Yup, it's Christmas time. Again. Just plop a Santa hat on it and you're done. ;)
Our product development schedule runs at least a year in advance, and that has to include enough time for concept development, sample development and various stages of approvals from product managers to licensers (in some instances like Disney for example) to vendor buyers (like Wal-mart). So, what I'm working on now you might see in stores late 2007 or 2008.
Last year, I listened to Christmas music to try and get in the Holly, Jolly spirit of Christmas. Just couldn't do it this year. Instead, I'm trying to do something new and different (and listening to whatever is on my iPod...NOT Christmas music). Something that, after almost two years (my, how time flies), I feel more comfortable about doing since I have a much broader understanding of what we have produced, what products of ours will be in stores this season and next; and, what our competitors have been doing. Plus, because of the popularity of some of my designs with the buyers and our product managers, I can push out something completely different and call it my own. :)
It will be interesting to see what, if anything, of my concepts survives the final cut and sell. Guess I'll find out Christmas 2007...
In Other News...
I got an email from the AI Alumni association a couple weeks ago asking for my assistance in their Mentoring Program. I politely replied with an email that basically stated, "I'm nowhere near to the new career path that I planned to have (a creative role in the animation industry) after graduating from the Dallas Art Institute. I would have nothing positive to say to any AI student as a mentor at this time."
The job that I currently have as a toy designer utilizes NONE of the new skills (admittedly, quite junior level) in 3D production and design that I learned in order to gain my associates degree at AID in 2004 (my second degree). Instead, my current job which is junior level since I had no prior experience in the toy design industry, relies on skills that I already had developed from the years of practical experience working as an artist after receiving my BFA from UNT in 1992.
I don't think my education at AID was a complete waste because I love to learn and I did gain a better understanding of 3D production. I also appreciate the time and effort it took for me to both work (sometimes part-time and sometimes full-time as an internet consultant and designer) and be a full-time student again for what I considered "continued education" in order to change my career. So. I don't feel that I can mentor any student as an AID alumni until my job reflects and builds on the skills and career path that was my whole reason for attending AID.
Makes total sense, right?
Anyhoo, I just got back an email from one of the alumni coordinators in response to my comments about my lack of qualifications to be a Mentor for their students. Basically, how they hate to hear of my disappointment with the progress, or lack thereof, in my career since graduating from the school. And what they can do to assist me.
Hmmm...I'm thinking there's really nothing they can do today, particularly if they couldn't help me before when I was fresh out of their program. I found more job leads on my own than from what I got from the job search program, the AI staff had no industry contacts that they could directly refer me to; and honestly job leads is really only what I would or could expect from them at this point.
EDIT: The online mentor/mentee for all of the current AI students and alumni could be a good thing...if more alumni participate. In any case, I went ahead and signed up that I was looking for a mentor - "a successful 3D modeler working in the animation industry, not game development, who could provide guidance and advice." :)