This edition of Alumni Spotlight will focus on Alumni Jeff Hinchee. Jeff was a member of ETC from 1993-1999, starting in middle school and continuing through high school at Stow Monroe Falls. He was a singer/dancer, one of the first members of the Main Street Singers when it was created, was a dance captain for Main Street and helped design sets for ETC. He designed the set for the 1998 All Americans show, the 1999 All Americans, and then the 2000 All Americans.
After graduating from ETC, Jeff went on to study set and costume design at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama. There he was a part of a small group of classmates that continue to be his closest friends today. While getting his BFA he had the opportunity to study abroad in Scotland working at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and he spent a semester at NYU Studying puppetry.
After graduating from Carnegie Mellon in 2003, he moved to New York City and wrote a letter to a designer that he admired and considered the best fine artist working in theater. The artist then hired Jeff full time as his assistant, and he worked on sets and costumes for various opera, ballet, and theater across the US and in Europe. A few years later, he joined the design union, and worked on multiple off Broadway and Broadway shows while designing his own productions at various small theaters and festivals in New York.
In 2008 he left New York to pursue a Master’s Degree in illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design and spent two years working on his illustrator’s portfolio. While in Savannah he kept up with some theater work, assisting on shows at the Metropolitan Opera, and storyboarding the original concepts for The Book of Mormon. He also started lecturing at the Texas State Thespian Festival.
After receiving his masters, he returned to Ohio for a bit, working mostly as a freelance illustrator for books, event posters, and albums. In 2012, he moved back to New York and worked heavily in theater, as an Associate Designer on Broadway. Some of the shows he worked on included Pippin, Macbeth, Finding Neverland, and Something Rotten. These were all illustration heavy, and technology developments meant a lot of his work was scanned and printed on a huge scale, rather than being interpreted by scenic artists.
In the past few years, he has being doing less theater by choice. He works primarily as an editorial and advertising illustrator in magazines and books, which he is enjoying. He still has some theater cross over. He frequently designs the key art and posters for productions, as well as doing an advertisement for the national tour of Phantom of the Opera. He was the assistant art director for the Wiz Live! on NBC and produced a lot of the artwork and illustrations used in the televised production and NBC’s marketing, including developing the giant puppet head with the renowned puppet team. In the past year, he did the storyboard art for NBC’s Hairspray Live, and the new Cirque du Soleil show Paramour, and developed an App game for kids called “Tunnel Park”. Last December “Interview” magazine did a feature on Jeff on his work and art studio, and he did the cover art for a Penguin Random House young adult novel called “A Short History of the Girl Next Door” which will be released at the end of this year.
Just this past week (April, 2017) he was called in to join the set design team of Frozen on Broadway, where he is doing detailed backdrop drawings, and adding some quirky Disney “easter eggs” for sharp-eyed audience members.
We are elated to see how well Jeff has done and can’t wait to see his further ventures! You can read his “Interview” Magazine article here: Interview Magazine Interview
You can check out Jeff’s portfolio and work at his two websites: