Ryan Hutcheon graduated from Digital Interaction Design at DJCAD in 2016. He’s currently studying a Masters in Product Design, also at Duncan of Jordanstone. In any free time he has, he plays computer games. Below is our interview with Ryan:
Hi Ryan! What’s your main source of inspiration when approaching a new project? Do you do a lot of research before a final design? Who inspires you and why?
I have a habit of being a bit like a broken record, going back to previous projects, depending on what we’re doing – I kind of always have a project in my back pocket. It is mainly stuff I’ve picked out over the years – it’s very situational based on what area of design we’re working on but I have a few I would reference to. The two projects I’m working on just now are the Grow Project, and the Prototyping Project with Perth City Council. It’s like community engagement and social work, so I went back to look at Kirsty’s project last year, I really liked hers. It’s a project direction I wish mine had gone in. But I’ve no inspiration for Grow.
I know it’s really bad but I don’t really have one person I go to for design inspiration. I have styles, different approaches – when I’m working towards apps I love Apple’s design language, that’s what I want to aspire to make mine look like, but when I’m doing physical prototypes now, rough and ready is fine, as long as it works. One I did last week, it had complicated Arduino, it worked, but it was just housed in a wooden thing.
How quickly after uni did you apply for masters?
End of March I had my application in and found out I was accepted in May, pretty much the week after the results came out. I had to get at least a 2:1 to get a place.
How much creative freedom do you feel you get in your current job/internships/projects?
We get a wee bit more scope as masters students, you’re going to have projects that say “we expect the outcomes to be”… But it depends how much you twist the brief, really! Say, for Grow, you aren’t allowed to used growers, so we flipped it, and looked at grandparents being growers and who they could network as growers, so we could study the relationship between them passing down gardening to their grandchildren. There are 4 areas we can pick from in the prototype one, as long as it’s relevant. You don’t get as much freedom as you did in fourth year though, where it’s fully your own thing.
Why did you choose to do the Masters?
In all honesty it was sold by one of my tutors to think about it. I kind of wanted another year just to refine my process and practice a bit more. I had a clear idea of what I want to do after uni, so I worked out what my dream job title is – to be an interaction designer and do the physical side with the digital side. When you come out of 4th year, kind of like you’ve been in a hole in the ground, you’ve done 9 months of one project, so you’ve got to shake yourself off. This year is like another year of uni, with just a few more hoops to jump through, and I get another year to refine my practice.
Do you feel connected to the people or networks that were available in your undergraduate degree? How do you manage to make new contacts?
I do miss a lot of the contacts I had in my class, because our year was so close, I was often inspired by others around me, everyone was really focused and switched on. You could day “I want project advice” and get 5 minutes to bounce ideas off each other, not even in a critical way, more in an inspirational way. You still get it this year but it’s not the same… in 4th year, you’ve known your classmates for 4 years and they know you and you know them. Your class is a really underrated connection and you don’t miss it until you’re out of the uni environment and got to start over again.
What one thing do you know now that you wish you had known when you were leaving uni?
Certainly from undergraduate I wish I’d been a bit more open when exploring new approaches to prototyping. I was always like “I wanna do apps” but now I see myself as more of a creative technologist with Arduino and things.
How do you overcome difficulties during projects such as lack of ideas, motivation etc?
Really I just need to remove myself from the project and do something else, get out of the design head space. A few times when I’m not thinking about the project I’ll just have a moment of inspiration and it kind of snowballs into a design. Leave it and come back in a wee while.
Have you experienced any form of internship, and if so, is it something you would recommend? How did you go about getting one? Are there any websites?
I have not. The closest that I got was I applied for Volkswagen to work as an interaction design intern and they were kinda blown away by the stuff we’d done, through my portfolio. They were really interested about the course so there was kinda that, but the only reason I didn’t get it in the end was they wanted me over for 6 months and I didn’t want to defer my 4th year, which I probably could’ve but I didn’t want to at the time.
I found about it through our Facebook page, someone posted it up, it was some weird website she’d found, the listing went up and I just went for it – sent my folio, my CV and they got in touch. The prepping for that was really interesting and the interview was really good because I got to speak to industry experts.
Do you have any plans for the future?
I mean… yeah but nothing solid, I’m still on the early stages, I’ve got options – I’m not short of them but there’s still… the industry or academia route.
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