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Fun and Inspiration at the Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival

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A look inside one of Lucasfilm’s favorite annual events!

One of the most anticipated events of the year, Lucasfilm’s Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival is a bustling celebration.

Employees from Lucasfilm, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and friends from around our campus, gather together into teams of four, each comprised of professional artists and skilled amateurs alike. Inspired by Star Wars, Disney, and other elements of pop-culture, they create magnificent pieces of chalk art along the sidewalk promenade at our San Francisco campus.

The vibrant community and culture here at Lucasfilm yields ripe opportunity for inspiration, as ILM Compositor Dan Enstrom describes, “When you’re working with some of the greatest artists and content in the world, inspiration is impossible to avoid.” The annual Chalk Art Festival provides an unusual outlet for this teeming creative atmosphere.

Some teams stay well into the night as different team members focus on certain areas in the design. “The non-permanence of chalk makes it both fun and challenging. It’s great because you can clean up, redo, and fix things relatively easily,” describes ILM Technical Assistant Carol Payne. “But at the same time, you can mess up that perfect blend you’ve been working on for hours with just one touch.”

Come Festival week, teams are assigned their sidewalk chalk square and given their chalk supply on Thursday afternoon. Employees from different areas of the company soon find themselves creating together and playfully competing against each other. As ILM Technical Director John Doublestein says, “I love this event because it’s a chance to see art and creativity in a lot of people we don’t normally interact with.”

By Friday afternoon the Festival goes into full swing, with food vendors serving light bites and passersby excitedly inspecting each creation as the teams hastily make last-minute touches. Family and friends soon gather to see the finished masterpieces. Guests cast their votes throughout the afternoon and the big moment comes the following day when the winners are announced!

The 2016 creations were as imaginative as ever with a particularly special touch of whimsy. One piece combined Star Wars with the classic Alice in Wonderland. Another found inspiration in the animated feature, The Iron Giant, playing with similarities between the title character and K-2SO from our own Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. 2017 continued the creative outpouring with many pieces paying special tribute to the most adorable stars of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the porgs.

As VFX Supervisor, Bill George, comments, “Our work here is all about communicating through design. Working here keeps you in that mindset of wanting to create and improve. The hardest thing is knowing when to stop.”

The annual Sidewalk chalk Art Festival remains a can’t-miss event, bringing together some of the best elements of our working environment. As Brian Holligan comments, “The best part of the Chalk Art Festival is seeing and hearing the reaction of all of the people walking by and checking out the art.  It’s so much fun to get together with friends, family and coworkers to see all of the creative designs, enjoy the delicious treats, and spend a wonderful evening in the Presidio together.”

With sincerest gratitude to the chalk teams for providing comments and photographs!

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