Storyland Studios, the three-dimensional storytelling firm, has announced the launch of a new International Design Challenge for freelance designers working in the themed entertainment business. The first-ever Storyland Design Challenge presents freelance designers with a chance to make their name in the industry by pitching their design concepts for immersive, story-based experiences.
Up for grabs is a top prize of $20,000, plus the winner will have the chance to pitch their concept to industry experts at blooloop V-Expo 2021 in October.
Celebrating new talent
“After 20 years of telling stories in space, Storyland Studios is inviting the next generation of storytellers to showcase their talent,” says Mel McGowan, Chief Creative Officer at Storyland Studios and veteran Disney Imagineer. “We’re thrilled to offer this incredible opportunity to freelance designers during this unprecedented time in our industry.”
The judging panel includes some huge names from the attractions industry, such as:
- Michael Mack, CEO, Europa Park and MackNeXT
- Andreas Andersen, CEO and President, Liseberg Group, Sweden, and Board Member at LEGO House Denmark
- Doris Hardoon, Executive Creative Director and veteran Disney Imagineer
- Laurence Beckers, Creative Director, Alterface and Board Member of l’Institut des Arts et Diffusion, Louvain-La-Neuve
- Rachel Read, Founder and co-CEO, blooloop
- Mel McGowan, CCO, Storyland Studios and veteran Disney Imagineer
Hardoon is Executive Creative Director at Disneyland Shanghai, as well as a prominent voice in The Imagineering Story. Alongside the other judges, she is an advocate for supporting emerging designers in the themed entertainment sector.
“I know the entertainment industry is flourishing and relevant when I see versatile designers showcase who they want to be as the industry’s next generation of visionaries,” she says.
Since being formed nearly 20 years ago, Storyland Studios has grown into a world-renowned company within the industry and has worked on award-winning projects, with award-winning innovators. One such example is Poverty Encounter by the Children’s Hunger Fund which won a Thea Award.
Josh Steadman, Art Director for Storyland, also received a Thea Award for his work on Shanghai Disneyland. Steadman is also the recipient of 11 Solomon Awards and 24 AAFIEs.
With offices on three continents, Storyland now employs more than 100 team members and enjoys a strong relationship with its network of clients and partners.
“To recognise this achievement, rather than do the usual patting ourselves on the back, we wanted to do something different,” says Ben Thompson, Chief Strategy Officer at Storyland Studios. “We want to give back to the industry which has enabled us to become who we are today.
“In particular, we want to give a helping hand to freelance creatives who have been most impacted by COVID. It would be a great shame if talented creative people left our industry at this time, and we felt we could do something about that.”
Boosting the next generation of designers
Following the global pandemic, freelance designers face new challenges, including the fact that the nature of networking has changed. This new design challenge gives them a chance to bring their pitches to an audience of industry veterans and experts.
“The crucial first step to one day landing that dream job is just getting the opportunity to be heard,” says Jakob Fagerström, an independent spatial experience designer and art director. “If you don’t have any natural touchpoints within the industry, that can feel almost impossible.
“This makes every chance to connect and showcase invaluable for any designer who has a big dream but not as big of a network.”
Hardoon believes that industry leaders have a responsibility to give future generations a platform wherever possible. And that new talent should strive to make connections among peers and mentors.
“Awareness, connections and discovering talent are a relentless responsibility both the industry veterans and future talent need to engage in,” she says. “Opportunities like this Design Challenge provide a great platform to demonstrate who, why, and how an individual can be recognized and excel.”
Early registration is now open here, until 31 March, allowing participants to enter free of charge. Then, from 1 April to 4 June 2021, standard registration is open. The three finalists will be invited to present their concepts during this year’s Storyland Innovation Webinar. In addition to this, all participants will benefit from a one-year subscription to the Kitestring virtual training platform.
Last month, Storyland Studios appointed former Disney Imagineer and Universal Studios Creative Director, Jason Surrell, to the role of Executive Creative Director.