This final article will call to attention something a commenter named Jim Bousman brought up in comments on previous articles. Jim is well established within the toy and gaming industry and knows a great deal about what it takes to get hired within the market. So what was the additional skill that he looks for when hiring toy designers that we didn’t mention? More on that in a sec.
The reason we didn’t mention the item brought up by Jim it is that our research showed us that the specific skill mentioned wasn’t needed for an entry level position. So while this skill isn’t “needed,” it can be the thing that differentiates you from others who may be applying for the same position. Any additional skill you can wrangle and add to your resume can only help in guaranteeing that you are the one chosen for the job.
There are a number of ways and resources to begin your search for freelance or full time employment opportunities within the Toy Industry.
Have you found a company who’s work you are drawn to or they fit your style? I hope that while you were going up and down those aisles in the toy store that you noted which companies did work that excited you. I also hope that you picked up those toys and wrote down, at the very least, the names of those companies. If not go back and do it.
Once home I would ask that you go online and peruse their websites. Many of the companies will have a job database on their webpages that shows open positions.
You can also join a social network like LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a professional social website intended to be used primarily to make business contacts and networking.
One of LinkedIn’s many features is that if the company you are interested in is in their database, you can follow them. This will allow you to be updated when people leave the company as well as when new jobs or positions open. Most of your major companies will have listings on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn also has a number of Toy Industry related groups that you can join. Many of them have Job listings. You can use these groups to place links to your portfolio as well as peruse any jobs that are posted to them. These groups can also be a great place to post industry related questions, get input on your portfolio and engage in thoughtful discussions with your professional peers.
At this point you have an idea of the standard procedures your job will take. You also have an idea of what to include in your portfolio. So the next question is,
What other skills are necessary to be qualified to do this? The other skills you will need will depend largely on what specific categorie of toy design you are attempting to do.
But one definitive skill you will need is the ability to understand and then communicate effectively a 3 dimensional concept. Some may think that a shortcut for this is knowing a 3D program like Maya or ZBrush. But most people hiring will forego skill in those programs for an artist who is capable of accomplishing 3d conceptualization by traditional means.
The same can be said of having physical sculpting skills. Are they a benefit to you and your employability? Definitely. Can developing those skills be beneficial to growing your 3D drawing skills? Absolutely. Feel free to logically pursue artistic aspects that you feel can enhance your skill sets. Also remember that there is a stage in development that the artwork is sent to a sculptor to create the prototype of the toy. If you are sufficiently skilled in this art form, you can apply for that type of position. But at the end of the day know that your 3D drawing skills are weighed the most heavily in terms of hireability.
Last week we talked about the fact that the same skills it takes to conceive of and create a children’s book bleeds over into other related fields. (See article) These related fields are also potential employment and freelance possibilities that we should consider exploring. In this day and age it can be beneficial to be as diverse as you can. Many of us can attest to how hard it is to find work. So being able to look at other employment opportunities that don’t lead you too far astray from your general interests may be a smart option to explore.
Also know that this is meant to be a basic overview. A jumping in point. This is what you would use to get your foot in the door at an entry level position. The art of developing toy lines and the specifics in regards to production and manufacturing can take a lifetime to learn.
If Toy Design sounds like a possibility to you, then the first question you may have is;
What do toy designers do?
As with any job that involves creating a product of this nature, the creation of a toy does not rest solely in the hands of one person. There are many positions and jobs that encompass the creation of a toy from concept, to sculpts, to the final product. The portion that overlaps the most with what a Children’s Book Artist does is the initial conceptual development phase. This will focus us mostly on the 2D portion of toy design. At this stage being able to sculpt may not be required but can extremely beneficial to the realization of your design. This would not only be beneficial for you, but for your potential employee as well. Since your final product is going to be an actual 3D object rather than a 2D one.
A lot of Children’s Book Artists are struggling with finding work. A part of the problem we surmise at OnceUponASketch is that maybe those seeking work are limiting themselves to Children’s Books when they most probably have the beginnings of skills that encompass more fields of expertise than they realize.
One of those potential fields is Toy Design.
A few years ago, I was asked to design a toy for a local company. I was told that I needed to draw a few options and send them in to the art director. They would select the one they liked and then ask me to draw it out in a turnaround. Not sure what a turnaround is? It’s something like this:
Basically you take your character as designed and draw them in a fixed position from multiple positions; front, 3/4 front, left side, 3/4 rear, back and right side (especially important if the character is not symmetrical). Once drawn and approved these would then be passed to the sculptors in China to then use as models for the sculpting of the actual toy.
To say I was intimidated would be an understatement. But in the process I realized that what I was doing wasn’t that unfamiliar to me. Usually as Children’s Book illustrators we get the script from either the writer or editor. From it we come up with the look and feel of every character in the book. Their height, weight, clothes, hair color, etc. Also their toys if they have any, their rooms, cars, buildings, creatures. The list is extensive. Very much the same as what I needed to do for that particular toy.