Product Designer at Vivid Toys and Games - Martine Allen

Course: BA (Hons) 3D Design (Product Design)

“The course allowed me to learn many different things from SOLIDWORKS skills, model making, basic Adobe skills, and the ability to think through a design... Plymouth is not only a great place to undertake a product design course but it is also a great place to study because the campus itself is fantastic.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

After graduation I interned for a kitchen and living space company called Kelvin + Co, doing design and administration work. I then went on to have a full-time job there. After that, I completed an internship at a company called Panavision where I helped design pitch ideas and create marketing campaigns for them. Whilst doing this I also did some freelance design work making logos, branding, laying out artwork, and helping design some product ideas for different companies. I then moved on to the company who I now work for called Vivid Toys and Games. I am a product designer, which consists of designing and managing the production of toys from ideation to the shop shelves – whether that be thinking through and creating new product lines or taking licences and creating cool toys around that licence. Every day is fun and different.

How has your degree helped/influenced your career path?

My degree set me up with some of the skills I use on a daily basis. It also helped me to understand the process of how things are made and also how I approach design, how to rationalise it, and how to analyse a product to make sure it is the best it can be.

Has your career path changed since graduation?

Since graduation I haven't really changed career paths. I knew I wanted to go onto design fun, user friendly things and for me designing toys and games is my dream job. It was just about finding the right job opening for which to apply!

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

The most difficult thing in my career so far has just been keeping up with the fast pace of the toy industry. It is a fast paced process which keeps you on your toes all of the time; meaning there is never a dull moment. Something which I love!

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

It's hard to really pinpoint one thing, as my job is a lot fun and I get to attend a lot of cool shows and get to travel a little too. However, I would say that the best feeling is, after seeing through the design process, then getting to see the product you designed on store shelves, online, in catalogues, and watching people interact with it: that is very exciting and satisfying.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?

I would have done a full placement year and I would have made myself learn Adobe suite a lot sooner! It was really only once I had left university that I threw myself into using Illustrator and Photoshop properly, but I use them on a daily basis now and only wish that I had learnt how to use them properly whilst at university.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

I would advise all students to look for a placement or for a job as soon as possible, as a lot of companies post jobs in the spring before many people graduate. Keep an eye out for postings and apply as soon as possible. I would also recommend learning Adobe suite, reading up and learning the basic methods of production to really get an understanding of processes and, above all, to have fun and be you! After all, creating toys is a fun job.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

Plymouth has some of the best teachers of product design who have worked in the industry, so they can really teach you about processes and talk to you about hand-on experiences. The campus also has a great studio space and workshops that allow you to have fun and interact with friends.

What lessons/skills did you gain from your course?

The course allowed me to learn many different things from SOLIDWORKS skills, model making, basic Adobe skills, and the ability to think through a design. The design process and thinking part of the course were great and has allowed me to look at design in a unique way.

Did you undertake a placement during your degree and if so, how did this benefit you?

Yes, I had a one month placement at Lee Filters helping them design, road test, and create a filter holder system. The hands-on experiences of working within a company are great: you really do learn a lot from production methods to user testing, all of which has been massively helpful in allowing me to progress. My only regret is not doing a yearlong placement.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University, and why?

Yes. Plymouth is not only a great place to undertake a product design course but it is also a great place to study because the campus itself is fantastic. Everything is so central; there is a big library, great workshop and studio facilities, and a big Students’ Union (some of my favourite nights out were in the SU).