Friday, April 30, 2010

It's Nerf or nothing!

Hey everyone. I apologize cause it's been almost two weeks since my last post, I know. I've been real busy with a family wedding to attend and just all around chaos. Lets have some fun tonight shall we? So for those of you who loved Nerf growing up as much as I personally did you can spend hours on this guys blog. (as I have) It looks to be from Singapore and this blogger is all about Nerf. He has a page for concepts, custom mods, hilarious videos, and just about everything you could want to know about Nerf.

Here's a great video from his page, maybe him and a few friends I'm not sure. Great to see people still having fun with Nerf no matter how old, I want a gun now!

Also because this is a sketching page how about some amazing Nerf concept renderings to get you all inspired?

Now for some nostalgia. Here are some of my favorite Nerf toys that by little brother and I owned growing up. What were yours?

Check out for all the old school guns.

Enjoy, and remember to check back in a few days because I have another interview to post and if you love LEGO then you won't want to miss it!

Monday, April 19, 2010


Here's a find by one of the readers. Some damn cool custom plushies with hand drawn faces, or well headies as they refer to them on the website.

Check them out, you can also stop by the blog to see more. I plan on a longer post later in the week but I'm busy, busy, busy. Ciao for now!

Monday, April 12, 2010

IDSA S. district

I attended the Southern District this past weekend and had a blast. If I met you at the convention and you're stopping by the blog for the first time welcome!

I took in so much while I was there, met with so many students and companies trying to build a network for work but also for the blog. To the readers who attended and helped me spread the word, this thing is growing so I really want to thank you all. On that note I have just a few highlights for you to check out.

First, maybe the highlight of the event for the students, was the student merit award presentations and ceremony. I'm actually pissed that I didn't take pictures, I like to think I was respecting the presenters. Here's a short video clip from the award ceremony.

sketchatoy@IDSA from sketchatoy on Vimeo.

The winner was Arvin Abadilla from the University of Houston, TX. He had really good work and some clever products, so check out his website or his coroflot.

Also, I met a student through one of the readers who had some amazing sequential work. Not really toy related but the dork in me must post.

Check out his deviantART page for more killer work!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Star Wars Win

Oops, my inner dork is showing how embarrassing. Well since you have already seen it allow me to share it with you all.

I was browsing the internet tonight looking for some images to map some fabric on for a new tutorial and stumbled across these novelty items

They are some of the coolest things I have ever seen when it comes to licensed product, unfortunately these are all the rejects. I wont post them all but if you follow this link and this one to Geekologie then you can read all about them.

The marker rendering are unbelievable, I'm going to try my best to track down the guy or gal for a feature. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Monkey Doodle Dandy Feature!

Monkey Doodle Dandy is a fun and creative studio from Brooklyn NYC and is the brainchild of husband and wife team Kurt Marquart and Elaine K. de la Mata. Their studio has worked on everything from Dora the Explorer ,to Barnie, to Disney's Little Einstein's. In the coming year they hope to kick off several creations of their own including the Squaredy Cats ™ and Squarey Monsters ™. !

Please take a minute to stop by their website and check out their portfolios. They have great work and you will learn tons. Enjoy the interview!

1. You are a husband and wife consultancy/studio, that’s awesome! Could you give us a little history on how you ended up together as a design team?

We were both working at full-time jobs. Kurt was art director for a local newspaper chain, and I was an art director at a toy company. (So, I guess we have being bossy in common.) Kurt was really not happy, he didn't have much chance to be creative and there was no place in the company for him to move up. He was trying to work on his own projects at home, but it was really tough. His hours at the newspaper were very long and soul-sapping. He decided to live frugally and quit his job and see what happened. Luckily for our bank account, the toy company where I was working needed freelancers, so I recommended him, and as it turned out, they loved him and continued to send projects his way. I basically liked my full time job, but I was also at the point where there was no more room for growth. There were so many other creative avenues that I wanted to explore, but it wasn't possible to do while working 14 hour days for someone else. My original plan was to take 6-9 months off for exploring, drawing, painting and refreshing my brain, but I started to get freelance jobs, too, and I guess I was a little bit of a work-a-holic and I couldn't turn them down, so Kurt and I decided to incorporate and have a design company!

2. Have either of you worked as an in-house designer? If so how does this differ from employing yourself? What are some of the benefits of working for yourselves and some of the pitfalls?

Kurt has worked as a designer for newspapers, and I have worked for a few toy companies (as well a newspaper when I first got out of college). Working for ourselves has given us the ability to dedicate some time to developing our own properties. We don't have to waste time commuting or sitting through endless meetings. Occasionally, we can play hooky and sit in the park on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon and there's no one to answer to. We feel like we have more control over how much money we make, too. When you work full-time, if you work on the weekends, or until 4 am, you still get the same check at the end of the week. But if we work super long days, at least we get paid for it. It makes it easier to give up sleep. And we can bring our dog to the studio!

