Tapping Into The Disney Magic | WGLT

Tapping Into The Disney Magic

Mar 29, 2016

Creativity is king at Disney.
Credit Candace Lindemann / Flickr via Creative Commons

An Illinois State University alumnus is bringing a little Disney magic to campus.  

Christopher Chapman works as the Global Creativity & Innovation Director for Disney. He's returned to campus this week to be inducted into the College of Fine Arts Hall of Fame and meet with students to discuss his time at Illinois State University as an art major, plus how he forged his career path in art and design for Disney.  

Chapman graduated from ISU in 2003 with a degree in art focusing on graphic design.  "Outside of that, what really gave me my success, and I'm very passionate about this, is the fact that I both had the art and the design program, but also things like biology and business courses, and things around history and anthropology.  All those things informed me to give me a very broad knowledge that informed the things I do with creativity and innovation."

While still a student at ISU, Chapman enrolled in The Disney College Program, which enabled him to take a semester off to work at Disney World and take classes, such as drawing and customer service  "It gave me the networking opportunity of a lifetime," he added.

Chapman says Disney provides a very broad spectrum of diversity in the workplace.  A big part of Chapman's job is to bring people together collaboratively, so working with employees (or as they say at Disney, cast members) from different divisions and disciplines provides him with the challenge to help people to develop a bond together and to help them dream up innovative new ideas.

"We spend time on training people and on educating them, we guide then through the creative process, and also we inspire them, which can mean field trips, getting out of what we call the rivers of thinking and help them think differently about projects."

Creativity isn't limited to the entertainment industry.  Chapman says all businesses and corporations can benefit from applying creative innovation.  "Instead of having pass the baton organizations, where one group sits by themselves as a division and then passes to another group, let's say strategy passes it to research and then research passes it to the creative team, the important thing is to recognize that everyone has a creative way.  When you create project-based teams that are cross discipline and background and they're all problem solving together as a team, that is so important."

Being relaxed is a great way to let your brain be creative, said Chapman.  Having fun at work is vital to opening creativity.  And so is failure.

"Rapid failure is vital to success and innovation, because if you're not failing, how are you succeeding?   I don't know anybody who got on a bike and immediately knew how to ride it.  We fell.  And then what did we do? We got back up and we went forward.  So as you find problems or things that aren't working or obstacles, you want to make a list and knock them off.  Let's turn those obstacles into opportunities.  Let's refine those and problem solve as we move things forward."