January 11th, 2007, 5:38 pm

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paulH wrote:Excellent thread.

I’d just like to emphasize the importance of studying/interning abroad – you’ll learn more from having a semester abroad than any other 3 months OF YOUR LIFE! Do what you can to get out there for a couple of months–whether it’s Canada, Germany, India, China or Russia.
Great point.

to add to that, go abroad to a manufacturing country/factory.

Ive learned more in factories ask questions than from books, ever. I could never be where I am now (Footwear Dept. Mananger) without the luck ive had to be able to go to china for almost 120 days/yr in the 5 years Ive been in the industry. I have many colleagues and friends with similar time experience but no fty experience who are still struggling to understand mass production and stuck at Jr./Mid level design positions.

The Directive Collective

April 27th, 2007, 8:46 am

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I didn't go for industrial design but for Fine Art though I'm sure there are plenty of similarities.

One of the biggest things I miss the most is loss of community. Working in the labs or studios (for me) was about doing work then chatting with other artists, doing a little more work, some research, going out to eat sushi, more work etc. It was about being surrounded by inspirational people; ideas bouncing back and forth. In hindsight I wish I spent more time there. I know I could have done better work, but hey not all of college is about is about doing work.

Along with that is getting the most out of your crits. So many students, mostly in the earlier years, just sit through their crits waiting to get over with it. I tell you crits are one of the best tools in college. Where else can you drag 15 people and force them to look at your work and get a response!

April 28th, 2007, 10:53 am

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ufo wrote:my advice is:

school sucks, but you have to go to school to learn things.

I love to learn but I do agree with this !
School sucks big time !
If I could design my own school, it would be really different !
I'd wish it was really a learning haven.
Most students learn for the wrong ideas --- most learn for the grades.
It really should be for knowledge and you should really enjoy learning and asking very good questions.

2 cents here.

May 2nd, 2007, 11:19 am

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Realize that the field is very competitive. Understand that you might get out of school with your shiny new ID degree and not be very employable.

Learn to draw better than most of your classmates. Being competent won't help you much, there's too many people that are like that for you to stand out in this field.

Learn form development and understand what makes a design beautiful and attractive to people.

Learn to use Alias, Solidworks, and Adobe CS (and maybe Rhino, form'z and 3D Studio Max) better than most of your classmates.

Start getting internships your FIRST year, even if its only taking the trash out.

Think about and learn what makes some products more successful than others.

I have a whole section for modelmaking skills I wish I knew when I started:

Buy your own toolbox and stock it with your own supplies. Don't depend on shop tools. They suck.

sandpaper 50, 100, 800, 1000 & 5000 grit.
ruler for measurement
ruler for cutting
cutting mat
dremel tool and/or various files
safety googles
automotive primer
automotive paint
or spray gun
sanding block
3M Super 77
Weld-On + application brushes (for joining acylic and some plastics)
Utility knife + extra blades
X-acto + extra blades
Wood filler (for sealing foam)
Bondo (for fixing errors in models)
Epoxy (for joining wood and almost everything but plastic)

Give yourself 1 1/2 times as much time to finish your model than you think you'll need.

Watch your fingers when using an x-acto. I've seen LOTS of injuries from using too dull blades, so replace yours as soon as it starts binding.

Realize that even after you finish carving the model, you could easily spend 4-6 hours sealing and painting it, so prepare accordingly.

Have a very clear plan of how to make your model before you begin, and have all your materials + extra with you before you start. Don't make it up as you go along. If you want to just make a sketch model to think while you work, use some lighter grade foam. But for the most part have a very clear idea of what you want to do.

Use a dremel tool to make fine details in models. Easy does it. Don't hold your model in one hand and dremel with the other. Secure it to the table somehow (not too hard or you could damage the foam, though)

Buy your own googles and wear them everytime you are in the model shop.

Wear the best respirator you can find when making models.

Before using any power tool, think if there is any way that doing what you are about to do could hurt you or anyone else.

Super 77 glues foam stronger than steel if you spray both sides and give it about 3 minutes before you put them together, then press both sides together for about 5-10 minutes.

Use the most dense foam you can find to make models. Or renshape. Less dense foam snaps.

Don't make models out of pink or blue insulation foam unless you absolutely have to. Heavy yellow urethane or renshape is the way to go.

Have some bondo ready to fix your foam : ) You will make some mistakes.

Cut a foam cube the same dimensions as your design, then glue Illustrator templates onto the side, top and front of the model. Cutting along those with the bandsaw should give you a rough outline of what your model should look like. Unless you are very skilled, eyeballing it will just result in a lopsided model that you'll make 25% smaller trying to get evened out. Use templates!

Use a sanding block or one of those tiny hand sanders, not sandpaper and your fingers. Use a very rough grade for removing material, and have a lot of ligher grades for sanding primer later. Much more consistent and smooth.