There are definitely pitfalls, too. There are those times when there are no checks coming in, and you start to get really nervous about paying bills. It gets hard to separate work from personal life because you can never truly get away from it. You're always talking about work, thinking about work, dreaming about work. Even though we worked long hours when we were in-house, we work much longer hours now!

3. Your studio is called Monkey Doodle Dandy, Inc. Where’d you come up with the name?

Um, I don't really remember! I think we wanted to communicate that we were fun and silly, and do art. So, that's the "Monkey", the "Doodle", and then the "Dandy" was just catchy.

4. Who is responsible for what at the studio?

We have our individual clients, but we also share a lot of work and help each other out when we get swamped. Kurt takes care of most of the billing and office work, which is a full time job in itself. I try to drum up new business. But mostly, we both do everything.

5. Dealing with clients can sometimes be daunting being that you often have direction coming from within the studio as well as the direction from the clients. For those who are already working professionally, we all know inter department teams have their strengths and weaknesses. What do you think the secret is to a successful relationship between two teams? (That being your studio and the client)

It's striking a balance between maintaining your creative integrity and knowing when to "roll over and play dead" - meaning that the client is after all the client. They are paying the bill, and you might not agree with their decision; but you must smile and accept it. At the end of the day, the client owns the work, not the studio. The faster you realize that the better, or freelancing is not for you. No client is going to come back to you with repeat business if you are argumentative. They need the work done quickly and to their specs. To balance that out, we're developing our own characters and products that we have complete creative control over. That's where we can be picky, and love it and hug it and squeeze it. Because WE own it.

6. Your studio does mostly illustration, concepting, branding, and product licensing. What’s the process when working on a product? How does it get from the sketch, through the control drawings, and into production? Do you continue to work alongside the engineers and industrial designers or is the next time you see your concept when it hits the stores?

Each project is different. Sometimes, we work on one little aspect of the product and we might not even know what the big picture is. Other times, we get to be involved from the very beginning - fleshing out the idea, thinking up names, doing drawings and presentations, working with the engineers. That kind of project is the most fun. And it's always fun when you see your concept on the shelves or in a tv commercial.

7. The product illustrations on your page are fantastic. How do you approach the presentation illustrations and what are some tips you would give to keep a product illustration looking playful rather than just sitting there static on the page?

Thank you! I'm not really sure what tips we have. Kurt especially is great at doing shadows and highlights and making the toys look super shiny.

8. You two have some great concepts coming straight out of the studio including my personal favorites Squaredy Cats ™ and Squarey Monsters ™. Can we expect to see these coming to market?

Thanks! We were hoping to see the Squaredy Cats plush in stores nationwide in October, but now it looks like early 2011 is more realistic. We're really excited, because we just signed a deal with one of the largest plush companies in the country! We can't say the name of the co.yet, though. Both Squaredy Cats and Squarey Monsters already have a deal in place for vending machine stickers and temporary tattoos across the US and Canada. So look out for them! They will also be showing up, along with GirlMonsters, as an iPhone app from Shakey Planet.

9. I see you have a licensing show coming up in June. How important is it for consultants, freelancers, or even just artists and designers in general or attend these shows and fairs to get their name out there, network, and see what’s new and fresh?

Thanks for reminding us of that. We have now taken that banner off of the web site, because it was actually 2009. It's so expensive, that we can't afford to exhibit this year, although we would still like to attend the show in 2010 as visitors. That being said, it is very important to attend the shows, fairs, exhibits, groups, meetings, etc. You can't spend all of your time drawing in the studio. You really need to get out and meet other designers, see what everyone else is working on and thinking up. We always find that we return to the studio with a renewed determination to create good work. That's also how you make contacts for collaborations, jobs, everything.

10. What programs, tools, or simple inspiration objects could we find in your studio that you couldn’t design without?

E-mail. Almost no one ever calls, but everyone e-mails. If our e-mail goes down, we lose our minds.

11. Do you have advice for young designers wanting to break into the field? And for those already in the field what advice do you have?

Just to keep working, believe in yourself and your personal style, and know that it's really hard, but there will come a time when it gets easier. Call people, meet people, get out there. And don't waste beautiful days when you could be drawing in the park. I've wasted a lot of gorgeous, sunny days sitting in my dark studio, but I'm determined not to do that anymore!

