Teena Sauvola Q & A

Jeremy Railton speaks to Teena Sauvola.

JEREMY: Hi Teena! You have been working here for a couple of weeks and apart from your incredible work, your positive energy is a huge asset in our offices, so thank you.

TEENA: No, thank you! It means the world to me that you’ve given me an opportunity.

JEREMY: When did you first hear about EDC?

TEENA: When I was finishing up my Disney Internship in Orlando and moving out to LA my bosses Mark Hervat and Guy Petty were recommended some companies that I could look in to. One of them mentioned EDC and I started doing some research.

JEREMY: What made you attracted to our company?

TEENA: Right from the start, I was drawn to the fact that you were a smaller team. I think it usually leads to better collaboration when you can become close with your creative teammates. EDC ‘s wide variety of projects was also a key factor in reaching out to this company. I come from a theatre background, but I’m yearning to investigate all types of storytelling, so that was a must for me.

JEREMY: I see you have two degrees in design would you tell us about that process?

TEENA: I started off at Viterbo University in LaCrosse WI as an actor, mostly because I had no idea design and technology had professions I could pursue! I quickly became hooked on the design and production side of theatre. After undergrad, I was a scenic charge painter for a while, mixed in with other smaller jobs. I waited roughly 5 years to go back to graduate school after that. I was dying to get back in the academic saddle again. After attending URTA’s, I had a great conversation with University of Texas at Austin and signed up to tackle the next three years of intense study with them. Graduate school is not for everyone, but I absolutely needed it. It was, truly, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

JEREMY: Did you have a favorite professor and why?

TEENA: This is by far the hardest question you’ve asked! Professors, teachers, and mentors are the reason I am here today. While at UT Austin, Richard Isackes changed my entire prospective on design theory. Bill Bloodgood was my tough love professor, who I could always count on to give me an honest opinion. Susan Mickey gave the best feedback. I TA’d under Karen Maness and watched her write (along with Richard) The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop while simultaneously teaching classes, painting all of UT’s shows, and dealing with a whole slew of personal surprises. It was inspiring to watch. Not to mention, many professors from my undergrad who helped me in the beginning. Shout out to my Viterbo Professors! Collectively they are the reason I am where I am.

JEREMY: You have been out freelancing on some impressive jobs can you talk a little about your expectations while you were at college and how you found the experience on the outside? Do you think that the colleges gave you adequate preparation for life on the outside?

TEENA: My expectations about the real world after school were not that different from what I experienced. Most people and companies just want you to show up on time, do your work, and be pleasant to work around. That seemed easy enough. Did college prepare me? It made me more confident, a better artist and collaborator and, ultimately, a better storyteller. So yes, in that since, I feel prepared. However, no school is going to give you every tool you need, especially with fast changing technology. I definitely took some online courses to round out the rest of those skills.

JEREMY: We have a lot of Next Gen readers who are still in school and just starting out. Since your struggles and experiences are still fresh do you have anything to say to them?

TEENA: I know it sounds cheesy, but if you can dream it, you can do it, but hard work is the other factor in that equation. There were many nights of blood, sweat, and tears. Yes, literally blood. Exacto knives tend to be extra sharp at 3am! Also- apply, apply, apply! I’ve known people who wanted to work for Disney and I discovered they never turned in an application. They often think they are not good enough. Newsflash—we’ve all thought we were not good enough at some point! How do you expect to get your dream job if you never even let them know you’re interested? One of my favorite sayings is by hockey legend Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Let someone else tell you you’re not ready and then get back to work.

JEREMY: What would be your dream credit if you looked into a limitless future?

TEENA: I would say a Production Designer on a feature film with lots of world building and visual development or a Creative Director for a new land in a theme park.

JEREMY: What was your early inspiration for deciding to go into the design arts. Was it a play, a movie, or…?

TEENA: I would design my own LEGO houses and set up entire village scenes for my toys. I once convinced all of the neighborhood kids to draw life size ground plans of our dream houses in sidewalk chalk on our street. I was also inspired by a behind-the-scenes featurette for Jurassic Park that showcased Stan Winston Studios making dinosaur animatronics and I was in awe the first time I rode Pirates of the Caribbean at Disney World. All of these moments were clues, but it took me a long time to realize that’s what I wanted to do- tell stories through environments.

JEREMY: Is your family artistic and did you receive encouragement to launch into this strange career that we have chosen? I still cannot explain what I do to some family members. Have you found that to be true?

TEENA: My mother has this insane knack for crazy quilting and my grandmother does a lot of painting, but other than that, not really. I didn’t always have encouragement from everyone. There were some tears early on, but I knew its what I wanted to do. I’ve always sort of felt like I was the black sheep who ran away with the circus. It’s better now. I agree though, I can explain my career until I’m blue in the face, but I can see they still have no clue. Hahaha! They smile and nod and think of me when they go to Disney World and that’s all I can ask.

JEREMY: What would you like you new family at EDC to know about you?

TEENA: Brainstorming/ concept meetings are my favorite part of what we do. I’ve been complimented on my ability to lead conversations to discover the best ideas. I’m often not afraid to say the bad idea in order to get to the good idea. Whether that be for a new project or reorganizing a shelf in the office, I’m your girl.

JEREMY: Welcome to EDC!