The Buzz

9 posts from January 2011

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The Vinylmation Villains Are Released!

By Amy Lin, UGA Online Marketing, Jan 31, 2011 10:23 AM

And they're ready to take over! Get your collection of scoundrels, evildoers and mischief makers at or call your local store for availability!

Behind the Scenes: One of the Disney Vinylmation Villains Artists Shares His Tale

By Amy Lin, UGA Online Marketing, Jan 27, 2011 4:33 PM

If you haven't received the news yet (or heard the blood-curdling screams yet), Disney Vinylmation Villains are coming to invade your neighborhood Disney Store on January 31st. They've already invaded our Disney Store Headquarters office in Pasadena and we've been busy trying to clean up after them. I guess that's what you get when you invite 12 of Disney's darkest superstars. So in honor of this week's announcement of the Vinlymation Villains release I decided to tiptoe my way over to the creative team and visit Oskar Mendez, character artist for Disney Stores and artist behind the creepy crawly Kaa Vinylmation Villain. Out of all the desk's I have seen here at the office, Oskar's is on top of the list for being the most fun and having the most creative funk. There is no space left unused- he has Post-its with character drawings on beams, toys hanging from his lamp, and art books shelved away next to him. As a lover of art and design myself, I talked to Oskar for a full 2 hours or so soaking in all the artistically inspiring words he had to share. I also made sure to snap a lot of pictures to share with all of you!

Oskar1a A: When did you first become interested in art? Where did it all begin?
O: Ever since I was small I wanted to be an artist. I was very influenced by my dad, Gerald Mendez, who is actually a Senior Character Artist here. My Dad used to work at a top design t-shirt company hand airbrushing designs. I used to work with him on t-shirt illustrations, vinyl stickers and even airbrushing Harley Davidsons! One day a guy came over to teach my dad how to use Adobe Photoshop, so while my dad was learning the program, I'd sit in and learn too. When I was in 11th grade I visited Art Center College of Design for the first time- my dad always talked about it. When I was at junior college my professor was a graduate from there. I took figure drawing and head drawing classes for one year at my junior college then applied to Art Center and got in!

A: What valuable lessons did you learn while at art school?
O: The first half of my education I learned how the art master's learned- drawing by hand, mixing colors, drawing from life. The second half of my education I learned how to take the skills I learned and experiment with them, modernize them. There is so much importance in learning the foundations first before experimenting on your own. I really valued school- it taught me how to think. Some of the teachers I had were completely weird but I learned how to think in different ways. One of the homework assignments I had for a semester was to draw 500 heads! It sounds crazy, but it really challenged me and I love being challenged.

A: How did you come to work for Disney Store as a character artist?
O: After my dad got hired at Disney Store his boss noticed some of my artwork. At that time I showed him a watercolor pieces I did of Scar and Donald Duck. He loved it and I was asked to come in for an interview! In the 2 weeks before my interview I redid my entire portfolio! I was so nervous and I wanted everything to be just right!

A: Well it all paid off because here you are!
O: Yes! The interview went very well. Smiles modestly.

A: What projects do you work on at Disney Store Headquarters?
O: I design Vinylmation and right now I am also responsible for creating the look of Toy Story products for spring and summer.

A: How has working at Disney helped you grow as an artist?
O: At Art Center your sketchbook is more prized than your final piece because you can tell how a person thinks by how they sketch. Model sheets are the sketches artists do in the process of developing a character. I love looking at model sheets and watching the movies. From model sheets I can see what the artist was thinking and through watching the animated movies I analyze the shapes of the characters.  At this point Oskar pulls out a book of model sheets for Disney's Tarzan and shows me. I collect almost every single Pixar art book- I love to know the process artists go through in creating their characters!

A: I noticed your nameplate! It's your name spelled out in Legos!
O: Yes! Chuckles. Sometimes I like playing with kids toys! One time I was hanging out with my girlfriend and she brought out Legos so we just started building, one idea on top of another. We ended up with a delivery truck that was half horse!

