useless degree?

I have a BA in Art History, from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. I’ve decided, some time ago, to go back to school to get a degree in Industrial Design. Until then - I have quite a bit of time (before I even begin applying.) I’d like to do a job that engenders at least some skills of the trade - but I’ve had no luck finding any jobs where I am (NYC). I previously worked as an art teacher and a currently as a web designer.
Nobody seems interested in even meeting with me due to my lack of a degree, but certainly there must be a position somewhere that I might be eligible for. I certainly am not skill-less and have excellent references. I just need to make enough to ‘get by’ - for now. I think I’m just not looking the right way…
I’ve really hit a wall and would appreciate assistance.
I just threw up a coroflot portfolio for reference:

but I’m not really even sure how that works. I’m guessing it will just hang around in cyberspace… gathering…um, cyberdust. :unamused:


Bryce thanks, the kind words are very encouraging. I really did just start drawing 3d from my head. I was always so reliant on actually looking at something while I drew, I had almost no practice. My grandmother is a painter and I picked up her technique, which is to look at photos while I’m drawing or to sit in a spot with a little frame of paper, hold it up around what i’m looking at and draw. My brother just bought me a Rapidograph and I’m looking forward to getting good with it. I also just started to borrow his prismacolors. (whew they are pricey)

Coroflot only allows 5 pictures, right? When I go to show problem solving - should I consider something like, “design a container that makes milk last longer” and then show all the sketches from start to finish? Would I include any scientific data that is relevant, or are the visuals enough? hmmm… i like that milk idea- i’m going to go work on that one right now :confused:

So to make it fit on Coroflot, would I compile the sketches into one big image?

How do you guys use your Coroflot portfolio’s to your advantage? Does it go on the resume?



the work from an artistic perspective is nice. the location sketches i like. the bed is interesting as well. as far as i can tell from here the craftsmanship looks good. those 3d models are subpar compared to your artwork.

as far as getting a job, there are so many designers out there with the same if not much better skils that its going to be tough for you. (but not impossible) you need to show your thinking and your ability to organize these thoughts logically, graphically and concisely. you need to show some ability to solve problems. i would try and take an intro product design class to get the ball rolling. it might be tough to convince someone to give you a job when you don’t have the full skill set and other out of work people do. but don’t give up!


I think you’re very ambitious - and I believe you can make a solid effort for a temp. job while you improve your skills.

As for a temp. job (something to get by on) I would recommend finding some 3-D modeling - if you’re able. There is tons & tons of 3-D work available if you have any contacts.

In the meantime - I highly recommend you take some classes - even some night classes if available on basic drawing & ID. This is takes a little time to pick up - understanding of materials, molds, & illustrations. But it’s totally possibly and from your portfolio I know you’re capable.

Keep with it - and you’ll find a way…

Good luck!

…hype your strength, not your weakness in your overview…this i marketing 101 not true confessions…you have talent and deserve consideration…never appologize in a resume…you are handicapping yourself

I’m so glad to get such good responses, very useful information. This has been more encouraging and useful than any other step i’ve taken.
If i take the time to learn a 3D program, which is best for the job market? I started with 3ds max, but I haven’t even seen the program in 2 years - so I might as well start anywhere.
I’ll look for some night classes in nyc, I know pratt is here…parsons too… i dont know if they offer any courses to outsiders - have to check on that.
I don’t have any contacts in the ID world, I suppose eventually I will get there.
I changed the humble intro - it was a bad start - One problem with me is I have a hard time ‘hyping’ myself, I always just feel like an ass. I suppose once I realize that quality is drastically slowing me down… I will beat it. I’m also hyper-aware of who and where I am right now, and that’s nobody and nowhere, looking for a toe-hold.
thank you bryce, ralphie, um and mrd.

Yes, your self-marketing is shite, but that’s already been discussed. I can completely that you feel discouraged and are being preemptive in your statement, but that’s no way to sell yourself. You have to focus on your strengths, even if you’re faking the self-confidence. As for your degree being useless: that’s only true if you say so. Flip it into a unique strength! Explain your knowledge in a way that’s relevant to potential employers.

