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Quit your job, become a... toymaker

Rob Greig

Sato Hisao, 48, freelance toy designer

How do you become a toymaker?

'I studied industrial design and became a watch designer. But I always felt like they weren't really my designs. So I quit, moved to the UK and studied at the Royal College of Art to learn product design. People call my designs toys, but I never imagined I was making toys; they're just something fun to make people happy. They are "objects for happiness".'

Do you have a favourite 'object for happiness' that you've made?

'The monkey from my books, because it's the first model I made at the very beginning of my freelance career.'

Can books really be toys?

'Each book has 12 characters: some are easy to make and others difficult, so it's interesting for small children as well as adults. Each model has a paper bar in the centre that you can push up or down to move it.'

Isn't paper a bit flimsy for toys?

'I use strong paper, because kids should be able to play with it. If I wanted to make a prototype of a wooden toy, I'd need to use heavy machines, but paper needs only scissors, so I can make it at home without worrying about noise or dust.'

What's a typical day like for you?

'I wake up early and have a relaxed breakfast. Then, around 9am, I start trying to make something - sometimes without any purpose. When I'm busy I keep it up all day long; otherwise I finish around lunchtime and go to the park or the cinema.'

What's the best part of your job?

'Getting people interested in crafts through my work. When I was a kid I was a typical boy who liked drawing and making creations. If I had never had that chance, maybe I wouldnít have concentrated on design so much and I might have been very boring. So to be able to pass the baton makes me very happy.'

Hours: 40 hours per week

Starting salary: Varies

Qualifications: Design degree

Sato's 'Make & Move' books are published by Laurence King at £8.95 each.

Or why not become an outreach worker?

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