What do you do in the industry?
Dream and do. I’m the Principal Creative at Vivid. I have a cross-departmental role that unifies design-led thinking across R&D, Marketing and Licensing with the mission to generate opportunities for Vivid’s portfolio. My time is spent heading up our global innovation hub, seeking disruptive opportunities and driving creativity across the company project teams.
What are you working on now?
The now and the future. The now is shaping our live portfolio and injecting ideation into our household brands. The future is looking after the portfolio all the way into 2021 – starting with gathering insights, then conceiving and converting ideas into what we term “360 brand concepts” – this concept package includes everything from the play experience to the POS, from the commercial profile to the launch. Not refined at this stage, purely front end conceptual – it acts as a scene setter to get buy in from the stakeholders.
Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?
I’ve been in the industry a decade now and it all hinged on my placement year. I was lucky enough to land a 12-month placement at an awesome German founded playground design company called eibe – designing play spaces and mega scale attractions for kids. This cemented my love for bringing to life ideas in the kid space. During those 12 months my skill set and confidence within a professional environment developed exponentially – eibe taught me skills I still use to this very day.
During my final year at uni, my CV was picked up by a recruiter. They set up the interview and I learnt that it was Vivid. I’ve always loved the nostalgia of a new pencil case being a stationery nut so researching that Vivid partnered with Crayola was a dream come true. Additionally my niece who was 2 at the time loved Fifi and the Flowertots, another great license that was within Vivid’s portfolio – and my name! J
The stars aligned on timing and location. I was offered the job in 2008 – the rest is history with lots of adventures along the way.
Anyone out there thinking of going into a creative role – I couldn’t stress the importance of a work placement year to compliment your education.
What advice can you give to inventors who are presenting new toy or game ideas to you?
Leave little to the imagination to make the sell in effective – this is important. The inventor submissions that are not only an awesome unique idea but have covered everything from commerciality to the future growth potential of an idea allow the stakeholders to be on-boarded much sooner, therefore increasing the success rate of signing it up.
What advice would you give a young adult graduating from high school or college today?
Apply to everything and anything. The more applications, the greater chance of a bite and gaining critical interview experience.
Obtain work experience. Anything, even if not directly related to your dream industry. For us, a good work placement and an awesome portfolio wins every time over grades. There is no better way to learn in this industry than by actually doing it!
Make cover letters about them, not you. A cover letters importance is often overlooked. Make it bespoke to each application – it’s your only chance to show you read the job application. It’s your opportunity to tell the company what you will do for them specifically and why you are the right person to do it.
Make your application visual or even better…an experience! The toy industry is intensely creative so your application should reflect that. Be passionate and show your enthusiasm via the experience.
What and/or who inspires you?
Travel – for me this has always been the most enriching and inspiring thing to refill my mind with new ideas.
Home – the opposite to travel! I live by the seaside in Southsea, Portmouth. It’s an eclectic culturally diverse creative city. There’s a great creative scene of independents, incredible artists, digital agencies, world class illustration studios and maker spaces so I feel very lucky to live here. Plus the sea air after work really clears your head for new ideas.
All people – I love meeting new people and everyone you can learn from. I love to chat. I admire people willing to challenge the status quo and the ones who do things for others. Nice guys can finish first in this industry.
What was your favorite toy or game as a child?
Easily Polly Pocket as No1 but it has to be the original BlueBird small scale J Also loved the combo of playing with my Trolls (with gem belly buttons) in my Lego city I’d built comprising of a hospital and fashion catwalk…for the Trolls, not the Lego figures of course!
And stationery – all of it! I still love opening a fresh pack of pencils
What was your life like growing up?
Lucky - born in England with a hardworking mum and dad. I’m a hybrid of an arty mum and a bike building dad however they were not their jobs, they were their passions. My mum still works for the NHS at 63 years old and my dad was a Lorry Driver. I’m incredibly fortunate that my day job is my passion as they did the jobs they had to at the time.
What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?
Trello – idea and project tracking tool
Pinterest – inspiration collecting
Feedly – keeps me up to date with everything
Adobe Illustrator – my go to software