We are talking to Richard Winget, who stands by the Authentic Environments – a theming company with quite rich experience in the industry.
Richard is a rockwork artisan who currently is working in the scenic and exhibitory business. He started his career in mid ’80s, and he is still in the industry till today.
Richard, tell us your story. How it’s all began and how your career evolved?
I became interested in rock carving in 1985 when I met a fellow rock artisan in Phoenix, Arizona. I was 19 years old and this man Took me under his wing and began mentoring me, we became friends until his death in 1999. During this time I worked on many custom home projects which included rock and waterscapes of all different types. My mentor Ted Davis taught me how to simulate geologies of many different types. After awhile he was called to sculpt rockwork in Las Vegas, Nevada and he asked me to join him and I never looked back! Since that time I have traveled around the world doing this specialized work.
I have worked domestically and internationally on projects ranging from millions to billions of dollars. I have also assisted Disney in realizing their visions ie:
- Star Wars galaxy edge,
- Frontierland expansion,
- Splash mountain,
- The matterhorn,
- Finding Nemo submarine voyage.
- Sea worlds manta coaster
- and dolphin stadium among others.
My themeing career as you may have guessed started at the Mirage casino in 1987. Early on I learned that getting the scene right and telling a story thru visual aids was key to the success of any project big or small.
Do you consider your work to be more engineering or art, what is most frustrating and most rewarding?
The most difficult part was always marrying traditional construction to the artistic side of things, this is very difficult as sometimes one side doesn’t agree with the others. Engineering and art are not good bed fellows and concessions have always got to be made. As my career continued I became a licensed and insured contractor in this speciality field and began doing design work, learning local building codes and submitting plans to cities for approval I was able to blend both traditional construction with artistic construction with great success, that was and still is today very gratifying. When building these projects it is guest experience that is paramount, design caters to the guest always!! Now imagine your guests are Zoo animals, this demands more attention as animals are much stronger and can run, jump and swim much better than the human mammal, The approach changes based on our “guest”.
Does the technologies and the approach to work changed in the course of your business? How was it in the past compared to today?
Construction practice as far as rockwork goes have not changed much in the last 50 years in my humble opinion. The cement is still pneumatically applied against a backing and rebar structure, then waterproofing is done where required. The next step is texture and finally color. The only thing that really changes is the geology and the color.
The artistry varies from project to project based on the caliber of people that are hired. There are very talented artisans working in this industry!!! There are always people trying to do it faster and cheaper I look at all the different systems out there and the one constant that I see all the time is rebar and shotcrete, its tried and true.
What are the most interesting projects you have participated in, and in which are you most proud of?
Ive had the pleasure to be apart of some very interesting projects A few of my favorites was an elephant exhibit in Los Angeles, California, Star Wars galaxy edge, Aquarium of the pacific in Longbeach, California.
You find more photos of Richrd’s work and contact him on his website: authenticenvironments.com