As far as getting a job in the field, I think you’re more likely to land an internship. You should be willing to not get paid, or to spend time just shadowing someone. You could begin with the IDSA: they’ve got some kind of mentoring program. Call up some designers and see if you can do informational interviews with them. Lay out your situation, show them your portfolio, and ask for advice. Try to find someone who has a first degree in something other than ID: that person may be more willing, and better equipped, to help.

And, absolutely pursue any kind of continuing education you possibly can. This should include ID classes but also software, drawing, and generally working in 3D. Anything could be of value at this point.

Anyway, best of luck to you! The bed is great!

The BA degree is perhaps as useless as the person who obtained it. Trust me, after looking at your work, you’re not meant of ID.


Hey Jodie, show us your stuff.

In the event that Pratt or Parsons don’t work out for night classes, Academy of Art University has some initial online courses that you can take. I think you have to follow the same application deadlines as you would for normal enrollment, which I believe are long past (February 1st for Pratt, March 1 for Parsons), but don’t quote me on that. Taking online classes for your full degree is not the route I would take, but at least it is something to do in the meantime to build your portfolio and sharpen up skills while you are in between enrollment periods. It may cut down on your workload to take those now for less money vs. pay hefty for them later at a brick and mortar university. Taking a fall class now in 3D modeling, etc. could give you the opportunity to have some fresh, current material as well. At least that has been my impetus for taking them.

I like the design of your bed, but from what I can see in the pics, the craftsmanship is somewhat lacking. The miter joints are a little sloppy, and the staining is blotchy. To cut better miter joints, you saw needs to be tuned very accurately, and in the future, if you want to avoid blotchy staining, especially on woods like pine and cherry, put on a coat of sealer first. This can be a thinned wash of hide glue, or you can also buy ready made sealers. It also helps if you can spray an NGR stain rather than brushing on stain as you get a more even coating.

To those designers who thought this was good craftsmanship, you guys must watch too much trading spaces. It’s a start for DIY furniture, but I hope that you don’t work in the furniture industry, cause there’s no way that would be considered acceptable quality in a professional shop.

thanks analogue i will look into that. learning 3d seems to be the next best step while i temp around. i’m going to visit schools on monday and talk to some people, see what is available or if they know any good places to learn. i dont know about onlilne, i like to learn in person.
guest - thanks for the advice, it’s actually a small model. about a foot and a half long, i had to cut all the pieces with a hand saw - a 10$ home depot hand saw. i know it’s sloppy, but i just didn’t have the tools to do any better, it was done with a hand saw, drill, sandpaper and a dremel. Yep its my first stain too, i didnt even wipe it down. you’ve got a good eye. i learned as i went. i should really find a way to build it full scale and with good quality. but the design is so big… i dont know where i’d put it. my dog sleeps in this one :smiley:
thanks guys,

I had a feeling it was a model. It just didn’t feel ful-scale, and the bedding wasn’t real enough.

Believe it or not, Art Center offers (or once did) night classes in NYC. I don’t know about prices, since their fulltime tuition is through the roof. If you can swing it, do it.

Also, to keep sketching outside of your classes, you could just make yourself sketch all the time. This might seem silly, but some museums are open to people sketching their work, and they have certain times when it’s welcome.

Remember that anyone you meet now becomes part of your network. So, instructors and students, but also any professionals you might talk to for whatever reason. Make sure to stay on good terms and in touch with all these people.

One more possible avenue for employment: a product or furniture store, the more high-end and artsy the better. It would give you an opportunity to spend a lot of time with these objects and to interact with them to see how and why they were made. You’d also learn their histories. I’m suggesting high-end partly because “regular Joes” tend not to have first-hand exposure to that kind of work.

the illusion was ‘ok’ at least i think. the bedding i made out of a pillow case and the pillows i hand-sewed from plain white cloth and stuffed with a few rolled up paper towels.

248- you are right, i checked into art center at night in NYC and found it pretty easily. seems to offer mostly introductory courses and some intermediate courses. mostly studios.
here is the tuiotion: Studio course tuition is $340 per credit unit, with the exception of select foundation studio courses denoted as “transferable”. “Transferable” studio courses are $390 per credit unit and offer the potential to transfer to Art Center’s full-time degree program. The cost of workshops and nonstudio courses varies

thats about half of the normal tuition isn’t it? now i’ll have to compare that to the others. thanks again,