As a lifelong Disney fan, getting a cold call from a recruiter to apply for a contract for The Mouse Himself felt as though it could have happened once upon a dream. And after I interviewed and got the gig? My wish upon a star (okay, I'll stop) came true! In all seriousness, though, getting to experience what it's like to work for such an enormous and established organization so early in my career was invaluable. Witnessing the inner workings of a well-oiled machine like Disney taught me so much about how an effective design team goes about its day-to-day business. And the fact that I was able to spend each day working on properties so dear to my heart was like a spoonful of sugar (sorry) on top!
Being a production designer, my focus was mostly on sticking to brand standards and producing graphics that would feel seamless to guests—a job well done would typically be a job unnoticed. However, I was occasionally able to add a personal touch and even create new assets once in awhile! All told, I worked on something like 50 (or maybe more!) properties during my stint at Disney—below are a few of my favorites.
Frozen Fever
Skills: Graphic Design, Production Design, Web Design, Digital Illustration
Tools: Adobe Photoshop, proprietary CMS
Challenge: Update the web and social media presence for the new installment of a wildly popular franchise while staying within the confines of a strict style guide.
Results: Positive audience response.
Image of the "Frozen" property site as it was in March 2015 to promote the "Frozen Fever" short, displayed on a monitor
In early 2015, with Frozen mania still in full swing, Disney was gearing up to release a new Frozen short in conjunction with the live-action Cinderella remake and I was tasked with refreshing the property to promote the short's release. Frozen was, of course, huge by this point and its property site was too—about three or four times bigger than average! All that plus prepping assets for galleries, creating blog content promos, and designing new social media profiles for the film and its main characters meant I had my work cut out for me!
A detail shot of the Blogs and Quizzes and Activities sections of the Frozen movie site in March 2015

Expanding upon the decorative themes established in the borders of each content area, I pulled select elements out and peppered them in as enlarged accents further down each page.

Where the site's default theme focused on hard lines, sharp angles, and so much cold blue to evoke Elsa's frozen wasteland from the original movie; Frozen Fever takes place in the summertime and focuses more on Anna and the lead-up to her big birthday celebration. To that end, the assets and brand guidelines provided allowed a lot of room to experiment with color and ornamentation—this refresh was equal parts challenging and fun!
The assets for the short overall, as well as for Anna herself, leaned heavily on the summer season—lots of flowers, butterflies, bees, and organic shapes populated these libraries. However, while Elsa's look in the short touches on that summery vibe too, her asset library still featured mostly snowflakes and other snow-related imagery. Since the two sisters were to be situated prominently at the top of the main page, I designed a set of modules that blend the two aesthetics together. The focus—per the brand guidelines—is definitely on the summer vibe, but I did insert a few snowflakes and snow-adjacent sparkles here and there. For the Elsa-inspired elements, I made sure to warm up the colors to go with her new look and not detract from the primary aesthetic of the short.
The four character pages in the Frozen movie site also got an update for the release. I got to explore each individual character's personality and bring in little individual touches where before they all had exactly the same icy blue theme.
The character pages were especially fun—while the main page needed to blend several elements and give a sort of overview of the short, I was able to dive deeper with these and create a unique aesthetic for each of them:
Anna's page, while similar in a lot of ways to the main page, does away with any semblance of winter and instead fully embraces summer and florals. The color scheme is drawn directly from her dress with a lot of green, yellow, and pink. And there is not a hard line in sight!
Elsa's page still avoids going too cold in color and again draws its pallet from her new dress, but brings the snowflakes back in full force. Where the main page features mostly flowers with a few snowflake accents, Elsa's design does the opposite. That said, there are still a great deal of organic shapes here—the accent lines are soft and rounded, evoking wind or perhaps just a gentle breeze, for example. I chose her snowflakes carefully, selecting only the most ornate ones to allude to the beauty of her ice magic and the complexity of the castle she builds in the original film.
Olaf and Kristoff are both inextricably linked to snow and ice, so their pages bring back some cooler blues and even more snow. That said, the main background gradients for both are still bright and cheerful rather than truly icy. As for Olaf, since Elsa created him, his ornamental borders draw a lot of similarities to hers but with some slightly sillier touches. Kristoff's page is kind of the odd one out—I was not given much to work with for him, so I instead studied both his clothing and Scandinavian clothing in general to decide on a module design for this page. Kristoff as a character is warm and friendly, so it's only fitting that his page should feel like a giant sweater!
Falling Through Gravity Falls
Skills: Graphic Design, Production Design, Web Design, Digital Illustration
Tools: Adobe Photoshop, proprietary CMS
Challenge: Take the generic, utilitarian website for an underrepresented property (with limited assets) and give it an upgrade.
Results: Increased business incentive to promote the property as a result of the improved webpage design.
An image of the Gravity Falls website when it first relaunched displayed on a monitor
For the uninitiated: Gravity Falls is an animated series that follows a pair of twelve-year-old twins in the fictional town of Gravity Falls, Oregon. The twins, Dipper and Mabel, are spending their summer break with their Great Uncle (aka Grunkle) Stan at his home-slash-tourist trap business, the Mystery Shack. Gravity Falls may seem like your typical sleepy small town, but strange things are afoot and the twins often find themselves in some dangerous—even supernatural—situations.
Gravity Falls, the town, as well as Gravity Falls, the series, both embody the concept of "more than meets the eye" to a T. The deeper you dig, the more there is to uncover—and not all of it innocent. I ended up taking that idea somewhat literally and decided to create an environment for the page's theme rather than using purely decorative backgrounds. Guests would physically move downward through the environment as they scrolled down the page, and would also get a hint at the narrative progression of the series itself in the process—it starts out looking rather innocuous, but as you progress further and further into the series things get a lot darker.
Screenshot of details further down the Gravity Falls site page

