I would like to introduce an interview with the very creative designer, Jeremy Rolfs. He’s a huge inspiration and very crafty. Such a hands on guy, he built his own wood kayak and cigar box guitar. Check out his PORTFOLIO
Who are you? What do you do?
Jeremy Rolfs. I am a gypsy Designer/ Artist! I am currently an Industrial Designer for The HON Company in Muscatine, Iowa. HON is a Mid-Market Office furniture brand of the HNI corporation. HNI is the second largest Office Furniture Manufacturing corporation in the world.
When did you start designing?
I started designing probably when I was a wee child. I remember sketching medieval castle battle scenes on paper. I would draw stick figures shooting arrows and catapults launching rocks or balls of fire! The sound effects I made during the session were quit grand. Ha!
Not sure why I didn’t go into a career of Entertainment design or Gaming. ??? Instead a friend of my parents who would soon become my long time mentor introduced me to Car design when I was 6 or 7 years old. He attended C.C.S. at the time (roughly 1983-84) and when he would come over our house to visit on the weekends he would do sketch demos for me. I was watching the blueprints to my future career track being laid out right before my eyes. Crazy huh? Following that blueprint later I would follow my dream and attend the same school and graduate with a B.F.A. degree in Industrial Design. My first professional Design job started in the summer of 2004 in the Auto Biz.
What is the best decision you made when you first started out as a designer?
I didn’t go out and buy that sports car that my mentors said would happen once I was offered a job. I at least waited until the following year once I new the job was going well. Ha! The car was an AWD turbo station wagon which I just recently paid off! ☺
How would you describe your style?
I guess it would be very methodic. I tend to think mechanically first sketching intended functions in numerous views. This way also helps evolve the form as I explore the object I’m drawing. I work loose first, usually with pen on paper or in a moleskin. I still love the analog practice of drawing. Digital tools follow.
I’ve learned the most from…
My Mentors and Peers. I have had the great privilege of meeting some great Designers and Artists that my original Mentor had introduced me too; Camilo Pardo, Tim Flattery, and John Mack to name a few. This pretty much cemented my decision early on to go into design. But it wasn’t until I met my good friends during art school that made me challenge myself. We would work together and critique each other’s work, which I truly regard as the right way to become a better designer. Different perspectives help immensely!
Every designer needs?
#1 Numerous small to medium sketchbooks is what a designer needs. The Moleskin is king to a Designer. A sketchbook is more important. No really! #2 Oh and a camera! Ha! #3 Did I forget reference-reference-reference! #4 Hobbies: keep your creative and problem solving juices flowing by acquiring multiple hobbies. They can make you side $$$.
What do you worry about running out of?
Probably time! Not enough time. Oh and Scratch Disk Memory! Ha!
What designers/artists do you admire?
Wow, many I guess. Leonardo De Vinchi. To me he is the worlds first Industrial Designer. His sketches of his machines are mind blowing. Next would have to be Syd Mead. He is the first one to make futurism and entertainment design a career path for a ton of Hollywood designers making cool movies I love to watch today.
How do you find inspiration?
Yes the internet would be the obvious answer, right? I have a ton of blogs and sites I visit daily that follow the latest design and art trends but I think nature never stops amazing me.
What path would you have taken if you didn’t have art as an early inspiration?
I would love to have been like Shawn White. A professional extreme sports athlete would be fun! The travel and the free swag from sponsors would be nice!
Where would you be if you didn’t have to work and all your bills were paid?
On the biggest Mountain Snowboarding my butt off!
What advice would you give to designers starting out into the business?
#1 Be humble. You will be judged heavily on your personality for fit into a group. The best work could be accompanied by an abrasive personality that will not start or end ideally. The best design studio is a tight unit like a family.
#2 Have a Diversified portfolio!!! In times of economic hardship and lay-offs, competition is fierce. It’s an Industrial Design degree you have after all. Just having car sketches could be your career death sentence. You better have consumer product design, some User Interface studies, trending, graphics, and even some packaging design. A deep portfolio will take you places you never thought possible. Like Iowa!!! ☺
Thanks for this opportunity Misty! You Rock!