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  • Writer's pictureSydney Oberholtzer

Episode 4 | Designing Stages & Event Installations

Updated: Jul 19, 2020

EP 4 | Creating Art & Music Experiences with Zac Hall from The Set Up Podcast | Behind the Scenes in Music

00:00:00 Sydney: Hey everyone, and welcome to another episode! Every episode, I invite you to tune in as I host a different guest to share their experience working in the music industry today. We will discuss art Direction and interior design. My name is Sydney and this is The Set Up Podcast.

00:00:23 Sydney: Let me start by introducing you to Zac Hall. Zac has been creating elaborate floral installations and interior decorations for Productions, music videos and Nationwide Brands. Thank you for joining us! How are you holding up?

Zac: I feel very fortunate that a couple of clients that I had coming into this whole pandemic situation are pretty insulated from the economic effects of this and have been able to keep a lot of my work. I actually feel extremely fortunate to be moving forward.

00:02:21 Sydney: I met Zac while working on a prouction with him. The past year, I've seen him at working on various Productions in Chicago. To name a couple of them, rituals just had an event at the conservatory and it was very beautiful with all the plants.

Sydney: What was your process like for these projects?

Zac: Usually there is a process of my imagination runs off a million miles an hour in seven different directions and I bring it all in and put it back in front of them. And I feel like they reality check me.

00:03:21 Zac: We talk about budgets and everything to make sure that the concepts we have are feasible, you know that we can execute them in the time and money we have. from there then I have been incredibly talented network of people who can do 3D renders or fabricate literally anything you could ever imagine. I do technical design mostly myself. So I try to do as much of that myself as I can and then off to the fabricator who then builds it with their materials. Then we install and then so often it lives for the world for 6 hours and we just take it all down again, and then I am sad about it and move on to my next project.

00:04:21 Sydney: How many hours would you put into one project?

Zac: We did a collaboration with Adidas recently for all-star weekend. And so we redid their entire interior of their store and I would say that was pretty much all day every day for I would say six weeks to two months.

00:04:57 Zac: I work much harder these days now that I'm an artist than I did back when I had a muggle job.

Sydney: Most prominently you've been working with Chance the Rapper and you've been one of the teams on The Late Late Show when he was with his brother. And then also you created part of the big store, which was a launch of his album the big day. More recently that you helped create the music video for we go high. When and how did your relationship with chance start?

Zac: I was going to this event that I sponsored in 2013. He signed a poster for me and then so many years later Michael Apostolos brought me into the album Event the big store over the summer. They needed a huge floral installation. I flew in 14,000 white roses from Ecuador. His album has been out for a little bit and he was making a music video for the song we go high. I guess I'm biased but I really do think that's the best song on that album in some of his strongest work to date. So that was a real privilege for me to work on. Well on The Late Late Show, so they brought that in that was the floral installation, which is one of the things that I specialize and so they brought me in on that project. I was overseas at the time trying to make phone calls at all hours of the night to make sure that I was lined up perfectly. So when I came back to LA for that it would be like ready. So that was a fun project as well.

00:06:57 Sydney: Where did you pull inspiration from? How did you create both of those sets?

Zac: That's a great question. The process is really different for both the music video and the performance. The director had an overall vision for the music video. So it's bedroom scene. I had to answer the questions- What does it look Like? What are we capturing here? What's going to be on the wall? What are we imagining that his apartment looks like in at this point in time, which actually interesting point we filmed in the exact same building where he used to live in Chicago during the time.

00:07:57 Zac: Michael took the lead on design and the overall concept and I back and forth and had conversations about what they look like. I just like the overall Vibe and then he took the big picture Direction on it. And then I took the floral aspect of it. I never really done a whole installation independently or like taking the lead on an installation in Los Angeles yet. So finding a studio space finding a place where I could find exactly right flowers and get them on time and get them to where we needed to be and find a truck and get it in to Hollywood somehow and to only have 45 minutes to put the whole setup was challenging.

00:08:57 Sydney: I had no idea that you flew in all of those flowers from Ecuador. I thought you go through a wholesaler.

Zac: I actually used to work with a wholesaler in Kansas City and still have a really good connection on roses. They have relationships with Farmers all over the world and Ecuador is a really great place to grow roses. A lot of the Roses that you see here come from Ecuador.

Sydney: How did your interest in floral design start?

