Interview with Karan Mudgal

“Ultimately this all led me to Philips Design Healthcare. I work as an Interaction Designer on interfaces for patient monitoring software and various other healthcare applications.” – Karan Mudgal 

 

1. What was your major at RISD?

Short answer: Industrial Design

Long answer: I transferred to RISD into Architecture, switched to a double major with Industrial Design and Printmaking briefly and then ultimately graduated with a BFA just in Industrial Design.

2. How did you connect to the working world? (what have you done before and since graduation? Internships, jobs, networking, online resources?)

In my last semester of RISD (I completed my course load in December 2012) I took a studio with Professor Andy Law. The class was essentially concerned with service design but it gave me my first taste of UI / UX. I wasn’t very adept at any 3D modeling software so I decided to quickly create a few UI projects for my portfolio and hoped that I could find some work in that field. Thanks to a reference by a friend I was able to find work at a company in Boston just a week after I finished RISD. Connections there led me to other small consulting gigs and overtime I was able to build up a real UI portfolio. Building up my LinkedIn profile helped to some degree in attracting headhunters but overall, as everyone knows at RISD, your portfolio should be your number one focus.  Ultimately this all led me to Philips Design Healthcare. I work as an Interaction Designer on interfaces for patient monitoring software and various other healthcare applications. 

http://venturebeat.com/2014/06/26/salesforce-com-and-philips-partner-in-ambitious-health-data-venture/ 

3. How well do you think RISD prepared you for the working world and do you have any suggested improvements for your former department at RISD?

Often times I wonder what it is exactly that I got from my RISD education. I don’t practice work with 3D forms nor do I use much of the software at work that I worked with during school.  I think RISD prepared me for the worst though- no workplace after RISD has been even a tenth as trying or stressful. The long nights in studio, the amount of thought that went into projects, all of these things and more have contributed to making my work that much simpler. 

The critical thinking skills and the strong work ethic developed at RISD in addition to the expectation to learn quickly by doing, have made adapting to workplaces from startups to the corporate environment, fairly easy.

That said, I wish the Industrial Design department was more forward thinking. RISD does things in a very analog and old school way. It’s great to really understand the tried and true practices in the industry but it’s also really important to completely understand the new and transformed industry grads will enter into. More of an emphasis on technology and design could really round the department out. Many recent grads will end up in some off shoot of interaction design, whether they had intended to or not. It would be helpful for RISD to realize that and make sure students are prepared.

4. What would you advise undergrads to do now to be best prepared later on?

Take as many classes as you can in other departments. Have your focus but round yourself out and be the best all around designer you can be.

5. Is your current job what you imagined you would be doing?

In terms of making products that help people- yes. I definitely wanted to work in a sector of design that improves the quality of life for consumers.

5. Share any other part of your story.

I will be starting graduate school at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design (CIID) in January of 2015. My ultimate goal is to work at a consultancy and do work in the developing world…maybe teach at a university at some point too…This is the first step to achieving those goals. 

http://www.ciid.dk

Also, on the side I’m doing design work for a startup (Aveta Biomics) that makes anti-inflammatory

medication. Currently we’re in a few pharmacies but we’ll be expanding pretty quickly.

https://www.facebook.com/GetSONA

http://www.avetabiomics.com

Interview with Maeve Jopson

“At RISD, I felt like school was about learning how to break the rules, which inspires entrepreneurship, regardless of what you’re studying.” – Maeve Jopson

1. What was your major at RISD? 

Industrial Design

2. How did you connect to the working world? (what have you done since graduation? Internships, jobs, networking, online resources?)

 During my senior year at RISD, I did a collaborative degree project with Cynthia Poon (also ID ’13), which has developed into Increment, the company that we are building today. Increment creates playthings for children with disabilities that are appealing to all kids. Since graduation, we have been able to maintain relationships we built with schools like Meeting Street where we found our inspiration in the first place. We were also Maker Fellows at Providence’s business accelerator Betaspring this fall, where we were able to gain a lot of valuable insight into the startup world, and learn what it takes to get a business going.

In addition to Increment, we were lucky enough to find Eone Timepieces, who have a similar mission of inclusive design. We now work for them part-time. They have also provided incredible mentorship for us, and inspire us to keep our mission at the core of our company.

3. How well do you think RISD prepared you for the working world and do you have any suggested improvements for your former department at RISD?

At RISD, I felt like school was about learning how to break the rules, which inspires entrepreneurship, regardless of what you’re studying.                       ID = physical making skills + bending the rules + developing communication skills + learning how to research + user-centered thinking and doing.

It’s kind of incredible really.  

