in Design Thinking, Life

Writing to document

To challenge myself a bit more I’d like to be intentional about what I am writing about. After-all I’d like to document my journey from here to there – from here to IDEO. Often I’m just not sure what to share. I guess I’ll start with what I am doing right now.

I guess as of right now I am taking a good chunk of courses online via Skillshare. (This link is nothing special – I’ll get a month off if you sign up). The reason I am taking so many Skillshare classes is – I’m not sure what I’d like to be creating. As a multi-passionate person its been really hard to focus on just one thing. I know that I need to push my efforts in a specific direction and get the traction going so that I can move onto other things. I’d like to have my own design studio and co-working space, to travel more and to make things that matter – things that have an impact on peoples lives. This is what attracted m to industrial design and product design.

Right now – my job is to mount paper to board. I design the displays that you run your carts into at Walmart. (Sorry). They’re meant to help stimulate purchases, and move product quicker than on the shelf. How did I end up here? Great question lets take a trip down memory lane.

I went to school for biology at Montclair state university. Prior to that I went to a magnet High school in Newark – Arts High – and studied fine art, photography, ceramics and air brush. I knew I wanted to continue in the arts but growing up I was always told I couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to make money. I wanted to be an art teacher. When I was home or had friends over I would have them sit in a semi circle and teach. I’d give math tests (but I don’t really like that subject), or assignments for drawing.

When I started college my major was biology. And after my first course – where the professor was obsessed about birds – I decided to change my major. It went from Bio, to physical fitness, to product design. I landed on product design because they didn’t have architecture or interior design.

Once I started the design classes I fell in love all over again. It was a space to use my hands and the tools I enjoy so much – color pencils, markers, hand saws, and drills! (what a jump right!)

My professor on the other hand wasn’t the greatest. He didn’t know how to communicate with his students to help them improve their design and engineering skills. The only advice he would ever give is – you suck. That is not good critique for a designer to improve on what they’ve worked so  hard on. If a design sucks – you should at least be able to tell me why and what to improve to make it better.

No lie this dude killed my confidence.

And it carried along with me to Rochester – where I ended up graduating college. The confidence killer when it came to my design made me question everything. When it came to fine art I was fine – I could draw my ass off. But when it came to making and redesigning products – I kept wondering if I was good enough.

On top of all of that I had to work multiple jobs to have food to eat and have my basic needs covered. This experience made me grow up real quick. I often have late nights in the studio – pulling all nighters over the phone with a cousin back home. And rising in the wee early morning – having to be at my first job at 4:45am.

I was diligent.

Relentless.

But my design work suffered  in turn.

My design projects were made to always please the professors. They didn’t really care if our ideas were good – they wanted projects to be explored based on what they were interested in seeing being developed. In hind site – I would fight for my design decisions. I believe that is something that was lacking in my design school experience.

Interview after interview – I couldn’t land anything. So I took a 6 month internship with the Disney College program. Funny enough – I applied at the end of my freshman year in college and my mom wouldn’t let me go! Senior year we met again and I was to go into the design and merchandising field!

Florida was extensively hot, somehow I ended up really sick even before starting my job. Being sick ruined my starting experience and I didn’t get to work with the actual designers of Disney. I was part of the stage crew – the people that are oh so nice to you when you go to visit. I learned a lot about Disney’s history and how they maintain their brand. (Quite amazing if you ask me).

After three months of working for the mouse I had to go home for a wedding. I was struggling financially – the internship didn’t pay much and well – the loan companies wouldn’t give me a break. I made the decision to go back home after three months.

After going home I went and worked in retail. It was the one thing I had the most experience in. Out of all the places I worked while in retail – Crate and Barrel was the best. I got to look at amazing housewares, and sell them to customers. I got to learn about where they were from and the artist that made them. Best of all when a customer came in upset, they were bound to leave happy because we would always exchange merchandise if broken or defective.

I applied to be on their design team but they were moving away from doing in house designs – the designers would have to follow a floor plan. I was only seasonal there and moved into another retail position afterwards. I stayed in the next retail position for a year!  You wouldn’t guess where either!

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