At this point Oskar got very excited and started sharing with me about his love of analyzing, his passion for colors and everything he loves about the way he looks at the world. No questions were needed and many art books were taken out and looked at! :)

O: I like analyzing shapes of things and I'm constantly looking and observing. You know that UHAUL building across the street? Points to the window. Did you ever notice that the diamond shapes on the side of the building are all crooked? It's because one of the diamond shapes was put on a little crooked and that affected the alignment of the rest on the building. I like looking at buildings, bottle caps, soda cans. That's why I like to collect the toys I do!

O: I really love colors! I use it in everything! This might sound crazy but I help my girlfriend pick out what to wear! Sometimes she'll ask me, 'What shoes go with this outfit?' I apply what I learn to about everything I do. Here's an interesting fact: my dad is actually color blind! So sometimes I help him with Pantone colors.

O: I love to have a sketchbook and draw people! I used to go to a cafe on Tuesdays to draw people with a co-worker.  Every time we went we would take time to decide on one person we would both draw and it would be a playful challenge of who could draw the best portrait to capture the person. We didn't have to discuss who we would pick- when the right person would walk in through the door we would both look at each other and just know. We love drawing interesting people, people with exaggerated features or interesting wrinkles or eyebrows. When someone walked in with an interesting feature, we would just know we wanted to draw them. After picking the person we would go back and forth comparing, critiquing, fixing and adjusting one another's portrait until we would end up with a portrait of a guy who would have the biggest nose in the world! I love exaggerating in my art, whether it's with personality or colors and I love studying people!

A: What kind of techniques do you use when you draw characters?
O: Something I learned is that there is a universal formula for how the human brain decides what is pretty, what is scary, ugly, or cute. Think about it: when you watch a movie everyone knows that a certain character is the nerd or the bully. There are key things that make you feel a certain way toward a character. What I've had to think about is what constitutes these characteristics. Once you understand what "cute" equals, you make sure you have the key elements and then you can play around with the rest. Knowing this also makes you think about beauty differently. Essentially, what makes a face beautiful is a face that follows the formula for beauty- there is a certain skeletal structure that makes up what is "pretty" to the human eye. Once you know that, you start to see external beauty differently! I told my friends and they came back telling me, "Oskar! I look at pretty girls differently now!" They catch themselves getting excited or swooning over pretty girls and remember that external beauty is just features meeting a formula. They don't let looks get to them as easily anymore. I guess that's a good thing. Laughs. It's amazing to look at things this way! Knowing this helps me draw for Vinylmation. If I want to create a cute character I know what skeletal structure is essential- a bigger head, large eyes, etc. I make sure my character has those key elements and then I play around with the rest! The idea is more important than the details! Getting the main idea, the personality across is the most important thing.


A: What's your favorite character personality to draw?
O: I love the funny look. If I don't know the theme of something I always go with fun.

A: What tools do you use to design and draw?
O: I sketch with my tablet now but when I do I try to sketch initial ideas with a sketch brush in Adobe Photoshop. The sketch brush doesn't allow me to get too detailed and clean, which is important because I want to make sure I get the right idea down first and focus on details later. Sometimes it does help to have an actual pen and paper in my hand because sometimes I will only see things on paper or I'll need to turn the paper a certain way or "feel" the drawing. A lot of Disney animators sketch in marker because using marker gives you the feeling that you're either right or wrong, there's no in between.

A: You designed Kaa in our newest Disney Vinylmation Villains collection! Can you tell us about the process for designing Vinylmation?
O: First I sketch on Adobe Photoshop with the sketch brush. Once I'm pretty happy with my sketch I'll usually have someone on my team or my dad take a look and offer suggestions. I'll keep adjusting and fixing things until I have the personality of the character down. This is where looking at model sheets helps! This part is the most important. I'll then take the sketch and bring it into Adobe Illustrator where I'll start cleaning up the sketch and creating clean lines. I have to think three dimensionally so my lines need to reflect that I am creating 3D forms. I have a Vinylmation template that I work with which has the different angles of the Vinylmation, the different surfaces that will need to be imprinted with my design. I start with the head and front, then the side and back of the Vinylmation. A lot of times the design that starts from the head and front determines the rest of the piece! I'll sometimes carry the design over and it'll grow into something on its own! After the design is finished we send the piece over, the template with all the artwork filled in, to have it looked at. Sometimes we'll get feedback to simplify things to make sure production happens smoothly. After it's finally approved the art is sent in and the design is printed on the Vinylmation using special paint and a special printing technique. It can be tricky sometimes because the paint needs to be imprinted onto a 3D surface.

