How to Become a Toy Designer
Getting Started as a Toy Designer
When we think of “fun” jobs, things that come to mind are probably along the lines of acting and singing. But, at the end of the day, what can be more fun than designing toys? These can be for any and all ages, of varying colors, shapes, and themes – as a toy designer, you can let your imagination go wild.
This being said, it is also a serious career that requires specialized training in industrial design, besides the fun stuff. As any creative field it is also necessary to build a portfolio and appeal to your audiences, by creating toys that are “cool”, innovative and will be successful on the market. This is one of the rare creative fields where many professionals have stable and well-paying employment opportunities and are able to make a living from their design work.
Here is an infographic, so you can learn a little bit more about the toy design industry.
Normally, toy designers need to obtain a degree in Industrial Design before they can enter the professional field. They should also look into specializations at their college or university in order to begin building a portfolio early on in their career. There are, of course, some professionals that do not follow this path and either choose to pursue a different degree or self-teach, however it is highly recommended for those who are specifically interested in a career in toy design.
Another path, which is better suited for entrepreneurs, who develop an innovative toy line, such as one of our experts, is similar to that of many entrepreneurs. Whatever you may have studied or not studied, these toy designers get an idea and bring it to life. They might license with a larger toy brand; they don’t necessarily need a specific degree but perseverance and business skills. This is, however, not often an option for someone looking to have a stable career as a toy designer for a larger corporation.
WHAT IF I DO WANT A FORMAL EDUCATION TO BECOME A TOY DESIGNER?
- Rhode Island School of Design
One of the top design schools in the US, the RISD offers a BFA and an MID in Industrial Design, both combining theory and in-studio courses. Students are taught to understand the design process and create objects, products, systems and experiences. Tuition averages $44,594 per year.
- Art Center College of Design
Located in Pasadena, California, the Art Center College of Design offers a variety of design programs for its undergraduate students, including Product Design, Interaction Design and Entertainment Design. Additionally, students may pursue master’s level studies in Industrial Design. Classes make a strong focus on hands-on learning, however there are mandatory humanities and social sciences courses included in the program as well. Average tuition for undergrads is $36,480 per year.
- Carnegie Mellon University
The CMU School of Design in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has a variety of tracks available for students wishing to pursue studies in Design. Undergrads can choose from one of three main concentrations – Industrial Design, Graphic Design, and the design of physical and digital environments – or combine 2 of 3. They may also choose to pursue an interdisciplinary degree combined with humanities or arts and technology. Master’s level studies are also available. Average tuition is $48,030 per year.
- Ohio State University
The Department of Design at the Ohio State University in Columbus, offers an undergraduate program in Industrial Design, focused on extensive learning about the design process, as well as sustainability. Students may also pursue a general design minor. Master’s level students can choose to follow the Design Research and Development track. Tuition for in-state undergrads is $10,037 per year and $26,537 for out-of-state.
- California College of the Arts
With campuses in San Francisco and Oakland, the CCA program in Industrial Design looks to foment innovation and ensure real-world experience for its students. A variety of master’s level studies are also available, including interaction design, design strategy and strategic foresight. Full-time tuition is $21,624 per term.
GETTING MY FOOT IN THE DOOR
As many creative careers, toy design requires a portfolio. How can this be done if you have never held a job in the industry? Well, experts recommend that you include your design ideas, even if they have not been brought to life. This will give the hiring management an idea of what you are capable of, and who knows, maybe they will even bring your idea to life!
Besides this, you should, of course, network. Start by looking into relevant groups and meetups in your community or college. Then, invest in attending industry conferences. Even if that means paying for a flight, it could be a perfect opportunity to meet potential employers and others who are in the same industry. Keep in mind, that by just going, you probably won’t get your money’s worth. You should prepare beforehand, by learning who will be at the conference, making sure you try to meet them and be memorable, while also actively partaking in the activities and workshops.