I have been working on instituting a 4-word mantra into some of the start-ups I work with. I have thought long and hard on these four words for everything in life. From work to school to relationships. When asked for my advice as a working Industrial Designer and Design Professor for incoming design students they once again came to mind.
Design school is not easy. It is long classes, longer homework and a lot to juggle for a student. Many people can find ways to skate by, but that doesn't make you a better designer. Be accountable to your work, your peers and your professors. Start on your projects the minute they are assigned, this could be as simple as typing the first paragraph, doing 20 concept sketches or grabbing some paper and mocking up an idea.
Do not work in a bubble, stay in studio and work with your peers. The design world is collaborative so get used to working with and supporting others. Do not miss class, one missed class can put you 2-3 weeks behind if you are not careful. This means showing up ready with all your projects parts and pieces and materials to work.
Document everything, design is about process. Love the process, detail it and share it. Make sure you are constantly seeking feedback, documenting your work and share it. Instagram and other social media have become extremely powerful tools for designers to document what they do and share it. Even if you do not use Social Media; you still have a camera in your pocket so taking quick photos of sketch models, sketches and other ideas is easy. Each time you do that process you learn.
Make sure to take written documentation of your process, this can be basic notes or rapid visualization. Professors try to be very clear with Assignments, Design Briefs and Critics, make sure you listen and take notes. This will help you keep your idea and overall deliverables clear for the assignment.
Pretty simple right. Basically, always be creating and working. As designers we are in the business of creating visual content, the more work you do the better you will be off. If I assign you 20 sketch models and you come in with 25 or 30 it gives us more to look at, plus I see you are a hard worker and I respect you more as a student. Now think about the student that comes in with 10 and an excuse.
Design is fun, so your homework should be too. You are doing this because you are passionate about it, show me that passion. I always say you can't teach enthusiasm, be excited about your work. The design field is not easy, there are many more Minted "Designers" than there are jobs, so stand out, by creating and never stop. Everyone has ideas, its people who execute them the best that are the most successful.
School becomes a grind, the end of the semester you are sleep deprived and running on lukewarm coffee and cold pizza. The above seems simple at the beginning of the semester, now you just want to get that next coat paint on that model and take a nap. Here is where you need to be honest with yourself. Are you turning in the best possible project that you can? Is there more you could do for your presentation, model or drawings to help tell the story of your project? The best students and designer never rush to the end, they stop make sure they are going the extra 20%. This is a tough one because it relies on you being honest with yourself. In the end, each project you do is a representation of yourself.
None of the above advice is about how to make a nicer a model or be better at sketching. Successful designers and design students do the little things every day.