12. What other artists/designers do you look to for inspiration?

We like old monster movies, cartoons, fairy tales, weird animals, and friends and random people we run into who are designing stuff and making art. Some of the creators who inspire us are Jim Benton, Jhonen Vasquez and Arthur Rakham. We look at a lot of contemporary cartoons, and children's programming to see what's happening, and do an awful lot of poking around at the gazillions of artist portfolios online. There's so much to look at that is a constant inspiration.

New Look!

As some of you may have notice the blog has gone through some minor tweaks, mainly the banner has changed. Well, I decided to take it to the next level and spend some cash, all $18 worth for some business cards :)

Funny story actually, I wasn't sure if I wanted the corners rounded or not so I ordered them squared. When they arrived I took my rounding punch and did it to one card and loved it! I then painstakingly went through all 50 cards and rounded the corners myself...needless to say my thumbs are sore. O_O

I'm actually ramping up for the IDSA conference this weekend and I wanted to promote the blog a bit to some students and any professionals I may meet. I couldn't be happier with how these cards turned out.

I think now is a good chance for me to promote our first podcast! I will be participating in the two portfolio reviews so if any of you are part of the southern district IDSA then I hope to see you there. Now is the time to listen to that podcast and review your portfolio with our top ten do's and don't in mind.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Innovation and Inspiration

This can sometimes be a daunting task for designers. Especially when a deadline is approaching, things become stressful, and start unraveling. Unfortunately innovation, creativity, inspiration, and meeting deadlines are all crucial parts of being a designer despite what may be going on personally or professionally that stifles your thinking.

I was given this article by a coworker with some tips for staying creative and innovative!


Bring More Innovation to Your Work

Is it possible to learn how to be more creative and innovative?

"I believe so," says Fridolin Beisert, Creative Consultant for Disney Consumer Products and Associate Professor, Art Center College of Design. "In fact, I've done it and spent two years studying the subject for my master's degree."

Today's leading innovators agree with Fridolin—innovation is a practice and a skill to be learned. And it's a skill that's becoming more of a necessity in today's fast changing business and technological climate.

If you're looking to bring more innovation to your work, try applying these seven strategies by Fridolin.

Problem Framing
Take a step back and analyze the problem to find its cause. People often assume that they know what the issue is and waste their effort on finding good solutions to the wrong problem. As a quick exercise, ask a succession of five "why's" when confronted with a problem. The answers will likely start to point towards the real cause and allow you to reframe the problem appropriately.

Pattern Breaking
We all fall into habits, including when working on projects that require innovative thinking. To break these patterns, write down all of the immediate solutions to a problem that occur to you and put them on a "will not use" list. This will force you to generate new and creative ideas—often some that seem impossible at the time.

Inspirational Investment
Make plans to be inspired at least once a month. To be filled with fresh inspiration requires making regular deposits in an "innovation account"—it is an investment that runs dry if not funded. This weekend, make a plan to invest time and energy to be inspired by something that is completely different from your routine.

Cross Pollination
Connecting unconnected ideas can produce stronger concepts that flourish. Cross pollination can be done with concepts, ideas, words, people, styles, technology or virtually anything that consists of separate elements. Children are experts at this because they do not necessarily know right from wrong. But as we grow and mature our flexibility of thinking is often lost and replaced by categorized order. For an easy start, begin by connecting adjectives to your problems to generate additional layers of depth.

Perspective Shift
Use viewpoints other than your own to approach a problem. Although your perspective is important, looking through someone else's eyes can provide a valuable shift that leads to new approaches for innovation. Just imagine how someone you know would start the process. A change of approach will allow you to cross into unchartered territories easily and without fear of failure.

Investigation and Insight
Do thorough research on the topic at hand. A Japanese expression called "Shi-Ta Shirabe" loosely translates to "Before you go somewhere to do something, investigate beneath the surface to gain insight into the situation." Seeking knowledge from all possible sources will inform your decision making and problem solving process along the way.

Power of Constraints
Reducing the options and variables in a project allow you to focus on exercising creativity within a set framework. More time, resources and technology usually do not provide better results. Less is more.


Also a lecture by Tim Brown discussing creativity and how to stimulate our minds during the design process through play.

He focuses on some really fun exercises to exaggerate the gap between the creativity of a child versus adults, explaining why this happens to us all and how to break the mental creative block and stop self editing.

Wooden Toys

sketchatoy eight from sketchatoy on Vimeo.

Hope this tutorial helped! I would recommend sketch book for drawing these little wooden toys, simply because you can use the templates to have nice clean lines like you would see in the final product.

Another useful feature in digital sketching is the maneuverability you have. I sketched this on paper then cleaned it up in sketchbook, once the sketch in completed you can rotate it until you get an interesting angle then continue to work the sketch.

I am simply not a transportation designer, but I wanted another example so here's my fire engine.