Use a spray gun for making models, not rattle cans. If you MUST use rattle cans, use automotive grade spray paint, like Dupli Color or Plasti-Cote. Never mix brands of primer and paint, and never mix types of paint. Throw that can of Kylon or Rust-O-leum in the garbage where it belongs.

Avoid all nighters in the shop like an STD. Staying up all night doing creative sketching and eating pizza with your friends is NOT the same as desperately trying to get a model together before an 8 am critique. Avoid using powersaws when very tired, distracted, or sick. You need your fingers.

Use wood filller, not spackle, to seal your model before painting.

Paint using very light coats. 3-5 coats should do it.

Wet sand your primer using progressively finer grades of automotive sandpaper. Lightly. Make it smooth as glass before you apply your final color.

Always spray a test piece of foam beside your model so you can touch that instead of the model to see if it's dry. Much faster than sanding and starting over again.

Realize you have to make about 4-12 models before you figure out the fastest and best way to make them. Don't be afraid to ask upperclassmen, instructors, or the person running the shop for advice. Spending five minutes consulting with someone could save you 5 hours fixing a model down the line.

When your model is finished, painted, dry, and beautiful, take it to the photo booth and take several well lit, high res, photos of it IMMEDIATELY. Models get damaged, dropped, etc. very easily so document it well. Better to do this now than have to go back in a year a re-shoot it later when you realize the photo you have for your portfolio is either lousy or non-existant.

May 3rd, 2007, 4:35 pm

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Great tips above. All true Either you must have been taking notes during your studies or i guess recently graduated (or have a great memory). couldn't have said it any better.

The Directive Collective

May 3rd, 2007, 10:49 pm

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Give yourself 1 1/2 times as much time to finish your model than you think you'll need.
D's great advice reminded me of a couple of other crucial tips that will ensure rock star status;

1) Plan your 6-week projects with deadlines every 3 or 4 days and STICK TO THEM. i.e If you haven't got the research done by Tuesday, move on!

2) Don't work in a silo, dare to get other people's opinions throughout the project, and listen to it carefully.

3) Party.

June 19th, 2007, 1:45 am

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I think D just described all of the best advice and pitfalls of physical modeling at once!!!! :shock:

I can relate to many TRAGIC and heart breaking mistakes, and can also attest to doing stupid things to finish a model. Of my worst mistakes:

- Don't find the strongest glue possible to attach something the first time, unless there is ZERO room for error during assembly!!! I decided to use epoxy to join an aluminum rod and 2 pieces of 1/2" MDF. Rods didn't line up right, so I tried to pull them off and proceeded to BREAK OFF the top edge of my model! I was almost ready to stomp on it and then cry. I was about an hour from shop close and had the presentation at 6 the next day. I went home, relaxed, glued the chunk back on, and took my time the 2nd attempt in putting it all together. In the end life went on. I nailed the presentation, no one noticed the fateful crack, and I ended up being 1 of 8 students picked to display at the Milan Salone Satellite Show.

- Sanding Bondo in your apartment living room over a garbage can is bound to make a mess.

- Did you know you can make a "spray booth" in your kitchen by bringing home a large box? Turned on the fan over the oven and hoped to God I didn't overspray the cupboards!

- Don't work tired like he said above! I used to drive an hour South of college to my Uncle's shop, and it's a damn miracle I didn't injure myself somehow. On average I didn't get there til 12:30 after the college closed, and I'd go home at 3 AM anyway, when I figured I WOULD lop off a finger if I stayed up any longer.

- KNOW WHEN TO QUIT! Don't forget that the model IS NOT EVERYTHING! It's a shiny object on the table you invested too much time in that someone will inevitably scratch/disfigure/break as soon as it goes on display. Unless you present to other designers, most "outsiders" will say "Gosh that's pretty" and walk away after looking at it for a moment. Don't F UP and not finish your presentation in a last ditch effort to finish the model. Once I made the mistake of putting the model over the presentation and I SHOULD have failed the class if it weren't for the fact that nobody really finished the project in time. During my Senior Thesis I realized I had WAY too much data to crunch and turn into my presentation, so I said to hell with it and quit working on the model 3 weeks out. Best thing I could have done.

August 12th, 2007, 2:30 pm

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I typed this up for another topic today, but I thought it worked up here as well:

Don't make college your heyday. Save that for the real world, use this time to set yourself up for success as much as you can.

Use school as a means to an end. It is not a destination, it is the first stop on a long (long) journey

Know that your education will not be handed to you on a silver platter just because you pay tuition. Knowledge and experience are earned, so take your education into your own hand and ensure that you take what you need to be successful.

Do whatever (WHATEVER) it takes to get at least 2 internships, even if you do one for free a couple of days a week in the summer.

Have a dream, and sketch out a plan to make it real. Both the dream and the plan will change radically by the time you graduate (several times in fact) and will continue to evolve once you start working, but having both will get you though the rough spots and the low times. There will be some of those.

