by Hector Silva, IDSA
Social media has become an integral part of modern society. It sends us immediate updates on news, celebrity gossip, sports, pop culture and what our friends are up to—but only through a pinhole. It has disrupted industries, changing how we communicate with each other, how we educate ourselves, how companies advertise their products and even how we watch television programming.
Social media, specifically Instagram, has revolutionized the discipline of industrial design. With the use of hashtags and collaborative tagging, Instagram allows designers to showcase their work to a large audience, whether or not they know what ID is.
Instagram essentially provides a platform for a designer to share their portfolio with anyone in the most seamless way possible. Because of this, Instagram has the power to both build confidence and emphasize insecurities for both the poster and the viewer. The consequences can be devastating if the validation expected isn’t received. It’s almost as though a lot of likes on a post or a certain number of followers on a page are required in order for a designer to be deemed “good.”
There’s no doubt that social media is overwhelmingly beneficial when it’s not being used as a tool for validation, but there isn’t enough transparency to overcome the negative effect it has had on the design community. Instagram is filled with seasoned designers posting photorealistic KeyShot renderings, staged prototypes and clean process shots—essentially eye candy. Meanwhile, this platform has become the new way that students learn about ID. When designers post images for the sole purpose of gaining likes and followers, instead of being transparent about their process, they eliminate the potential for dialogue with viewers who are hungry for knowledge. It is truly a disservice to those who use the design work for reference, motivation and inspiration.
As designers who use Instagram as an unofficial portfolio platform, it’s our responsibility to be honest and straightforward about the content we post—for the sake of fostering a healthy design community and to provide the appropriate knowledge and expectations to aspiring designers who could be our future colleagues.
Instagram should be a place for learning and growth. While scrolling through your feed, resist the urge to compare yourself to others, because it’s an impossible standard. You’re only seeing the good parts, the polished perfection, not the rough surface that everyone starts with nor the endless work and skill it takes to get to the final product. Nothing is as effortless as it seems, so let’s be transparent about it.
—Hector Silva, IDSA, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hector Silva leverages his career industrial design expertise in his introductory product design and design sketching courses at the University of Notre Dame. In his professional practice, he works as an industrial design consultant under the brand H Design, partnering with companies like Crate & Barrel’s DesignLab, Nickelodeon, LeapFrog, Foster Grant, Insight Product Development, Kellogg’s Pringles and Lund & Company Toy Invention, as well as various entrepreneurs.