Someone asked me that question in one of my post comments. There are a lot of ways to get on someone's design team. I am thinking about it as I go along, so go along with my tangents.
Is there a favorite stamp store, website, or line that you like? Do they already have a design team? Ask when they will be selecting new members. If they don't have one yet, ask if they will start one and consider you. The important thing is to ask. The one thing I have learned is that it never hurts to ask. I have discovered a lot of online companies are looking for design team members and/or people to do samples for them. Some are even looking for demo artists for trade shows like CHA or shows. I have had several people ask me to do stuff for them for CHA but I have said "no" because my first loyalty is to Dremel. Dremel asked me first and I will continue to do it with them until they find someone else or until I actually work for another company.
Look out for posts in your favorite Yahoo groups. A lot of companies will post a message when they are looking for design team members. Get in the Yahoo groups for online companies that have their own Yahoo groups. You can go on digest if you don't want to get a lot of messages. A lot of stamp and material suppliers will have their own blogs. Subscribe to the blogs so you will know the latest and greatest. Subscribe to website newsletters. Some magazines will have design team members. Altered Arts Magazine usually looks for new people in the summer. Ask! Ask! Ask! It won't hurt for people to know that you are interested.
Don't become a design team member just to do it. Make sure that there is a good fit. You don't want to be a DT member using stamps that you don't like or can't use in the type of art that you do. I don't do cards a lot so I wouldn't join a DT that does mostly cards and nothing else.
How did I become a Dremel artist? I subscribed to their online newsletter. There was a call for people in the Midwest to be part of a focus group. I still go to their focus group meetings in WI. I had a lot of suggestions for them on how they could appeal to the art and art jewelry market. I offered my services to be a demo artist for CHA. I made samples at my own expense. I thought about what market would be there. I thought about something fun and easy that showed how the Dremel worked. Not all of my suggestions have been used but I kept letting them know what artists need. They are a great company to work with. You will see me at CHA again this summer with Dremel. Come by and do a make 'n take. Say "HI!" to me.
I have written some articles for basiccopper.com. I love to use copper in a lot of what I do. There is something about the color that calls to me. I found them on eBay. I told them about what artists need. I made some suggestions. They needed some articles written and some techniques for simple projects. BTW, if you can make cookie cutters, they are looking for someone to make up some cookie cutter samples with their copper. Email them. Back to Basic Copper. We have a good relationship where I will write up some things for them and they are my regular supplier of copper sheet.
Don't expect to be paid a lot of money at first. You might get product instead. I am just happy to see my stuff in print and to be part of something. Being paid is a bonus. At some point, I will make more money doing this. Right now, I am happy getting my artwork out there and getting product. I do get paid for some of the things I do. That just helps to pay for more art supplies and fabric.
Don't do too much at once. Do it for one or two people or you might get overwhelmed with the amount of work you HAVE to do. Take some time and play. I think my best work is when I am playing around with stuff. Most design teams will involve a contract so you won't be doing something for someone who directly competes with what they are doing.
Hope that answers anyone's questions about design teams. Please comment if you are on a design team or have been.