Interview with Chris Chapman

Posted inDesigner Interviews
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By: Erin Semple | August 30, 2011

Being a designer can get you the career of your dreams. Global Creativity and Innovation Director for Disney Creative Inc. and one of Mickey Mouse’s good friends Christopher Chapman talks about creative inspiration, the benefits of working as part of an in-house team, and how to grow as an in-house executive.

Interview with Chris Chapman

Q: What’s it like working for Disney Creative Inc.?

A: Working as an artist, designer, and creative for Disney has been a dream. I get to walk in the footsteps of Walt Disney and thousands of other amazing artists and creatives. On a daily basis, I’m blown away by the talented men and women I work with. Most days, I have to pinch myself when I realize I am paid to follow my passions, which are Design, Art, Creativity, Innovation and Disney. I never get bored because I get to work on so many diverse projects that include merchandise, marketing, media, interactive, them park development, movies, animation and more. Everything I do at work is in the name of quality storytelling.

Q: What’s the value of attending conferences for in-house executives?

A: The value is that it will open their eyes to what the best of the best are doing in design and business. Designers are design thinkers, which makes their thoughts and processes, the very seed of innovation. Design Thinking is something that can be hard to grasp, but when boiled down, it’s about a well-rounded plan that involves strategy, research, concepts, and implementation. Any business that uses Design Thinking models will be successful and attending a design conference will give executives the insights needed to understand their designers untapped potential. The executives will also learn how they can utilize design to change the their business, for that matter, the world.

Q: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

A: Work somewhere where you are not the smartest, most creative, and talented, so that you are always learning. Always hire people that are better than you or have the potential to be better. Make everything about “we” and nothing about “I.”

Q: What are three tips for keeping your in-house team creative?

1. Get out of the office and get inspired from anything and everything. Designers should know something about everything. Go places you usually would not, subscribe to as many diverse magazines as possible, and never stop learning. 2. Allow creatives the proper time to nurture ideas…don’t expect gold in a 1 hour or a 2-day time period. Time makes ideas flourish.

3. Let people follow their passion and take ownership of their projects and ideas. Sit back and nudge them in the right direction only when needed and what them flourish with passion at the heart of it all.

Q: What are the advantages of working in an in-house environment?

A: You get the chance to really know and build a relationship with your clients. Once you build trust and a true understanding of each others’ goals, you are off to a great start. The other benefits include job security, great hours, and a diverse education on all the different departments that influence and use your design skills, which makes you a well-rounded designer.

Q: What are some good rescuers for in-house creative professionals?

A: If you need to be rescued, fall back on other designers, twitter tweets, books, design magazines, blogs, Facebook, and design conferences. They are like one big social therapy session on a sleek well-designed leather couch. All of them will help ease your frustration, develop your mind, polish your skills, spark some unplanned collaboration, and if you are lucky, rest your lower back.

More Resources for In-house Designers

  1. Get advice from Andy Epstein and HOW’s In-HOWse’s Design Blog.

  2. Find out how to get creative on-the-job.