Zac: I was in college and I would come home from parties drunk. Find flowers on the way and pick them up then I would go home and arrange them in mason jars. I had These really wild loose Arrangement. And I never saw it as art or even think of myself as creative until maybe like 10 years later. I realized that all this while I've been developing myself as a florist not with any intention of being a florist or being an artist but one day the world made me aware that there is a future in that. Follow that intuition is an amazing thing.

Sydney: I feel like a lot of people don't usually listen to themselves, but I'm really happy for you that it is starting to become some type of career that you actually enjoy.

Zac: Yeah. It's it's crazy because I spend a period of time feeling like I really wanted to chase it and pursuing it at flower shops and my spirit got so beat down because I couldn't do it. I just could not function inside of a normal flower shop.

00:10:57 Zac: That was when I really gave up on myself as a florist and it wasn't until I started pursuing art as a career that people started finding my old floral work and asking for it again. So yeah stick with it, kids.

Sydney: What was that moment when you decided to pursue your own project?

Zac: Canvas here in Chicago. It is such a strong Vibrant Community and it was every single event. Anyone you talked to was up to something. Everybody was so interesting. There was so many incredibly talented artists that were just there like a real real true organic Community. One day, there is this artist, Lefty, who now is in LA. He was doing a stage that was going to be a huge projection mapping and all this crazy stuff that was taking production value on a level that I had never witnessed before and he needed help building the stage so he gave me loose Directions but also a lot of guidance on what I needed to look like. I just went in with a couple homies and just started building these shapes for him and it all went up and it was good. And then the next time, Preston, who ran that organization came out to me. He's like well, do you want to just do the whole stage? I had no idea what I was doing, but it came out really well as a matter of fact, I don't know if this is still true but for years after, you could Google the words "cool DJ booth" and it would be that stage.

Sydney: How long afterwards did you realize "Hey if I can do this, I know this is going to be something big for me?"

00:12:57 Zac: Always feel like I'm one step away from everything just evaporating. So I've been pursuing this full-time non-stop. I think I was 28 when I started even thinking of myself as an artist. It wasn't until I was about four years later that I started getting real jobs with real clients.

Sydney: Do you have any upcoming projects?

Zac: I actually have a project through a group called Fever that's going to be a Mad Hatter themed gin and tea party. It is similar to a cover song. That's a totally acceptable way to approach music. I love whenever I can to do that with art. For example, a classic movie like Alice in Wonderland and then do a cover of that and turn it into a live event. And so we're doing that. It's going to be pretty magical and then I'm doing a pretty large-scale floral installation.

00:13:57 Sydney: I actually have heard of Fever before. I saw a couple of their videos and they look really awesome. Do you have a design in mind?

Zac: I am very much inspired by Nature and creating an outdoors while you're indoors sort of feel and keeping it very Whimsical

Sydney: So, how did you get Commissioned?

00:14:57 Zac: I am pretty known for Nature and my friend Dank called me up one day and said that he got a job with Fever and he had this event coming up and wanted to know if I'd be interested in putting in a proposal and here we are.

00:16:5 Sydney: Do you have any advice that you can offer for those who want to follow a similar path?

Zac: Of course, pursuing a career in the Arts is really really difficult. So I think the very fundamental thing about my success in all these different things that I do is that every single project that I do, I do it to the very very greatest of my ability. Doing everything to the best that you can is really important. That's where your growth happens and then just not to give up too. Follow your own light. I worked at flower shops where They were basically telling me that I couldn't work there anymore because I because I just wasn't cut out to be a florist. But what it was, was that I wasn't cut out to do what they were doing. My work had to come from my heart and my spirit and so if you have something in your head or your heart believe in that and follow that and keep doing it, even if people are paying you for it, even if you know you put in front of a client and this is never going to work. That's fine. It's not for them. It's for you ultimately, the more honest your work is, the more that is going to resonate in the end. It is so beautiful and I think that's something that it's so easy to just go with the flow.

Sydney: You don't always have to follow the path that others around you are doing especially when you find so much passion.

00:18:57 Sydney: Thank you for sharing that and I think that's so helpful. Thank you so much for joining me today. It was a pleasure to have you.

Zac: It is great to have something like this to do in the middle of such a trying time.

Sydney: Thank you all for tuning and if you like what you hear, please give me a call or subscribe to stay up-to-date on all the new episodes. My name is Sydney, and this is The Set Up. See you later guys.

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