Justin Pepe

Motion Pictures & Television / MFA

As a fencer on an international team traveling to Russia, Germany, and Poland, I experienced wondrous places, people, cultures foreign to my own. The sights I visited and the landscapes I traveled through, flooded my imagination and left indelible marks in my impressionable, artistic mind. These sites were rich fodder for a production designer-in-the-making.

My career began in high school. I was honored with the Connecticut Achievement in Fine Arts Award for my Capstone with Hobors short film – a period film. Films set in other eras have always held a warm spot in my heart, thanks to my travels and my father. He was a professor of history, and my fount and gateway to information about times and places I knew nothing about. His recitation of historical events continually triggered my creativity and overly active imaginative mind.

My dedication to the arts was front and center in my film studies at St. John's University in Queens, NY where I learned the art of set design. Prepping and shooting my thesis film, I was able to lead a team of fabricators and designers to create the backdrop of a World War II feature film. During this time, I also received recognition from film festivals, both on and off campus, for my unique work as an Art Director on period pieces.

My graduate studies at Academy of Art University, in San Francisco, CA taught me how to multitask, manage, and pace a large crew of craftspeople as we constructed a 16th century fort, and later, for my graduate thesis, a Victorian funeral parlor, and a period cemetery. I learned how to conjure up sets with a high degree of complexity on a scandalously low budget, a fairly typical situation a production designer finds himself in.

My world travels and stays in Paris, New York City, and San Francisco, have also played invaluable roles in my life, by forming and shaping my unique aesthetic.

Next up for me: continuing to grow with The Walt Disney Company, and pursuing a career as a Walt Disney Imagineer and in leadership positions in the company. I hope to keep traveling, designing, and always, always continuing to learn. Textures, layers, and depth create a great set, but curiosity, tenacity, and history create the designer in me.

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