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Posts tagged ‘Universal Coverage’

The only thing constant is change

For four and a half years now I have been happily working full time for Universal Creative. I was hired to be part of the new Creative Core. The idea being to have an in-house design dept along the lines of Disney’s Imagineering.

Needless to say I was excited and very happy to be part of something like that. From 2016 to late in 2018 that’s exactly what it was. The studio was rapidly expanding and I got to work on tons of projects, most of which I cannot even mention here for obvious reasons.

I can say that I worked on the effort for Nintendo world producing key art, design sketches and some of the marketing art that’s been released.

I am also very proud that I did quite a lot of work for the recently released ” Hagrids Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

Official poster for the ride, not sure who did it…

I was actually put on this when I first came aboard. I worked alone for about a month and then a small team was created. At that time the effort was to come up with options for replacing the aging ” Dueling Dragons ” coaster. This was a challenge as that coaster was incredibly popular!

Old entrance to Dragons…

This effort eventually led to the current ride But by that time I was on other projects. I still produced a lot of design work for the ride. Some of which you can see below.

Working for the Core was kind of a dream gig, we were involved with every project Universal has in development. We even got to design the bluesky pre Concept for the future “ Epic Universe “. During this period I worked literally 5 minutes from home and really felt a sense of belonging. Great co workers great projects and a great environment!

Then everything changed, in one motion the entire studio was re organized and everyone was moved out to work on individual projects. It was a massive restructuring and now the core is just a shadow of itself. Don’t get me wrong I was happy to go join a team for The new park as it’s a chance to be part of something truly amazing! I can’t say much about it but rest assured it will be phenomenal, a real game changer…

Conceptual birdseye of the new park, pretty sure this was done by Pat Vogtli


Along came the Covid…

We’re still here, I’m still on the project, working from home since March. And I know how blessed we are to be able to do that… but the end date is fast approaching. It is obvious Universal along with everyone else in the world has been hard hit by this pandemic. People are sick and tired of feeling isolated and many of us desperately need to work to survive. This virus is pointing out serious flaws in our system. Our current federal leaderships incompetence has done nothing to solve the problem and people are scared. Our parks have opened up here in Florida a bit pre maturely IMO . But hey it’s Florida home of alligators on meth and ” Florida Man “.

The folks down the street ” Disney ” are being more cautious. Who’s correct remains to be seen, These are really challenging times and until we get a vaccine every move is a risk. At the end of the day they must do what’s best for the company to ensure its future and for now that means letting people go…

I am truly thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the Universal family. I’ve enjoyed working alongside some of the most talented creatives in the world on projects that have and will bring joy to so many people. I am looking forward to working for them again when things are better…

Working as a designer is a great job but you must remain flexible and ready to move with the flow because trust me these things move in cycles, Even if the Covid 19 had not thrown everything off kilter we were most likely headed to a downturn… who knows maybe once we get past this virus things will come roaring back. hopefully in November, America will have a change in leadership and we can get back to producing great work around the world…

If I could give one piece of advice to anyone who’s maybe a bit scared of what’s happening right now it would be this. Fear and worry will do you no good. It’s natural to be concerned in uncertain circumstances but you must try and remain positive. Take this down time and use it to your advantage if you can. Do some new paintings or designs, work on a personal project, take online courses, learn a new software etc etc… it doesn’t really matter what you do so long as it’s productive. This will help keep you in a good place mentally and spiritually. Then, when opportunity comes ” and it will ” you’ll be ready to act.

This is the third time I’ve seen the economy tank, 2000, 2008, and now 2020, it seems to be built into the system, what goes up must come down.

For my own sanity I am going to focus on preparation now. Update the portfolio, Re-organize the workspace, prepare my studio for efficient freelance and Begin to reach out to old and potential clients. I’m learning Blender 3D and have begun to explore VR on the Occulus. We are even planting a vegetable garden ūüôā

Like I said, change is the only constant…

I hope whoever reads this is well and safe.

Talk soon

New Years Eve

The last few days I have been doing some work for clients in Los Angeles so this is first day out for me in a bit. I love that I can work anywhere I am now… The only real issue is the time difference but as I am still a night owl its manageable.

Illustration done for Robert Montlabano I just found out that we will be doing some more work so the efforts were worth it…


As I was up late ( meaning all night ) we are heading out a bit later then usual, Fanny’s dad is going with us to have some brunch after which he will be going to meet friends and play Mah jhong. I spy these exercise machines in the park on our way ¬†maybe later we can try and see what they do…

Exercise Equipment at the park

The street is busy with folks doing last minute errands. I have noticed the closer we get to New Years the more aggressive the driving gets. I suppose this is no different then back home around Christmas and still nowhere near as crazy as the mainland.

