We had the good fortune of connecting with Lyndie Raymond and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lyndie, how do you think about risk?
I like this question because I think risk and art go hand and hand – add in the unpredictable element of live theater and we’ve got ourselves a really delicious risk sundae.
About five years ago I made the decision to leave my job – I didn’t have a plan but I knew I wanted to pivot my career towards something more hands-on and creative. I enjoyed working with branding and marketing at the agency I had left, but I kept feeling like there was something underutilized sitting in my toolbox. On paper it appeared risky to leave a stable and promised job, but in my head it was a bigger risk to stick it out and not go for what I wanted in my gut. I guess that’s how I think about and justify risk taking – the bigger risk is ignoring the urge to take the leap of faith and go for what you want whether it’s going for a new job/career, or abandoning an idea and killing your darling.
Because I had felt compelled to reassess my life trajectory at that point, I was able to step back and realize that the things I loved could also be my career. I was always a fanatic theme park girl – I love escapism, appreciate a spectacle, and adore kitschy overly-themed experiences. I have a curious design eye and when I travel I always look for a new tiki bar to visit, so I absolutely needed to be in the themed entertainment world. It just so happened that the university in my hometown of Boulder, CO was starting a new MFA program in experience design so I did what I never thought I would and returned to school. Since then I’ve moved to Los Angeles, and now work with an incredibly talented team of artists in a small but mighty production company called Cinereal Productions where I’m able to see my creations come to life everyday in our work.
Artists and creatives are constantly faced with risk, but I believe that’s what gives us the determination and grit to continue working and contributing our visions to the community.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Like I mentioned, I finally have found myself working in the themed entertainment and immersive art world – and it has certainly been a long time coming. Nothing came easy, but looking back I can see that every opportunity and chance encountered led me exactly to this place.
I’m an experience designer so I get to think about things like theme parks, cultural attractions, events, interactive museums, aquariums and zoo exhibits, public installations, retail and hospitality design, immersive theater, etc. Basically, what most people do on their vacations or days-off is my job, and that is really exciting to me. Especially after the year we’ve all just survived, a little escapism has now become a necessity. When creating this type of work, I think two things in particular are really important. One is storytelling, and the second is immersion. Simply, without a story, it’s hard to create something memorable for a guest to understand and experience. Humans are storytellers — it’s a part of our DNA and is critical for our existence. Along with that, immersion is what allows us to fully invest in the story and maintain the suspension of disbelief. If we’re thinking in the context of theme parks, the suspension of disbelief is what allows you to place yourself in the story. For example, while waiting in line at Disneyland for the Indiana Jones ride, guests are able to perceive that they’re not just uncomfortably close with hundreds of strangers for what seems like an eternity while waiting in line, they’re actually transported to an archaeological temple site in the middle of a jungle and are about to embark on a dangerous and exciting quest with Indy. This is done with scenic design, landscaping, soundscaping, costuming, etc., etc… all of the senses are accounted for in setting the scene.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m a little new to Los Angeles, so I’m still figuring this out myself. That being said I do have some favorite spots. I’m sure this is on every must-see list for LA but the Griffith Observatory is truly amazing. It’s probably my favorite landmark in the city. I would even recommend watching the free 24-minute documentary in the museum “The Once and Future Griffith Observatory” narrated and hosted by Leonard Nimoy. There are some nerdy and historical fun moments in that piece.
I’m a big western art appreciator as well so the Autry Museum of the American West is a must. Speaking of western movie stars, the Will Rogers State Park has some great hiking trails with views of the ocean and downtown LA, and nearby at the Will Rogers State Beach is where I spend many of my summer weekends.
If you’re like me and look for kitschy themed places with LA history then you’ll enjoy some stops such as The Formosa Cafe, Clifton’s Republic, Tiki Ti, Tam O’Shanter, El Coyote Mexican Cafe, The Prince, and the Reel Inn.
I’d also highly recommend the tours provided by the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale. You can see the historical neon sights of Los Angeles via a double decker bus at night – so fun! Also the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City – that’s all I’ll say about that one, I think it’s best to go into it without any preconceptions of what’s to come.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to the amazing team at Cinereal Productions that has welcomed me in with open arms: Billy Bell, Devin Compton Guzmán, and Ali Castro. I met Billy by chance during a portfolio review while I was wrapping up my MFA at the University of Colorado. I had some concept images and ideas for a post-WWII-era submarine-themed tiki bar that caught his eye and we’ve been working together ever since. I’m lucky to have worked with so many multi-faceted talented and amazing creative people, but no team has felt as natural and supportive as this crew. I’m learning from them everyday. It’s an amazing feeling to have every confidence in our team to create and accomplish grandiose visions from both an artistic and business standpoint.