I previously attending the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and ended up transferring to “prestigious” university after my sophomore year (2012-2013). I found the transfer to be very helpful however I realize that isn’t an option for you.
You should talk to Silvania, she is a senior there. She has interned at Fossil and has very nice work. She can give you some really good feedback on how to stand out amongst the crowd because she has had some really prestigious gigs. I believe she was on the cover of El Salvadorian “Elle” Magazine 2 years ago because of her handbag designs. Brad, is another senior, interned in Chicago over the summer and can give you pointers as well. Catch them before they graduate.
As for the university, these are what I personally feel are the positives and negatives:
- You really work with your hands here which is going to give you a HUGE advantage (i feel). They are going to make you physically make most if not all of your projects and you’re going to learn how to build things really well. Especially if you befriend Chad the shop guy. Befriend him. He’s tough but is a wealth of knowledge.
This is going to give you a HUGE advantage over other schools. A lot of people coming from the prestigious schools can’t build shizz. They can sketch like crazy but forget problem-solving with your hands.
Here read this, it’s what I’m talking about: http://www.dezeen.com/2014/11/13/design-education-tragic-says-jonathan-ive-apple/
Basically, you want to be a “maker”, a “designer” and not a sketch-monkey. (but ultimately up to you)
You have access to great resources (believe it or not). You are going to feel like your school is crap and nobody cares about the ID program at ULL. That’s probably true. But they do care about Architecture & engineering so you have access to solid resources like: A metal shop, a bombing woodshop, a solid ceramics studio, “okay-ish” computer software.”
You have the opportunity to take classes outside of ID or Art. I’m not saying this stuff isn’t important (art & design) however, at prestigious art schools English courses are basically a joke and nothing is really offered academic-wise besides English and art history. I really miss this about ULL because I have the ability to write well and think critically because I took a breadth of academic-classes. Surprisingly, these are necessary life skills.
You only have 3 professors. 2 out of 3 of those professors have little to no experience in the design world. The “sophomore” professor is a sculpture grad and hasn’t worked in the field whatsoever. And the “head” of the program is 85 or so and hasn’t worked since the 60’s. He’s interesting but his information is very outdated. (He teaches the sketching course -_-) There’s a new professor I believe, and I hope he stays, however when I went there we got a new 3rd professor every year or so.
Nobody is going to teach you how to sketch properly. Or rather how to communicate your ideas/designs through sketching. This is the benefit of attending an “Art” school. Your foundation is packed full of drawing (traditional, figure, etc) and it really helps you to learn how to communicate your ideas clearly through drawing. I strongly suggest that you take as many art drawing electives as possible while at ULL or audit them.
Additionally, and this is important, don’t be dragged into all the nonsense of sketching like a boss. It is important to sketch clearly and communicate well but if you spend all your time focusing on sketching beastly then your designs are going to suffer. It’s always better to have a great design and an okay sketch then a crap design and a killer sketch. (in my opinion).
Some books I suggest on learning to sketch clearly: RapidViz http://www.amazon.com/Rapid-Viz-Method-Visualitzation-Ideas/dp/159863268X
And sketching the basics http://www.amazon.com/Sketching-The-Basics-2nd-printing/dp/9063692536/ref=pd_sim_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=1PFQQN8REG1EZ5PE7S16
Oh, and keep a sketchbook!
You’re computers are just okay. Unfortunately you don’t have access to a lot of the great 3D modeling software. Some professors a few years ago stole an educational copy and got ULL banned for life. You have access to Rhino 3D and that’s about it. Luckily, they’re all fairly similar but you should learn solid works and alias too and see which one you prefer.
Nobody is going to teach you how to 3D model. Your course on 3D modeling are basically walkthroughs of tutorials. So, you better start bumping up your self-motivation because you are going to need it. You’re going to have to push yourself to learn how to model well. By junior year, you should be modeling the majority of your projects and rendering them.
The critiques go really really well. 2/3 professors are never going to tell you if your design sucks. They are going to always bump you up and tell you that you are awesome even if you aren’t. Post your projects on here and get real feedback. Talk to your classmates. Push your designs. Explore. Be amazing.
To sum it up: You are going to be a boss at physically creating. You’re going to learn the trials and tribulations of self-motivation. You are going to be a self-taught 3D modeler and sketcher. Take advantage of everything at your disposal and you’ll be fine.
I disagree however on what some of the other commenters are saying about name recognition of a school. It really does help in my opinion (seeing how I’ve seen both sides) because you have sponsored studio projects where you meet potential employers and your professors have a breadth of contacts. If you are a great designer, you get recommended for a lot of opportunities. It’s a lot easier to get a job too. Don’t let that discourage you, like I said, talk to Silvania or Brad as they have had internships and are the first in many years.
Get yourself on behance, issuu, coroflot, get a website. Call people for informative interviews. Go visit studios. I will admit the best contacts I have made, I made while attending ULL. The last professor (he works at SCAD now) took about 7 students on a trip across the US and we visited firms from LA to OH and back. I made contacts in Cincinnati, Chicago, Louisville, etc just from visited their facilities. Studios are usually always willing to give a tour to students. If you stay in contact with those people them come in handy when you’re on the job prowl.
Feel free to message me anytime if you have any questions or anything student-to-student.