Recently, The Art Career Project had a short back-and-forth with Alex to learn how he got to where he is professionally:
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions, Alex. First off, please detail your journey as an Automobile Designer and your particular professional experience.
My journey started out with a great passion for both design and engineering. Learning board drafting (old school, probably completely obsolete for engineering-related design) and CAD in high school allowed me to pick up fundamentals and a new perspective on 3-dimensional space and how objects appear. At this time, I also delved into more creative designs with software like Rhino 3D.
Please be so kind as to detail the education and early pertinent experience you received to prepare you for your professional career. Recommended schools, workshops, valued mentors, etc., would be appreciated.
I had (and still have) been on more of a technical than creative path since high school. Going into engineering appealed greatly to my interest in problem solving, and my creative design interests are now something that I keep on the side.
So, obviously, being well-rounded certainly can’t hurt one’s employability. Yes?
Yes, most definitely! It certainly helped me a lot. Anyway, as far as education is concerned, Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, MI has a great integrated design and engineering class, and there are several industrial design programs out there that are very impressive.
I had a couple of projects in other industries that were noteworthy. They concerned major problems that nobody else had time to work on to find a solution, so being able to find something that took both my design and problem-solving skills to conquer, delivering both cost-effective and solid solutions, was very gratifying. Unfortunately, I am not able to go into detail.
Was there a period in which you maybe worked as an intern or perhaps made your living in areas outside of your area of intended expertise?
Yes –when in college, working as an intern, I was forced to labor in manufacturing. But it was much to my benefit. I went to college for engineering to focus on design, and I didn’t ever connect the dots to understand that products are designed to be manufactured, so manufacturing is a huge part of all physical products. With my familiarity with manufacturing, I broadened my understanding of what happens after the designing and engineering work move to the next steps. There has always been a disconnect between design development and what happens before you ship the product out.
Your plans for the future?
I am interested in starting my own design firm with several complementary businesses, including high-end 3D printing, with hopes of working with manufacturing start-up companies. Working with start-ups is challenging, though it is also very exciting.
Any other thoughts that might help a person on this career path?
Make sure you are enjoying what you do since this isn’t the easiest career path nor will the companies in automotive or other product-development companies be the easiest to work for. If the work that comes up is a bit off of your interests, freelance designing is still pretty prevalent, so consider that as well to fulfill your design interests.
Get more advice from Alex in our How to Become an Automobile Designer piece.