A screenshot of what remains in 2018 of the content modules I designed all together—the page originally went even further down and showed the depths of the caves in the lowest modules, but those have since been removed.

With that in mind, I actually started from the middle with this design. I found that excellent background illustration of a cliffside in the property's asset library which made the perfect visual anchor to bring context to my concept. Above the tree-lined cliffs I added a rather mellow sky lined with heavily stylized clouds to complement the show's art style and begin the "story" at the top of the content area.
Below the cliffs, I added more trees to hide the edge of the illustration and continue the seamless effect. But some of the trees don't quite feel like trees...they feel more like thorns, or sharp rocks, or otherwise dangerous and impenetrable things from which obedient children should stay away if they want to remain unharmed. But Dipper and Mabel are not just any obedient children, and neither are we! So we continue on downwards.
Unfortunately, I don't have a screenshot of what came after that last layer and completed the "story," but you can still see the beginnings of it intact in the image above. Once guests had made it past the pointy bits, they would find themselves in a spooky cave. I added texture to make it feel dank and dirty, and sprinkled in a few shapes that evoked watchful eyes—of cave-dwelling bats, perhaps, or of a certain triangular ne'er-do-well!
Into the Woods You Go Again
Skills: Graphic Design, Production Design, Web Design, Digital Illustration, Photo Editing, Typography
Tools: Adobe Photoshop, proprietary CMS
Challenge: Design a new website promoting the home release of a smash hit film.
Results: Immediate approval from key stakeholders with no revisions.
Image of the Into the Woods movie site displayed on a computer monitor
The key art for this film is incredibly complex. There are three main images—the side-by-side character roster, the image of Little Red entering the woods, and of course the image of The Witch crawling out of the trees. Upon cracking open the art files from Studio and taking stock of what I had to work with, I discovered that each image is composed of hundreds of elements—individual pieces of artwork, composited photos, adjustment layers, lighting effects, and so on! I explored options featuring all three pieces of key art, but eventually settled on The Witch as her image made the most impact—with her pose's direct eye contact and sense of movement, she was hands down the most likely to draw guests in and tempt them to continue on.
Screenshot of details from the first two modules on the Into the Woods movie site

A screenshot of the first two content modules on the front page—here you can see the branches and overall texture in more detail.

While it may seem a little on-the-nose, the woods truly are the unifying factor for the large cast of characters populating the film, so it was only natural to keep the focus there for this property overview. In what was the first of many instances of my penchant for creating narratives out of module backgrounds, I wanted to play off of the image of The Witch crawling through the trees and evoke a feeling of treading carefully through the woods as guests scroll down the page.
From the many-layered key art of The Witch, I extracted a few creepy-looking tree branches and drained the light from them to leave them as mere shadows in order to boost their creep factor. But the "real" branches were not nearly enough to cover the entire page without creating a very obviously repeating pattern...so I borrowed my manager's Intuos Pro and hand-drew most of the scraggly black branches you see in the final page design. This way, I was able to fully customize the "flow" of the branches throughout the page, keeping it more balanced and natural than it ever would have been using only pre-made assets.
A typographic treatment for a quote from Into the Woods—"I was raised to be charming, not sincere"

Property pages on Disney.com often have graphics featuring typographic treatments for particularly quotable lines paired with a relevant still or piece of key art. This type of graphic was probably the most fun part of designing a property page! Two other favorites: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Cole Plante.

Being that this was the very first property page I created from scratch, I was expecting heavy critique and at least a few rounds of revisions to ensure that I met brand standards and whatnot...but that wasn't the case at all! In fact, my manager, his manager, and the notoriously hard-to-please Studio all approved the page immediately! With no revisions! I was almost as excited about that as I was the day I landed this gig in the first place. Almost.

Other Work