How to Showcase Your Skills as a Developing Industrial Designer

How to Showcase Your Skills as a Developing Industrial Designer

In this article, Industrial Design student, Paul Arnold, shares details of his Highly Commended RA2022 entry along with tips to help you showcase your skills as a budding Industrial Designer.

Paul Arnold is a self-taught Industrial Design student whose entry into the Industrial Design category of the Rookie Awards 2022 was highly commended.

Wave Earbuds was a personal project that served as an entry for the Rookies Awards and subsequently used as one of the projects that got Paul into art school for Industrial Design.

In this article he shares details of his project, and tips to help you showcase your skills as a budding Industrial Designer.

The Rookie Awards

I'd like to thank the Rookies' judging panel for making my entry project Highly Commended in the Product Design category 2022. I genuinely appreciate it.

I first heard about the The Rookies a couple of months ago while watching a YouTube video by FlippedNormals. They talked about the Rookies as a good starting point for students or hobbyists who are getting into the creative industry - A platform to see how their current skills and work(s) hold up against a vast majority of emerging talent worldwide.

In my view, [learning about the Rookie Awards] was a call to action to kickstart my career and showcase my skills and grow as an incipient Industrial Designer.

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. As an emerging digital artist, I always found it difficult to share my work: the constant self-sabotage, and most especially the fear of whether your work is good enough to stand alongside the billions of professional works out there. At least I can say that this fear diminished with time as I developed more confidence in my work. For any creatives struggling with this, I highly recommend reading Show your work by Austin Kleon.

Nevertheless, I appreciate having been Highly Commended in the Rookies Awards 2022- Product Design category.

The Project

"Why earbuds?" should be the first question that comes to mind. Not long ago I started experiencing issues with my pair of earphones. Constantly getting interrupted in the middle of an exciting podcast or breaking the rhythm I’m getting from that new song. Plus, the sound quality and overall texture were terrible. So why not design my pair of the “ideal” earphones that eliminate all the issues?

The overall shape of the earbuds was heavily inspired by Samsung’s Galaxy buds. It’s simple and ergonomic. This was crucial as far as user experience goes.  For the style, I decided to use transparent earbud tips because it’s unique and subtly draws attention to the earbud tip. Lastly, for the overall material, I decided to go with a textured rather than a glossy or polished surface, to give the earbuds a bit of character and enhance usability in terms of handling.

For the branding, I went with a fictional brand called Wave. The brand encompassed the following attributes modern, minimalistic, unique, and most importantly exciting. The colour scheme uses similar characteristics.

A couple of days later I began sketching out a few concepts that got me to wave earbuds. I took inspiration from existing brands on Pinterest. After hours of scrolling, I finally settled on ideas that were crucial for bringing my design to life considering the product's branding.

The next step was modelling and visualising my design. I was sure to take extra attention to the material and finishing of the earbuds to enhance usability and comfort. I was sure to render different colour variations such as electric blue, WhiteSmoke, graphite and my personal favourite, pine green.

There's just something about this Pine Green variation that just sits right with me.

The case design was nothing over the top, I wanted the design to be both simple and functional.

It has LEDs to indicate the current status of the earbud battery level, and a magnet to instantly snap the earbud to the charging pins hustle-free.

For 3D modelling, I used AutoCAD for the main model as well as Blender for quick visualisation. The final renders were done with Keyshot along with lighting and texturing not forgetting Adobe Photoshop for post-processing. All the relevant resources such as references were gathered with PureRef, and some Inspiration from Pinterest and Google.

Looking back at this, there are things I could have done better. I’m writing this article about 4 months later. With time, aspects like sketching, conceptualisation, research methods and problem-solving are improving as a result of consistent practice and having the opportunity to work on projects that test you also encourage steady growth.

I’m using my current projects to formulate my very own design process. Having a solid design process is useful for ensuring you have consistently good results every single time with nothing like “luck” in the equation.

Tell me if you’ve got a process that keeps you afloat. I’m really curious about how other designers get into their own “Creative Zone”!


Learning Journey

As I embark on my studies after the Rookie Awards, I’m working on getting a lot more familiar with CAD tools and rendering software to effectively realise and communicate my design ideas professionally.

Also, I’m starting to improve and strengthen my design process for project breakdown to produce consistent and high-quality work with elements of personal style and overall functionality.

Lastly, I’m working on fundamentals in visual communication such as sketching, good presentation, colour and orientation that all conform to my design style plus engaging in collaborative projects to give me a better understanding of how to effectively contribute to a design team.

I would tell others to approach any creative pathway or aspect of digital arts with a strong sense of passion. Even if you’re just starting from scratch, the passion and love for what you want to do and what you hope to get out of it will intuitively make you put in the extra effort towards realising your goal(s). I feel this makes all the difference.

There are certainly times when you feel burned out or overwhelmed. This is completely normal and in my opinion, it’s crucial to take a step back and do a self-analysis to narrow down the cause. From experience, this meant completely stepping down from an ongoing project that did not align with my values.

Future Goals

One of my future goals is to develop a high degree of proficiency in the work I love to do and get into the habit of participating in more challenges or contests relevant to learn from other creatives and improve.

In the aspect of professional development, I’m currently enrolled in an Industrial Design program. I’d love to work with the creative team over at Ford or Polestar as a transportation designer upon specialisation.

You can find more of Paul's work and share your thoughts and insight with him over on Instagram or Behance.