College for Creative Studies: Transportation Design


Jerry Foster

Innovative DesignWorks, Inc. (San Diego)


Jerry Foster started out designing for the automotive industry. Today he is the president of Innovative DesignWorks, an industrial design firm for the point-of-purchase (P.O.P.) industry.

“Since I first transitioned into point-of-purchase design in ’95, I’ve literally worked on thousands of displays,” said Foster. “One of my favorite clients has been Pepsi. The displays are often quite large and the graphics are always fun and a little challenging. 

“When people ask how I’ve landed such exciting clients, I tell them it has been through my work. My focus is always on doing my best design at a reasonable price. Success tends to follow. Word of mouth is a powerful tool; I rarely have to market myself.”

“Nothing scares me after my experience at CCS."

After graduation, Foster worked for five years as an industrial designer in the auto industry until he was laid off because of budget cuts. He then moved to Chicago where he was hired at Sainato Design Group, Inc. as a P.O.P display designer. A few years later, he started his own design consultancy, Coyote Concepts, and moved to San Diego. After several years of increasing success with Foster’s designs, the two owners of one of his clients, Innovative DisplayWorks, Inc., decided to partner with Foster in the creation of a new design firm, Innovative DesignWorks.  The company satisfies DisplayWorks’ rapidly expanding need for good design, but also independently services other companies like Pepsi and the Republic of Tea. 

“Building a successful freelance business that did well enough to interest the owners of a business like Innovative DisplayWorks has been one of my biggest professional accomplishments,” Foster said. “This job is never boring and I get to be my own boss. Who could ask for more?”

Through his experience, Foster has found point-of-purchase display design to be a growing field that many designers know little about. Since concepts can range from counter displays to floor displays to end caps on shelves to freestanding structures, one of the biggest challenges is engineering the display’s three-dimensional aspect, which plays a major role in cost. Sketching and an understanding of form and materials also are very important. 

“Display design draws from so many fields; students interested in this field of design should probably explore product design where they will learn more about structure as well as the graphic design involved,” advised Foster.

“This is a demanding field, but nothing scares me after my experience at CCS. The instructors know what it takes to succeed in the professional world and they demand excellence from you. It was a tough experience, but because of it I have become a confident designer. It made me feel like I could do anything.”