I was lucky enough to take a few classes about production and how to succeed in bringing a product to market. The most important thing I learned in those classes is that the learning never stops. A semester-long course barely skims the surface of such huge subjects. Fortunately, I had teachers who focused on learning by doing, and I’ve been able to keep that mentality.

There are definitely things that any department could do better, but I already see amazing developments in communication, collaboration, and entrepreneurship in the few months since I graduated. As long as RISD keeps encouraging curiosity and learning by making, it will continue to produce incredible graduates with incredible work.

4. What would you advise undergrads to do now to be best prepared later on?

COLLABORATE! Working with other people is amazing and incredibly important, but finding creative people with a RISD work ethic after school is tough.

Also, take advantage of the career center. Make friends with them. They are AMAZING.

5. Is the job you have now what you imagined you would be doing?

It took a while to realize what I did and didn’t want to do. I just knew that I wanted to be making a difference, and I’m happy to say that I’m doing much more than I’d imagined (and having a lot more fun).

6.  Share any other part of your story. (I don’t have to include this if you don’t know what to say)

Look out for our Kickstarter, coming Feb 2014!!

Check out our website! Join our mailing list!

http://incrementstudios.com/

Like us on Facebook!

https://www.facebook.com/incrementstudios

Follow our process blog!

http://incrementblog.tumblr.com/

Send any questions to hi@incrementstudios.com

Interview With Carrie Lee Schwartz

“In all areas of my studies, I was working with light…either in glass, or on the computer screen or with photography.”  -Carrie Lee Schwartz

1. What was your major at RISD? 

MFA GLASS

2. How did you connect to the working world? (what have you done since graduation? Internships, jobs, networking, online resources?)

After working in internships in NYC I  moved back to LA and reconnected to what inspires me most- Southeast Louisiana and its wild natural state.  I also realized that there was a tremendous need here- so I began teaching as well.  I started the first computing in the Arts class at the old NOCCA on Perrier street,  and participated in the planning of the new one.  http://carrieleeschwartz.com/cv.html  

I also created courses that lead to the creation of the Digital design degree at  Tulane University.   http://carrieleeschwartz.com/instruction.html

 

3. What would you advise undergrads to do now, to be best prepared later on?

There are so many amazing people at RISD.  Find them, ask them what they are doing and why and then LISTEN to them as well as observing what they do. 

Ask everyone  you can and then make your own path.  

4. How well do you think RISD prepared you for the working world and do you have any suggested improvements for your former department at RISD?

RISD Prepared me for being an artist  in many ways- Having the ability to work on the APPLE /IBM project and in the Market House & Mac Center at the time was phenomenal. Attending RISD & the Glass dept.  as well as the Graduate Program and the First Art  and Computing class taught at both RISD and BROWN gave me  the freedom to explore my soul purpose as a creative being. It gave me incredible freedom- but not without self discipline. RISD honed my analytical and critical thinking skills… To question what I  perceived as art or expression or being an artist.  It allowed me space and time  to reflect on the work,  and to go beyond what I thought was possible in many materials- especially digital media at the time- and to always look further once I thought the work was done.. as it never really is.. and to get used to that.  

To the glass dept- keep up the great work ! and maybe think about keeping bees on the roof of Metcalf, as you can have fresh beeswax  for glass working and help support the pollinators.. ; )

5. Is the job you have now what you imagined you would be doing?

In all areas of my studies, I was working with light- and how the materials interacted with light as form. So either in  glass, or on the computer screen or with photography-  I am still working with light and form. I am and always have been inspired by  Nature and especially the wild Louisiana Landscape- so living in Southeast Louisiana is not a surprise. 

Interview with Soaib Grewal

Soaib Grewal has been highly involved and connected to the world beyond RISD since his junior year and has only added to his achievements since then. 

 

1. What was your major at RISD? 

Industrial Design 

 

2. How did you connect to the working world? (what have you done since graduation? Internships, jobs, networking, online resources?)

I started of early and slightly indirectly. Between my junior and senior year I teamed up with some students from Brown and started my first venture WaterWalla. It allowed me to meet and interact with amazing people in design, entrepreneurship and social innovation in the US and other parts of the world. Attending and speaking at global conferences, being active on campus, getting involved in fellowship programs, etc all helped me connect with the working world and create a dynamic portfolio before graduating.

I took a sabbatical from my duties at WaterWalla and worked with Dror Benshetrit in New York, on a range of projects from disaster relief housing to user interface. Soon after I moved to Mumbai to run WaterWalla’s pilot project handling on the ground operations, business development and service design and design research. After completion of the project in September 2012 I stepped down from my active role in the organisation and moved back home to New Delhi.

