INTERVIEW WITH CINDY WHITE
Attraction Designer and Illustrator
Cindy White has been a designer in the themed entertainment industry for 34 years.
She is also 1 of SLICE’s 5 Board Members!
I joined WED (Imagineering) at WDW in 1980 and moved over to the newly formed Creative Entertainment group in 1984 as the only designer. I quit that job in 1995 to open my own company. I’ve been at that for 19 years, first at small design studios near my house in downtown Orlando, and then out of my home offices once our sons grew up and flew away.
Lakeside Academy Kindergarten, graduated 1965
USF BA Theatre Design 1980
Grading psychological diagnostic tests (with a punch card key) at my Dad’s psyche office. I recall him telling me to be sure to love whatever I do, because his calendar was packed solid 6 days a week with people who don’t.
First job in the Attractions / Entertainment industry:
Tech services-WDW-1978-1980. I was the 7th female tech hired on property (out of 52 total techs). Ladies, please don’t ever say you are not a feminist…I will personally have to shake you by the shoulders.
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” Martha Graham
Simple enough, eh?
What motivates me:
Waking up. Getting a next day to see how I can do it differently, better, or hear someone else’s thoughts on the same.
Two most notable accomplishments:
When I need to be reminded what being creatively fearless and brave is all about (which is often) I call them. [These are Cindy’s 2 sons!]
Andrew Gladden Mathis 1924-2014. My dad, my Bodhisattva
Most rewarding part of a job:
The check. KIDDING!! I like the whole damn process…concept, revise, heavy design, follow through, field. Actually, the problem part, the redesign back to square one, is probably the best part, because you get to solve the puzzle of “now what?!” And of course, the collaboration is the best. If I wanted solace, I’d be an artist. Or a shepherd.
Most challenging part of a job:
Hiring people…when you have been a company called “your name” for 20 years, getting out from the idea of having to do everything yourself was hard, but has been a good change and important growth. We are all big messy paint pots of various styles, skills and talents. Learning to dip into it from time to time has been rewarding.
Best advice received:
“You really should quit that job”. Thanks, Greg Gibson
Advice for success:
Practice, practice, practice. Musicians: pick up the guitar and diddle even while you watch TV. Writers: Go out and write…a lot. Designers…draw all the f-ing time, challenge yourselves to get better each week. Stay connected to people in your industry, both potential employers and your peers and competition (we aren’t really each other’s competition…ever), and make them all your friends (Hello Slice!)
What drives me crazy:
Air travel. I have almost 2 million miles, so I feel more than qualified to say on a pleasure meter, it is up there with urinary catheterization.
Exploring, history, cycling
Koyaanisqatsi , Russian Ark
Favorite reward for myself:
A train trip or a road trip. Or a bike trip.
Little known fact:
Edwin and I were married in the UK pavilion gazebo at EPCOT, totally illegally (according to Disney rules) in 1986. I asked guest relations if it would be OK and was told people could not get married in Disney Parks (famous last words #disneyfantasyweddings). We entered EPCOT at opening hour on Saturday June 7, Edwin and I and 14 guests, ran onto the UK gazebo and wrapped the whole thing up in 10 minutes before security walked over. My dad married us (ex-minister) and it cost us $245 to buy everyone lunch at Japan. Bam, 28 years so far.