By on March 12, 2012


Andrew writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I always enjoy reading your nuggets of design wisdom and critique on TTAC. From your articles, its obvious you know some rather talented designers, and definitely have some interesting stories.

If you could spare a moment of your time for a TTAC reader, I’m looking for some feedback on my industrial design portfolio; I’m trying to land my first proper design job that I’ll be happy with after graduating in April of last year. I’m currently working in a somewhat related field in a job that pays well but gives me no joy.

My website is at, I’d like rather honest feedback, whether harsh or good. If you were a hiring manager a design firm, would you give me an interview? And if not, what needs to change?

Much Thanks,

Andrew Lowe

Sajeev answers:

Andrew, you a certainly a gifted designer…definitely like one of the guys I’d just watch in amazement when I was in design school.

Your portfolio is pretty impressive for someone right out of college, especially working cross-functionally with engineering students on the Moon Buggy!  I love it.  I hope every Industrial design professional would like the content on your website.  Only a real douchebag (of which there are many) will have serious problems with what is presented. Don’t let them bring you down.

My recommendation is twofold: I need your ideation sketches.  How do you sketch something? How does your sketch sell the premise of the product to your manager? To their manager?  To a potential investor?

While I never officially put my time at CCS to good use, I did use my (pathetic) drawing skills to good use in the world of the MBA Business Plan competition.  I sketched a product, wrote its key features, and showed it to my team for criticism.  Then I made a nicer one to show to our professors and those who will be critiquing our business plan.  Finally, I made a stripped down drawing with minimal text for our official PowerPoint presentation to use at the actual competitions.

I personally think this kind of experience should be mandatory in Design School.  But that would require a lot of Entrepreneurs/MBAs in the mix.  And maybe, after seeing both sides, that will never work in higher education. For shame.

My second recommendation?  Industrial designers and most artists are too damn verbose. I always thought portfolios should use more bullet pointing of key features/actions/etc of your projects to show things off as purely as your renderings. Again, that’s the MBA in me speaking from Elevator Pitch experience.  But then again, if a kid that went to CCS can do cold calling and corporate-level sales in the same decade…maybe there’s something to it.

I wish you the best of luck; you obviously have talent and know a bit about marketing and sales.  If you didn’t, you’d be like every other I.D. student: unable to read the comments posted by our Best and Brightest because of your letter to me. And if for some reason you become miserable in Industrial Design, be like me and get an MBA. I think you will enjoy learning that end of the “business.”

Send your queries to [email protected] . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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5 Comments on “Piston Slap: Some Venom for Andrew’s Vellum?...”

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Nice stuff Amigo. Really love the Rotophone.

  • avatar

    Looks excellent to me. Web design was fine (my area of expertise) and portfolio work itself looks excellent. I concur, more conceptual sketch work would lend a nice polish (and is very fashionable)

  • avatar

    There are some interesting ideas there that cross a good variety of fields and applications (which suggests wide-ranging creativity and skills that are broadly adaptable).

    On a personal note, I particularly liked the bird feeder (which might have even more impact if shown in a variety of colors), the wheelchair (which can be adapted to multiple tasks), and the Airrigation (which I think of more as an Airrigator–in a Phineas and Ferb sense). Here are a few observations and questions that crossed my mind as I was scanning your site.

    1. While you are obviously using the site as a kind of virtual c.v, it might nevertheless help if you included some kind of caption that clearly identified the site as centered or focused upon the field of Design. While you may know what it is, and those you direct there may know what it is, it may not be as clear to someone who might happens upon your site through a general search (and you never know where something like that could lead).

    2. When I read about the bird feeder, I wanted to know what material it was made of and whether it could be made from a variety of materials (and why it was squirrel proof, because squirrels are renowned for their ability to ‘outsmart’ other so-called ‘squirrel proof’ feeders.

    3. When I read about the Airrigator, I wanted to know if it was expensive to build, how heavy it was, and whether it could be easily (and inexpensively) repaired if needed.

    I have no idea if any of this is of any help to you, but these are the kinds of things that crossed my mind when I glanced at your site (which I really enjoyed, by the way). I add these points because it’s possible that others might find themselves looking for this kind of information when glancing through your descriptions.

  • avatar

    No venom here either. You’re obviously quite talented and all of the products and the site itself seem very well designed and thought out.

    As a schooled graphic designer with years of sales and marketing experience, almost of decade of business experience in the ‘school of hard knocks’, and an unabashed car nut (trying to keep this on point)—if I had a need for an ID staffer, and your personality fit with my team, I’d hire you in a second.

    You’ve got a lot to be proud of there. Anyone that doesn’t give you an interview has their head firmly planted, well, you know.

  • avatar

    Better late than never with a reply.

    Thanks all for kind feedback, it is always satisfying to know that others enjoy the work that you have poured countless hours into.

    Philosophil: You have great suggestions on things I have overlooked. Sometimes one can caught up in the “wow” factor of a design and leave out critical information, in this case my name on the home page. Your points on the birdfeeder are spot on, I am meaning to put together some additional images addressing your points (as others has raised them as well), time is a limited commodity when working a 9-5 and freelancing after hours.

    Jason Lombard: Thanks for the comments, always nice coming from a fellow design professional.

    Sajeev: I know my portfolio lacks ideation sketches. I just tend to throw them away because they are simply scribbles on a piece of paper. I definitely do not have any of the sketching talent that some designers have. Prismacolour markers and I do not get along. It is the critiscm I hear over and over, and the one that I need to address the most, yet have the least desire to do so. An MBA has always been something I’ve kept at the back of my mind, maybe one day I’ll spring for one and try to do the whole design director thing.

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