Meet Our Members: Fine Artist & Theme Park Designer Zofia Kostyrko

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Meet Zofia! Zofia is a fine artist, sculptor, creative director, theme park designer, and skateboarder. Her portraiture aims to capture the inner spark and the complex connections between artist, viewer, and subject. Currently, twenty five of her portraits of famous ocean explorers are featured in an exhibit at the Aquarium of the Pacific. Zofia was formerly a Disney imagineer, where she conceptualized theme park design. She is now working on the plans for a new theme park in Abu Dhabi. Be sure to watch Zofia share her story in the Hub LA’s digital yearbook about how she began skateboarding at the age of 50. Zofia’s energy, positive attitude, and willingness to try just about anything is infectious. Read her interview below and you’ll understand why.

Why did you choose to become a HUB LA member?
In last few years many of my contacts became virtual. Despite a great circle of friends, colleagues and family I felt isolated isolated and socially stagnant. A girlfriend randomly sent me a link to the HUB LA with a note – “You may like it.”

I did, signed on the same night, and found a community of doers who change our world a step at a time. HUB LA members think positively for themselves rather than eating the standard media menu of fear, negativity, inertia and defeatism, and they try new ideas in creative and unusual ways.

What is the best part of your membership?
Several “bests”:
The People – and their passion, smarts, generosity, stories, ideas and visions. Their bright-eyed -and-bushy-tailed energy.
The Place – Location , Location , Location. Always loved downtown LA, Now I have a good reason to visit frequently and check the new (and old) street art.
The Setup – flexible public working space that feels homey and cool
The Perks – deal of the century for the Annual Metro Pass compliments of our fearless co-leader Ann! Yeah!!!

Tell us a little about your work. What does it mean to “do good” for you vis a vis your art?
About work: I wear many hats.
First: as a conceptual designer for themed entertainment, exhibits, zoos, events, stories, theatre etc. I develop ideas from simple to complex content, and build places, exhibits and experiences around them to educate and entertain the public. I brainstorm and conceptualize, design and graphic design, write, illustrate, paint and sculpt, then creatively direct and often build them. I was a Disney imagineer for 13 years, 9 on Disney Animal Kingdom. One of my attractions was the conservation center pavilion and the environmental heart for the park. Since 2000 I have been running my own design studio, freelancing, consulting and mentoring.

One of Zofia's sketches for a dinosaur rollercoaster.

One of Zofia’s designs for a dinosaur rollercoaster.

Second, I am a fine artist, painting and sculpting whatever moves me. For the last 3 years it has been portraits.

“DO Good” vis a vis my art?
Through designing theme parks I give people a fantasy to step into. I left Disney and branched out to use my experience to tackle real world issues. My exhibits are designed to engage visitors minds and hearts to take action; many are about conservation, environmental issues and indigenous cultures. I like taking really complex content and making an awesome story about it for the viewers.

And in my portraits – my subject and their viewers see their inner spark, ageless, timeless and vibrant in a new way. Thru January 2014 Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach has my 25 portraits of world’s most influential marine explorer’s on display showing the human faces of the Titans of science and making them much more approachable to the rest of us.

Three of Zofia's portraits.

Three of Zofia’s portraits.

In what ways are you looking to grow? What types of collaborations or partnerships interest you?
I want to better use technology and social networks to promote the projects I care about.
I want to build relationships to the Downtown LA arts and business groups and individuals that can use my creativity for ventures that make LA a more connected and personalized community.
I want to grow my business skills to better manage and grow my business and fundraise for my projects.
I also want to mentor and/or teach, and to pay forward my skills in conceptual development and storytelling of real world tales.

Collaborations and partnerships that interest me:
– Anything to do with storytelling and concept development
– Conservation and environmental restoration or protection projects – developing public outreach materials including exhibits and events
– Public art projects and art happening events – working with other artists on designing and building awesome art stuff, including film and projections
– Developing workshops about concept development and working on multidisciplinary teams.
– Portrait and self-portrait workshops for kids and minority groups to help communication and conflict resolution;
– Stop motion animation – working on a film

Describe your perfect LA day.
This day would have to be 48 hours long.

Start by hiking with Charly and my dog at dawn to Echo Mountain through misty air blanket covering the waking city. Say “Hello!” to a hundred people going up hill we had to ourselves just an hour earlier.

Breakfast at Foxes, my local cafe up the street in Altadena, followed by a metro ride to the Downtown Arts District to join my HUB LA friends on a CicLAvia bike ride to Venice. This is my favorite ever LA event! Hang at Venice boardwalk, skateboard a little, people see. Swim or surf, but get wet with friends.

Lunch somewhere on the beach in Venice. On the way back stop by the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City. Take the metro home. Long siesta with the latest book from my book club in my hammock in the backyard.

In the evening a double date to check out a new play at one of the NOHO small indie theaters or listen to live music.

Come home late and work several more hours past midnight in my studio on new sculptures. Sleep in!

You can see more of Zofia’s artwork on her website and her theme park designs here. See her exhibit at Aquarium of the Pacific through January 2014.


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October 28th, 2013


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High Impact Angelenos, Profiles, The Hub LA