Daniel E. Grodecki II Los Angeles, CA Production Designer Years Active: 15 years
How did you get your start? What was your first job/gig?
I had just graduated with a degree in Scenic Design for Theater and was working as a local theater set designer in San Diego when I saw a posting for a scenic designer at SeaWorld in their Entertainment Department. I was fresh out of school and thought I'd never get it, but they were also new to doing in-house design and production work, so when I was offered the job the department and I were both able to grow and develop our design skills and figure out our specific theme park design needs together.
Did you go to school or have any formal training that helped prepare you for your career?
My theater (design and performance) background absolutely contributed to my preparedness at theme park design. I feel it was easier for me to extrapolate what a 360-degree, walk-around design should encompass after having a solid base of what a detailed "single-viewpoint" design for theater would be. There was also an unforeseen befit to having had script interpretation as a part of my studies; finding creative ways to tell the story of a project though the scenery and how the story of that particular Intellectual Property (I.P.) informs the scenic elements.
What are some of the challenges you’ve had in your career? How did you overcome them? One of the biggest challenges is effectively incorporating so many outside viewpoints and criteria into my designs. When designing for theater, or your own personal art, you can focus on exactly what you and the director want to say artistically, and that sole vision of creation is the driving factor. In designing for theme parks though, there are so many additional layers to account for. Multiple producers, department heads, IP holders, directors, VP's, and finance considerations all need to be considered and combined into every design. I found I could overcome this by being overly diligent at the onset of projects and gathering all of the varied requirements of each player early in the process. It pushes your creativity to the next level to be forced to think of ways of incorporating (sometimes) very conflicting elements into a cohesive design.
What is your advice for those starting out in the Art Department? Listen to everyone. You may have amazing ideas, but there are so many talented people out there that can amplify your ideas or present things you may not have ever considered. You don't have to use every suggestion that comes your way, but by listening to and openly considering other ideas, it can make your designs stronger.
Website: www.grodeckidesigns.com LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/daniel-grodecki-7709271b/ Instagram: @GrodeckiDesigns Twitter: @GrodeckiDesigns Photo Credit in Interview (from top to bottom)
Donkey interactive photo op production team (Universal Studios Hollywood)
Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle (Universal Studios Hollywood)
Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle (Universal Studios Hollywood) production team
Donkey interactive photo op (Universal Studios Hollywood)
Bumblebee (Transformers) character experience (Universal Studios Hollywood)
4th of July Celebration graphics (Universal Studios Hollywood)
Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle (Universal Studios Hollywood)