Los Angeles, CA
USH Asst. Creative Manager / HHN Scare Zone Art Director
Years Active: 40
How did you get your start? What was your first job/gig?
I was first hired at USH as a performer. I played everything from the Phantom of the Opera to Woody Woodpecker. Eventually I made my way behind the scenes and was in charge of Props for our Face Characters. Movie Star Look-A-Likes of Laurel & Hardy, the Marx Brothers, and Mae West amongst others. I also purchased vintage vehicles the Characters would use in the park. Personal highlights include driving a 1959 Cadillac Excelsior Hearse on the 405 Freeway and buying a WW2 German Motorcycle w/sidecar from a one-armed man who used it to drive his blind dog around.
Did you go to school or have any formal training that helped prepare you for your career?
Outside of some writing and photography classes in Junior College, my Education was at the School of Hard Knocks.
What are some of the challenges you’ve had in your career? How did you overcome them?
See answer to previous question :) I fell into my current position in the same manner that I fell into my career as a Visual Artist. I went out to Art Galleries every weekend to see other people's work. Eventually I developed the confidence to create my own work and more importantly, develop my own voice. It’s the same way with Art Direction, I didn't have the technique, but I had the imagination and found ways to create things that didn't require specific skills. I can't run a lathe, but I can design and install a killer Window Display. I can barely draw a stick figure, but I can mock-up my ideas on Photo Shop well enough to sell the concept. And by the way, there’s a big difference between confidence and ego. With confidence, you believe in yourself. With ego, you believe you’re better than the others.
What is your advice for those starting out in the Art Department?
Technical Knowledge and developed skills are great, but you need to be exposed to all types of art and design to grow. Go to museums and art galleries, read books (Google is not the only way to research!). Watch films out of your comfort zone (don't be scared of subtitles). If you’re going to stand out from the pack, you have to bring something new to the table.
My main job is to create the Scareactors and Scarezones for our yearly Halloween event. HHN is the premier Halloween event in the country. I can’t just rehash the usual witches, zombies, and graveyards.
When we did a Clown Zone, rather than the standard circus clowns, I researched 18th Century French Court Jesters and the Sad Clown from the opera “Pagliacci”. A few years back, I designed Scareactors based on Depression-Era primitive dolls. When I began to run out of ideas for the masks, I incorporated the creepy Cubist faces from paintings by Picasso. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box because technical skills will only take you so far.
As Tim Gunn would say on Project Runway, "there's a reason we don't call this show Project Seamstress”.
Patrick as the Phantom of the Opera at Universal Studios Hollywood
Halloween Horror Nights 2019
Patrick working on Scare Zone props & decor