stepping into ID

Hello to all the ID nuts. I’ve read these boards for a bit and I’ve got a few curiosities of mine own:

I’ve got a BA in Art History from a top 20 university, dean’s list, etc. I’ve practiced fine art my whole life, in my spare time as well as officially (though without the degree to show for it).
Although once I entertained the idea of being an architect, I realized my true passion was in the freedom and ingenuity of Industrial Design, I have been fever-struck for almost a year now, spending my time out of college as an art teacher. ID is something I’ve always unconsciously been in tune with. my art projects always craved the notion of a function and general aesthetic appeal. I’ve doodled and dreamed ideas for products since I was a young boy, not realizing where I was reaching.
Here is my concern, however. It is the reason I sit here biting my lip, 6 AM and still haven’t fallen asleep :open_mouth:. As I try to cross into the ID field I find myself anxious and discouraged. Seems that a lot of design programs don’t even want to see a portfolio from applicants with non-ID-undergraduate degrees. Some just plain don’t even want to see me.
What is left for them to judge but my grades and test scores? I feel like despite good grades, good GRE, I will be stiffed without the weight of a relevant portfolio and the undergraduate degree the other applicants are sure to have. Even in my drive to be a part of a good program outpaces many, I just don’t see what would convince a graduate program of just that. I have artwork, but when I construct a 3d model of an automobile idea, for example, it dawns on me that I have no idea how to even go about doing it …correctly. i have no idea how to appeal to those within the field, particularly academics.
I guess… that I’d like to open a dialogue about trying to step into ID at a later point in life than many seem to. In my case, after undergrad, with a BA in Art History, no ID professional experience (nor any hope of any with no degree). I do know 3Dstudioviz, but can’t afford a copy :laughing: as well as autocad. these just are accumulating rust.
For any that read through this,
Thanks for taking the time ,

This last post was mine, apparently I wasn’t logged in :confused:

Actually a lot of grad programs prefer students WITHOUT undergrads in ID - the academics think it gives the other students a more well rounded education, but I think it is often a disservice to the students without the BFA or BS in ID…

…because most grad programs focus on theory more than practice. Kind of the nature of the grad program, which is great. For you, you could probably get through a BFA in like 3 years and get more skills for it, the masters degree isn’t going to get you any extra money in the field, you do need a masters to teach full time in ID, BUT that masters does not have to be in ID!

This exact topic has come up before and it normally provokes a firestorm of opinions (including my own). In the end there is no “right” way to go about it I’ve learned. If you have determination, passion and skill, you can make it happe, if you are a lzey tallentles SOB going to the best school out there, you won’t go far.

Sounds like you are in the Determined group, good luck my man.

I have a BFA in sculpter. I went straight to grad school for a MFA in industrial design. (Did take a few undergrad projects.)

I don’t regret the research skills I learned as a grad student. It was a real struggle to get a job after I completed my MFA. Undergraduates had stronger skills than I did.

If you want to go into ID you have 2 choices IMO

  1. Go for a 2nd BA/BFA in industrial design
  2. Go for a Masters in ID but be sure there is an undergrad program… take several undergrad classes so your skills will be where they should be. (I only took 2, not enough.) It may take a bit longer but worth it in the end.

that’s interesting. i was talking to some of the people at Georgia Tech and they happily informed me that no one without an undergraduate degree in ID had made it into their program yet. i suppose they got a fire lit under my @ss. i need to find the schools that are thorough and will make me sweat - AND are interested in having a (on paper) pure academic like myself attending. i’m not sure how i want to concentrate my creative forces… I hoped i could make that decision with more knowledge - further down the road inside of school.
it’s interesting to think about going back to school to get another bachelor’s degree. it actually hadn’t occurred to me. do i understand correctly that a master’s degree has no advantage other than attaining academic posts? i don’t have much more interest in teaching anymore.
let me stress my only worry is not getting into the right program, i know i have the fire and am more than ready to bring it.

taking in what you say: it would seem to me that, with an academic degree in the arts AND a decently strong portfolio, i’d fare pretty well… that’s a bit of a relief.

