Why I love making “stuff”

 

I love creating art and design for merchandise and making it great—taking souvenirs from “meh” to “must-have.” I blame it all on Disneyland.

Growing up in Southern California, I was lucky to take many treks to Disneyland throughout my childhood. I loved Mickey Mouse madly (still do!) and the world he inhabited, and I couldn’t wait to go back to the magical theme park as soon as we left the parking lot.

 Me in 1971, sporting one of my earliest and most treasured souvenirs: my first Mickey Mouse t-shirt, direct from Disneyland. PHOTO: George Sanso

Me in 1971, sporting one of my earliest and most treasured souvenirs: my first Mickey Mouse t-shirt, direct from Disneyland. PHOTO: George Sanso

I made the time between visits bearable by convincing my parents to buy me a t-shirt, or magnet, or bracelet, or other trinket or souvenir, that would keep those memories of my experience in the theme park close to me until we’d go back again.

Designing merchandise for the most magical place on Earth

Little did I know that many years in the future I would leave California to work for The Walt Disney Company in Orlando, Florida. As part of a team of artists creating souvenir merchandise for Disney theme parks around the world, I got to imbue those mementos with that same magic for Disney theme park guests, and I did so for a decade.

That’s the magic I have strived to create ever since, in everything I do.

Developing irresistible souvenir merchandise programs for specialty retailers, theme parks, and other destination-focused locations is about connecting the guests’ or consumers’ emotional experience of that location with something tangible they can bring home to represent that experience—to tell its story. My art and designs have provided those tangible memories for guests and travelers around the world, on products such as apparel, textiles, stationery, accessories, home decor, souvenirs, and almost any conceivable category in hardlines and softlines.

 
 
Developing irresistible souvenir merchandise programs is about connecting the guests’ or consumers’ emotional experience of that location with something tangible they can bring home to represent that experience—to tell its story.
— me