Los Angeles, CA
Years Active: 10
How did you get your start? What was your first job/gig?
While at graduate school, I had the opportunity to work with Broadway set designer, Robert Brill as part of a mentorship program; and upon my commencement, I continued to work for Robert as an assistant designer on a few more projects. One in particular was an unrealized design for Toy Story - The Musical, a new stage show that was slated to replace Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular at the Hyperion Theatre in Disney's California Adventure Park. Although the project was unfortunately cancelled, it was my first gig within the Themed Entertainment industry and it opened up "a whole new world" to me.
Did you go to school or have any formal training that helped prepare you for your career?
Yes, my formal training is in Theatrical Set Design. I discovered an interest in scenic design during high school and in my Senior year, my theatre director facilitated an internship for me with a TV & Film Production Designer, Terry Welden, who taught me the fundamentals of scenic design.
I chose to pursue an education in Theatre and attended the University of Evansville, in Evansville, Indiana where I received a BFA, cum laude in Theatre Design and Technology. I then continued my education in academic theatre by attending the University of California San Diego, where I received an MFA in Scenic Design for Theatre and Dance.
What are some of the challenges you’ve had in your career? How did you overcome them?
The one challenge that comes to mind that I find myself consistently being faced with is the balance of time versus money. At an early point in every designer's career we are taught the good, cheap, and fast triangle. However, I personally believe that it should always be good, and therefore it is a matter of finding the balance between time and money. With every instance, I try to overcome this situation by reminding myself to consider what is the story we are telling, who we are telling it to, and will my choices still maintain the integrity of the story.
What does an average work day look like for you?
One of the many pleasures of being a Production designer for themed entertainment is that no two days are ever alike. Every day presents a whole new set of challenges and expectations. The exciting part is the ability to address each challenge with its own unique solution.
What are the top skill sets you think someone with you job/position needs?
Of the multitude of skill sets one needs for this job, the interesting thing to me is that all the necessary hard skills can be easily developed; however, it's the soft skills that one really needs. An effective designer needs to be able to communicate well. We are story tellers, and it is the story that we are communicating through both action and design. The choices a designer makes should always be tied to the story that is being told. It is also important to keep in mind who is listening to the story. There is always an audience and an audience should never be taken for granted. It is not enough that someone will hear the story, a design should captivate the audience and create a unique and memorable experience.
Photos in Interview (above): -Lunar New Year, Universal Studios Hollywood (2019) -Dreamworks "How to Train Your Dragon" photo op, Universal Studios Hollywood (2017)
Mr. Ping's Noodles at Lunar New Year, Universal Studios Hollywood (2019)
Grinchmas, Universal Studios Hollywood (2016)
"Stranger Things" photo op at Halloween Horror Nights R.I.P. Lounge, Universal Studios Hollywood (2019)
Dreamworks "Trolls" photo op, Universal Studios Hollywood (2019)
"Us" photo op at Halloween Horror Nights R.I.P. Lounge, Universal Studios Hollywood (2019)