Hello all, my name is Andrew and I had a few questions about getting EDUCATED. This is my first post so it can serve as a bit of an intro as well (my sketchbook will be starting up on the sketchbook forums ASAP).
I graduated in 2010 with a BFA in Industrial Design and have since been working as a professional designer in Illinois. My original passion was for things like illustration and concept art, not necessarily product design. Unfortunately in high school, I didn't know that there were schools where you could specialize in this like the Art Center in Pasadena (among others). I eventually found my way into the somewhat similar field of Industrial Design. The focus on sketching, creativity and 3d modeling is what attracted me to it. I was never able to muster the passion for I.D. that I felt for illustration, and I'm afraid my work suffered for it.
Industrial Design, like the concept art field, is very competitive, and only the most passionate and dedicated designers make it into the coolest jobs designing sports cars and airplane interiors and things like that. I am currently designing retail displays for liquor and candy. Not only that, but the longer I stay at my current job, the less "creative" design work I do (sketching, brainstorming, designing aesthetically interesting displays), and the more "industrial" type designing I'm doing (engineering wire racks for production, designing the same simple wire shelf in every dimensional configuration imaginable). I'm feeling very creatively barren, and I am beginning to feel that I have veered very far off of my original intended career path of becoming a successful concept artist and illustrator.
I have decided it's time to jump back on that path. It is time to stop skirting the edges of my passion to find a "safer" job, and just go for broke in pursuing what I am actually passionate about, and what I know I'm good at.
That being said, I am considering pursuing a master's degree in illustration, concept art, or something similar, and I've come to this community for help in doing that. Would a master's degree be the best route to take to accomplish my goal of switching careers? Would it be wise to relocate to San Francisco to attend AAU, or Pasadena to attend the Art Center, or any other school? Or should I look into online classes? Do I need to start over as an undergrad?
Working as a designer, I think I have developed the skills necessary to be successful, I've just been applying them in a different area. I'm proficient at 3d modeling, but I know Solidworks, not 3ds Max or Maya. I'm a great sketcher, but all my work is toasters and irons and showerheads. What kind of a portfolio do I need to put together to be a contender, and what skills do I need to begin learning?
I have a huge number of questions, so I won't ask them all here all at once. Basically, I am a working, degree holding Industrial Designer unsatisfied with the industry I'm currently in and looking to switch back to my true passion for Illustration.