However, I am still confused about the application/attedance process. If I went for the BFA, Would I then apply to undergraduate school again? If I went for the Masters, would I be left, as suggested, to develop the more foundational skills on my own? In that case I would be wise to find a paired grad/undergrad ID program and dip my hand into both. Approximately how long would that take? I don’t want to be in school too long, though I am not willing to rush through either.

As of right now, I know little, but I feel the impression that what would be best for me would be a masters with a some undergrad courses to build foundational elements. What kind of numbers (years) and schools does that bring to mind?
I really appreciate the help guys,

You need to talk to the schools about this. Some schools let yout take undergraduate classes as a Master’s candidate but those credits don’t go toward your degree. You might be able to do some research and seminar classes while taking the undergraduate.

Then again you can always go the undergraduate route for a while. This way you are not paying graduate prices for undergraduate courses. Then apply to graduate school.

You will not be able to get fincial aid for a 2nd undergraduate degree so the first suggestion may be the way to go. Really, you need to talk with people at the schools. See what they suggest/ can work out.

Please check out the ‘If I knew then what I know now (acvice to students)’ thread!

The take-away is that there is so much to ID that a two-year degree will not prepare you.

If you don’t want to teach, the Masters has no additional benefit so you’ll be better off getting a more thorough training.

I have a BSID and MS from Georgia Tech, and it is only in the last 1-2 years that an undergrad in ID/another artistic field has become so desired for admission. This is because those without that undergrad degree struggled way too much in previous years to do the catchup studio work. I must say, I think the program is much better for it. But if you have a good portfolio, they make an exception…if GT is of interest to you.

I now teach 2 classes a year there, and the recent grad students are of much higher caliber than some I was with-2 of my current students are Mechanical Engineers-and they are required to take at least 3 undergrad studios before entering the grad studio.

The main benefit to the Masters is time-at least a year less than another BS/BFA-and you usually have more freedom to choose studio projects. It can also be easier to pay for as an adult. I went through as a research/teaching assistant and had no debt upon graduation.

Many thanks to everyone for taking the time to read all this text and offering helpful advice. I am lining up schools within my price range and travel range and will call them next week (as this week is an academic holiday). I will post my findings in case they are of any help to others in my situation.
Equus, thanks for the reply. GA tech was my number one choice. I graduated from Emory U. and wanted to stay in the area -and I really liked what I had seen of the rambling wreck. However, when I called up their admissions office, they told me only 4 grad students had been admitted last year, out of 50 applicants. I had to sit down when I heard that. I virtually gave up hope. Perhaps GA is still in my future though… if in-state tuition is offered for undergraduate studies… and IF I come to feel I must go that route.
As for studio classes, going back to make up what would be missed in undergrad. I feel that I’d be at a greater advantage than most non-ID undergrads… I’m not sure of this of course, but would love opinions.
I just (in the progress of writing this) pieced a dinky little web page together with some thumb-nailed drawings that I have done recently. The mouse-overs have a little info about the work, and each piece is given a full page through the thumb-nail for maximum detail.
Unfortunately, I had to transfer these from paper to digital through my digital camera, just laid the pieces on the floor and took pictures. They aren’t relevant to ID really, but I am working on some that I believe will be, I’ll post those in the page hopefully in the near future.

Back in a few,

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I know of a guy who has a BFA in Art History doing ID here. It took him 3 years.

A friend of mine got masters in Law. He’s from Japan. He got an internship this summer with Nissan and they decided to hire him righ away. So he’s gone, after just 2 years.

I also know a guy who has an illustration degree doing undergrad ID. There are many people going for a second degree, and age isn’t a proble. Money is.

