Phil Hettema President - Creative Executive

Phil Hettema is the President and Creative Executive of The Hettema Group (THG).  With a distinguished 30- year legacy in themed entertainment, Phil leads a world class team of experience designers, architects, and media producers known for creating uniquely compelling guest experiences with great emotional resonance.  Notable projects include One World Observatory at One World Trade Center; the High Roller Observation Wheel at The LINQ, Las Vegas; and Beyond All Boundaries at the National World War II Museum, New Orleans.

Prior to forming his own company, Phil Hettema was Senior Vice President, Attraction Development for Universal Studios Theme Parks Worldwide for 14 years. He was responsible for the creative development of all major attractions and shows, including Terminator 2: 3D, Jurassic Park, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, Backdraft and many more.  He oversaw master planning for all five Universal parks, including domestic and international expansion for Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s PortAventura (Spain), and Universal Studios Japan, and, most notably, the conception and delivery of Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Florida.

Phil is an alumni of ArtCenter College of Design, instructed courses at the institution and endowed a scholarship for Enivronmental Design.  He has been a guest lecturer at Carnegie Mellon University, USITT, IAAPA, KIN, ICOM, SIGGRAPH, and at the TED Conference. Phil holds four patents for entertainment technology solutions and has been honored with numerous Thea awards from the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) including Theas for One World Observatory (2016), Beyond All Boundaries (2010), FiestAventura (2000), The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (2000), Universal’s Islands of Adventure (2000), and Terminator 2:3D (1997).

Scott Sinclair Executive Director of Design

Scott has played key roles in concept and design on numerous high profile projects including Lotte World interactive dark ride, the Hello Kitty Theme Park in Anji, China, Tokyo DisneySea, Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland, Disneyland Marketing and Entertainment Division live stage shows and parades, Sony’s retail entertainment center, Metreon in San Francisco and Mediage in Tokyo.

Scott has been lead designer on a number of ambitious projects, including Paul Allen’s Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame in Seattle, The National Ag Science Center in Modesto, California,  Ski Dubai for Thinkwell, and Paul Allen’s “Flying Heritage Collection,” a WWII fighter plane display in Seattle.

EDUCATION:

B.A., California State Long Beach

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Tokyo DisneySea

Dollywood

Dubai Media Center

Ski Dubai

Abbey Road Studios

Chicago Museum of Science & Industry

Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, Seattle

Carol Young Dimensional Designer

Carol is a self-taught artist who has worked in the entertainment biz since her early twenties. She grew up in a small town in Kentucky and left home at a young age to conquer the world. Her first stop along the way was New York City, where she landed a job with a comic book company as a colorist. She was mentored by many talented artists and soon began her design career, first by hand-painting the pages.  When technology entered the world of design, Carol quickly moved into digital paint. Her love of the digital world presented several opportunities and she soon found herself in Hollywood working on movies, television series and commercials as a visual effects artist.  She eventually became a supervisor and artist for Stereoscopic Conversion. Carol’s love for and involvement with creating fantasy worlds became a natural transition into the themed entertainment industry. She has been working for the last several years in various design roles in themed entertainment, including color and color concept, interior design, scenic design and dimensional design.

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Comics:

Bloodshot, Turok, Solar, Shadow Man, Rocky Horror Picture Show

Visual Effects:

Daredevil, I Robot, The Simpsons, Harry Potter

Themed Entertainment: 

Bollywood Park, Dubai 

Chuck Ballew Art Director

In Chuck’s 26-year career at Walt Disney Imagineering, he worked in many different roles on a wide variety of projects. He contributed designs for multiple attractions in Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom and was the Lead Designer for five different installations of the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters attraction. He has served as Creative Director for projects in Tokyo Disney Sea and worked on the design for Toy Story Land in Disney Hollywood Studios. His artwork has been featured in numerous Disney publications including Poster Art of the Disney Parks and most recently The Art of Disney’s Dragons.

EDUCATION:

B.A., East New Mexico University

M.F.A., Carnegie Mellon University

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, 5 global installations

Indiana Jones Adventure, Disneyland, Anaheim

Tower of Terror, Tokyo Disneyland

Connor Sinclair Senior Graphic Designer

Connor is a graphic designer from Westport, Connecticut. As the son of two creative parents he discovered a love for art and design at an early age. After receiving a BFA from The Savannah College of Art and Design, Connor left the East Coast to pursue a career in location based entertainment. Five years later, as a member of The Hettema Group graphic design team, he helps to create marquee signage, environmental graphics, and marketing presentations for some of most unique and innovative experiences worldwide. Connor’s interests include hand typography, model building, customizing cars, and snuggling with his cat.

EDUCATION:

B.F.A., Graphic Design, Savannah College of Art and Design

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Dragons Wild Shooting, Lotte World, South Korea

Motiongate Dubai

Bollywood Parks Dubai

One World Observatory at One World Trader Center, New York City

 

 

Cynthia Durand Art Director - Interiors

With a rich imagination, an intuitive sense of story and a keen eye for the details of design, Cynthia specializes in developing wonderfully creative interiors for THG projects. Cynthia began her design career in the world of architecture, working on international retail and entertainment projects for the Jerde Partnership. She later expanded into the realm of themed entertainment and collaborated with the creative team at GameWorks, Inc. as a set designer and art director for the company’s first several location-based entertainment destinations.

Subsequently, at Sony Development, Cynthia served as a production designer, completing designs for two immersive gaming destinations based on The Airtight Garage by the French comic book artist Moebius. During more recent years, Cynthia has worked as an independent designer, providing designs and art direction for a diverse portfolio of interior projects for Motiongate Dubai, Universal Studios Hollywood, Pirate Bay in Shanghai and other high-profile entertainment destinations and museums.  

EDUCATION:

B.S., Environmental Design, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

 Sega GameWorks, (Flagship) Seattle, Las Vegas, Ontario, CA, Grapevine, TX

Airtight Garage, Metreon, San Francisco & Mediage, Odaiba, Japan

Motiongate, Dubai, UAE

Pirate Bay Indoor Playground, Shanghai, China

DreamWorks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda, Universal Studios Hollywood

David Lepor Illustrator

With experience in the world of theatre and a background in art, David feels right at home in the themed entertainment industry.  Whether concept design, color work, or illustration, David strives for quality, beauty, and consistency.

As an illustrator on Motiongate Dubai, David developed the visual design for a wide mix of dark rides, flat rides, play areas, retail spaces, and restaurants. He has additional experience in interiors, art direction, production design, and model making.

While not working on theme parks, David spends time designing sets and props for regional theatre productions.

EDUCATION:

Bachelor of Science, Graphic Design & Illustration, Communications Minor – Grace College, Winona Lake, IN

Master of Fine Arts, Scenic Design – University of California, Irvine

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Motiongate Dubai

Bollywood Parks Dubai

Don Carson Senior Art Director

Don is a legend in the theme park world for his exceptional work as concept illustrator and designer. He is known for bringing focus on design principles unique to environmental storytelling to projects all over the world.

Don has applied his long career in theme park design to computer games, theater, and other media.  He strives to show the potential of using the principles of environmental storytelling to influence an audience’s experience, whether they are exploring a physical or virtual world.

EDUCATION:

University of Art College

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Splash Mountain

Blizzard Beach

Mickey’s ToonTown

Estephan Quass Dimensional Designer

With professional experience in the entertainment business, Estephan provided art and creative direction in TV production for a major network in Brazil. In the US, he has designed sets for corporate businesses, exhibits, sports and music events. His work includes global theme park development, facility and attraction design, food & beverage and retail development, rock work, landscaping and ride vehicle design. With the use of 3D models, realistic renderings, animations, scale models and drawings, he serves as the bridge between the concept stage and the project production.

EDUCATION:

F.A.A.P.Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado, Sao Paulo, Brazil

B.A., Industrial Design

M.F.A., Interior, Set & Exhibition Design

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

X Games Mega Ramp

Red Bull Extreme Cliff Diving – ICA, Boston

2016 Desert Trip Animatics for Stage; Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan

Gwen Ballantyne Art Director

Gwen has leant her imagination and creativity to movies, theme parks, video games, museum exhibits, theatrical experiences, and architectural design projects worldwide for over 23 years.  She has worked as an Art Director, Concept Designer, Illustrator, Sculptor, and Costume Designer.  And each time, she transforms her design sense to suit the unique parameters of the projects, which run the spectrum from “Sesame Street to “Delta Force-Black Hawk Down.  For Walt Disney Imagineering she served as Art Director for “Journey to the Center of the Earth” at Tokyo DisneySea.

Her project client list has included Disney Imagineering, Universal Creative, Warner Bros., Paramount Parks, Henson Studios, Nickelodeon, Lionsgate, National Geographic, Sesame Street, HBO, The Hettema Group, Thinkwell Group, BRC Imagination Arts, and Novalogic.

EDUCATION:

B.F.A. in Fine Art and Anthropology, University of California at Santa Cruz

M.F.A in Production Design and Technology from California Institute of the Arts

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

World Fair Dubai 2020, Concept Designer

Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, Art Director/Show Designer

Tokyo DisneySea, Art Director/Show Designer of Journey to the Center of the Earth

Disney California Adventure, Concept designer/illustrator

Sanrio Hello Kitty Theme Park, Show Designer

NatureQuest, Fernbank Museum of Natural History GA, Art Director

Sesame Street Presents the Body Museum Tour, Art Director

 

Jacob Berding Designer

A versatile creative force, Jacob Berding has professional experience as both a designer and art director for live entertainment, themed environments and museums. He prides himself on discovering new processes of design by working closely with vendors and partners to push the limits of what is possible, while getting the tasks at hand completed on time and on budget.

