Living the Dream...
California Institute of the Arts in Valencia California was my dream school as soon as the concept of college came into my consciousness. Created primarily by Walt Disney in the 60's, the school has become a well respected endeavor in the field of education in the arts. It's especially famous for being one of the top schools to be educated in the craft of experience design and themed entertainment- the reason it especially attracted me, and what I'm currently studying.
I've been studying at the school since September of 2022, and the experience I've had so far has been enlightening, fun, and fulfilling. In the time outside of my classes, I've had great enjoyment working on events held by the school, including the famous annual Halloween Party as well as Drag Ball. There will be more to come, but here's a look at my work at CalArts thus far.
Halloween Party 2022: The Monster Mash
The first CalArts event I worked on! As the assistant to the designer of the entrance space, my requirements seemed relatively minimal at surface level- mainly help out the primary designer of the space when they needed it. But when the main designer turned out to be Ryan Meglino, a good friend of mine, my ability to speak out more on ideas became stronger, and I had a larger hand in the design of the space. I'm particularly proud with my application of what I learned in film when it came to Murphy's Law rearing its head on this project- many times in the making of this entrance space, unforeseen issues arose. But you have to be flexible and make it work with what you have, and be true to your good ideas.
Final Show Images
Professionally taken images from the CalArts website showing what the final area looked like.
Supposedly, before I arrived to strike, a staff of the school took the moon with "CalArts" on it and has it in their office. Maybe one day, the moon and I can reunite...
Cancelled Tree Concept
One concept which didn't make it to the final show was the idea of having tree flats lining the hallway on either side. I drew a rough idea for how we could technically approach it, which you can see to the left. We built one prototype, but after the fire marshal of Santa Clarita deemed it unsafe to have anything stick out from the walls as far as they were, we had to abandon the idea. I insisted that we have something make up for the lack of depth not having them created, and we got to work tattering some fabric and hanging them from the ceiling grid. It worked fine, but we'll always look back fondly on how neat this would have been!
Drag Ball 2023: Queer Wrestling Entertainment
Working on the annual Drag Ball event that the school holds was not on the initial plan for my first year. That was- until I was offered the chance to lead the design of the entrance space. With the valuable experience I had on the Halloween party and people's expectations to see what I might be capable of with my own space, I didn't want to disappoint. I knew I had to give it a try. I got to work thinking about what I wanted to do right away, and while we had to deal with some budgetary constraints along the way, the experience was, once again, valuable.
Earliest piece of concept art I made depicting all of my initial ideas. The 50'th anniversary celebration of the school was also occurring at this time, so we had to make all the pieces of Drag Ball work around those elements. One of those elements was to be a blue carpet stretching down the entrance area. This would end up being cut, but I quite liked the way it fit with the space.
Concept #1 Layout
Rough overhead plan for the first concept.
"Boom" Flats Concept Plan
Rough plan for the proposed concept of having two flats at either side of the entrance doorway to the school, emulating an explosion!
After hearing of a pretty large slash to our budget, I drew up this more affordable concept. We were also given the official 2023 Drag Ball logo by this point, which you can see to the far right.
Final piece of concept art depicting what the official look for the final space would be considering budget and logistics.
Painting the Logo
Image of me doing some paint work on the "QWE" logo which hung in the space.
I very much wanted to create a feeling of celebration for the visitors entering the party. The Main Street USA areas of the Disney theme parks came to mind when I thought about how I could approach the concept of a festive entry area. The bunting that they hang on the lampposts of the area served as inspiration for this element of my space, created with spare fabrics that the school had in storage.
Daytime Wide Shot
A daytime view of the space, taken minutes after finishing setting up.
QWE Logo in Space
A look at the finished logo hung and lit in the space.
Show Mode Wide Shot #1
A show mode view of the space, taken minutes before the start of the event.
Show Mode Wide Shot #2
Another show mode view of the space, taken minutes before the start of the event.