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Toy Design Academic Excellence: Dustee Womack

Hometown?
Visalia, California


Why Otis?
I had a degree in business from SDSU [San Diego State University] and worked various jobs in marketing and sales. It was great experience but I was not creatively satisfied. While my husband was in Iraq with the Army, I took art classes at night at OCC [Orange Coast College] and focused on painting and ceramics. Much of my work looked “toylike,” and my painting teacher noticed this. He mentioned Otis’ program, and I immediately got excited! The moment I saw the toy design online that night, I was determined to go. My husband reenlisted in the National Guard in order to transfer his GI Bill to me so we could afford it.
 

Interesting things you did outside of school?
Making earrings; camping and hiking; bicycling; scavenging around swap meets to find cheap, weird, little treasures; and having all these adventures with my husband and my little puggle, Odashi.
 

Most influential class?
Preschool with Joyce Mesch, sponsored by Spin Master. Our class had a unique bond together and with our instructor. We worked as if we were at a toy company.
We shared ideas, provided feedback, collaborated and improved our concepts each week, and shared them with the Spin Master team. It was challenging, intimidating, and fun all wrapped into one. This class was the foundation of my confidence in my design ability.
 

Most influential faculty member?
Mike Andrews’ model-making knowledge opened my eyes to the idea that if you can think of it, there is more than likely a way to make it. I have always made little sculptures and dioramas but many times hit a wall when I didn’t know how to make them work. He also showed us the value of making a quick model to test out an idea. Jeannie Hardie, my games theory instructor, taught my most challenging class, and I worked myself to the bone. She told it like it is, was honest, and let us know where to improve. Learning game theory helped bring out the logical thinking I tucked away in my brain, and has helped me in all aspects of design. If you can explain how to play a good game well, you can explain almost anything.
 

Favorite place in L.A.?
The Barcade on Western has old arcade games for 25 cents, affordable drinks, and good music. . . .It’s a good “end of your day” treat!
 

Impact on your work/life?
I had been working for the last ten years and completed a business degree. At Otis, I learned how to make the work enjoyable.
 

What’s next?
I landed an amazing job as a designer for Disney Planes at Mattel. It is much more rewarding, challenging, and fun than anything I have ever done.
 

Something unusual/idiosyncratic?
I eat popcorn almost every night, make earrings out of almost anything, I am drawn (like a bug) to anything that glows, and I have a special voice that my dog understands.
 

Information/tips for future students?
Extend yourself past what’s offered in your major. Seek out the class that can help you improve. I knew I needed help with Photoshop and drawing, so I took special classes. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and pinpoint where you need to improve.