Jacob has worked in experiential design since 2014 and has specialized in a number of disciplines including 3D modeling, illustrations, graphics and drafting. He is fortunate enough to have participated in multiple high-profile projects through to completion, such as Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome (Frozen meet & greet) at Disney California Adventure Park, How to Train Your Dragon land at Motiongate Dubai, the Ghost Post interactive special edition subscription in collaboration with Walt Disney R&D and more.

Jacob completed his Master of Fine Arts degree in Themed Entertainment Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Along with his themed entertainment background, he has formed his own software development company, which has helped him learn to manage large and small projects alike.

 

EDUCATION:

M.F.A., Themed Entertainment Design, Savannah College of Art and Design

 

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Anna & Elsa’s Royal Welcome, Disney California Adventure Park

How To Train Your Dragon, Motiongate Dubai

 

Karen Thompson Colorist - Designer

Karen has more than 25 years in the themed entertainment and visual effects industries. Her focus has been color design and special effects. Karen was on the creative projections team for “Standard Time” at the Getty Museum, LACMA, and Tom Bradley Terminal. She served as Field Art Director on Little Mermaid, Clarke Quay Adventure, and Knott’s Kingdom of the Dinosaurs rehab.  She was lead special effects painter at Digital Domain on Apollo 13, and Terminator 2-‐3D and at Disney Animation

Universal Studios projects included Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure, King Kong at USF, and Jurassic Park at USJ. Karen was lead special effects painter at Digital Domain on Apollo 13 and Terminator 2-3D.

Karen teaches Matte Painting at Art Center College of Design.

EDUCATION:

Pima College

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Carsland

Fantasyland

Seuss Landing

King Kong

Jurassic Park

Kristin Showalter Illustrator

A master of illustration and design, and a powerhouse of creative ideas, Kristin develops concepts for THG projects and brings them to life in beautifully rendered illustrations. She first entered the design world as a set designer and scenic artist, applying her expert painting skills to projects for Universal Studios, the San Diego Zoo, The Goretorium in Las Vegas and a variety of television shows, music festivals and movie premieres.

Kristin quickly expanded her professional skill set to provide illustration, graphic design, art direction and concept design services for theme park attractions, resorts and television and film projects. She has collaborated on a myriad of projects with RGH Themed Entertainment, Granaroli Design & Entertainment, Global Entertainment Services and the Wyatt Design Group.

After working her design magic during the day at THG, Kristin works as an adjunct faculty member at California Institute of the Arts, where she teaches Art Direction II to the Applied Design students in the Theater School.

Education:

M.F.A., Design and Production, California Institute of the Arts

B.A., Fine Art and Technical Theater, California State University Stanislaus

Levi Lack Show Set Associate

Levi Lack applies his abiding passion for design, world building and storytelling to his work as a show set associate for THG. Prior to joining us, Levi served as a designer for Entertainment Design Corporation, developing concepts for live and location-based entertainment. Levi also worked with Silent-House Productions as an assistant art director, contributing to a variety of projects including Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour, P!nk’s Beautiful Trauma World Tour, Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch League and the 2018 iHeart Radio Music Awards.

Levi earned a B.F.A in Scenic Design and Production from California Institute of the Arts. As part of the CalArts Center for New Performance, he was the scenic designer for The Hendrix Project directed by Roger Guenveur Smith. Hendrix premiered at the Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival in Brooklyn, New York. It was successfully remounted at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts’ Off Center Theatre Festival in Costa Mesa, California. While in school, Levi took part in the CalArts Walt Disney Imagineering Educational Initiative and interned with the Art Department of the 88th Academy Awards.

EDUCATION:

B.F.A., Scenic Design and Production, California Institute of the Arts

(added focus in Illustration and Scenic Art)

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

The Hendrix Project, Public Theater and Segerstrom Theater for the Arts

Taylor Swift’s Reputation Stadium Tour

P!nk’s Beautiful Trauma World Tour

 

 

Marlies Urbauer Illustrator

Marlies Urbauer is an illustrator and character designer with a keen sense of color and an exceptional talent for creating lively characters that are full of personality. Prior to joining THG, she designed ride vehicles and costumes—and worked as a lead painter and POV artist—during the development of the Haichang Polar Ocean World in China. Marlies also served as a lead color designer for Universal Studios Hollywood and has conceptualized stories and character designs for multiple TV show ideas related to a project called Fun Star. Marlies has a passion for color, painting and travel, along with a love for the sea and the marine life living within it.

EDUCATION:

B.F.A. Cal State University Channel Islands

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Haichang Polar Ocean World

Scott Chase Art Director

For more than 25 years, Scott has worked with leading worldwide entertainment companies and museums to bring a wide variety of projects to the public.   

