years and years before getting into the fun stuff - I do fully accept that there would be a learning phase. My ideal job would be doing ‘designer’ type products, such as those that Alessi or similar homeware places do. I could see the process for those products as being more individual and less collaborative (which suits my style), rather than working on (say) a car which would have a number of designers.

MAS - I think that finance/business is a bit more flexible with degrees, depending on the job. I have worked with people with psychology degrees (in finance roles) and a variety of different roles. I would say it is more about the person than having a piece of paper. Design is different though, the skills are more specific. I am considering the own business option, but I am worried it would be quite limiting given the lack of mentors/teachers. If I went down this path I would be doing as many short courses etc as I could to upskill though. I have heard that there is a lot of competition for entry level jobs, which also concerns me at my age spending a long time studying to not be able to find work. Do you know of any grad dip or similar courses in Sydney? I have looked and they all seem to be degree programs…

Thanks again to everyone for their help, this is all really helpful in building the pieces of the puzzle!

Thanks for the responses and apologies for the late reply - I did write a response a couple of days ago but it didn’t post!

iab - I have thought about the option of coming into a design firm in a different role - I have banking/finance, general business and project experience so I have some transferable skills. I was talking to someone at a local ID firm about project manager roles, although their PMs all had technical experience as well… This is definitely something I am looking seriously at - but need to find a suitable role!!

FH13 - I am really interested in the actual design parts, ideation, creation, sketching, CAD work. I would expect that any entry level role would be a lot of grunt work, tweaking CADs, model making etc…

MAS - I think that finance/business is a little different for two reasons - firstly many roles don’t really require a specific degree, more the ability to work at a certain level. I have worked in banking with people with psychology or engineering degrees, because they can think and process and learn the banking stuff. The other reason is that a lot of postgrad degrees in business don’t have a requirement of an undergrad business degree (sometimes not even an undergrad degree at all), so you can do 1-2 years of full-time study and be ‘qualified’. I do appreciate that there is a lot of specific technical (and thinking process) knowledge in design, so that it doesn’t equate.

I am looking at the option of starting my own business, but I would relish the learning opportunities in an ID firm. Do you know of any places that offer a grad dip in ID in Sydney or Australia more broadly?

Thanks again for all the comments, it is really helpful and adds to discussions I have had with ID people I have met.

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