We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Karydas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michael, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
A lot has changed over the years, what started as a hobby, turned into a full time career. My social media presence is stronger than ever with hundreds of requests for custom toys every week as well as other opportunities. I’m very thankful for the rise in popularity, I love interacting with everyone online and I couldn’t have done it without them and their tremendous amount of support. I can’t thank my followers on social media enough for what they do. it’s a lot of work trying to balance making the toys and running social media as an individual artist, but I love what I do for a living! Nothing beats the satisfaction of finishing a plush and it looks just the way the client envisioned it. I get to see how amazed they are when their creation comes to life.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My custom plush toys are not only above the quality of traditionally handmade projects, but you can feel a strong passion for toymaking in every plush I create. I will make all the little details to be as faithful as possible to the client’s request, I take notes on even the strangest anatomy to keep it in tact for the final product. A good example of this are the custom kids drawing plush toys I make, a lot of the personality in these toys come from the imperfections of the source material. I’ve had several exciting opportunities with more to come. I’ve been featured in numerous articles and made commissions for several different game developers, a Disney animator and the Texas Renaissance Festival to name a few. My art has gone viral over the internet and I plan to make myself a notable name in the industry. It was not easy getting this far. my career as a plush toymaker started when I bought a sewing machine with no prior experience. The few sewing classes in my area did not allow men so I had to learn a lot of things myself. I invested a lot of time and money into trying new things, my first plush ever being an octopus with all eight legs and no pattern. Even back then with no experience, I was highly ambitious. A similar situation happened years later when I invested into an embroidery machine, I never digitized or embroidered before. People often told me to just use patterns online as digitizing alone has a tedious learning curve. I didn’t want to use pre made patterns, I wanted to bring my own ideas to life and that meant learning the entire process. For the first month, I was basically glued to my seat for hours at a time trying to digitize something myself and make a functional pattern. I am constantly trying something new, making plush toys of varying complexity.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I’ve been introduced to conventions such as Anime Matsuri or Texas Renaissance Festival and I think they are a blast! The food and drinks are great with a lot to see and do, I’d like to attend more conventions in the future and am always looking at new recommendations from my friends.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
-My family has been exceptionally supportive and I can’t thank them enough for that, my dad going as far as building me a work table so the machine doesn’t shake and making me tools to help stuff the toys. My mom is very encouraging and has taught me a lot about multitasking and staying positive throughout for a good foundation. My sister teaches me a lot about the business aspect of things when it comes to being self employed. I couldn’t have asked for a better family. -Liz Burton I credit as the person who kickstarted my toymaking career and is my master seamstress. She helped me pick out my first sewing machine ever and taught me the basics of sewing when nobody else would, I think very highly of her. She’s both a great leader and incredibly talented. -Christina Potts, hands down the best professor I ever had in college, she consistently goes above and beyond for her students. Her classes are always both fun and educational, there are a wide variety of things I learned from her class that I still use to this day. -Nancy Schile, the master digitizer/embroiderer. She taught me the majority of what I know about embroidery and has tackled the most difficult obstacles embroidery has to offer. Even when my machine was temporarily out of service, she stepped up and loaned me one just to keep the momentum going. – Chelsea Morton (Carlysle Creations), the BEST embroidery service in Pearland. Way before I had my own embroidery machine, she was the first one to embroider my patterns and does a great job at it. Outstanding customer service, knowledgeable about the subject, a true professional. If you want your embroidery done right, I highly recommend checking her out: www.facebook.com/carlyslecreations