4 Tips for Beginner Industrial Designers

My first year in college was a mixed bag of success, failure, and realizations. It was one thing reading about Design, and another thing actually jumping in and studying it. Here are 4 things that I learned along the way that I wish I knew before enrolling.

1. It’s not just about drawing cool cars

The main reason why I decided to pursue a career in design was so I could draw cool cars all day. I wanted to do something that I loved. But I quickly learned that sketching and drawing accounted only for about 10% of the overall design process. Around 80% of the whole process was research and development. The entire basis of design is to try and solve a problem, and to solve a problem, you need to know the ins and outs of the product you are trying to improve.

2. MANAGE YOUR TIME WISELY

This might be a given for most if not all professions, but I think it is one to double down on as an Industrial Designer. We will often work with tight deadlines on very time-consuming projects. So the margin of error on timing is fragile to be able to achieve a successful turnaround. Be prepared to sacrifice time for leisure to focus on the project at hand, otherwise train your body to endure many countless sleepless nights.

3. YOU WILL NEVER SEE THINGS THE SAME

It will be drilled into you to notice the flaws in everything, but also come to appreciate truly great designs better. It is as if you are looking through a different lens, so to speak. Boring products like teacups will suddenly become interesting. You’ll notice the subtle choices the designer made in the product, and realize the manufacturing feat they had to overcome to achieve a finished product. Once exciting products such as cars become mundane and stale. Your mindset will shift towards continually thinking of ways to make things better.

4. THE MOST IMPORTANT SKILL

I think there is a misconception that sketching is the most important skill a designer needs to develop to become successful. While it is a vital skill to have, there is another often overlooked, and that is one’s problem-solving skills. Developing a good foundation in problem-solving will set you up to become a much better designer than those who solely focus on their presentation skills. Problem solving will make you more adaptable to unpredictable situations, which will often come during your design career. Someone who can get past problems and solve them easier, in less time, provides a lot of value to possible employers.


You don’t have to be good at everything to be the best at something.

These are some of the things that I’ve learned in my time in school and career. I hope this helps any of you thinking about making the jump into Industrial Design. If you have any questions or would like to give me some feedback, I would love to hear from you.

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The Differences between Art and Design

One of my biggest pet peeves as a designer is I am often confused by others as being an artist. The more I am recognized as an artist as opposed to a designer, the more I started to question myself about what a designer is. I decided to do some digging and find out for myself how to design differentiates itself from art. This has been a widely debated subject amongst the design community, although there are a lot of overlapping aspects in both fields, at their core, I believe they are entirely different.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Design is Art. Art is Design.

From a fundamental standpoint, I can see that there are many similarities between the two fields. Both Art and Design are a means to communicate ideas. The concept of aesthetics is very much used by both fields to exaggerate their “voice.”

The Core Difference

To better understand the two, I went and looked at their basic definitions, From the Oxford Dictionary:

Photo by Mateo Abrahan on Unsplash

Art is defined as:

“the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power”

Photo by Mateo Abrahan on Unsplash

Design is defined as:

“Purpose or planning that exists behind an action, fact, or object.”


The primary goal of art is to induce an emotion, whereas the primary purpose of design is to cause an action.

Design is Problem Solving

Design is the process of finding solutions to problems, taking into account all the factors involved in the challenge. I think that this is a major differentiating factor from art. From a workflow standpoint, art is relatively open-ended, meaning that it can start from nothing and turn into anything. In contrast, design begins and ends, with one thing in mind, and that is trying to solve a problem. Design focuses on the market in general and art has a more personal connection with the subject

“We have always thought about design as being so much more than just the way something looks. It’s the whole thing: the way something works on so many different levels. Ultimately, of course, design defines so much of our experience.”

Jony Ive

What do you think?

Now one can argue that artists can solve problems as well, but how does a painting solve a problem?

I am by no means an expert on defining what art is and what is not, and as an industrial designer, I have a bias on this topic for obvious reasons. Though, I would love to hear from those of you on the other side of the coin.

I’ll leave you with this quote from an article I came across during my research, by Miklos Philips:

“How do we decide what is art and what is design, and why is the relationship between the two so fractured? Is it the difference between what is functional (design) and what is non-functional (art) that creates the dissension? Is a Noguchi coffee table or a Rennie Mackintosh chair merely a functional object, or is it art that happens to have a function? – It is not art versus design, but the unity of the two that is at the core of any superior design. In other words, good design incorporates art.”