Saturday, December 13, 2008


This quarter was probably my favorite DesCom quarter I’ve had so far, and I mean that in full sincerity. The fact that the content was tailored to our requests, and that it had professional relevance, was extremely valuable. I didn’t feel like I was wasting time on arbitrary assignments… rather, I felt like I was accomplishing something that was clearly relevant to my development as a designer.

I especially liked learning how to fuse 3D renders with 2D Photoshop work to create intermediate steps in the ideation process. I’m pretty excited about using that skill as time progresses. (Learning Illustrator rendering was helpful too.)

Additionally, the talks about how to give well-thought out professional presentations were very helpful. In the future it might be more beneficial to cover that content at the very beginning of the quarter so it could be the overreaching “vision” for the rest of the quarter’s work. I know for me personally, it probably would have helped solidify my thinking earlier in the process.

So overall, I got a lot out of the class this quarter. And Mike, (if you’re reading this,) I thought your teaching style was really good—the way that you explained things made a lot of sense to me and helped me to understand concepts I hadn’t thought about before. So thanks.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bad News and Hope

Yeah, so about my work this quarter… I’m disappointed in myself. And I get the impression I’m not the only one disappointed in me. I can’t help but feel like I really dropped the ball, and that’s a horrible feeling.

So I want to do better in the future. For next quarter, my goals consist of

1. Learning time-management skills (and the self-discipline to follow through with them)
2. Practicing my drawing (and getting good at it)
3. Developing my software skills so I can comfortably (and quickly) construct and render products.

I guess there’s hope for me yet—I just have to do a better job of staying on top of things. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Afraid to Open

Blogs are funny creatures. They enable a vast number of people to create specialized networks that share information, and they connect individuals from across the globe. But they’re also visible, exposed. The world can read your words, and there’s no denying what you’ve said. It’s a powerful medium. And it makes me somewhat afraid. What if I say something foolish, something I won’t be able to live down?

You see, I’ve been keeping a private journal for over 10 years, and in that context, I don’t separate my personal thoughts from my professional insights. They all blend together into a conglomerate that is myself. That’s fine for what it is, but posting things publically is entirely different. I have to work at dividing my professional statements from my inner thoughts, and quite frankly, I haven’t had much practice doing so when it comes to written communication.

So in one regard, I’m not entirely comfortable using a blog myself. But I can recognize the benefits of leveraging it as a communications tool. It’s a great forum for gathering resources and connecting groups of people with similar interests. It’s also a fantastic medium for facilitating conversations that can shape and develop an industry. And it’s just plain good for sparking ideas.

So overall, a blog is a good tool for discussing design… I’m just not sure if it’s the right tool for me.

Awaiting Reply

I still haven't heard back regarding my "design professional interview," so I'll post it when I do.

A Look Back

So I said at the beginning of the quarter that my goals included growing as a person, both spiritually and intellectually. I suppose that this is inevitable in the natural course of things, though it’s also possible to backslide. And I’ve done both.

As for my design skills, I’ve made some progress, though not as I would have liked. I learned some good techniques for communication in my DesCom class, but I failed to implement all of them as I should have in my studio project. So I’m left feeling disappointed in myself, because I know I could (and should) have done better.

I did get better at Alias, and I’m glad I got the extra exposure. I didn’t, however, venture much into SolidWorks, so that’s still on my to-do list for the future. And although my drawing improved a little, I didn’t put in the hours I needed to make a significant change.

But I’ve heard that we learn from our failures as much as we do from our successes, if not more so. So I suppose that this is a good learning opportunity for me, in a way. I can look at my life this quarter and see where I fell short, and hopefully I’ll be wise enough to avoid those circumstances in the future.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Big Picture

I like the big picture.

I’ve always been interested in ideas and strategies, and I think that it comes through in my design work. It’s the understanding of the design process and overall product/brand vision where my strength resides. I’m still a young designer and I still have so much to learn in this area, but I think that this is my “niche,” so to speak.

At Kimberly-Clark, this was something that emerged. I was told that I had a good understanding of process, and was actually asked to give a repeat of my final presentation for another business team. I was also commissioned provide a copy of that presentation with a voice-over, for the purpose of having it as a company resource.

For my second term with KC, I had an idea for a commercial that would match the brand vision for the product line. I ended up writing a theme song and recording the video footage, and I got to work with Witold Tulodziecki to make a final recording of the song and do some of the video editing. It was a great opportunity and an awesome experience, and the end result was received very well by the business and marketing teams involved in the project.

It says a lot about Kimberly-Clark that they were so willing to give me opportunities, and that they were so invested in my professional development. I’m grateful to have worked there, and I think I’ve benefitted significantly from my experiences during that time.

But the next step is to strive for the next level. I still need to develop my other skills, and work to become a better-rounded designer. I think I’ve been leaning on my strengths, but afraid to challenge and develop my weaknesses. I suppose that learning to do so is a part of maturing as a professional and as a person. I just have to grit my teeth and work hard. There’s no short cut for time and effort.

Right now my visualization is okay, but not up to par as I wish it was. So this is what I want to develop. I think once I bite the bullet and dig into it, I’ll feel a lot better. And if I can successfully fuse good process insight with good visualization… well, perhaps that will be a force to be reckoned with.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

One Word

My favorite approach to design is something I think the design firm IDEO has mastered. One word: INTERDISCIPLINARY.

Consumers don’t happen in a vacuum, and neither do products. When consumers go to the store to buy something, they typically consider multiple factors: How does this product work? What is the cost? Do I like it—does it make me feel good about myself? Is it cool? Etc.

In order to satisfy these different desires, products can’t address only one problem and hope for the best. They have to address many problems simultaneously, and that takes teamwork between people of different professions. So like I said, product design—good product design, that is—should be interdisciplinary.

Even though I’m still a student, I try to live this out as best I can. In our current HP sponsored project, I’ve been seeking the help of some of my IT/Engineering friends. They’ve cracked open computers for me, shown me the parts, explained the systems, and given me suggestions for how, and how NOT, to improve the product.

I really appreciate their help, and I will openly admit that I’m not an expert in those areas. So talking with people who know what they’re doing gives me an idea of where to go.

Someday I hope to have access to more professions, bigger and broader teams, and consumers themselves in order to get that feedback that is so valuable. Ultimately, I think design is as much about listening as it is about visualizing.