Adventure in the Great Wide Somewhere
Lyndsey Vincent’s favorite Disney film is “Beauty and the Beast” — the classic tale of Belle, an independent young woman who leaves her small town in search of adventure and develops her own emboldened identity along the way.
The resonance of this storyline is part of what motivated the 2011 University of Idaho graduate, homeschooled in Eagle, to accept an offer halfway across the globe to help design Shanghai Disney Resort, Disney's first theme park resort in mainland China. Upon completion in June 2016, the Shanghai resort would have a price tag of more than $5.5 billion and Vincent would be living in the second-most populous city in the world with over 24 million inhabitants.
“It was massive,” said Vincent, 29, who was named one of Design:Retail’s “40 under 40” in 2017. “I’d be down in the metro during rush hour, among a sea of people, and would have these humbling moments — realizing that everyone around me had just as much to do as I did, they had somewhere to be with as much haste and they had their own unique story to tell.”
Moving to the Chinese metropolis was a big leap for a young woman who spent the majority of her childhood in Idaho. And Vincent relished in the experience — from the hole-in-the-wall restaurants where she’d buy a dozen steamed dumplings for $1; to the specialty markets in People’s Square, jam-packed with art supply stores; to the fabric and notions market that offered custom-made clothing.
During the workday, Vincent remained primarily on-site, ensuring design drawings for the park’s retail stores were being followed, and that fixtures and building materials met safety and quality standards. Vincent and other designers also helped make sure retail spaces related to the narratives of the nearby attractions, further immersing visitors in the Disney storylines.
“We want to inspire people,” Vincent said. “The theme park experience should extend into your daily life — the optimism and the kindness and giving to others. We’re hoping people carry that with them so their lives are impacted in a positive way.”
I grew a lot in college and the confidence I gained in those four years only fueled my desire to travel. Lyndsey Vincent
Gaining Confidence Through Critique
A second motivating factor for pursuing work abroad was Vincent’s time at U of I, where she joined Delta Gamma, majored in interior design and minored in art in the College of Art and Architecture. The critiques she received in her studio courses were key to gaining confidence and breaking out of her shell.
“As a freshman, it can sometimes be difficult to receive those critiques when you’ve poured your heart and soul into a project and you don’t receive the reaction you were hoping for,” she said. “Professors were really good at giving that honest critique, but also relaying the notion that it wasn’t a personal attack, only a constructive critique that would ultimately help push you to think about things differently and become a better designer. I grew a lot in college and the confidence I gained in those four years only fueled my desire to travel.”
After graduating in 2011, Vincent accepted a six-month internship and later a full-time position as a store designer with the Global Retail Development Department at Disney in Orlando, Florida. In her portfolio, Vincent included renderings from her interior design and architecture classes, along with watercolor paintings she’d completed in her spare time.
She’s certain her artwork helped her land the gig.
“Art has been very integral in my Disney career, even in getting an internship,” Vincent said. “It was something a little different that I had in my portfolio and it was something we talked about in my interview.”
Now Vincent takes a figure drawing class every other week through Walt Disney Imagineering, the Glendale, California-based creative force that imagines, designs and builds all Disney theme parks, resorts, attractions and cruise ships worldwide — and oversees the creative aspects of Disney’s games, merchandise and publishing businesses. Vincent recently relocated to Glendale after returning from Shanghai and a second stint in Orlando. Her current title is interior designer with the Design + Planning Studio at Imagineering.
It’s the freedom from codes and regulations that Vincent enjoys about creating art. And she’s especially inspired by the architecture of the parks and the art of Disney’s films.
“It’s not all about the princess being rescued by the prince anymore,” Vincent said. “They’ve really branched out to connect emotionally with people of different cultures and backgrounds. It’s those universal emotions they tap into — that’s why I believe Disney films are so powerful.”
Article by Kate Keenan, College of Art and Architecture
Published in the spring 2019 issue of Here We Have Idaho.