Design Thinking: Thinking Design

head of ideas - my colors

Art and design require strategy. Consider Industrial Design (ID); in order to successfully design and create a new product, or redesign an existing one, it’s necessary to understand the environment in which the product will exist. Studying that environment and incorporating what’s learned into the design of the product is commonly known as design research, strategic design, or design thinking. Put another way; take a look at a seat belt, a flash drive, a video game, or a recumbent bicycle. The marketplace in which each of these products exists had to be considered when it was designed. That’s obvious, but not necessarily simple.

 

If you’re considering studying ID in college, you know that it’s more than just drawing cool cars and contemporary coffee dispensers. How those products will be used is critical to their design and construction. Comfort, dexterity, scale, lightness or heaviness of materials used, and the ability to withstand high or low temperatures are just some of the considerations that go into their respective designs. Cultural norms need to be considered, as do the type and size of marketplace they’ll be sold in, material costs, distribution, and competition. And, once a product is created, it needs to be market-tested.

 

I’m guessing these aren’t the first things you’d consider relevant to creating good design. And they might not cross your mind when choosing ID college courses. But they are extremely relevant. Today, design thinking has become part of the vernacular in contemporary architecture, design and engineering practices, and is gaining recognition in the business community. It’s a way of understanding the context of a problem and designing a more innovative solution. design thinking

 

Professors and administrators at colleges across the country are incorporating design thinking into their curricula as well. By doing so, they’re providing students with a real-world view of the industrial design process, and setting them up for career success.

 

My suggestion: inquire about design thinking when you tour college campuses. It’ll show the ID professors that you know what you’re getting into, and that you’re serious about it. You’ll probably learn more about it along the way. I’ll share more of what I’ve learned on the subject next week.

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Art Ed: Lessons To Learn

paint

I stumbled across a wonderful video on the web yesterday. It highlights Adelphi University students integrating arts and technology, all in the name of STEAM education. I’m a whole-hearted supporter of STEAM, but what truly caught my attention was the nuts and bolts of it all, and that the students in the video are studying art education and k-12 education. That got me to thinking about the many opportunities a degree in art education can provide.

The name Art Education (Art Ed) clearly depicts the multidisciplinary nature of the major. That same combination is mirrored in the job world. Graduating with a BFA in Art Ed leads to a number of career choices; some are traditional in nature and others born out of necessity to reflect our changing society. Teaching visual art to children in grades k-12 is the more traditional and common route. Licensure is required to teach in any state, and credential requirements vary. The school you choose will know what’s necessary to become licensed and credentialed in and around their state.

There is also a growing need to apply art education lessons through non-traditional means.  Museums and community organizations find themselves teaching art to students of all ages via gallery and museum education programming, and community arts programming – often after school or on weekends. Educators in these fields build upon their study of art history and the community to bring new perspectives and ideas to their diverse classrooms.

Like any art discipline, study begins with understanding the basics of drawing, painting, 2-D and 3-D design. It then moves on to include studio, education, art theory, and liberal arts classes. Most programs provide students with a broad, almost generalist, art education using diverse studio electives as the vehicles for wide exposure. Other programs prefer more focused learning by encouraging artistic development and expertise in only one area. Still other programs offer students a choice between the two. Additional coursework often includes a foreign language plus the study of human development and behavior, the intersection of math and art, hands-on fieldwork, and student teaching practice. The latter two provide essential real-world opportunities to make connections between creating and teaching by writing lesson plans, designing curriculum around the visual arts, and engaging with elementary and secondary students.

In addition to their in-depth integration of visual art and education, the programs I researched all have three common themes running through their programs:

  • Incorporate a multicultural perspective into their educational processes to meet the needs of today’s multiethnic and bilingual society,
  • Address the value and necessity technology plays in art education, and
  • Address the role art and design education play in culturally focused non-profit organizations.

Many institutions across the country teach Art Education, each one having unique attributes. I included MassArt, SAIC, CCS and Pratt – among others – in my research. You can start with them, but I’d also suggest talking to your high school’s college counselors and art teachers for recommendations. Join your school’s National Art Honor Society or National Junior Art Honor Society chapter, if it has one.  If not, look into getting one started.  It’s a great place to get involved and learn more about all types of art careers.

Lessons I Learned In Art School

OTIS sophomore photography color project

OTIS sophomore photography color project

High school students face countless questions when choosing a college and career.  They often seem unanswerable, but they’re not.  The right answer is out there – you just might need to dig a while to find it.

Many questions circle around the idea of how an art degree will translate into a career.  Should you attend an art school? Or how about a more comprehensive education at a liberal arts school or a state university?  If you choose one of the latter two, can you still focus on your art?  Conversely, are you creating a problem for yourself if you choose an art school and later on decide not to pursue a career as an artist?

The short answer is that you can get an excellent art education at any of these institutions.  So here’s my take-away:  The skills you gain by studying art will help you in whatever career path you choose.

Have you heard of the saying “everything I learned, I learned in kindergarten?”  I might amend that to art school.  As an art major you’ll gain numerous invaluable skills (besides the artistic ones!) that are transferable into any field or career.

Here are my top four:

1 – Problem solving:  It’s plain and simple; as an art student most of your time will be spent solving problems.  They might not seem like it at the time, but you’ll constantly be making choices and decisions affecting the outcome of your art.  Through practice you’ll figure out the best way to break down a problem to its bare elements, and then piece it back together again.

2 – Working with others:  For group assignments, collaboration is key.  You’ll understand the true value of it as you learn from your classmates and depend on their strengths and timeliness, as they depend on yours.

3 – Time management:  Start with the large number of studio assignments you’ll have each week.  Then add in reading requirements and expectations for other classes.  Let’s just say you’ll gain a new appreciation for jugglers.

4 – Work ethic:  This encompasses a lot: your integrity and initiative, communication, a sense of responsibility toward others (and deadlines), and the quality you produce.  Are you putting your best efforts into it? Holding others up?  And yes, you will discard a completely acceptable creation because it’s not “right” for a whole slew of reasons, or you just know you can do better.

Once you’ve made the plunge enjoy your school choice.  You’ll find campus resources to help you sort out your career path.  At an art college you’ll have more dedicated faculty and staff focused towards your particular artistic journey.  Professors and those in the Career Services department make industry resources available, stay on top of industry needs, guide you towards internship placements, and will help you network with alumni.

Art majors go on to lead creative and culturally influential lives – in whatever fields they eventually pursue.  Artists end up working in the arts, sales, management, education, and healthcare – to name just a few.