Student Success: Tricia Mcintosh

By Michelle Ecker on June 8th, 2017

In early 2015, Tricia McIntosh took some time off work to do a little self-discovery. During this period, she realized how drawn she was to art and design. A newlywed at the time, she was especially fascinated by the eclectic interior styles introduced to her by her husband and was curious to learn more about their history and about how she could skillfully design beautiful spaces with eccentric pieces like his. After researching several design programs, she decided that NYIAD was the best fit for her interests and enrolled. Today, she runs her own independent design studio, designing both residential and commercial spaces for clients around Atlanta. We recently had the chance to chat with Tricia about her time at NYIAD, her interior design career, and her plans for the future. Here’s what we learned!

Student Success: Tricia McIntosh

1. When did you realize that interior design was a field you wanted to pursue?

A few months into my coursework with NYIAD, my interest in interior design began shifting from personal curiosity to genuine professional interest.

2. What were you working on before then?

I was designing and formulating custom skin-care products. This was one medium that I used to express my artistic side and channel my creative energy.

3. Have you always been interested in art and design? What is your educational background originally in?

No. I first earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

4. When did you enroll at NYIAD?

Early in 2015, I took some time off work for self-discovery and realized then how drawn I was to art and design. At that time, I was a newlywed and fascinated with my husband’s eclectic aesthetic; I wanted very much to learn the history behind our antique furniture and about the artists in our small but refined collection of contemporary fine art. I also wanted to understand the principles of good design so that I could take a skillful approach to designing our interior spaces. I researched interior design programs and found that the course at NYIAD was exactly what I was looking for. I enrolled right away, during the summer of 2015.

5. What was your coursework like?

In a word, thorough. I was impressed by how NYIAD took a broad subject area like interior design with its facets and complexities and presented each in a way that was easy to grasp. In a logical and orderly fashion, each piece of the interior design puzzle was introduced in a manner that piqued my interest and kept me fully engaged until eventually the whole became clear. All of the material was relevant, timely and practical. In addition to the expected reading, video and audio segments, I found the painting, sketching, and drafting assignments stimulating and challenging.

Student Success: Tricia McIntosh

6. Was your mentor helpful during the process?

Absolutely! She was helpful and responsive via email and phone calls. Her feedback on each of my assignments was extremely valuable, and I used all her suggestions to improve myself as a student and ultimately as a designer.

7. After graduation, how did you use this knowledge to help you with a real-world career?

The knowledge that I acquired while enrolled at NYIAD helped me to land a position as a window-treatment Design Consultant. I referred to my books and coursework as needed to work on real-world projects. The wonderful thing about my coursework at NYIAD is that each project took me step-by-step through the actual process I now use when working with clients.

8. What did you learn working in the real world that you wish you could’ve learned at NYIAD?

I wish that I could have learned more about furniture styles. The coursework was a great introduction to the various styles of furniture, however, getting out into the real world and looking at, touching and studying furniture and furniture designers has been an important part of my development as a post-grad designer.

9. Tell us about Tricia McIntosh Design, LLC.

I took the knowledge I acquired as a NYIAD student, the experience I gleaned working as a Design Consultant along with my business background and I opened a design studio based in Atlanta, GA. My initial focus was on window-treatments. Since that time, I branched out to designing entire rooms for residential and commercial clients. I am an artist; interior spaces are my medium and NYIAD helped me realize my potential!

10. If you had to pick one, what was the most memorable project you’ve ever completed?

My most memorable project was for a young family moving into their new home. I was hired initially to design the children’s playroom, kitchen, family room, formal dining room, guest bedroom and bath, foyer, mini workspace and a powder room. I loved this project because my client fully trusted me to design from floor to ceiling without any hesitation. Some of the textures and colors were outside of their comfort zone, but once they saw these as an integral whole, they were pleased with their decision not to water down my concepts. I was given the freedom to be completely creative, and the result was gorgeous!

Student Success: Tricia McIntosh

11. Describe a day in your life at work!

One thing I love about my career as an interior designer is that no two days are quite the same. Activities that fill my day could include visiting showrooms to shop for my clients, drafting floorplans and furniture layouts, creating presentation boards, in-home and in-office visits for consultations which include measurements and photos, accompanying installers on appointments, reading books and listening to Podcasts on art and design. Less glamorous tasks like invoicing, paying bills, ordering products, creating project timelines, emails and phone calls all make up a day’s work too. I also include time for special things like educational events and visiting galleries and museums to keep my artistic eye sharp.

12. How has social media/ blogging helped you as a creative professional?

I use my blog to share information that clients, prospects or design enthusiasts might find helpful. I write my blog in such a way to give the reader a good idea of who I am, so that they can know – even before we meet – what working together will be like. I use Instagram for inspiration and to gain insights, following the work of artists that I admire.

13. What’s the most rewarding part of your career?

Taking my client’s dream of for a beautiful interior and applying my vision and expertise to transform an empty white box into a livable, lovable space.

14. If you could give one piece of advice to our current and prospective students, what would it be?

Give each project your full focus and attention! Whether it’s something you find interesting or not, give each your very best effort. This is good practice for the real world. For certain of my projects, I visited art supply stores to purchase additional items such as brushes, stencils, drawing paper and foam-core boards that I thought would improve my assignments. Try the optional exercises included with projects: This is a great way to get feedback before you are hired by a client. Expand upon what you’re learning at NYIAD by visiting showrooms to see in person what’s being presented in the coursework.

Want to launch your own interior design firm? Request a free course catalog to learn how.


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