Laurel Springs Alum Brad Harris Mentors the Next Generation of Creatives
Laurel Springs Spotlight
From creator to mentor, Brad Harris is a “maker” who is always working on a creative side project. Enjoying all things sci-fi, pop culture, and 3D printing, Brad is a 2008 Laurel Springs School alum who’s inspiring and guiding the next generation of designers and makers.
Brad Harris reflects on the past
When Brad was younger, he couldn’t quite put the word to product design. Now involved in digital sculpting and 3D printing, Brad is doing what he loves.
Brad has been a lead designer for the past five years at Mattel, a toy manufacturer for world-renowned brands like Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher Price, and Minecraft. He leads design on the Minecraft brand and pitches for new business in the actions figure group.
Looking back, Brad says he very well fits the definition of an “action figure kid”. He jumped into action figure collection again after college, but he relishes in how rewarding it is to create toys for kids who were just like him.
“It’s pretty insane what Mattel lets me do. I was definitely one of those kids with a lot of action figures. So, looking back, it feels like I was very well prepared for this job,” says Brad.
In the past five years, Brad has innovated toy design in the Minecraft line at Mattel, being a part of every step of the process from concept and design to testing prototypes until the moment they hit the shelves.
Brad Harris discovers creativity and product design
Brad credits the flexibility in his high school education at Laurel Springs for re-sparking his creativity.
“I was able to start ceramics, and it ignited that passion of making things,” Brad says, “If I were in school from 8 am to 3 pm, I wouldn’t have sought out a ceramics class.”
Despite the transition from in-person to online learning his freshman year, Brad hit the ground running, “The thing that made Laurel Springs stand out to me is that it felt very natural. It felt like I was doing it for years right when I started, and it was a seamless transition despite the night and day difference.”
After graduating in 2008, going to college was on Brad’s radar, but he took time to figure out the next steps on his journey.
Brad remarks, “Laurel Springs helped me figure out what my next step would be. I wanted the next step to have the same feeling as I had going into Laurel Springs—I wanted it to feel natural.”
He began researching industrial design and ultimately attended the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he majored in industrial and product design. He graduated with his bachelor’s of science in Industrial Design in 2015.
Jumping into mentoring young creatives
On top of creating and designing full-time, Brad is giving back to the next generation of makers. He’s even offered his expertise and assistance to seniors at his alma mater, helping them with their final senior projects.
Now, he’s a mentor for the Future City Competition providing his experience and advice to our first-ever group of Academy middle school students participating in the competition. He’s excited to give back and lend his knowledge of making things.
Future Cities consists of crafting a thesis and then making a physical model. He raves about the kids he’s working with, calling them “amazing and absorbent.”
His experience at Mattel helps him with his approach to mentoring, as he often engages with kids and observes how they interact with toys.
When asked what his message is to students, he urges them to find things they're passionate about, stating, “Chase your passions and don’t let it go. It doesn’t have to be your career, but find the thing that gets you up in the morning.”
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