We had the good fortune of connecting with Casey O’Connor and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Casey, what is the most important factor behind your success?
Drive. Continuing to push, and push through roadblocks. Having faith in the brand, but at the same time pivoting when it’s needed, and being able to realize moments you need to pivot. Understanding that you never know everything and it’s constantly a learning process.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
All of my art is very character based. Wether it’s illustrations, animation or toy design. This I think made it easy for me to have a career designing toys as I could envision them in my head before I’d create them. It was not easy to get where I am now. I’m a farm boy from Wisconsin, that moved into a major city, and had to learn about a much different, but exciting world. My first real job out of College was working for a Toy Company in Chicago where I learned everything I know about brand building, and creating products for the everyday consumer. That job was sadly taken away swiftly one day as the owner passed away, and put a lot of great things spinning. I was then offered a job in New York City, and had to learn the ropes of another major city all over again. I’ve met so many amazing people and companies, it’s been worth it. The Bitty Boomers brand was developed from pure passion and determination. The brand was initially turned down by many retailers, and at one point I was even told it wasn’t an item. But in my heart I knew it could become something great, if I kept grinding and evolving it. A mindset that culminated through learning from different types of people kept me pushing on even behind the scenes when few believed in it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m in Chicago, in the Spanish art district called Pilsen. There is artwork everywhere, amazing food and friendly people. There are amazing taco joints, but we’d first have to stop at a restaurant/bar called Simones. Such a cool atmosphere and even better food. The best thing to do, is to just walk the city (in the summer). In a normal year (non-covid), there are so many festivals, and you can see all the colorful artwork throughout the city. But walking on 18th in Pilsen, you almost have to stop at every boutique shop or restaurant as they are all so unique. At night catch an improv show or a musical.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have lots of credit to hand out. Every step has in this journey so far has had different types of people influence me. From my growing up my Mother letting me know it’s ok to let me imagination run wild. Michael Perry who took a chance on a college graduate that was still lost, and showed me world of Toys. Along the way people like Gus Fink who taught me there are no mistakes, which as a young artist was hard to wrap my head around. Joy Michel, Sy Garfinkel, and the one person who believed in me the most, Nika.