How to start a creative business with Toyfight
Ever wanted to start your own creative business?
Well, we sat down with Leigh Whipday, cofounder of award-winning branding studio Toyfight, to get some insight into starting your own business.
What were you doing before ToyFight?
Before ToyFight, I was working as a freelance Designer/Art Director, after moving back to Manchester, having spent a couple of years working in New York at Firstborn. Jonny (Co-Founder) had been working in Brooklyn as a Creative Director at Domani Studios.
What made you make the leap into starting a new creative business?
It’s something we always used to talk about when we’d meet up and get drunk in New York. We didn’t like the idea of coming back to the UK and joining agencies as Creative Directors because we knew it would mean we wouldn’t get to be as ‘hands-on’ with the work as we wanted.
We also felt we had enough experience between us that we could run a business/agency of our own (oh how wrong we were!)
What were your original objectives when you started?
To enjoy ourselves and produce great work, to be the masters of our own destiny. That’s about it really. We knew when we started we’d be the underdogs, but we both always liked that.
We knew we could punch above our weight and loved the challenge of pitching against bigger, more well-established agencies.
What is your company’s philosophy?
To never take ourselves too seriously, keep it fun and different, and always over-deliver.
Your branding is epic. Where did it come from?
Despite there being hundreds of agencies out there with fantastic work, what struck us was that hardly any seemed to give you a sense of what made them tick. They lacked any real personality, often feeling more industrial/utilitarian.
Of course, we understood the operation scale and the work should do the talking. But for us, we were new and had nothing to show yet. So rather than look and act like one of these established agencies, it became an exercise of showing our differences and personality.
Where we landed was a brand that felt more fun, playful and engaging in tone.
How did you win your first client?
We had both built up really good connections, having worked in the US, and pretty much all of our work for the first couple of years came from people we knew, or referrals. And a pinch of luck.
You include visual and motion design in your list of services when most other branding agencies do not. Why?
We don’t think branding is static. Visual and motion design are both important elements of any great brand, especially with digital products. If you’re not considering how your brand moves then you’re missing an opportunity to further tell your story.
Why did you get involved with setting briefs for Created?
We had a meeting with Dom (Created’s CEO) a while ago and we thought it sounded really interesting. We’ve always liked the idea of trying to help designers who are just getting started in the industry, so this seemed like a great fit.
What do you look for when hiring? Soft skills, technical skills?
It’s a bit of a mixture of both. It’s about having the right attitude, not what the latest and greatest tools are. Techniques and tools can be taught, having a passion for design cannot.
To be successful you need to have a genuine love for design and the drive to push yourself. Having a broad range of skills is appealing too. Whether it’s illustration, 3D, motion or copywriting, it can make you a great asset for any agency.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
You need a thick skin and determination to go far. Be prepared for ups and downs, but don’t be afraid to enjoy your work.
Feeling inspired to start a creative business? Perhaps you want to buff up on the skills needed to break into the industry? We can help you there! Created offer courses in Motion, UI and UX design to get you to the next level.
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