My Work in Progress

A sketchblog where I post a few of my scribbles from a variety of works-in-progress, usually from my rather random personal creativity outside of the daily grind. I occasionally, but not always, post the final artwork.


Tell Me What You Want!

We've been working on various Disney licensed products for three different major retailers this past week. Yet again, another set of projects that has to take top priority over everything else on the art log...this time because of the retailer review deadlines.

Originally we toy designers were actually looking forward to this set of projects because of earlier meetings with some of the Disney production staff about working with their new lines of seasonal designs. Basically, while we'd be provided with various styleguides to use for these particular retailers, we were supposed to be able to develop our own designs and concepts as long as it fit within the individual styleguide requirements (color, character treatments, icon elements, fonts, etc.) and was approved by our Product Manager and the Disney Product Approval staff. So, no "cut and paste", but original concepts using their licensed characters.

Notice that I stated above, "Supposed to be".

I have this feeling that because our art staff is rather small, we have rather alot of products we need to concept for (close to 100) and our new production deadlines have for whatever reason been shortened (they're all due next week and we just started working on these Monday), our creative manager/art director has interpreted the use of styleguides to be "cut and paste directly from the styleguide to create all concepts". I don't know what exactly is going on, but I do know that myself and the two senior artists and the Licensed Product Manager have been confused by this new direction. Particularly because this is totally opposite what development information our artists got from the meetings they had attended. In the past, if we've presented "cut and pasted" artwork directly from the styleguide, we usually get negative commentary from the Disney approval staff about why haven't we been original with their characters as long as it fits within the styleguide they've given us. And the artwork is generally not approved. Unless the deadline is extremely tight...but then again we've even gotten change requests after sample production.

On the other hand, previous projects I've worked on with other companies that use licensed could go either way. Generally, I think it depends on the approval managers and the strength of the concept artwork that is developed. When the artwork that's presented is consistently high quality and interesting and is "on model", than the Disney staff is more than willing to see what new and original concepts we artists can come up with.

So, the team was getting more confused since our creative manager's direction was "cut and paste", while the original direction we'd gotten from Disney was "be original" within the styleguide guidelines. In fact, it even has typed on the final page of the styleguides (I checked, heh) that artwork within the styleguide are examples and not to be used directly. Very confusing. Right? Imagine our extreme surprise then when our CR tells us that he just got off the phone with Disney and we need to "cut and paste directly from the styleguides and that's what they want." Period.

For one thing, many of our products are unable to go directly by the artwork that's presented in the styleguide because of factory production requirements. He knows that. We'll simply end up getting all the artwork returned with negative comments and change requests...but I guess we'll have met the deadlines!

All I know is, the art team is rather unhappy with our creative manager. Again. His communication skills and art direction "needs improvement". Plus, we've been demoted once more to the level of junior production artists. As one of the guys said, "I didn't know I couldn't draw until I started working for this company." ha.

Thanksgiving in July
Lunch today was most excellent. We all got stuffed. heh. Everyone loved my pumpkin pie/cheesecake combo and I got a few requests for the recipe. Sweet! It all went so well we're planning on doing a monthly lunch theme. Totally cool. I like cooking. :)


MidnightOwl728 said...

Wow you get some cool stuff to work on.
Thanks for sharing. So little people like me can drool over what a cool job.

tygriffin said...

Heh, I would say based on the other creative jobs I've had, being a toy designer...well, it's not my coolest job. So drool away. :) When I was a multimedia artist doing animation and character design and layouts, I had much more opportunity to be challenged, learn new things and grow as an artist.

Yes, my current job has some interesting moments. I totally like the artists I work with. If I was just out of art school, then I would say that the potential here was great and I'd feel that I could learn alot from our senior artists and gain insights into the toy development industry. At least that's what our interns have been telling us. It's a job I'd recommend for anyone just out of school that has good draftmenship skills, understands computer graphics, enjoys a small challenge now and then, has alot of patience, and has little prior professional experience. If, however, you've worked as a senior artist before in any other industry, this job can suck royally at times.

My hope is, by sharing some of my own creative experiences, I can give whoever reads my blog a glimpse of what it's like to be a toy designer (since I haven't yet found anything like that online myself); and also share with my friends and family some of the progress and challenges I have in my various "jobs" as I continue to grow as an artist.

Thanks for commenting! :)

MidnightOwl728 said...

Yep yep your glimpse in to toy design is most useful cause i havent found many on line or any that talk about and respond. So super thanks.