Since its founding in 1972, The Group has worked to fund scholarships for deserving students of Otis College of Art and Design. The awardees met with members of The Group and presented examples of their work at The Group's Annual Scholarship Luncheon on February 16, 2017. One student from each of the seven undergraduate disciplines is chosen for the scholarship, and each week, we'll be highlighting a different awardee as we countdown to the 2017 Commencement Ceremony.
According to Adam Blish, a senior in the BFA Product Design program at Otis College, emerging technologies in product development will most powerfully impact people around the world. Adam hopes to one day have his own design studio that will focus on this type of strategy and innovation.
"I try to design products that solve problems and ultimately help other people, as many designers do," Adam stated in his scholarship statement. "I feel inspired when I see designs that prioritize the user and benefit the community above generating profit margins. As designers, we're able to do this by choosing a more sustainable material choice, developing a tech product for third world countries or communities that can’t necessarily pay top dollar, or using responsible manufacturing methods to help protect factory workers." Learn more about Adam and his work in the video and Q&A below.
Did you always want to be an artist or designer?
I always wanted to create things. There was a time somewhere in middle school when I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. It was brief. Then I thought architect, then engineer, and finally product designer.
What do you love about product design?
My favorite aspect of product design is that it has the ability to truly help people across the world. Not every product is designed to do so, some are actually harmful, but if the logistics and financials add up, product designers can develop work that is conscious of people and the planet.
What is something that you learned at Otis College that you will take with you throughout your career?
While at Otis, I learned that everyone has their own creative style and process. Experiences with cross-disciplinary group projects exposed me to that. Some group members could be slightly quieter in group discussions or in brainstorming, and in the past, I may have perceived that as a lack of interest or effort. However, in some instances, those people have come back with some of the best solutions.
Which instructor has most significantly shaped your experience at Otis College?
Joel Bell has been the influential instructor at Otis and has had the most insight into current product design methods. His experience developing new products for a wide variety of clients has been vital in assisting me and my classmates navigate what can be a non-linear process.
Which class or project most surprised you?
The project that most surprised me was a coffee table I developed for a wood and metal working class. I had little experience with woodworking and none with metal. The hands-on process of building the table was surprisingly fun and rewarding.
How do you handle creative block?
In my experience, creative energy comes in spurts that last from a couple days to a couple weeks. As with any cycle, there are lulls. I try to organize my work so that I have less creatively driven work waiting on the back burner so that when I find myself in a creative block, I can work on more simple and tedious aspects of design.
Describe a collaboration you’ve worked on with other students. How did working with them inform your creative process?
The most intense collaborative project I worked on was a week long group project with the Joshua Tree National Park. Thirteen classmates camped out in “rustic” trailers in Joshua Tree and worked 12+ hour days inside one of the park’s ranger stations. I saw a whole new side of classmates and myself as we constantly critiqued each other's work and had very little of the amenities that we are used to.
Which of your projects are you most proud of and why?
I am most proud of my work within my senior thesis primarily because I got to explore some of the topics I’m most interested in. One example would be a cell phone that was designed for minimalists. It only calls and texts, and side steps what some would consider the large downside and distractions of smartphones.
What is your advice to incoming students as they start down the path to a creative career?
My advice to incoming students would be to start looking at what specific jobs or industries they’d like to have upon graduation and curate a portfolio and skill set that specifically meets that role. Product design can be very broad, and so are the skill sets, so honing in on what you need to learn most is important.
What’s your favorite spot in L.A.?
See even more of Adam's work at ablishdesign.com.