Ying-Hao, thanks. i am not worried about my age though, i’m worried about my degree’s capacity to land me in a graduate program. i am still very uncertain about going back into undergrad studies again. anyone know how long that would take approximately, that is, another undergrad degree in ID?

-Well I thought I was playing it smart and took the recommendations of a guy at GA tech ID to apply to both the grad and undergrad program. Figured I’d at least get into the undergrad - long story short, woke up one morning to an early call from GA tech, asking which program I wanted to apply for as I could only apply for one, (thanks) so I threw in my chips and picked grad program. of course i did not get in. Still waiting for them to mail my portfolio back, I think they lost it, or are either lazy or inconsiderate as hell, there are countless hours of work in that and I was very careful to include a prepaid envelope with my address on it. Its been more than 2 months since I should have had it back.

-Now I’m either back at square one or perhaps even further.

-I’m going to apply to all the schools and and then sort it out, this careful picking can get you in a tight spot. I figure, besides not being sure exactly how i want to direct myself within the field, there is always extracurricular time to develop my other design interests.
Schools I have looked into and decided to apply:

University of Cincinatti
Art Center College of Design
Cleveland Institute of Art
College for Creative Studies
Columbus College of Art and Design
Academy of Art College
Carnegie Mellon

I like the look of stanford’s new program. I know these are all good programs but I need that. I’m back because getting rejected for being a victim of circumstance is troubling. I’m going to put my foot in the door, I’ve had enough. Is it possible to work in a Design setting with the experience I have now? Where should I direct myself. I know nothing and learn fast. I know I will be doing monkey tasks and I’m more than prepared to pay heavy dues. Should I worry about creating a new portfolio with more conceptual ideas, despite having no ID training?

gnawing at the bit

Sorry to hear all this. Although, you probably should have just asked the school for a program (undergrad/grad) recommendation. I imagine that your application might have looked a bit clueless, since you were applying at both levels.

I’m going to apply to all the f’ing schools and and then sort it out, this careful picking can get you in a tight spot. I figure, besides not being sure exactly how i want to direct myself within the field, there is always extracurricular time to develop my other design interests.

This is terrible rationale. You’re going to waste time and money on the volume of applications you need to prepare; why not make them all relevant to you? There’s a difference between “careful picking” and “putting all your eggs in one basket.” Especially in this economy, grad school is really competitive to get into. Wouldn’t you be better off finding a few programs that seem like good matches, and then consulting with the department chairs or program directors about your application, to see if they can offer any suggestions? Some may flat-out tell you whether or not you have a shot, or what’s missing from your portfolio.

Schools are really good at picking up on “generic” applications geared toward all the good programs, versus applications that are truly tailored to them. You need to be careful.

As for your undergrad background, this is only a hindrance if you can’t come up with an intelligent way to explain it within the context of your application. If you spin it well, it can become a strength.

One other program that you may want to look at is the new Masters in Designed Objects at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. There isn’t much written about it yet- but it is being build on equal parts of theory and making, is associated with their architecture department, is well funded, and has the ability to bring in basically anyone to lecture.

thanks for the reply,

i did ask them several times for a recommendation and they had none. of course if pushed they suggested master’s program since there was closer focus and work with professors. i went in twice to meet with their faculty to bring up these same issues. i spoke to several of them on the phone. i read through 50 applications, portfolio’s, etc. my application was far from clueless. there were two applications, neither which had anything to do with the other, both were to be received, read and handled by different people in different departments.

defensiveness is not my interest here, i do appreciate the advice… but i must say of course i wont be throwing generic applications out there. i plan to research all the programs, all the faculty, tuition, location, placement, but still apply to a great deal more schools that i did previously. you misread my frustration as carelessness. what i mean to get across is, i will be applying to more programs, not that i will forgo the quality of the application. it will be a tremendous amount of time and work. my point is that i am woe to be rejected again. i know it provokes laughs here, but i’m turning 24 and am simply not willing to wait any longer.
the career opportunities available to an art history major, no matter how good the GPA - are a waste of time. i’m better taking on interesting projects that pay almost nothing, which i have for almost 1.5 years now. living on scraps can make you mean. i’m not a mean person, just fed up with circumstances as they are.

