Becoming a designer at 24

May 15th, 2014, 12:20 pm

flambuoyancy
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Joined: May 15th, 2014, 11:27 am
Hi Core77ers,

I studied math and computer science at a private research school in the US for 4 years (reduced courseload) and as I got a real sense of what my field was like, I started developing a distaste for it all. Then came the extremely difficult classes, the ailing grades, and the depression / anxiety duo. I pulled out before I finished the degree to take a breather.

I'm more than halfway through that year, and I don't think I'm going back to finish the degree.

Last spring, I started work on two projects from home. One of them was a packaging project . The design project was pitched to a rather large company that you've probably heard of, and it's being shopped as we speak. I'm extremely anxious to hear their response, but they've already sunk quite a bit into legal and patent work so all signs are good.
This can land me passive income for a few years and let me work on my next project.
But - the inherent uncertainty of being a self-starter is exacerbated by my lack of a specific, usable skillset. If my entrepreneurial endeavor at hand doesn't work out, I'll be stuck .I'm a jack of many trades, master of none.

Interestingly, when I ask myself what I would consecrate time to learn and spend time doing in an office setting, the answer is always design or something related. I have no experience with it aside from my only packaging project that I can't even publicize, but I think I can be really good at it if I learn the theory and work on some more diversified projects. I have an eye for packaging, furniture, household objects, and interiors. I enjoy working with my hands, I'm good with computers, and I can cross from technical to creative and back with ease. I've thought about going down this route a while back when I dropped out of school, but I never had the guts to dive in. I'm now not only ready, but desperate to learn and make something of myself in a field that I already adore.

I'd like to build my portfolio and I don't know where to start. My visualization and mental manipulation of objects is really good , but my drawing is very bad. I've already started sketching and I bought some books.
I don't know how to design on the computer in 3D, 2D nor do I know how to "render". Where should I start?

I'm thinking that I should set a goal of putting together a prelim portfolio by November (6 months) with a clear outline of what I need and how many of each. Then I'll take what I've learned , and what I have and kick it up a notch.
I'd eventually start sending out the CV to various places.

Can I get some help with this please? I don't know who else to ask and thankfully I found this forum.

In a perfect life, I'd have gone straight into ID after high school, but I didn't know about then in the sense I do now. What a shame.

Jules
Last edited by flambuoyancy on May 17th, 2014, 8:01 am, edited 4 times in total.

Re: Becoming a designer at 24

May 15th, 2014, 3:29 pm

iderryan
Posts: 11
Joined: August 16th, 2011, 12:17 pm
Do you intend to go back to school, or just jump into design?

Re: Becoming a designer at 24

May 15th, 2014, 3:41 pm

flambuoyancy
Posts: 16
Joined: May 15th, 2014, 11:27 am
Jump in. No time for school.I don't want to be doing my unpaid internship at 29 or 30.

edit: I'll go to school if I can't find work in any position that's design related before the next year is up.
Just saying it's not my first choice since I just feel really old .
Last edited by flambuoyancy on May 16th, 2014, 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Becoming a designer at 24

May 15th, 2014, 5:12 pm

iderryan
Posts: 11
Joined: August 16th, 2011, 12:17 pm
I can't tell you about not going to school. What I can tell you is that the world hires problem solvers. If you know how to find solutions to problems you'll always find work. If you're going to go the way of the designer, I would at least take some beginning design classes for process and some drawing courses. You'll shave off years of struggling. There's really no replacement for a CAD course either. Once you learn one 3d program, others will come easier.

Re: Becoming a designer at 24

May 15th, 2014, 5:35 pm

flambuoyancy
Posts: 16
Joined: May 15th, 2014, 11:27 am
Process, as in ... design methodologies?

Re: Becoming a designer at 24

May 15th, 2014, 6:00 pm

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bepster
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I jumped into an ID education at 26 from a different field, did unpaid internships closer to 30 and never regretted it.
every experience was necessary and has meed vital for my development.

Mainly because I realized that I needed to understand the nuts and bolts of design and learn the core skills from the ground up. Short cuts don't really exist and buckling down a few weeks to become a great sketcher does not a designer make.

If your goal is to become an Industrial Designer, handling projects from ideation and research all the way to production and launch, you will have to learn the basic skills required. And most likely this will not happen on the job. At least not a paid one.

Personally, I have a hard time seeing someone getting hired, who has no way of visualizing their ideas. CAD and 2D work are essential.
In order to get a foot into the door, you don't have to be amazing at everything, just good enough that you would be considered an asset rather than a time suck at a design office.

What I feel you need and a good design course offers, is structure and a big picture plan. This is very hard for you to put together by yourself as you have no experience. Developing a compelling portfolio with quality work is about more than just exhibiting skills. It takes time to mature and develop. Rushing this is very difficult as your personality as a designer changes as you learn.

If you are shooting for 6 months to put together a competitive ID portfolio for a Jr position, I am afraid, you might be setting yourself up for failure. A more promising and realistic course of action (if undergrad is out) might be to enroll in some course, get to know your peers, find mentors, use the shops.

But then again, there is something to be said about proving the nay-sayers wrong. Many of use have done it and keep doing it. So in the end, you gotta make the call.

Re: Becoming a designer at 24

May 15th, 2014, 7:06 pm

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sanjy009
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bepster wrote:I jumped into an ID education at 26 from a different field, did unpaid internships closer to 30 and never regretted it.
every experience was necessary and has meed vital for my development.
+1

I'm in a similar boat, but I wish I was 24 and about to start. Lots of competitions and scholarships are for the young people under 25 with their hip-hop and ironic beards and crystal meth.

At some stage you will be 30. Do you want to be 30 with some ID education/ experience, or just 30?

