How does the prototype process work?
What does prototyping mean? Why can't I just have my Squishable now?
Prototyping is how we get from a design on paper to a real life, 3D Squishable! Every design goes through a series of prototypes, anywhere from one to four rounds, to get it just right! Plush is a finicky medium, so sometimes something that looks very simple on paper is a lot more complicated to make into a 3D Squishy!
How long does the prototype process take?
If the first prototype we receive is right on the money, about six weeks, and then another 6 months to get them in stock! The longer it takes to get the design picture-perfect, the longer it will take for them to be in stock on the site. But we do our best to make sure they're in your arms as quick as can be!
Hey, I submitted a design to you at some point, and now it's being made, but it is someone else's design! Did you steal it? What the heck!
Project Open Squish has been running for many years, and we receive hundreds of submissions a week. We've seen ice cream sandwiches in every flavor and shape you can imagine, variations on different kinds and colors of cows, dozens of marshmallows (both on fire and not), multiple versions of the same dog breeds, and bread in hundreds of different forms. This is a professional contest and it is extremely competitive - we only allow about 1 out of every 20 designs into the actual contest - so for every moth that makes it in, we've probably turned down two dozen moths that didn't.
With so many similar submissions, even the most "out there" designs are actually much more common than most people realize. And that's on top of our own giant database of ideas and sketches going back to 2009, created by the official 5-person Squishable design team, which we pick from each year. Our own designers don't have access to any discarded Open Squish entries, mostly because it would be mind-bogglingly overwhelming and we don't want to chance being inspired by old submissions.
Anyway, that means it's very rare these days for us to receive any truly unique idea that we haven't already seen or had before. We understand that there really are only so many different types of objects out there, and it's natural for there to be many many repeats by artists from around the world who have never seen each other's art. We even see it in similar products released by other companies (you know who I'm talking about.) But there really are only so many ways to put a face on an avocado, martini glass, or coffee mug, so similarities are bound to happen!
But that's okay! Even though so many submissions are similar - both to each other, and to our own internal concept art, and true novelty is rare, we keep the contest going because what makes a design good is almost always the implementation, not that initial idea itself. A good, well-thought-out drawing, that nails the perfect color scheme or shape, and then proves itself through voting and winning, is worthwhile even if the idea itself may be very familiar already.
Is there anything else I can't design?
We are not currently accepting designs for the Squishable lines Boozy Buds, Undercover Squishables, or GO! because our internal Art Team already has many many secret designs for the future in the works! Also, we can't accept any licensed characters! We don't own those and can't make them without permission and/or a collab with the company who owns them.
Why doesn't the finished design always look just like the original drawing? The colors/eyes/design is different!
Often something that looks amazing in 2D drawing form just doesn't translate to fluffy stuffy plush. Plush physics work differently than a drawing - seams change the shape of an animal, fuzziness can hide important features, and colors that looks great together turn out to be weird once they have all the shadows and shine of fur. Even though we almost always have to change the colors, switch to a different style of eye, and update the design a bit, we try to stay true to the original concept as much as possible!
Why can't you do a curly fur/a patterned fur/etc.?
We make our Squishables in three different lengths of fur: a short length one, a regular length one, and an extra long length one. This is what they look like!
How often does the prototype page get updated?
As often as we can! We tend to update a few designs at a time as their new versions come in, but generally its about every week or two depending on how many designs are in process at once! We always have some behind-the-scenes prototypes in the works, too!
I thought you were making this one design, but it's not on the page anymore. What gives?
Once in a while, we get a design that just does not want itself to be plushified! If we get to the third or fourth prototype and the design just isnt working out, we sometimes make the decision to put the design on hold indefinitely. If you love it, set it free and all that! If it's a Project Open Squish design, don't worry, the designer still gets paid and receives a copy of the last prototype :)
How does the design submission process work?
Why does Project Open Squish have to be an over-18 contest? My design is awesome!
