Andy Warfel of Andy Warfel Design & Creative
Read on for an exclusive interview with the brains behind Andy Warfel Design & Creative – learn what his greatest accomplishments have been, where he plans to be in ten years, and his amazing sense of direction!
Please note that since this article was written, Andy has taken up the position of Director of Ideation and Visualization at Production Glue in New York.
How did you become interested in a design career?
I grew up on a farm near Champaign, Illinois. I started designing scenery in 7thgrade—cabaret, dinner theaters. I stage managed, designed posters, designed and built sets, performed. And I never stopped. I farmed the summer going into my sophomore year of high school, made a good chunk of money, bought a road box and lighting gear, and started a lighting company called Midwest Lighting Productions. I did high school plays, church dances, social events…###>
I got my undergrad degree in scenic design, and did my graduate work at NYU in set design and art direction in theater, film, and television. I’ve been doing the same thing since I was 12. I haven’t stopped.
What are your thoughts on the completed product of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, your most recent project with Chicago Scenic?
Oh, it was fantastic. I’ve worked with Ford for 10 years, and with Chicago Scenic at NAIAS for the past two. A lot of my work is automotive and has been for almost my entire career. It’s taken me around the world.
We used 3D projection mapping for Ford last year, which was totally powered by available computing. We work with huge parameters in these shows, and as computing power increases, we can crunch and shrink those parameters.
What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?
I’m supporting my family doing design. If you would’ve told me that in undergrad, I would’ve been like, what? I’ve done international stuff, high-profile stuff that’s been seen by millions of people. I love the people I work with and collaborate with, whether it’s Chicago Scenic or a supplier or someone I work with every day.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I always thought I’d be in L.A. designing the Oscars. Everything I’ve done does not seem to be leading me there, though. Rock and roll? I don’t have the guts to do that. I don’t want to be on the road. So, I guess I don’t see myself doing the Oscars or U2’s next tour.
I’ll probably be teaching at the university level. I’ve taught at NYU in their design department. I’ve done guest lectures at University of Illinois.
Or I’ll be running my own bar in Key West. I’ve never thought of retiring. I’ll just keep going.
Tell me something surprising about yourself.
I’ve always had a really good sense of direction. Growing up on a farm in the Midwest, everything is flat and you can’t see very far, so you learn to find smaller landmarks, smaller markers.
During my second visit to Shinjuku subway station in Tokyo—imagine the most insane labyrinth of platforms with foreign signage—I was traveling with a woman who grew up there. I turned to go down one hallway, and she turned to go down another. I said, “I think it’s this way,” and she said, “You’re right, how’d you know that?” Kinda gotta zen it.
I was flying home last week from New York and was changing planes in Seattle. From my seat I saw a little river through the window, and I thought it was strangely familiar. I took a photo, texted my sister, and asked if I was looking at her house. She said, “That’s us in the bottom left hand corner.” From 30,000 feet I recognized a place I’d only been once before.
It freaks me out. Maybe that’s why I can navigate the byzantine framework of corporate communications.