A: Do you face any challenges while designing Vinylmation?
O: Yes! I had to learn to simplify my artwork. The paint is imprinted on the Vinylmation piece with a machine. If my artwork is too detailed and small it might not print properly. The number of colors and the size of the Vinylmation also creates some limits to my design. But I love challenges! Sometimes people think giving an artist a blank canvas and no rules is an artist's dream, but the truth is having restrictions is the real challenge and the real fun! When we're given limits it makes us think, makes us have to use creativity to get what we want across. Essentially, we're problem solvers!

A: I also heard you have some extra hobbies on the side!
O: Yes! I dj for fun with friends! I love music and I love creating mixes. I almost can't work without music! Actually, if you look at my monitor right now you can tell. Chuckles as he shows me his monitor that has  a website with dj equipment open.

A: I noticed a Post-it on your monitor. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
O: Yes! It says "Drawing: What's the story? Draw the attitude." I try to apply that to everything I do. Oh, and Post-its are your best friend.

Well, there you have it! Another behind the scenes look at the talent and creativity at Disney Store Headquarters where Post-its inspire, toys raid our desks and Villains cause havoc! I hope you feel as inspired as I did and enjoyed learning more about the story and personality behind Disney Vinylmation Villain Kaa! Don't forget to stay alert for when mischief hits your local store* and January 31!

*Please check your local store for availability. Disney Vinylmation Villains will also be online at

Vinylmation Villains invade Disney Store HQ!

By Amy Lin, UGA Online Marketing, Jan 24, 2011 2:46 PM

Things have been a little dark at the Disney Store Headquarters lately- ever since the samples of our new Vinylmation Villains arrived to the building cups of coffee have been mysteriously spilling on their own, spooky copies have been appearing in our paper trays and lunch bags have been broken into and ravaged. We can't help but wonder if the new arrivals have anything to do with all the havoc...


Click Here to see the album

Disney's Vinylmation Villains available January 31 at Disney Store.


It's coming! Harveys for Disney Couture Special Edition Seatbeltbags!

By Amy Lin, UGA Online Marketing,



I'm seeing spots! Minnie polka dots, that is!

By Amy Lin, UGA Online Marketing, Jan 17, 2011 9:00 AM

Coming soon! All new, Harveys for Disney Couture SPECIAL EDITION Seatbeltbags! Exclusively available through and NYC Disney Store in Times Square. 

Mark your calendars for 1.30.11!

Stay tuned for more polka-dotted cuteness...

Behind the Scenes: The Story Behind Teacups and Tiaras and the Spring Collection!

By Amy Lin, UGA Online Marketing, Jan 12, 2011 9:00 AM

The winter months are slowly melting away and spring is just around the corner! In case you haven't noticed yet, the flowers are starting to bloom at your neighborhood Disney Store and  we are all celebrating the coming of Spring with our Teacups and Tiaras theme! In honor of this month's spring theme I decided to wander upstairs to the office of Jason Johnson, Senior Designer of all of our role play costumes, as well as the creative mind behind Teacups and Tiaras:

Amy: I hear you are the man behind this month's spring theme! So can you tell me, what was the inspiration behind the Teacups and Tiaras theme and what is it all about?

Jason: Well it all started last December (2009) when I was thinking to myself, 'Wouldn't it be neat if Disney Store had a theme for the spring?" Usually the winter season is the busiest time for us because of all the holiday excitement so I wanted to come up with some sort of cohesive theme that would allow a new kind of excitement to kick off the spring season. I thought, 'Okay, what says spring time?' and started looking around online to see if I could find any ideas. In addition to thinking about flowers and gardens I was also playing around with the idea of weddings and tea parties. While looking around online I came across a beautiful painting by Thomas Kinkade appropriately called 'A New Day at the Cinderella Castle.' It was perfect- it spoke to what I wanted the 2011 spring collection to be all about! I created an inspiration board with Kinkade's painting in the middle and put pictures of the Garden of Versailles, flowers, tea sets, fabrics, glitter and anything else that reminded me of the fun of spring. After I finished the board I presented my idea and the board to the director of creative services and everyone loved it! So here we are, one year later, and Teacups and Tiaras is now in full swing! The theme is reflected across Disney Stores: inside stores with the spring time decorations, through events like the Princess Garden Party and in our new spring items, like my collection! 