I bet it is! We really wish we could make Open Squish open to everyone, but we're not allowed! Not even if your parents agree, not even if you want to submit it under someone else's name (which is also not allowed because you're swearing it's your own work). Submitting on behalf of another person is not allowed. Why? All winners will have to sign legal documentation under their own name in order to get paid, and in the US only people over 18 have the ability to do that.
Can I use old or existing Squishables for inspiration?
Each design must be 100% your own. It is okay to use retired and current plush for inspiration, but please make sure the actual design is not totally based on a former or existing design. All designs must be originals. No recolors or redesigns of Squishable designs or other artists' designs. We want to see what you come up with that is new and exciting!
My design was rejected, or it already ran and didn't quite hit the voting threshold to be made. Can I resubmit it?
We actually suggest submitting an entirely different design! We cannot accept something again unless it has had a pretty substantial redesign in the construction, color, face, etc. Final voting scores are usually a pretty good indicator of how many fans truly are interested in the design, so if it didn't hit the first time, a design more than likely needs quite a few tweaks to change minds!
How can I give my design the best shot at making it to voting?
All designs are reviewed by the Squishy design team for adherence to all of the submission requirements. They check if the design will make a good plush item, and if it matches all the art, character, and design standards. So before you submit, you might want to make sure that your design passes absolutely every single one of them!
Here are some things that we take special note of:
- Make sure your design looks polished enough. All art needs to be smooth and professional-grade, no matter what medium it's created in, to be approved. That means you might want to think twice before trusting your design to a camera-phone photo in ball point pen on lined notebook paper :)
- Use the "About this design" area to really sell your design! Convince your voters that this animal/monster/object is the best thing that can possibly be made into a Squishable!
- Remember, the design can't be too similar to something we already make or are in the process of making. Sometimes there are exceptions for designs that are very different from ones we have, but it's a risk you'll be taking! Check the website and the in-process designs page first!
- As a warning, we get a huge number of designs of different types of birds, and different breeds of dogs. They're all adorable! But because we can only take the top designs,know that the competition is very very stiff in those two areas, and voters historically aren't as excited about them. If you want to give your design the best chance, reconsider a bird or dog design.
How are winners chosen?
How many winners will there be?
For each round there is usually one, but on rare occasions there might be more! Once the Squishy design team chooses the designs that will work as a plush design and that pass all the submission requirements, they'll appear on the website for everyone to vote on!
How do you pick a winner in Open Squish? Is it whoever gets the highest score each round?
Glad you asked! Basically, yes, but with a twist! To make voting fair for the artists, Open Squish winners are those scoring highest in their round, who score above the minimum voting threshold (right now that's a 4.5 or above). If more than one design scores above the threshold, well consider making TWO! That way, even though round selection for designs is random, really popular designs wont miss out just because they happen to be placed in a round with OTHER really popular designs.
Does that mean sometimes there wont be any winners at all for a round?
Sometimes, very rarely, it might! There could potentially be a round when fans dont want any of the designs enough for them to be made. But on the other hand, sometimes, there might be a round with TWO winners! The two should even out, and well be able to make more prototypes that fans REALLY want.
Why can't all the winners automatically be added to the official Squishy line?
A design might be absolutely amazing, but sometimes once we turn it into a prototype we realize that the construction just won't work! But no fear, all winners still get their payment, gift certificate, and their name permanently on the site as a winner. And even if the design doesn't make it to market, designers still get to keep the final prototype of their plush design!
You guys are always tweaking the Open Squish process! How come? Open Squish seems pretty great already!
We agree! Open Squish is SUPER amazing! So why do we change it every once in a while? Most companies use fan votes as "advice" and make all the real choices themselves. That doesn't seem fair to us :). We leave choices almost entirely up to fans, but that means constantly updating the systems and procedures to reflect the info you tell us! It's the only way to choose as many high-scoring fan designs as possible! Which is what it's all about! Woo hoo!