If you’re a passionate fan of the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise you may have dreamed of contributing to the world, the lore, and the very fabric of Yu-Gi-Oh by becoming a trading card designer.
Believe it or not, the path to this career is really pretty simple and straightforward. It starts by building a solid foundation of art and storytelling experience and then moves forward by reaching out to Konami, showing what you can do, and then joining the team from there.
In this detailed guide we cover (almost) everything you need to know about learning how to become a Yu-Gi-Oh card designer, step by step. Let’s jump right into it!
How to Become a Yu-Gi-Oh Card Designer
To the surprise of no one, the trading card designer industry is pretty competitive.
You’re going to need to be smart and strategic about how you build your career in this field, especially if you want to work for one of the biggest franchises in the space – Yu-Gi-Oh – and the legendary team at Konami.
Build Your Skills
Every aspect of your career is going to start, first and foremost, with you building your skills.
Obviously you’re going to need to have some artistic ability to draw and design these cards, but it goes well beyond that. You need to be a creative that can weave story and worldbuilding into each design while closely mimicking the style that Konami uses for the rest of the cards they produce.
This is a lot more challenging that it might seem on the surface. But if you build these skills – on your own, at an art school, some combination of the two – you’ll be in great shape to land a job in this career field.
Network at Conventions
Conventions aren’t just a great place for fans of Yu-Gi-Oh to meet likeminded souls, but also to connect with – and even pitch – some of the biggest names in trading cards.
Make sure that you’re signing up for these conventions, that you’re always looking for opportunities to meet movers and shakers on the Yu-Gi-Oh team or Konami in general, and that you’re prepared to pitch your work to them (have at least half a dozen designs on your phone always).
Your big break and entry into the trading card world might be driven by the folks you might at these cons.
Leverage Social Media
Of course, cons aren’t the only place that you can connect with the people that can get you in the door at Konami (and eventually on the Yu-Gi-Oh team itself).
Social media has pulled down a lot of the old barriers to entry that used to keep folks out of creative jobs like this one. Everybody (well, almost everybody) you can think of is on social media – including the leads and managers on the Yu-Gi-Oh team and Konami.
Follow them. Talk to them. Engage on a regular basis and don’t be shy about showing your work.
A lot of new trading card designers have used social media tools like Instagram and Twitter to build careers in ways people would have thought to be impossible just a decade ago.
Reach Out to Konami Directly
There’s nothing wrong with pitching Konami directly, either – even if they aren’t posting job openings on the trading card design team right now.
Truth be told, Konami (like any other company that leans on creative talent) is always on the lookout for new people to bring aboard, designers that can do great work with their own twist, and people that are passionate about franchises like Yu-Gi-Oh.
Jump on the Konami website, visit the Careers page (here), and reach out with a pitch that includes a couple samples of your work.
Skills Successful Yu-Gi-Oh Card Designers Have in Common
Trading card designers – the most successful ones, anyway – share a lot of things in common.
We’re talking about things like:
- Impeccable art and design abilities – You need to be a solid artist and designer if you’re going to work on a brand like Yu-Gi-Oh. Not only do you need obvious talent and skills, but you need to demonstrate that you can draw and design work that fits the design language of Yu-Gi-Oh, too.
- Masterful storytelling abilities – Every card you design for Konami needs to tell a ton of story without a lot of available real estate to get the job done. It’s not enough to come up with great art and cool concepts, these cards need to push the Yu-Gi-Oh story forward as well.
- Solid communication abilities – Top designers are always in constant communication with their team, finding ways to collaboratively push these designs over the finish line.
- Can meet tight deadlines and work remotely – Konami has a global presence, to be sure, but they are still a Japanese company. Unless you’re looking to move to Japan, learn the language, and integrate into that culture you’re probably going to be working remotely. Make sure you can swing that and still meet tight deadlines.
Is Konami a Good Place to Work?
Konami has a halfway decent rating on the job platform Glassdoor, with most reviewers reporting that there’s a lot of good and a lot of not-so-great things that come with working here.
On the plus side, people love the pay, the benefits, the people that they work with, and the prestige that comes from joining one of the most important entertainment companies in the world.
On the negative side, people weren’t always crazy about the work culture, the style of management on some teams, and the sometimes slow movement on different projects.
All in all, if you’re serious about being involved in the Yu-Gi-Oh universe as a trading card designer Konami is the only shop on the planet you’ll want to work for.
How Well Does Konami Treat Their Employees?
According to more info from Glassdoor, Konami does a pretty solid job when it comes to taking care of their employees.
The salary and benefits packages, the 401k plans, the team environments, and the hours that Konami keeps were all reviewed by employees of the company as being some of the best aspects of this organization.
If you’re looking for a good place to work, and want to be a Yu-Gi-Oh trading card designer, Konami is the spot to be.
How Much Does a Trading Card Designer Make?
While salaries fluctuate throughout the trading card designer world, the average annual salary in the US for this kind of work sits at just about $45,357.
Obviously, working on a prestige brand like Yu-Gi-Oh means that there’s a lot more opportunity to make more money. On top of that, as you move up in the trading card design team your responsibilities, your notoriety, and your pay will all grow, too.
Some of the top trading card designers at Konami right now are making around $96,173 a year, and there are trading card designers for other brands making north of $100,000 pretty consistently.
The road to becoming a Yu-Gi-Oh card designer may not be the most obvious career path in the world, but it’s a lot easier to break into this field if you follow the tips and tricks we highlighted above.
You’re going to need to develop your art and design skills, right alongside your storytelling abilities to have a chance to get on the Yu-Gi-Oh team at Konami. Beyond that, though, you’ll want to make sure you’re also a good communicator, can work well under pressure, and are flexible enough to meet and overcome the challenges that working on a franchise like this brings to the table.
At the end of the day, if you’re persistent – and networking at conventions, on social media, and regularly sending card designs to Konami to show your skills and how seriously you take landing this job – you shouldn’t find it too hard to break into the business. Best of luck!