• Interview Excerpt: Lindsay White Funk, Footwear Designer, Vans, Cypress, California

    Check out some great work from Lindsay White Funk.

    What kinds of portfolios get your attention these days? What brings in an industrial designer for an interview?

    I like portfolios that show the entire creative process and tell a story. I don’t just want to see sketches of shoes and a pretty rendering of a final design. I want to know what is the brief, who is the consumer, what type of trend research did you do, what trends did you pick up on, and how those trends are incorporated into your design.

    Having some written information is nice, but I want to see all these things represented visually. Show images of the consumer and mood boards for trend research. I also want to see any work you did with color and material stories. Mix all of these things with the standard sketches and renderings and you’ll have a really nice project to show in your portfolio.

    I also like when designers inject a little bit of their personality or humor into their portfolios. Nothing gimmicky or overdone, but something that will be memorable. Design should be fun and creative, so don’t be afraid to have a little fun with it.

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    Has there been a portfolio that youve seen recently that resonated with you? What about it stood out?

    One portfolio I saw a few years ago that caught my eye was by a third-year design student looking for an internship. His work was great, nice sketches and renderings, but there was one thing that made him memorable. He had done an illustrator caricature drawing of himself and put it on his résumé. Our whole design team got a kick out of it and we ended up hiring him.

    What are some common mistakes youve seen junior designers make in their portfolio?

    I hate when I see grammatical errors and misspelled words. I’ve seen new design graduates so overconfident in their design skills that they dismiss the importance of writing skills. If designers expect to own projects and be the face of the company, communicating directly with clients, they need to sound smart and professional both in person and in writing.

    When it comes to content in your portfolio, have someone proofread it and remember to spellcheck everything. Sending out a portfolio with misspellings shows that you lack attention to detail. A misspelling on a huge presentation could mean losing a client. It will put doubt in a future employer’s mind about what other details you will let slip through the cracks.

    What do you expect to learn from a designer during an interview?

    I expect to learn about their work and what makes them unique as a person. At this point I’ve already seen their portfolio so I’m not looking for a portfolio run through. I want to know more about their favorite project. I’ll ask them to tell me about their process, any challenges they encountered along the way, and what they enjoyed most about the project.

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    What characteristics or qualities would you say make a successful industrial designer?

    I think to be successful, you have to be a good listener. As industrial designers our job is to solve problems, problems that other people have. Instead of going in thinking that we know the right answer straightaway, a good designer will listen to the client or the user before designing. You should hear not only what they tell you, but also what they don’t tell you. Observe and you will “hear” much more than what they are telling you.

    Industrial design still seems to be a predominantly male-dominated field. Im curious what advice you may have for women who are just now starting out?

    As a woman in a traditionally male-dominated field, you have a real opportunity to set yourself apart and be successful. Take advantage of the fact that you are instantly memorable in a sea of male applicants. If your work is good and you are brought in for an interview, point out to the hiring manager that you will bring a new and unique perspective to the design team.

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    If you were just starting out now, what advice would you give yourself?

    I would tell myself to perfect the art of networking and to keep in touch with everyone. At every internship, get to know the other designers, directors, project managers, recruiters. Get connected with them on LinkedIn. Trade personal emails and phone numbers with them and check in now and then after you leave the internship. Stay updated on who works where, who has been promoted, who left and works at a different company. Update your network with new internships or jobs you have had and new skills you have developed. Send out a little teaser of a project you have just finished that you are particularly proud of. Let them know when you are ready to graduate and invite them to your senior show and then thank them if they come.

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    Lindsay White Funk of Vans

    Lindsay White Funk of Vans.

    Read the full interview in BREAKING IN: Learn more about the book or Buy it on Amazon
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