How I Created a Library of 3D Avatars
For Design Mockups and Commercial Projects
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
I am Amrit Pal Singh, a 3D Illustrator and Creative Director with an immense love for storytelling, nomadic adventures, and Nutella.
In 2019, I left my job as Head of Design for a fintech company and started focusing on creating 3D Design Assets and Card Games full-time. I mostly work solo with regular collaborators. Toy Faces Library is the first big step towards my mission to offer designers and companies useful tools and assets that make their work pop and shine.
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
I got into design and animation when I was 16 and ended-up graduating from Vancouver Film School at age of 22 in 2012. I was lucky enough to get a full-time job right out of college at Fueled based in New York City where I worked for two-years, then returning to India to start my own design studio.
In 2014, I founded Mister Bumbles Interactive a company making products focusing on storytelling and childlike wonder. Born from an idea of indulging in creative side-projects, we create products that are fun and make your day a tiny bit better. It’s a unique setup where no one is involved full-time, we come together to design and publish a product and continue doing other things.
From 2017 to 2019, I worked as Head of Design for Kite a fintech startup based in New Delhi. In 2019, I left my job to pursue a solo practice focusing on 3D Illustrations and Design Assets; Toy Faces is the first major product of this venture.
Toy Faces Library is an outcome of a personal need; while I was a product designer I constantly struggled with putting random avatars or portraits in my design mockups. I created these diverse avatars so fellow designers can just use them in their mockups and presentations.
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
Starting challenge was to come up with a design system and pipeline where I can create 100s of 3D faces. I took the concept from avatar generators and made a pipeline around it.
Another challenge was to research and understand what types of products I should sell and defining my exact target market or niche.
And the biggest challenge was to understand how to market the product and increase my presence online. Luckily, the consistency paid off and being in quarantine really helped me focus on this.
Who is your target market?
My target market is fellow product designers and startups looking for 3D illustrations to enhance their user experience and make the designs pop.
I picked Product Designers since I was a product designer myself and it was easier to empathise with them. There was a lot of trial and error, this is like my 14th big product and over the last few years I have made more than 100 design assets like mockups, graphics, and even fonts.
3D is a niche I love being in and I have several more products I am working on. I love the design community and having them as customers is a blessing.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
I sell products under my name so I have focused on establishing my personal online presence and gain a small audience.
PH has been the biggest booster for Toy Faces Library, I have launched several products on the platform. Some have done well and some were a bit disappointing. There are particular products that thrive on the platform so I encourage everyone to analyze and see if their product can be on the platform by doing some competitive analysis.
I post regularly on my Instagram, I am quite active and I have created designs specifically for marketing myself on the platform. I have done Instagram ads that have helped in the last one year in gaining some sort of following. My monthly expenses on Instagram ads have been for $100-$500 USD. Insta’s organic reach is not good if you don’t have enough followers so you will have to promote through paid ads.
One thing that helped a lot was when I reached out to people with massive following and shared my work with them. At first they might not reply but as your work gets better you start getting more responses and even shoutouts from them to their followers.
I absolutely love Behance, it has been a major platform in promoting my work. I put projects on a regular basis and the cutartion team has been very kind with featuring my work.
I just started focusing on LinkedIn last few months and it has a really good organic reach, which means your posts reach more people than other platforms. When I launched Toy Faces, I messaged a lot of Product Designers asking for their feedback. This really helped in spreading the word around.
I am also working on building my email list and adding a blog on my website.
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
When I launched Toy Faces Library, I also launched custom Toy Face (portraits). That really helped in building a connection with my customers because the process involved them mailing me their photos. I replied individually to more than 600 emails in the first week.
Due to the overwhelming number of orders there have been delays to deliver the portraits but I have been posting about them and emailing revised timelines. So far, the customers have been really supportive and part of it I feel is to do with the fact that they understand it’s a one-person operation.
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
Play and experimentation are highly promoted and I only work with people who are better at certain things than I am. This outlook helps me give them complete freedom and build trust. I collaborate with a lot of freelancers, so a lot of communication is done online. We don’t have unnecessary meetings and everyone is trusted to do their job with minimum supervision.
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
There are a variety of tools I use and I keep experimenting with new tools all the time.
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
It takes time and consistency to build anything good. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s my 14th major product and in between, I have done several other things that didn’t work or had a huge response.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
When I graduated I always wanted to do a job and be part of a company. But with time I noticed my best work is when I am creating products on my own and constantly trying new things. Setting up a solo-entrepreneur business has enabled me to be very flexible and adapt to changes rapidly.
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Taxes and Compliances. So that’s why I have hired someone else to take care of it.
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
TED Talks has been a huge influence and I absolutely love watching TED videos. Listening to inspiring stories and innovative ideas give me a constant zeal to carry-on.
Apart from that I read extensively on History and Art. I listen to History lectures uploaded on YouTube while I work. I listen to talks by other designers like Jessica Hische, Bill Burnett, and most recently Futur by Chris Do. Seth Godin is the best when it comes to marketing.
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
2-3 years from now I want to have at least 8-10 major products to offer. I like being a one-person business with a lot of collaborators. I want to have smart automation so I have more free-time and most importantly aim for 100,000 happy customers.