Toy Tech: 10 Really Amazing Portfolio Tips (Part 2 of 4)


PORTFOLIO INTERIOR 02  My toy design portfolio includes concept art for multiple Dreamworks film projects.


This article focuses primarily on the printed portfolio, but the principles remain the same for digital and online versions. As a toy designer, you have many opportunities in the toy industry to pursue, with retail design and toy premiums providing great opportunities working for innovative companies. Be sure, however, to design your portfolio in a way that works best for the people who will be viewing it, to increase your chances of having a successful outcome.

Although, extremely talented, I only know a couple of creative directors in toy premiums who are comfortable working on computers and design programs such as the Adobe Creative Suite. So, if you are applying to someone in this category of our industry, you may want to go with a printed portfolio and only supply a PDF version upon request.

Even in this digital age, the printed portfolio still comes in handy, providing a more positive experience for people who are not comfortable with digital media. Also, it makes it easier for your work to get multiple viewings as your book is passed around the office. 

Now, if you are applying in retail toy design, knock yourself out and submit a digital portfolio with all of the bells and whistles, such as fancy interactive macros with links to additional online content. Don’t over do it though, make sure you don’t drown the meat with too much gravy.

Most vice presidents in retail and premiums are computer savvy, so if you are sending your portfolio to someone in this category go digital for sure. In fact, you should also have an updated LinkedIn account directing visitors to your online portfolio. I covered all of this in an older archived Global Toy News article.

Be sure to take advantage of meeting as many of these creative people as possible to learn as much as you can. Some are more up to date with technology than others, but all, regardless of industry application, have valuable information to offer in terms of creative insights and toy industry experience.

In any case, showcasing your design portfolio to feature strong conventional skills alongside professional level computer skills will serve to open doors and keep you in demand. With that said, let’s continue our 10 Really Amazing Portfolio Tips.

Tip #4:

Lead off with your client list to show you are an established professional talent. Those hard earned clients speak volumes to your experience and personal commitment. If you are just starting out and don’t have a client list, simply use your college level achievements, awards and honors.

It’s all relative, in that you are simply communicating your level of commitment and personal achievement at this moment of time in your career. Be specific and really sell yourself.

  PORTFOLIO INTERIOR_06Interior spread, The Last Airbender © 2010, Nickelodeon Movies, Paramount Pictures.


Tip #5:

Show the various stages of your work and technical abilities from rough ideation sketches to finished presentation designs. I want to see how someone thinks—the stages in which they take to solve a problem. Show how you handle the challenges in developing a brilliant toy concept from the early ideation stages to the 3D models, and then finally the manufactured product sitting proudly on the retail shelf.

Each phase has unique challenges to overcome and creative compromises to make. Don’t just show the glamour shots—show the blood, sweat and tears that go into developing a successful toy. By doing so, you will communicate your mastery of the highly specialized skills needed to work within the various stages of this industry.

Tip #6:

You can have several concise industry specific portfolios or just have one larger version showcasing all of your work from multiple industries. For example, one of my portfolios is primarily focused on toy design, but also has smaller chapters, including visual development for film and television, as well as, commercial art and fine art samples.

All of this works together to give a well-rounded representation of my skills as an artist, designer and project lead. So, you may have many portfolios featuring different aspects of your design experience, just make sure the portfolio you send out has a specific focus toward the industry you are addressing.

Tip #7:

Yes, I know you are the very best in the business, but a design portfolio should actually be, um, well designed—just say’n. It is only logical for designers to show they have command of such design elements as fonts, page layout and posses critical thinking skills along with organizational ability. Why? Well, how in the world can you be trusted with developing a new toy line or to lead a team of designers if you can’t even organize simple thoughts on a piece of paper?

It’s very important to understand that everything you send to a prospective employer reflects who you are—your ability and personal commitment. Every detail works to showcase your career skills and creative vision in the best possible light.

So, be sure to articulate your thoughts clearly and concisely by organizing your toy designs, ideations and career information in an extremely professional manner. Do so by building your portfolio with solid design principles and you will speak volumes to your professionalism and problem solving ability.


Part 3: Continued Next Week . . .



Leave a Reply