Doll designers and makers can find employment in a variety of situations. They can work for large toy companies and manufacturers such as Mattel, American Girl, MGA Entertainment (Bratz), Corrolle, and Madame Alexander Doll Company. Opportunities at these companies are limited. Individuals may also find employment with smaller toy manufacturers throughout the country. Additional opportunities may exist for doll designers and makers with companies that manufacture dolls for collectors. Companies also employ designers to create the fashions that dolls wear, as well as their accessories.
The majority of people working in this field are self-employed. Some sell their designs to toy and doll manufacturers. Others design and create the dolls themselves and market and sell them at craft and trade shows. Still others sell their work to interior designers or art galleries.
Entry-level positions at toy and doll manufacturing companies may be more readily available to individuals who have a solid educational background. If you are having a difficult time finding a job as a doll designer, apply for an entry-level position with a doll or toy manufacturer. This will help get your foot in the door. As positions open up, it is often easier to get promoted from within.
Many doll designers start their careers by designing and creating dolls and selling them on their own. Some sell their original designs directly to manufacturers.
Advancement prospects for doll designers and makers depend on their talent, drive, and reputation. Every doll designer wants to create the next Barbie doll or the newest Bratz doll. Individuals who create designs or dolls that are creative and well received have the best chance of advancement.
Individuals working for a toy or doll manufacturer may become a lead designer. Others may be assigned better projects. Some find similar jobs at larger, or more prestigious companies. This will generally result in increased responsibilities and earnings.
Doll designers and makers who are self-employed advance their careers in a number of ways. They may increase their sales volume, which results in increased earnings. They may also find better outlets in which to sell. Many self-employed doll designers and makers aspire to have their own successful line of dolls. Doll designers and makers who are entrepreneurs can start their own doll line and manufacturing company. The Internet and easier access to resources and markets makes this less difficult now than in the past.
Visit the National Institute of American Doll Artists Web site, http://www.niada.org. Its classes and conferences provide a treasure trove of networking opportunities.
Attend high-end, juried art and craft shows, as well as community craft shows, to get ideas of how doll designers and makers market their designs and display their wares.
Browse Toydirectory.com to find companies that offer jobs, internships, or apprenticeship possibilities.
Arrange an internship with a toy manufacturer through your school to gain valuable industry experience and make important contacts.
A portfolio of your best designs and completed dolls can not only get you in the door but may even garner you a job offer even if you lack experience—if your work is outstanding.