Since then I’ve been exploring the intersection between Design and Entrepreneurship. Over the last year I’ve worked on urban development / community action projects, consulted with large companies and non profits on design strategy and service design and collaborated with other designers and business folk. I’ve recently started a new company called Ferrous to create a design eco system in India. I work as a design mentor with Microsoft’s Accelerator in Bangalore helping start ups understand and integrate design into their processes. And also am visiting faculty in the department of entrepreneurship at the Adianta School of Leadership and Innovation in New Delhi. I hold an honorary position on the executive council of the G5A foundation for contemporary culture.

 

3. What would you advise undergrads to do now, to be best prepared later on?

Get out of your major and collaborate with people in other departments and even Brown. Take classes. When you start interacting with people from other art and design schools you realise just how interdisciplinary RISD can be. Take advantage of that, the real world is rarely about silo’s.

Start making connections while you are at school, go for design weeks, apply to fellowships attend conferences. Anything that gets you to interact with people outside of the RISD bubble.

Experiment and try out many things fast, don’t pigeon hole yourself. It’s good to have a diverse skill set.

Please take a business class and/or join a startup team.

Connect with and pester your professors, they hold a wealth of information and resources.

4. How well do you think RISD prepared you for the working world and do you have any suggested improvements for your former department at RISD?

I loved my time at RISD. It inculcates an extreme sense of discipline and passion. Industrial design in particular is a very process based department and I think if there is one thing I took away was understanding how process influences creativity. Technical skills change in industries at a fast pace. Process, abstract thinking and creative problem solving are in my view the foundation. RISD gave me all of that. 

My only suggestion would be adding more business classes at the school and allowing them to be taken as liberal arts.

5. Is the job you have now what you imagined you would be doing?

Yes and No, but I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I’m very happy and fortunate to have had all the experiences I had in such a short amount of time. And there are many more exciting things in the pipeline.

—-

Interview with Melissa Rivera

Melissa Rivera graduated RISD in 2001 and after many teaching positions, started her own business called Unleash Studio. 

1. What was your major at RISD? 

Industrial Design and also MAT :) 

2. How did you connect to the working world? (what have you done since graduation? Internships, jobs, networking, online resources?)

I graduated in 2001 and went back home to Mexico to work for the National Children’s Museum in Mexico City and was there for about 3.5 years. Went BACK to RISD to do the MAT program and after that I moved to Hawaii where my mom grew up and have been Teaching and working ever since. I worked at:

Honolulu Academy of Arts
Art to Go Program
The Contemporary Museum
Transpacific Hawaii College
Hawaii Pacific University
Hawaii Fashion Month
Ohhh and funny.. I run the RISD Hawaii Alumni Club here.. haha ( as a side thing ) sooo hit me up if you ever visit.
 
I started my own Business called Unleash Studio and have been working super hard ever since too. Trying to balance teaching and my business :)
I do LOTS of Networking here, especially since its an island you meet people quick but its important to stay professional and to be patient on good opportunities and pay.

 

3. What would you advise undergrads to do now, to be best prepared later on?

Learn a bit about business, document your work well and be open to ANY JOBS and opportunities because you never know where one can lead to.

4. How well do you think RISD prepared you for the working world and do you have any suggested improvements for your former department at RISD?
RISD IS AWESOME – The best thing is that it taught me to WORK HARD and to explore MANY options of design process … I LOVE THAT since not many people do that now in days. 
Giving clients a good story and variety of explored options is important – Being a designer or artist is not easy and many people take it for granted to its important to be patient with people and guide them through your work.
I think RISD did a good job! I am proud to have gone there to school and the fact that it pushes you to have high standards. 

5. Is the job you have now what you imagined you would be doing?

Yes, and No. Yes, I always wanted to do my own designs and own my own company. I never thought I would be in Hawaii for 8 years and do all the fun things I am doing, so I feel very fortunate.  

I do however, wanna keep pushing myself to do MORE AND GREATER things everyday :))) 

 

products_img_lineweight3      products_img_bench6                

interiors_img_unleash3           graphics_img_twitter_unleashed

 

Here is a link to more of Melissa’s awesome work!

Interview with Brad Buckley

Brad graduated RISD in 1982, has taught in art schools in various countries and has had multiple fellowship residencies.

 

1. What was your major at RISD? 

MFA – Sculpture, 1982

 

2. How did you connect to the working world? (what have you done since graduation? Internships, jobs, networking, online resources?)

