Tips for a 16 year old ID student?

My high school offers a wide-array of classes but I decided I wanted to pursue Industrial Design because I love the concept of taking an idea and making it a reality.

I would really love to continue pursuing ID and I’m just wondering if any of you have any tips for a young student like me.

Hey Kevin,

Welcome to the boards and congrats on discovering ID at a young age! You’re probably already ahead of 99% of us. Does your school offer and ID specific class? If so that’s pretty awesome.

I think the best advice I would give myself if I was your age would be to sketch and draw as much as possible to start to build up the comfort level with trying to explain an idea on paper. Also just make stuff, and take stuff apart to see how it was built. Hang out on Behance and Coroflot to get exposure to student and professional work. Don’t be afraid to post up any work on the forum for feedback, it can be intimidating at first but it’s a great way to get input from a lot of professionals and students.

Also as you start to think about college start researching requirements for different programs, some need portfolios, some need a certain GPA, etc. the earlier you know the better off you’ll be to meet those requirement.

Try to stay curious about the world around you and realize that it might be a while before you are making things that you’re really excited about but if you enjoy the process of learning and getting better you’ll have fun no matter what.

Good luck

Spend as much time as you can sketching. There are some great books on design sketching and how it differs from typical art classes that you’ll take in high school.

If you search Amazon for “Design sketching” there are a bunch of books that will pop up.

Also, if you aren’t already inclined - start disassembling things (preferably things you don’t need anymore). A key sign of a good designer is the willingness to pull things apart and try to figure out how they work and how it’s made. I had a garage of old junk when I was a kid and I’d always be unscrewing things to try and see what the circuits looked like.

Also try to play with some 3D software. Any software will do to start. There are lots of educational tools available for free, and simple tools like sketchup. Being able to start understanding the constraints of building objects in 3 dimensions will help a lot when you get to school. These days there are tons of tutorials available online which makes the learning curve even shorter.

Best of luck as you develop your interest in design ! As the mom of a recent University of Cincinnati ID (DAAP) grad, I offer the following advice to supplement the basic - sketch, sketch, build, sketch, repeat guidance already provided…Try to assess whether you are an artist with mechanical inclinations or a creative builder…that distinction will be very helpful as you 1) establish a body of work 2) start looking at colleges.

(1) Don’t let yourself get caught unprepared to share your work, whether it is in a formal portfolio or not. If you apply to colleges that do require portfolios…you will be blown away by the work of your peers – no matter how talented you are individually. Documenting your own creative process as you go along will give you a clear view of your design identity…don’t wait for your Senior year to throw together random samples. Save your early ideas and document how they evolve. Use CAD files, photos as well as sketches to capture work in process.

(2) There is a big difference in ID curricula in colleges…knowing if you favor artistic over mechanical (or vice versa) can help you find the program that is right for you. There is NO EASY PROGRAM in ID, especially at top schools – working hard (and you will) is more comfortable if you have found the right alignment.

Welcome Kevin.

To boil down the advice above:
Think. Make. Share. Assess. Repeat.

Participating in these forums has been helpful to many students and potential students. Participating in discussions here can give you a jump on the type of design language you will be exposed to in college. Start discussion topics to post your sketches and projects. A small project can generate a lot of discussion and feedback.

All of the above, plus…

  1. Take things apart and see how they are built (that’s a very rare quality nowadays).
  2. Don’t do your all of your research on Google. Find places that have the tings you’ve seen online, and go and touch. Think how to improve them.
  3. Don’t think you have to reinvent the wheel on every project. Improving existing products is a huge part of what you will do.
  4. Build models (plastic, wood, etc) that will help you understand how things are assembled, and how to think about building parts to 3D print.

You can start from Perspective. You can then work on different views such as fish eye view, cctv camera, Top View.
You can also start with Prototyping. I’m not sure if PO Foam is available there easily.

You may also refer the website:

This couldn’t be more accurate. I wish I knew of ID at such a young age…

If I did here’s what I would do to capitalize on my opportunity.

  1. Use your summer break to delve into SKETCHING. Get a hold of one of these and develop a strong sketching style so when you begin projects in college you are focused on designing and not on sketching.
    Sketching-Drawing Techniques for Product Designers
    Sketching The Basics
    Learning Curves

  2. Take products apart and LEARN. A lot of design firms are realizing that hybrid Industrial Designers/Mechanical Engineers are best. If you can understand what it takes to manufacture products with plastics, metals and woods AND have a keen eye for aesthetics, ergonomics and human interaction you will be vital.

  3. Go on and learn psd, illustrator and indesign. If you can develop this skillset you again won’t be teaching yourself as you design your school projects. On top of that, I believe a graphic eye is the beginning to a keen eye for product aesthetics as well.

Best of luck!
Virginia Tech ID 2013