If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Have fun. It's design, not accounting. Have fun with what you do.

Don't let the people around you define you.

Push yourself as hard as you can. Come back in the next day, throwaway what you started and push yourself further.

Remember that no one thinks about your future as much as you do.

Know that professors and instructors are great guides on your educational journey, but they are not the ultimate authority on good design and what it is all about.

Know you can't always have it your way all the time, but learn to compromise to get what you need. Negotiate. From student loans to class schedules, there are no hard rules that have not been already bent.

Take time to remember you don't know what your doing, and that is an excellent reason to break the rules.

If you ask an instructor if you can do something on a project, he might say no. If you don't ask, he didn't say you couldn't!

Always know it is easier to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission!

Seek advice and input from your upperclassmen, give unsolicited advice and input when you become one. Pass it on. Your peers are the most valuable asset at your school. Their success raises the value of your diploma.

August 12th, 2007, 2:56 pm

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Here is a bit of an addendum:

Get 8 hours of sleep before a presentation. What you lack in work you will make up in being able to communicate coherently and you will be able to listen and learn from feedback.

Eat well. I had a friend who got scurvy because he only ate dried mashed potatoes for a year. How you going to design with scurvy?

Stay in shape. Exercising the body is good for the mind. It will energize you mentally.

Take a presentation class. I took one taught by an actor. It paid off.

Take time to get drunk with friends.

Be on time. Your paying for it, and nothing is more disrespectful to an instructor (and future employers) than being late. Being late is the easiest thing not to do, and the first negative people will point out, no matter how talented you are.

No matter how big of a fish you are in the little pond called school, remember you will be heading out to the ocean soon.

October 1st, 2007, 6:22 pm

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awesome stuff in this thread!

in response to a previous reply....

how much should i really be concernced with my GPA?

i get A's in my studios and get my work done, but i've attended a community college and am currently at KSU doing terrible in my general education... what does that say to my employers....even with a strong portfolio?


October 1st, 2007, 6:34 pm

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rawbin wrote:awesome stuff in this thread!

in response to a previous reply....

how much should i really be concernced with my GPA?

i get A's in my studios and get my work done, but i've attended a community college and am currently at KSU doing terrible in my general education... what does that say to my employers....even with a strong portfolio?

For the most part nobody cares about your grades. If you have your degree and you have a very strong portfolio it'll be crystal clear to an employer why you got a D in Intro Psych. Better yet, don't list your GPA on a resume if it isn't any good, but if they ask then be honest. If you had a 2.1 GPA and your work is terrible, then thats another story.

March 6th, 2008, 8:52 pm

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6 Ps of life:

Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

My big regret:

Not staying long at my first job or any job for that matter.

My first job was at Digital Equipment Corporation. We had a great staff (about 12 industrial designers) with an awesome boss. 4 months into my job (I did redesign their keyboard that was manufactured) I got recruited (enticed) by a big name firm in NYC. I should've thought much more!!! But, with a bigger pay and to be in NYC (where my g/f was at the time) I jumped at it. My boss even matched their salary! - A big mistake.

April 29th, 2008, 3:36 am

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being a graduating senior this year, I'm giving a bunch of unsolicited advice to my junior roommate.

pretty much it comes down to:

i. never stop hustling
ii. have big dreams
iii. malt liquor is great
maybe you'll love me when I fade to black

May 1st, 2008, 5:33 pm

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This is a great thread.

1) You must eat, sleep and breathe design. Design the clothes you wear, the room you live in, the food on your plate, and the tools you use. You have to immerse yourself in design to really ever get it. Read/look at dozens of books on design, listen to speeches by every designer you can find. Figure out who your favorite designers are, and why, study what they have done, undertstand why, and meet them if possible. Draw and sketch constantly. go to flea markets and buy old well-designed products and surround yourself with them. Take them apart and understand exactly how and why they were made, and why they are great. Solicit feedback on all your work, listen carefullly, work to build your skills and fix the deficiencies in your process.

2) Figure out what your learning style is, and then put yourself in exactly the right environment to learn (for me it is one-to one in an apprentice-like setting, not a classroom)

3) Live in the studio, but take frequent breaks and side trips to refresh. Go visit the other departments to see and discuss work totally outside your field, museums, films, etc.

4) Party your ass off, occaisionally. You may never again be in such a vibrant, exciting environment with so few real responsibilities. Enjoy it while you can

5) Make friends. The design world is very small and everyone one knows everyone. Good contacts will last for your whole career.


July 26th, 2008, 8:20 pm

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:? I am very thankful for all the valuable advice! I am struggling in my third Design Drawing class now in summer. These advices get me motivated.

Seems like I should pay a visit to some museum.

I have an advice to share too.

If you have shop open on summer, you should build things while the shop is clean and open.

I built a table, bed frame and refinished my cabinet in the first half of summer school. There is some much materials left in the shop all free (Paint too!)