A: Can you tell our readers a little bit more about your collection?

: Of course! Like I said, the Teacups and Tiaras theme is inspired by spring time, weddings, and tea parties. For the collection we decided to create a sort of wedding story line for the Disney princesses with Cinderella as the bride and some of the other princesses as the bridesmaids. I designed a classy new wedding gown for the Cinderella costume and spring-inspired bridesmaid dresses for the princesses. The collection is made up of flowers, bows, spring colors and a new glitter dot sparkle pattern on the dresses. In terms of accessories there is a veil, ring, and "glass" slippers that also go along with the Cinderella dress. The Cinderella bride and every princess bridesmaid has a unique flower bouquet and matching floral crowns! Tinkerbell is also included as a bridesmaid and she, of course, has a new spring wand and wings! I also created a vintage wedding set that includes a princess fan, lace gloves, a pearl necklace and bracelet. The whole role play assortment ties into the theme!




A: Wow! What dress was your favorite piece from the collection?

J: Belle! Her dress was the most fun to create! I really like her dress in the movie and it's easier to reinvent every season. Because it has key classic elements it is also much more versatile- I can do new things to it without it losing its Belle look as long as I keep the key elements. For her dress this season I used a mix of soft yellow and pink.

A: What is the process of creating a collection?

J: It begins with the inspiration. I get a lot of inspiration from museums, from couture garments and art pieces. After I have an idea I do a rough sketch, gather materials, and decide on what kind of art technique I want to use. Then I sketch my idea onto the computer program Adobe Illustrator. When that's finished I meet with Rosalyn Boles, Senior Manager, Technical Design, who helps me make my sketches production friendly. Then the sketch is sent to China for sampling. In China they create samples off of my sketches and then send them back for us for inspection. I meet with Rosalyn again for fitting and adjustments. The sample is sent back to China with corrections, they make the corrections, then send it back to us again. We go back and forth until the sample is exactly the way we want it. If a design is more complicated I'll sometimes make the sample myself and send that over to China to serve as an example. When the sample is finally approved it is sent into final pre-production. Final adjustments are made and then the garment goes into production!

A: How long does the whole process take?

J: It takes about 12-14 months before a dress  gets into Disney Stores!

A: How many collections have you made?

J: This will be my 18th collection!

A: Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into clothing design and how you came to work here?

J:  I've always designed. When I was 5 years old I made aluminum dresses for my mom! Clothing design is the only thing I've ever done in my whole life and it's the only thing I've ever wanted to do. I went to Pratt Institute in New York, then Fashion Institute of Technology, then came to California and graduated at American Intercontinental University. I first worked at Disneyland in costuming and was a fabric buyer. After some time I was promoted to costumer and I worked on a few projects, including the Dreams Come True parade at Disneyland. At the same time I was also freelancing for a circus group and for The LA Opera. In 2007 I was hired to work at Disney Store as Senior Designer working in costumes! 

A: Who are your favorite designers?

J: My favorite designers are John Galliano, Dior, Alexander McQueen, Chanel and Versace.

A: What do you do when you're stuck on a design?

J: I have three nieces: 3, 6 and 8 years old. When I'm stuck on a design I take my costumes home, have them try them on, and ask them what they like. I'm always looking for feedback from kids because even though it's parents who are purchasing the costumes, it's the kids who are wearing them. Kids know the costumes the most!

A: So what will next spring look like? Any hints?

At this point Jason took out an inspiration board and showed me his ideas for next spring. Unfortunately I can't share with you any specific details about the collection but Jason did say one thing that I am allowed to post:

J: Next year will be completely different!

And there you have it, Buzz readers! New spring collection, new spring theme, wedding bells and teacups, flowers and tiaras! This spring season is going to be a lovely one!

