October 04, 2016
Q + A with Industrial Design major David Acosta
When did you know you wanted to study industrial design?
Since my junior year in high school, I thought I wanted to do industrial design. Once in my senior year, the majority of schools I was looking at had programs in industrial design because I knew I wanted to go into that, specifically product design.
What was your focus once you got here?
When I got into my major my second year here, I wanted to do product design, but I knew I had the option to take additional classes on Saturday and try the transportation-design track [within the Industrial Design Department]. After the first few weeks, I was so bad at it, I knew I had to stick at it for at least a semester and see if I could develop in this field that I was no good at at all. After that, I just continued taking it for about a year and a half.
It’s interesting that once you identified a weakness, you dedicated yourself to improving on those skills.
I enjoy things I’m really bad at and trying to get decent at them. After getting beat down after the first few reviews, I decided I needed to stick with it.
What have you gotten from the study environment in ID?
I’ve had the opportunity to give tours and talk to students about the Industrial Design program at CIA. One of the most distinguishing and special things about the way we run the program here is the studio environment, kind of the collaborative and educational environment. Everyone is sharing it. If someone’s doing something you like and you don’t know how to do it, there’s always a willingness to show. That really helped my educational development. Having the teachers that would come down from Detroit, the teachers at the school, and the students all trying to help me get better really made me want to do the same when I was in a position to help people.
Explain the relationship between CIA’s transportation design track and the car industry.
CIA has a good history and legacy with a lot of the automakers in Detroit, especially the big three — Ford, Chrysler and GM, and more recently from some small manufacturers from the area. From my first year, GM has sponsored [an auto design class] the first semester of the year and Chrysler would sponsor the second. Most of those designers that would come down were CIA grads who really had a passion for seeing the program excel.
Generally, for each semester we have a project thay they give us, for a specific brand and sometimes a specific segment of a vehicle. We have a curriculum set out with benchmarks for the development of the vehicle so by the end of the semester we have a pretty holistic and well-developed car. And generally, we work on one vehicle per semester.
What do you think of the Uptown neighborhood?
Throughout my four years here I’ve been surprised by how much it has continued to develop. I think it’s a great place for CIA students to live. There’s a lot to do, a lot to see, and a lot of friendships to develop.
What did your first year give to you in terms of building up your artistic skills?
My foundation year was the year I had the most fun. I was really able to explore whatever I wanted to, and have free reign. I was able to do interdisciplinary work, take a craft elective and try things I had never tried before.
Have you had any internships?
Between my sophomore and junior year, I interned at Mack Trucks in Greensboro, North Carolina, and that was because my teacher recommended me and put me in contact with a friend of his who is one of the heads of design at Mack Trucks. And between my junior and senior year, I interned at General Motors. Three of us interned at General Motors and the last day of our internships we all got (job) offers.
Since you’re focusing on car design, is there a certain type of vehicle you have your eye on after college?
As soon as I get out, I want to have a car that gets me to my job and that works and that will help me pay off my loans.
New art students are sometimes fearful of the critique process. How do you view it?
In car design, at a crit you have to have a pretty thick skin, and not only listen to what they’re saying, but to try to understand why they’re saying it. And whenever they get you for not having enough drawings, that should be motivation for just continuing to do what you’re doing.
What would you say to prospective students?
I’d say to anyone who was interested in coming to CIA that it’s important to have a passion for what you do and a willingness to explore and experiment with different options. Specifically to people interested in industrial design, I’d say they have to know how much work it really takes, how many hours you have to put into it to improve at your craft, and to really have a passion for sketching and drawing things and visually communicating.
If you could speak to your younger self, what advice would you give him?
If I had a chance to speak to myself five or six years ago, I’d say stop slacking off and draw more.
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