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Gia Grosso SDSA

January 21st, 2021

Gia, your education suggests the restless soul of a passionate traveler: Tyler School of Art Philadelphia, Temple University Rome, Glasgow and Skowhegan Schools of Art, and your Masters at School of Visual Arts NYC. Wow. Tell us how you started in show biz…

I began as a sculptor. I worked in a giant costume and prop house in NYC called Martin Izquierdo Studios. Martin is a thoughtful and lovely man who provided an amazingly creative playground. We sculpted and fabricated all sorts of creatures, animals, fruits, vegetables, and body parts for costumes and sets for Broadway, theatre, film, television, commercials and events. I learned about every kind of sculpting technique and material, set building and paints, foams and fabrics, dyes and adhesives. One day a fellow sculptor/art maker asked if I’d be interested in creating a very large appendage for Michael Lucas productions, an adult film studio in Manhattan. I agreed and when I delivered the finished piece, they asked if I’d like to help decorate the sets for their films — that is where it all began. I’d say one of the things that’s changed from my beginning days is now when I turn up for work most everyone has clothes on.

Animal, vegetable. That’s an auspicious start. What drives you?

I’m inspired by the sea and the creatures that live there. I like to swim with and make art about them. I am continually inspired by working collaboratively with the many talented and creative people in my industry. I remember as a young sculptor sitting alone in my studio knowing I wanted to make art and then finally realizing I really wanted to make art with others.

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THE GUTSIEST SETS : A Day with The Walking Dead

Tell us about a hurdle you’ve encountered…

One of my biggest challenges has been how to lead a crew and at the same time inspire that crew to find their own creativity and expression within the constructs of what we do. I try to provide as much reference material as possible to hopefully spark ideas and engage.

You’ve had such rich and varied experiences. Describe an epiphany that helped you reach a newer understanding…

I think my biggest a-ha moment was during the first movie I decorated, “Our Family Wedding”. I was really green — I barely knew what the Leadman did! Luckily my Leadman was the wonderful Charles Nixon, who taught me A LOT! But what I didn’t know was what really my purpose as the decorator was. I would procure set dressing that I thought made the set look nice, then one day I was dressing a radio station set for the DJ character, played by Forest Whitaker. He happened to walk in to check out the set… looked around touching this and that, then sat down in his chair, at his desk, picked up his pen and said “I really like this. I would have this.” In an instant I realized that my job as the decorator was to create an environment for this actor to inhabit and believe it was really his DJ studio. Up until that moment I was pretty disconnected from who would actually “live” in my pretty sculpture.

Picture yourself in 5 years…

Sharing ideas and solving creative problems together is the place I enjoy being. I never want the exchange of thoughts and learning to end so in 5 years I see myself continuing on this path sharing what I have learned from all the great collaborations I’ve had with the next great collaborators.


THE GUTSIEST SETS : A Day with The Walking Dead

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