Want to be a Disney princess bride or bridesmaid? Click below to see Jason's collection and be a part of the spring wedding story! Also check out for floral crowns, shoes and accessories!

The Wedding Party:

Cinderella as bride

Belle as bridesmaid

Beauty as bridesmaid

Cinderella as bridesmaid

Tinker bell as bridesmaid

Ariel as bridesmaid

Tiana as bridesmaid

Aurora as bridesmaid

2011 Brings Newly Designed Disney Stores to Open in Canada, Puerto Rico and Europe!

By Amy Lin, UGA Online Marketing, Jan 11, 2011 10:45 AM

What's a new year without new surprises and new beginnings? The magic continues in 2011 as we plan to open our innovative and newly designed concept stores in Canada, Puerto Rico and Europe!


This morning, at the National Retail Federation's Big Show in New York City, we made the official announcement and we are more excited than ever! Our Disney Stores Worldwide president, Jim Fielding shares: "Guests told us that we brought the magic back to Disney Store with the launch of our new design and responded by staying in the stores longer and purchasing more. The future of Disney Store is brighter than ever as we expand our reach by opening in new markets, leverage the latest technology to enhance the guest experience and improve efficiency, showcase incredible new Disney content, and bring a magical Disney experience to local communities everywhere."

New year, new stores and more magic than ever before!  Here's a peek at the stores to come!

Disney Store Locations: US, Canada and Puerto Rico

  • The first newly designed Disney Store in Georgia will open in Atlanta's Perimeter Mall
  • Guests in Washington will celebrate the opening of two Disney Store locations in Seattle's Westfield Southcenter mall and at Bellevue Square
  • Mall of America, the second largest mall in the United States, will open the first newly designed Disney Store in Minnesota
  • For the first time in 10 years, Puerto Rico will have its very own Disney Store when an experiential new store opens at Plaza Las Americas this summer
  • The first newly designed Disney Store in Canada will open in the remodeled Square One Mall in Mississauga, Ontario and Metropolis in Vancouver, British Columbia will also open an inaugural store.
  • Additionally, Disney Store will open four remodeled stores at Westfield in Culver City, CA; Palisades shopping center in West Nyack, NY; Chandler Fashion Center in Arizona, and Northstar mall in San Antonio, Texas.

 Disney Store Locations: Europe

  • Three new European countries will unveil a Disney Store for the very first time -- Copenhagen, Denmark, which will be the very first Disney Store in Scandinavia, Dublin in the Republic of Ireland and Antwerp in Belgium
  • The new Disney Store location on Oxford Street in London is expected to be a top attraction for both tourists and local guests
  • Bromley and Nottingham in the UK, Lyon in France, and Naples in Italy will be remodeled to the new design
  • Two Spanish locations, Cadiz in the Southwest and Las Arenas on Gran Canaria, one of the Canary Islands, will also be remodeled locations.


We'll see you inside the castle! It really is a small world after all! ;)

Join Disney Store for a Princess Garden Party!

By Amy Lin, UGA Online Marketing, Jan 07, 2011 9:53 AM

You're invited to Disney Store for a Princess Garden Party. Come dressed as your favorite Princess. Join us for crafts, games and more! 

Saturday, January 22 
Session 1 - 11:00 am 
Session 2 - 12:30 pm 

*Minimum age for participation is 3 years. Event limited to a maximum of 50 children per session. No lineups prior to 30 minutes before event begins. Event subject to change or cancellation without notice. Excluding Florida and Outlet locations. Call your local store for participation.

Sneak Peek of the Week: The Desk of Senior Designer Jason Johnson

By Amy Lin, UGA Online Marketing, Jan 04, 2011 3:20 PM

From now on The Buzz will feature a Sneak Peek of the Week from deep inside Disney Store Headquarters in Pasadena every week! This week's  sneak peek comes in the form of the creative desk space where all things magical and dress-up are  born: the desk of  Senior Designer Jason Johnson! Jason designs all role play pieces (from costumes to Princess gowns) for Disney Store!


And as a special bonus, this Sneak Peek also features a hint at this month's Behind the Scenes interview! Can you guess what it might be about? ;)

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