Neighborhood Walk

We are going to grab some food at Sun Burger, a shop that has recently opened. According to Fanny’s dad it is run by two college students and is doing quite well as they work hard and the food is good. I am told that the job market in Taiwan is really bad at the moment and because of this quite a few people are starting little side businesses. Fanny and I have discussed the possibility of combining a coffee shop with my art studio in the future, could be fun…

Brunch Time

I get a concerned look from the owner / operator but I am sure its more curiosity then anything else. The mask is either to keep himself from getting sick or from spreading germs and is a very common sight in Asia.

Not Sure

Fanny’s dad is quite a character and I am really enjoying getting to know him better. His english is good and we have been having interesting conversations. ¬†For many years Fanny’s parents did not approve of our relationship. I am happy that we have moved past this and I can get to know them. Part of what makes Taiwan a great place is this traditional life outlook but it can be a bit difficult as an outsider.

The food is quite good and a great deal all three meals come in at around 8 US dollars, including drinks. This  would be a bit more then on the mainland but the quality of food is well worth it.

General Lin

Our bellies full we head out for our  appointment at the hospital to take the MRI, along the way my eyes are caught by some colorful flowers for sale.

Flowers for sale

The neighborhood traditional market is really interesting, these stalls sell all manor of things mostly food and clothing very fresh and still cheap by US standards. On our last trip here we went shopping with Fanny’s mom who seems to know every person here and is a great haggler, getting what she wants for the right price a skill I have never picked up.

Traditional Market

I wonder how many scooters there are in Taiwan, at times it seems like there may be more of them then people but I know that cant be true. The scooters are literally everywhere except the highways where they are banned.


A short bus trip has us back at Veterans General Hospital and the arrow points the way. This is the second time I will have an MRI done here in Taiwan, the first before my Arthroscopic knee surgery last year and now to find out why I am still having issues. I don’t know what to expect from this but I am hopeful we can at least get a clearer idea of what is wrong and how to deal with it.

Walk This Way

Obviously I did not take this picture as I am only wearing a hospital gown for the procedure but after searching online this picture is very close to the unit they used. I  believe it is a newer model then the one I saw last year and probably no more then a few years old. The procedure is strange but not uncomfortable. You must lie down on the table and in my case the  legs will be immobilized and inserted into the opening there. The whole thing takes around 30 minutes and consist of a number of scans which the machine makes in waves. I get a pair of foam earplugs like you would use for working with a pneumatic tool. The sound is still quite loud so I can imagine if you had to be inside one of these it would not be fun at all.

General Electric

Now I can say a bit about the cost. I have to pay for the MRI scan and the doctors consultation which will happen next week after the New Years festivities. All together I will have a full MRI scan, digital copies of the scan to take home and the doctors analysis, for all this I paid right at NT$10,000 or around $350 US dollars. To put this in perspective before I left the states I had 2 Xryas made, a 5 min talk with a doc who told me I had swelling and a tech who extracted  fluid from my knee for around $ 700.

Here I will have seen the doctor 3 separate times and have physical records of what he finds for less cost then the 5 min visit to the guy in the states. If I was a citizen of Taiwan I would not even have paid that much. I find it amazing that people in the US cannot see the benefit of Universal Coverage…

Now its time to meet up with Michelle, Fanny’s classmate from University. She is here for New Years from her home in Singapore. I will be hanging out with the girls while they catch up inside the local starbucks. You have to love Dragon man here, I assume he is a paid performer but you never know.

Dragon Man

Picture Time

While the girls talk I get a chance to play with my new iPad I still don’t have my Wacom stylus but I have borrowed a good one to use till then. I am using an app called Inspire Pro here which has some pretty nice painterly effects for its brushes. The iPad of course does not have touch sensitivity but even without that I am thinking some good art can be achieved. This is just an abstraction but I had fun painting it the only issue would be the limited size and what looks to be a real color management issue. On the iPad this piece was in shades of blue but when I exported it I get this purple oh well its a process… If I am not mistaken this program allows you to recreate your work on a desktop machine at a higher resolution which will be nice. I will post more on the iPad later.

Inspire Doodle

4 Hours and much coffee later, its time to head home for dinner with the family, I am looking forward to it as I now know that Fanny’s mom is an amazing cook.

Nighttime Taipei

I keep thinking I should get some of these for my studio at home don’t think they will fit in my suitcase though…


On the way back I spy this lil guy on the door to an office building. Is it just me or does it look like the dragon is wearing eyeglasses? Tomorrow night is the New Year which will be spent with family sharing food, drink, fireworks and of course Mah Jhong.

Door Dragon

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