Travelled in Europe and Asia, returned to the US, lived and worked in NYC. Moved back to Sydney and started applying for teaching positions and like most recent graduates, my first jobs were adjunct positions.  Eventually was appointed to Sydney College of the Arts, the University of Sydney in 1990 and while I have taken several extended periods of leave I am still at SCA. In 1990 – 1992 held a fellowship residency at PS 1 Center for Contemporary Art (NY) and later various residencies, which include the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University and recently at Parsons the New School for Design. Many of these opportunities and also invitations to participate in exhibitions have come directly from the strong network I formed at RISD.

 

3. What would you advise undergrads to do now, to be best prepared later on?

Develop a comprehensive portfolio of work, whether your discipline is architecture, art, design or new media. Develop and manage a well designed by easy to navigate website, that can be accessed by a range of mobile devices. It is never too early to start documenting your work. Start developing the RISD network.

 

4. How well do you think RISD prepared you for the working world and do you have any suggested improvements for your former department at RISD?

As I was in the grad program, the focus was the transition from art school to ‘professional artist’, of course that can mean many different things. For some it meant moving to NYC and finding a commercial gallery, for others it meant setting up an artist run space, while for others it meant travel. The Sculpture Department was well organised and the faculty – mainly artists from NYC – offered various role models for how one might develop a career as an artist, particularly Professor Lauren Ewing.

 

5. Is the job you have now what you imagined you would be doing?

Yes, more or less. I decided that I would prefer to have a position in an art school that allowed me to make work, which is discursive and critically engaged, and does not rely on the market place.

Interview with Dionne Benjamin-Smith

Dionne Benjamin-Smith graduated RISD in 1991 and currently works with her husband in their own design firm called Smith and Benjamin Art & Design.

1. What was your major at RISD? 

Graphic Design

2. How did you connect to the working world? (what have you done since graduation? Internships, jobs, networking, online resources?)
When I got home to The Bahamas in 1991, I was immediately hired as Advertising Director for The Solomon Group of Companies under well known Bahamian businessman and politician Norman Solomon. I worked there for 6 years handling all the marketing and design for multiple retail stores, restaurants and a zoo! 

I left there in 1997 and went to the Burns House Group of Companies where I was the Chief Operating Officer charged with establishing an in-house advertising agency called Pyramid Marketing. I accomplished that within one year of being hired and then left to go to Thyme Design in 1998. 

At Thyme Design, I worked as an Art Director where I was finally able to focus on design alone. I handled the design work for numerous clients and thoroughly enjoyed it. I stayed there for 6 years until I left in 2005 to join my husband Jolyon Smith, PT91 to form our own design and illustration firm called Smith & Benjamin Art & Design. And that is what I have been doing ever since.

3. How well do you think RISD prepared you for the working world and do you have any suggested improvements for your former department at RISD?
As much as I loved RISD and believe wholeheartedly it was one of the best times of my life, I felt as if much of my learning took place in the workplace. I believe RISD was great for theory, analytical thinking and abstract thought. But for plain old, honest-to-goodness practical experience, I was woefully underprepared. I had to teach myself a lot of practical things when I got into the workplace. In addition to what they did teach me, I wish I had more hands-on training in software and hardware, as well as practical training in the business side of being an artist – ethics, management, accounting, time management, how to price your work, etc. Because ultimately most artists (I think) become their own boss and need to know these practical things. NB: These should be required courses and not just electives.  

4. What would you advise undergrads to do now, to be best prepared later on?

If RISD still doesn’t offer the courses and preparation I mentioned above, I would encourage undergrads to find a place to learn all those things I listed. 

 
I would also encourage them to take as many electives in other departments as early as possible. I foolishly did this late in my time at RISD and discovered Printmaking which I believe I love a little bit more than Graphic Design. If I had explored earlier, I could have had more experience with the great Printmaking professors and equipment available at RISD and developed more in this field.
 
I would also encourage them to take a course or two at Brown University to get a broader experience.
 
If they plan to go on for a graduate degree, they should start thinking and working for that from early on in their undergrad experience. Once they determine their focus, run after that with everything in them. Take the bull by the horns and go after that thing. Don’t sit back and wait for someone to do it for you – research and learn, learn, learn. 
 
Do all the courses you can in that discipline Search the Providence community to see who is doing what you want to do and intern there on weekends. Take related workshops outside of RISD (yes, outside of RISD). When you are home for the summer, find places that are doing what you are interested in and get a job there or volunteer. This determination and perseverance in pursuing your field is looked upon very favorably by future employers and foundations offering scholarships and grants. Passion, zeal and the right attitude goes a long way. It’s right up there, right after talent and ability.

5. Is the job you have now what you imagined you would be doing?

I think I ultimately always knew I would own my own business although it was a very difficult transition from being an employee to being a business owner. I resisted doing my own thing for a long time but ultimately I realise how wonderful and freeing it is to be your own boss.

RISD alumni – stories of success

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