Self Study in Design - Help!!!

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are well! I need your advice and input!

I have a dilemma. I am someone who has found out later in life that design is my true calling. I’ve had visual arts classes in the past and I have taken numerous individual courses in Graphic and Industrial Design over the past few years at Art Center and UCLA. My intention was to go back to school, but with the recession and the scarcity of loans etc. I don’t think I’ll be able to forgo an income to pursue my dreams. I don’t want to give up though. I feel that while it’s not optimal there is alot of opportunity out there for self study, especially in interactive/web design.

Have any of you plotted a similar course? If so what resources, books/ websites/ blogs/ software, etc. did you use?

Any thoughts, tips, or pointers?

  • K

what is your goal? Of becoming a practicing Industrial Designer some day? If so , there’s pretty much no way you could do it via self studying. You would be missing out on not only educational/skills aspects, but practical ones such as having deadlines, making presentations, working with others, being reviewed, working with companies on projects, comparing yourself to classmates, etc.

I don’t think you can really substitute self-study for any of those less tangible things. You could read 100 books on ID, manufacturing, rendering, but it still would only take you so far. Not to mention (as per the other threads about engineers wanting to be designers), why would someone hire you as a designer, if they have the best designers that were educated in it to choose from?

Sorry to be a downer, just wanted to give a realistic POV on the issue.


Yeah, industrial design is definitely out the window.

I would like to move into design at an interactive agency at this point. Do you think the same holds true for people who people UI/ UX designers. I’m trying to take advantage of certificate programs, essentially I’m just trying to be a sponge.

Check out this new Interaction Design school that just opened up in Austin, TX…

I’m not sure exactly how the funding and costs work, but it is worth it to yourself to call and find out. The reason I suggest it, is because from what I know so far, it will not cost an arm and a leg like most universities.

The school was just founded and created by a major player over at Frog design, Jon Kolko. He is an author of “Thoughts on Interaction Design”, among many of his other credentials. If there is anyone that should be opening up an interaction design school, it is this guy.

If design is your calling don’t just give up because you can’t afford a degree. There are plenty of stories of people who dropped out of high school and still wound up becoming successful. Who says you can’t start designing things for yourself? Why not practice until you are really good? Maybe one day the right person sees your design and likes it.

Sure its difficult, but it isn’t impossible. I’ve jumped around from graphic design, Illustration, interior design and industrial design without formal training in any of them. The common thread is creativity and the fact that all them are visual mediums. I’ve always gotten hired based on a portfolio. Its the great equalizer. Does everyone who graduates with a design degree automatically become a designer? No. So why let it stop me?

Granted, some companies aren’t going to give you the time of day, but screw em. Start your own damn company. Design something really cool and figure out a way to sell it. Its the American way right?

Good Luck.

There are a lot of situations that a degree doesn’t mean everything. But, that means that you have to have an exceptional portfolio. You should go for it and set specific goals. For example: My goal is to get an internship at at firm within this year. I also make goals towards working with larger businesses in my area. I work with them by offering services for free, but my portfolio wont say that. This way I can build my portfolio up quickly, and start my career experience.

To teach yourself:
Learn Adobe products through Adobe TV - it is great for learning their creative suite!

Get Print Magazine, read books and get up everyday with a schedule to learn and work. You can do it if you do that.