Jeremy Madl designs art toys that are coveted by collectors around the world. (Image courtesy of Jeremy Madl and Mad Toy Design)

Interested in a career as a toy designer? 1996 Scholastic Awards winner Jeremy Madl recently talked to Scholastic Art Magazine about his work as a toy designer and running his own company. Check out the interview below!

SCHOLASTIC ART: What is your job?
Jeremy Madl: I design collectible toys— or art toys. I have my own company, Mad Toy Design. I’m a one-stop shop from concept to delivery of the final product.

SA: How do you design a toy?
JM: First, I sketch out my idea on paper. I do all the different views—front, back, side, top, and bottom. I might make 100 sketches. Then I enter my sketches into my computer and create the control drawings to send to the manufacturer. I work with the manufacturer to get every aspect of the toy right, including the size, color, and even the cost. The process can take six months to a year and a half.

SA: What is your training?
JM: I took a lot of art classes in high school. Anyone who wants a career in art should do the same. Take classes that you think you won’t like. For example, if you’re not good at drawing, take a drawing class. After high school, I went to art school. I actually have a major in toy design!

SA: How did winning a Scholastic Art Award Portfolio Gold Key in high school help you in your career?
JM: The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards challenged me to develop my talent and skills. Plus, creating my entries help me build a great portfolio to apply to art schools.

SA: What was your first job in the field?
JM: After college, I got a job at a creative agency designing toys and other products. I learned how to work with toy factories. But I always knew I wanted to have my own business. So after a few years at the agency, I launched my own company.

SA: What skills do you need to run your own toy company?
JM: Of course, you have to know how to draw. But you also need to have really good time-management skills. You have to make your deadlines. I work long hours, but it doesn’t feel like work. The business side of owning a company, such as keeping track of client payments, can be a challenge. It is important to be organized.

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