Designer Interview: Shane Geil
Shane Geil is a local toy designer and teacher, although you may also find him exploring forbidden jungles and avant-garde establishments. Most of his work, such as Hello Maggot and Bandage and Scab are meant to invoke a sense of familiarity in the strange and unusual. Shane’s inherent creativity is matched with his passion to inspire confidence in young designers, which is why ANDesign has chosen him for our first ever Designer Interview blog.
Please give us a short bio about yourself: Where did you grow up? What was your upbringing like?
“I grew up in Long Beach California. I was a latch-key kid. This meant I had a key to our apartment and I took care of myself until my mother came home in the evening. I was a troublemaker and I even belonged to a gang of seven-year-olds called The Mischief-Makers. We were shoplifters, trespassers and one of our favorite things to do was smear dog shit on peoples cars. In my teens I was tragically antisocial. In my early 20s I came out of my shell and spent most of my time in West Hollywood hanging out with drag queens. They became a family. They inspired me to be bold, loud and funny.”
Who are your designer idols?
“Warhol, Keith Haring, Jim Henson.”
Or even childhood heroes?
“Paul Lynde, John Waters.”
Did you attend college or study design anywhere?
“I studied crafting at Cal State Fullerton and I have a bachelors degree in studio art.”
When did you realize you wanted to become a designer?
“I always considered myself an artist and someone who is very crafty but I didn’t start designing toys until I was 32.”
Where do you draw inspiration from?
“Children’s books from the 60s. 70s holiday specials. And my favorite person in the world Divine.”
Take us through the steps of your design process from conception to final product? What makes your process different? How do you illustrate/draft your projects (what mediums or software do you use)?
“I sketch out ideas, then make several versions on card stock.I use these as templates. I then make several versions of my toys in any fabric I have. Once I get it to where I like it I photograph it and start making cartoon versions in Photoshop. I like having a cartoon version of whatever I’m making because it allows me to make many changes. Once I get it where I like in Photoshop I go back and make a final toy.”
What kind of impact would you hope to have on the design world throughout your career?
“I hope people can connect with my toys. My toys are often tragic but with a glimmer of hope. I have saved many of my toys some are over 40 years old. I hope my toys have that kind of longevity.”
What kinds of projects do you enjoy doing?
“Right now I’m more interested in developing intellectual properties. Concepts that deal with children, acceptance and anti-bullying.”
What kind of projects are you most passionate about? Why?
“I struggled as a child with my identity and I was also bullied. I hope somehow my concepts and/or toys will empower children to be brave, enjoy life, and to come out of their shell.”
Any other passions or hobbies you enjoy when you’re not designing?
“I enjoy stand-up paddle boarding and snorkeling. I’m also a bit of an adventure seeker. I like to go exploring in places I really shouldn’t be.”
What’s your ultimate goal in your career?
“Ultimately I would like to teach what I do as a toy designer and also still create and develop toys and intellectual properties.”
Do you have any advice for aspiring designers?
“Be brave, don’t take yourself too seriously and don’t show anybody anything unless it looks amazing. Also never critique yourself in a negative way in front of anyone. No one needs to hear you put yourself down. Better to say nothing and appear mysterious.”
We want to thank Shane for his time and encourage you all to keep your designs weird and original!