Where to start?

Hey guys!

So I will be entering NC State in the fall, to the First Year College program. Basically, that’s where people who don’t have a solid idea of the major they want to pursue go. We get a year to explore and sort of figure it out.

I thought I wanted to be a Software Designer. I have been pretty dead set on that for awhile now, but I’m just beginning to realize how much I love Industrial Design. I constantly find myself thinking of how things are made and why they’re made that way and how they could be improved. This has led me to want to go after ID as a major instead, and possibly minor in Software Design. I find them both quite intriguing, but I know the processes behind each are, for the most part, completely different.

Anyways, the problem is this: NC State has one of the most competitive design schools in the country, and I don’t have a portfolio of any sort. I haven’t taken any kind of art class since elementary school, so my drawing and sketching skills aren’t quite proficient at this point. The most recent class I took to be pushed in design at all was Drafting during my 10th grade year. I have ideas all the time, but I can’t really put them on paper because I don’t have the skill at this point. Pretty frustrating. So that leads me into my question…

Where should I start? I truly am interested in pursuing design, but I need some advice about how to go about the year I’m given before attempting to transfer into the College of Design.


Hi Jordan,

Does NC State need a portfolio for you to switch majors or will you be all set?

I notice that most high school experience is fine art (probably not a lot of kids will have had an experience like your drafting course, so even that is helpful) – more pencil, charcoal, painting, etc. The funny thing is while this is a great background to have, and many designers recommend sketching the human figure, these skills don’t always translate towards being an “ID beast” because ID sketching is different, and sketching is only one useful skillset in the entirety of ID.

So I would get on the sketching and don’t over-think things! I think I am paraphrasing Yo (a moderator here) that: your first 1,000 sketches will be bad, so just get through them quickly and don’t look back. A lot of users like Aaron Powers here have shown awesome work just by posting their progress from when they started.

While sketching is important, it’s not an end-all-be-all. I’m pretty bad at sketching (or so I think), but that doesn’t stop me from drawing my ideas and doing projects. It’s more about the substance of the project and your process than it is about how pretty it looks.

Robbie, yep I have to get a portfolio together. You make awesome points. Definitely encouraging and good advice! thank you. I went ahead and bought a sketchbook and some pencils today and got started. To be honest I surprised myself on my first sketch of a second gen iPod.

GHoge, that’s a great point as well. I just feel like some kind of pretty decent artistic ability will be needed in my portfolio.

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