With more than a decade of experience at Walt Disney Imagineering, Scott served in key design roles on numerous Disney theme park projects, including extended assignments on the Shanghai Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea design teams.

Other projects include The Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, “Top of the Rock” Observation Decks and Visitor Center at Rockefeller Center, and exhibits for The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.

EDUCATION:

B.A. Art/Graphic Design, San Diego State University

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Shanghai Disneyland, Tomorrowland

Tokyo DisneySea, Port Discovery and Fortress Explorations

“CSI: The Experience”, Traveling Science Center Exhibit

Stefan Lawrence Creative Director

Stefan Lawrence is a creative director with 15+ years of experiential storytelling experience, having created experiences for such clients as Walt Disney Imagineering, 20th Century Fox, Marvel, Lionsgate, Nickelodeon, Merlin, Hasbro, BBC, Aardman Animation, Nintendo, Red Bull, and many more. Most recently, Stefan was a creative director at Rethink Leisure & Entertainment, where he worked on numerous theme parks, FECs, and other location-based entertainment projects.

When he’s not at work, Stefan enjoys old ships, watching movies from 1984, tiki drinks, special effects, barbecue, mid-century furniture, Japanese action figures, vintage travel art, Swedish detective novels, and doing the crossword.

EDUCATION:

B.A., Cornell University

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

20th Century Fox World Dubai

The London Resort

The Optimist Alternate Reality Game (Walt Disney Imagineering)

Motiongate Dubai

Fan2Sea Comic Con Cruise

Susan Spence Senior Writer

As a writer and content developer for museums, visitor centers, and theme parks, Susan is driven by a passion for transforming content and brands into extraordinary visitor experiences. She produces written materials for all phases of THG projects, in the form of concept narratives, multimedia scripts, and exhibit copy.

With a graduate and undergraduate education in anthropology, Susan brings a unique cultural sensitivity to her projects. She has additional schooling and professional experience in documentary film production.

Over the past 25 years, Susan has contributed to award-winning projects for high-profile clients around the world, including Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, the Arizona Science Center, NASA, and the Adler Planetarium.

EDUCATION:

M.A., Anthropology, The American University

B.A., Anthropology, University of Florida

SELECT PROJECTS  EXPERIENCE:

One World Observatory, World Trade Center, NYC

U-505 Submarine, Museum of Science & Industry, Chicago

Davidson Center for Space Exploration, U.S. Space & Rocket Center

 

Tim Kirk Show Designer

Tim was an Imagineer at the Walt Disney Company for 22 years and still consults for Disney Theme Parks worldwide.  Tim is a designer and illustrator with wide experience in a broad media spectrum — from theme park and museum exhibit design to book illustration and greeting cards. Other projects include the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the University of Notre Dame, Ghiradelli Chocolate, and the Mini Time Machine of Miniatures in Tucson, Arizona.

AWARDS:

5-time winner of the Hugo Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy Illustration

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Tokyo DisneySea

Disney-MGM Studio Tour,  Walt Disney World

First American artist to illustrate the J.R.R. Tolkien Calendar for Ballantine Books

Tolkien work is featured in the Greisinger Museum in Switzerland

Victor Armstrong Illustrator

Victor is a relatively young designer and a newcomer into the themed entertainment industry. Already his growing portfolio of projects include branding, zoo and aquarium design, attraction design, and theme park design. He enjoys wearing many hats when it comes to his work. From concept sketching and master planning to color board direction and story writing. Simply, he enjoys contributing to all aspects of the design process. In Victor’s freetime he would likely be found abroad sketching and learning new ideas at a local attraction.

EDUCATION:

Citrus College – Architectural Drafting

Art Center College of Design – Illustration

NOTABLE PROJECTS:

Haichang Ocean Park

 

 

Yasmin Pazandeh Dimensional Designer

Trilingual in English, Farsi and French, Yasmin (pronounced Yass-Meen) comes from a multicultural background. Several relocations through the years have exposed her to many extraordinary historical and geographical points of interest. Since graduating from the University of Southern California’s School of Architecture, she has combined a strong architectural foundation with years of design experience in a variety of fields, including Themed Entertainment, Production Design and Interior Design.

Yasmin’s professional experience reflects her appreciation for design’s different facets. She believes that her real experience comes from the greatest teacher of all – life. As an immigrant who now proudly calls California her home, she has had profoundly beautiful experiences traveling the world and understanding that imaginative design and exquisite details are all around us, just waiting to be appreciated and interpreted or celebrated through our eyes.

EDUCATION

B.S., Architecture, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

A.S., Architectural Studies, Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa

NOTABLE PROJECTS

Motiongate Theme Park, Dubai Parks and Resorts

Malibu Wines at Queen Mary, Concept Designer

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