Re: Becoming a designer at 24

May 15th, 2014, 7:13 pm

flambuoyancy
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Naturally, 30 with experience and some accomplishment.

Re: Becoming a designer at 24

May 15th, 2014, 8:14 pm

apowers
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If I'm not mistaken the average freshman age for Industrial Design is 24...

Food for thought, great advice above
Aaron Powers
Footwear Designer at Nike
Academy of Art University Graduate - 2016
My design school journey: http://boards.core77.com/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=28022
My Behance: https://www.behance.net/Apowers
IG: Sketchpowers

Re: Becoming a designer at 24

May 16th, 2014, 8:19 am

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IDAL
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flambuoyancy wrote: I think I can be really good at it if I learn the theory and work on some more diversified projects. I have an eye for packaging, furniture, household objects, and interiors. I enjoy working with my hands, I'm good with computers, and I can cross from technical to creative and back with ease.
How do you expect to learn the basics and the theory without taking some basic lessons? Much of what you learn doesn't come from books, but from the interaction with people, other students, professors, workshop people, etc. The feedback of the people surrounding you, their ideas and the way they perceive the products opens your mind, make you realize of things you wouldn't on your own. Here in the forum you could get feedback and make a progress with your skills, but I doubt it'd be enough to land a proper design position.

Most companies ask for the degree itself, without that many doors would be automatically closed for you. In a way you are lucky you found out you wanna be a designer when you are 24, I have friends who realized of that with 26 - 28, some others are older and still don't know what to do. These guys who did would work part time while studying and still be among the top students. I don't mean you are not gonna get it without going to a design school, but it's gonna be much harder.

Having an eye doesn't make you a designer, there's much more to it that just having good taste. You should be able to explain why that product is cooler over this other, be able to give the reason behind it in a way people would agree with you. That you enjoy working with your hands is great, that's a must for a designer, same with computers or combining the technical and the artistic side. Now you would need to develop those skills up to the level of a professional designer and I believe the best way to do it would be going back to uni.
Alejandro Lara
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Re: Becoming a designer at 24

May 16th, 2014, 8:29 am

flambuoyancy
Posts: 16
Joined: May 15th, 2014, 11:27 am
I'm still going to apply to schools and jobs concurrently. I'm basically going to apply to everything ID-related.
Even though I don't want to go to a university or college, I don't want to repeat the same mistake last year and not have a backup plan of at least having a school that's accepted me and that I can go to.

In hindsight, I would have been better off starting school in September than in September 2015.

Until that time, I need a portfolio, and I don't know what I need to learn and what should go into it.
I'm thinking to set milestones for every area, and devise a concrete project for each one. (one product sketch, one 3d design, one render, etc etc)

Every iteration would build upon the previous one , and I'd end up with a better than nothing portfolio by the time I start applying.

Re: Becoming a designer at 24

May 16th, 2014, 10:50 am

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Greenman
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I'm not so sure ID is the right path for you and I say that because you seem very driven to get on with a career or your own business as soon as possible. There's few, if any, shortcuts you can take if your goal is to have a career in ID, other forum members have already pointed this out. Is it possible? Yes, but not very probable.

The packaging project you mentioned sounds interesting and I know you can't disclose it, but what specifically did you contribute to it? Did you assist in development or did you design it, is it your own intellectual property? What skills and/or software did you use and how did you use it?
All dots connect, even the tiny blue one

Re: Becoming a designer at 24

May 16th, 2014, 11:46 am

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yo
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Just to get super tactical and blunt, with no design education, why would someone hire you?

1) you have an amazing portfolio despite of not having a design education
2) somehow you gained a tremendous amount of experience in design despite not having a design education
3) the person hiring you doesn't know any better, probably doesn't know how to work with design, and is hiring you for next to no money

outside of those three possibilities, it is very very unlikely. Think of your competition and what they will bring to the same job application or interview. You need to beat them.

Re: Becoming a designer at 24

May 16th, 2014, 12:31 pm

flambuoyancy
Posts: 16
Joined: May 15th, 2014, 11:27 am
You're right.
I wrote that impulsively, but what I meant to say was that if I can at least apply for something design-related with a portfolio and work my way up, I'd like to have that possibility before committing myself to school until probably 29 year old. It's just..very scary for me. I'm supposed to be starting my career now, and it seems I've barely started.

I'm not discounting school. I guess I was hoping for some kind of legitimate way around it assuming I was ready to work really hard.

I already have some schools in the Netherlands I'm looking at. If school will actually be my "fast-track", then so be it. I can't single handedly change the way this is done

thanks

Re: Becoming a designer at 24

May 16th, 2014, 1:03 pm

flambuoyancy
Posts: 16
Joined: May 15th, 2014, 11:27 am
Greenman wrote:I'm not so sure ID is the right path for you and I say that because you seem very driven to get on with a career or your own business as soon as possible. There's few, if any, shortcuts you can take if your goal is to have a career in ID, other forum members have already pointed this out. Is it possible? Yes, but not very probable.

The packaging project you mentioned sounds interesting and I know you can't disclose it, but what specifically did you contribute to it? Did you assist in development or did you design it, is it your own intellectual property? What skills and/or software did you use and how did you use it?
I created the design from scratch and made my own prototypes. I pitched the idea to them, they loved it, and went ahead and did a patent pending on it and made their own version of it with the correct cartons, and minor adjustments to fit their folding equipment. It's my IP entirely, and the NDAs state that.

Skills and software? Nothing really. Just GIMP. Their designers took my stuff and made it to spec.

You're right in that I want to get to work quickly, and maybe I was falsely motivated by my recent "success" in getting such a huge company to invest R&D into my work and think about buying it from me.
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