Stuck in an industry?

I’m just throwing this question out there for discussion/curiousity. If someone works in the toy biz, or shoe biz, or car biz, etc. for awhile (maybe 5+ years) does this mean that they’re ‘pigeonholed’ as a toy designer/shoe designer/car designer? Is it possible or common for toy designers to goto shoe companies, etc? Or is it just a basic matter of a ‘good designer’ is a ‘good designer’ and can go where they please?


There’s a high possibility you will be pigeon-holed. That is… unless you already have some experience with the other stuff, and/or keep up with the other areas of ID on the side and your portfolio reflects that. But if all you have for pro exp is 5 years worth of big radii children toys, not sure if a high end cell phone company will hire you unless your book shows other areas that you’re competent in.

I’ve been going through a bit of this myself. My first 5 yrs exp out of school seems pretty irrelevant to lots of places I apply to, so now my portf consists of only personal concepts to try to showcase other skills and areas of interest. All of the newer “typical” pro stuff is under nondis, companies won’t even let sketches out so they can’t get into the portf for a few more years.

It’s a tough battle, esp when you’re not getting many offers from the new direction you want to go, but you keep getting tons of offers from the types of place you’re trying to get away from to keep from being pigeon-holed.

It all depends on the designer, their abilitities, and the abilitiy of the potential employer. Here at Nike, of the recently hired designers, most came from other feilds: 1 from Apple, 1 from IDEO, 1 from Astro, 1 from Speedo, 2 from GM, 1 from Nike Golf Clubs, 1 from Motorola Europe.These where all highly talented people coming from top teir employers and going to an employer that understands creativity. It is probably the exception, but you can do it if you are highly motivated and savy, as Skinny said though, it might take awhile.