Tony Kuchar

Merchandise Designer | Fangame.com

Name: Tony Kuchar

Graduation Year: 2014

Job Title: Merchandise Designer

Organization: Fangamer.com

Describe your design journey: Started by designing merch for my silly little bands in high school. Now I design merch for silly little video games 😉

What are some of the responsibilities of your current position? Overseeing the entire merch production process of my projects: concept, sketch, final design, approvals, speccing for production, reviewing production samples, adjusting specs and resampling, final production, marketing, launching, and every so often even shipping!

Communication: with fellow designers and artists, with licensors, with game developers, with prepress departments, with merch producers, with manufacturers, etc.

What is your favorite part about your position? The creative freedom I’m allotted. Generally speaking, if I have an idea for a piece of merch, and I can determine there is a decent demand for it among fans, I’m given the reins and means to make it happen. This allows me to always be trying new mediums, new styles, new types of design, and the ability to collaborate with a variety of other designers and artists.

How did the Design Program prepare you for your current position? Not that fun of an answer but… Deadlines. School provides a great opportunity to practice being creative within a set timeframe. Another helpful aspect of school was having to work within specific guidelines and boundaries. Every project or job is restricted in some way, either conceptually or physically; school offers a taste of what’s to come in a professional setting. Lastly, school is great at exposing you to critique and constructive criticism. In the workforce, your designs will be evaluated and approved by parties that are outside of your influence. Being able to parse feedback and adjust your approach is a vital skill. Additionally, participating in group critiques also helps you learn how to communicate why you do or don’t like something, why it works or doesn’t work, and most importantly, how to provide helpful and practical suggestions for how to refine or better focus a design.

What was most memorable to you about your experiences in the design program? The community! School allows you to immerse yourself in design and for me, the best part of that was being surrounded by other people that were just as interested in design as me. Outside of the professional realm, where else are you really going to find a group of people that are down to have an hour long discussion about fonts?

What advice would you give to someone who is considering pursuing a design degree? Make sure it’s really something you want to do. Like any career, but especially in design, to be successful you need to be passionate about the work. If you aren’t interested in thinking about design like, I guess all the time really, then it might not be for you. I can’t turn my designer brain off. I’m in the grocery store thinking “Dang, that’s a sick font on that ramen cup. What is that? I have to find that font when I get home.. Design will just become part of your day to day life: make sure that’s something you want.