…and i will look into chicago right now,

what about Savanah College of Art and Design I went there for undergrad and saw a few grad students come in with different backgrounds such as finace or buisness degrees. They had to take the basic ID classes to then be allowed to start the grad program. So they got the skills of ID (sketching/ rendering/ 3D etc…) and then did more theory.

At the Academy of Art, we have both ID majors and Fine Art majors in our Graduate program. My experience is that the studet who can draw imagined 3D objects from different views, have basic 3D drafting skills (Alias, Rhino, SolidWorks, Pro/E, or whichever NURBS/Solids based package tickles your fancy.), are comfortable in Photoshop/Painter,and enjoy reading do just fine.

ID Drawing
You seem to have fine rendering skills. From your portfolio it’s unclear how comfortable you are at drawing 3d objects from imagination.

The big trick to learning the ID drawing skills is annoyingly simple. Copy. This is how Leonardo learned to paint, this is how Michelangelo learned to sculpt. Unfortunately, designers as a species, seem to refuse to do this. Try copying products and seeing how they are put together.

Try this exercise:
Look at the things on the table in front of you. Choose one and imagine how it might be assembled (you don’t have to be right). Now draw the parts as you think they would they would look when disassembled. This excercise is a lot more difficult than it sounds, so just keep trying with different objects until you start to understand how things go together.

More and more sketching and rendering is being done in the computer. The students who are comfortable using these tools seem to do better…particularly those who use Tablet PCs

Check out this resource.
This group publishes instructional DVDs by top concept illustrators. The DVDs from Harold Belker and Ryan Church have been very useful to my students.


I have yet to see an Art School with good 3D CAD instruction. Maybe others have a good approach to getting started with this.

Sorry, the address is:

Check out the Analog DVD section…I haven’t seen the Scott Robertson DVDs, but he did teach ID drawing at Art Center for a number of years.

SCAD is a little too far from everything for me… although savannah is beautiful i know it would be a bit lonely.
thank you butterfingers,
that’s not my portfolio, unfortunately… my portfolio is somewhere in georgia, and i have no idea if its coming back. most of those things i didn’t submit, just had them around… not great stuff but decent. i’ll set it up online if it does make it back, there are some 3D drawings in there. i’m not really worried about being able to draw. i’ve spent so little time sketching at this point. it is a luxury to me to consider being required to sketch. i have spent almost no time working on my artistic sides, not out of arrogance, but out of worry for my weaknesses. you are probably right, i should concentrate on the drawing and take it to a better level.
taking things apart and putting them together is what i have lived for my whole life. it started with my Hot Wheels race cars, two screws removed the underplating of these simple (But to me at the time, intricate, little toys). i used to go to the junk yard as a kid and get things just to fix them. i recently rebuilt a complex engine (Nissan 92 VE DOHC V6 Electronic Ignition) and most of the suspension components, etc. I would be an engineer but i am far to visually-oriented as a person.
of my own benefits and drawbacks, i am well aware. for example; i can pick up artistic techniques sufficiently in a matter of hours - on the other hand - i can spend years trying to learn a language and never get past the most basic conversational skills. i hardly have the nerve to ‘ask for a job’ - i’m far from the foot in the door type of person, these hindrances are what i am concentrating on. ‘gnothi seauton’ - i do but know my path i do not.
do you think spending the time to render a comprehensive 3d portfolio would be a great concern to my efforts in placing in grad school? i’m trying to understand how to direct my free time here. networking? applying for internships? teaching myself (a strength of mine)? knocking out personal projects? I suppose all of the above would be the general answer. Like most greenhorns on this forum… perhaps I am most out to find peace of mind in my own decisions. Thank you for your time, I’ll check out the website now,