Catching Up With Brett Klisch and The Creative Factor
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the 116th annual North American International Toy Fair is an educational series designed to bring together inventors and creatives working tirelessly behind the scenes. The Creative Factor was created for the creative community, by the creative community. This year’s series will feature four days of classes, panels, and demonstrations for artists and designers.
TFE chatted with Brett Klisch, director of the Creative Factor and president of Peru MeridianStudios, about what attendees can expect from this year’s event.
Jennifer Lynch: Give our readers a bit of background on the Creative Factor.
The Creative Factor started back in 2003. Back then, it was just one folding table in a 10-by-10 booth and we were doing toy sculpting and mold-making demos. We started about the time product development was going from physically building things to partially digital, and now it’s a mostly digital pipeline. We brought in scanning technology, then software to model in the digital world, and 3-D printing.
This is the first year we are having Oculus there to demonstrate how to sculpt in the VR world.
As the event evolved and the internet started to allow for the new generation of toy companies to grow, we expanded more on the business end; we had the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) speak about patents and trademarks and the United Inventors Association talk about licensing ideas and working the business part of entrepreneurship. We have a yearly crowdfunding panel to talk about what’s happening on platforms like Kickstarter.
We strive to hit all the different areas a creative entrepreneur or designer needs.
J.L.: Having expanded the Creative Factor brand and added on an Advisory Board in 2018, what kind of engaging events and sessions can we expect to see in 2019?
We will have design demonstrations, tech demonstrations, and networking with people from all areas.
The Advisory Board has expanded the reach of the Creative Factor by delving into new topics. This year’s sessions will tackle the new retail landscape, such as the changes to brick-and-mortar and e-commerce. We will also be looking at new innovations in technology that have grown up in the industry in the past few years such as AI, VR, and connected toys. This will be covered in The Play Innovation Panel, chaired by Mojo Nation’s Billy Langsworth.
We will take new entrepreneurs on a journey from how to take their product from concept through design, to production at the factory, and how to ship and sell your product into the marketplace. Within that there will be engineering classes, design classes, tips on how to make a working prototype, sessions with legal reps to learn how to protect your idea, all the way to sessions on foreign manufacturing.
There will even be a panel discussion with author Blake Wright, who will take attendees through his own two-year journey— and a Kickstarter-backed campaign— to self-publish his book Toys That Time Forgot—A Visual History of Unproduced Action Figures, Vol. 1.
J.L.: Who is the target audience for the Creative Factor sessions?
Most of the participating inventors do not have any experience. These are normal people living their everyday life with an idea. Anyone is allowed to participate as long as they can demonstrate their idea well. We have complete amateurs to professional inventors and designers participating.
If there is an amateur out there that has a good idea without the capabilities to convey their idea, we also have resources to help them flesh their ideas out through design all the way up to working prototypes.
The biggest benefit of this series is for these people to get their ideas in front of the people who do the inventor acquisitions for the companies. These doors are usually only open to the experienced and vetted inventors.
J.L.: What differentiates the Creative Factor from taking a meeting in a private showroom, for example?
For new people in the industry, it is very hard to find the right person to set a meeting up with a company. While some companies have websites to submit to, not all do. The people who handle acquisitions are usually not obvious to find in a company even for a seasoned professional.
As part of Toy Fair, the Creative Factor is available to all Toy Fair registrants. The show is held February 16–19 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York. It will include such educational sessions as 3D Modeling for Toy Design with ZBrush. For a complete events schedule, click here. To register for Toy Fair, visit www.toyfairny.com.
Brett Klisch is the co-founder of Creative Factor and president at Peru Meridian Studios, a design and manufacturing firm that works with independent designers and startups as well as some of the biggest companies in the toy industry.