Dempsey & Carroll event curator Austin Ackles sat down with Matthew to discuss his event design process.
AA: You were a production designer for Preston Bailey. What is the most indispensable piece of experience you acquired there?
MM: Learning to make design decisions quickly was the biggest lesson I learned. I used to take a lot more time as a set designer to make creative decisions, as I often felt that I didn’t want to make a mistake. However, learning to trust my skills as an artist rather than second guessing myself has been one of the more impactful things I took away from my time there.
AA: And when you design for the stage? What skill have you found yourself employing again and again?
MM: The importance of visual storytelling and removing one’s ego from the equation when needed in order to effectively tell the story. It doesn’t matter how creative and clever we would like to be, or how many new ideas we can bring to the table. If we’re not telling the story that needs to be told, we’re doing the story a disservice. Although I may occasionally add artistic touches to a client’s renderings to better communicate the event’s experience, the primary goal is for me to express myself by expressing their creative voice.
AA: Beyond the obvious, what is the biggest difference between designing for the theatre and creating renderings for special events?
MM: Usually my involvement in rendering an event happens over the course of a week, while my role as a set designer usually took place over a series of months. As a result, I’ve become a much more prolific artist in weddings than I ever was as a set designer.
AA: When you’re doing renderings for a wedding reception, how many rounds of revisions usually happen?
MM: It depends on whether the planner/designer is still in the process of discovering the design, or expressing what they’ve already designed in their mind’s eye. In the former, the rendering process allows them to evaluate their ideas and revise them if needed to better serve their client. In the latter, the rendering process is more about insuring that I’m interpreting and expressing their artistic vision as concisely as possible.
AA: Do you usually meet directly with clients or just with event planners?
MM: Well, to be clear, the planners are my clients. Although I have had the opportunity to meet a few brides over the last few years, my primary relationship has always been with the planner, helping them to build the creative trust with their client and sell their designs.
AA: Anywhere in the world, is there a venue that you’re yearning to create renderings for and just haven’t had the opportunity yet?
MM: I have a few. Either Gaudi’s Park Guell or La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, a party at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, and lastly, given my love of Disney Parks, I would love the opportunity to work on a few events or weddings at Walt Disney World.