If you have big dreams of becoming the next toy designer, then you’re in the right place. We quizzed full-time Toy Inventor, Matt Burtonwood from Open 2 Design on his top tips for getting started - and some of them might surprise you! Here’s everything you should know:
FAILURE IS A GOOD THING
The fear of failure can often be something that puts us off trying something new, but Matt says that overcoming those worries is crucial to being a great designer. When things don’t work out, Matt advises brushing it off and starting again:
“The fear of failure stops you from doing anything. You’ll develop a thick skin, you’ll often show the same thing to lots of different companies and everyone will [see] that slightly differently - so you get past that really quickly.”
He also says there’s no such thing as a bad idea: “The bad ideas sit at the back of your head and then turn into good ideas.” Well, that’s certainly good to know!
DOING NOTHING CAN ACTUALLY HELP!
Yes - we’re serious! Matt insists that we shouldn’t feel guilty about doing nothing - as when it comes to getting inspired, you just can’t force it. But don’t get carried away, you’ve got to do the right kind of nothing!
Matt says: “A lot of what we do involves doing nothing and going back to that idea of being bored - but being bored in a smart way. Creativity is natural. It's all around you, you kind of have to switch off, but switch on the unconscious part of your brain. I like to go out and see things, you’ll see a mechanism in anything.”
“It’s important to physically move around to switch off - if you just sit and stare at your computer you won’t come up with a good idea. Ideas come when you're not trying to think about them”
MAKE SURE YOU ACTUALLY ENJOY IT
“It’s definitely the kind of job that you go into because you enjoy it rather than you’re trying to get super wealthy off of it”
Doing well in the toy design industry requires a lot of practice, so you’re going to need to really, really love doing it! Matt says that the key to pitching an idea is doing lots of research so that you’re not winging it: “The worst kind of rejection is “I’ve already seen this”
“If you don’t enjoy those processes of trying and trying and failing, then it might not be for you - and that’s cool as well!”
The good news is that Matt insists that if you love the work enough to stick with it, then you’ll defo land a role: “If you do practice and you do well you will find a job”
DEADLINES ARE KEY!
“Treat it like a job, set yourself deadline”
Although it sounds strange, having lots of time can be one of the biggest enemies to creativity - it can make you far too much of a perfectionist!
Matt advises putting deadlines and a structure in place to make you are much more productive: “Pressure is a privilege. Deadlines are really good for creativity - they help reduce procrastination. Often we find that we’re a lot more disciplined when we’re working for other people who have clear deadlines. I think deadlines improve your decision making”
If you’re looking for a project to focus on then make sure you check out our toy design brief in collaboration with The Design and Technology Association and Mojo UK! Read the full brief and submit your application here.
IF THIS IS YOUR DREAM, THEN YOU’RE HALFWAY THERE:
Just knowing that you’d like to be a toy designer is already a huge step in the right direction, says Matt. Loads of people don’t know what they want to do until they’ve already been doing the wrong job for years - so focusing early on is helpful in achieving your goals.
“One of the luckiest things is if you know what you want to do when you’re older - it’s a good place to be because then you can get the route right at the start”
And the best thing about the job? “Going into a shop and seeing your stuff on a shelf!”
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