SVA alumnus Keith Lapinig (BFA 2008 Film and Video) has a lot to be thankful for this year. The 25-year-old graphic artist recently edged out a thousand contestants to win “Macy’s Great American Elf Adventure,” earning him the honor of having his Gazer Elf design turned into a 34-foot-tall balloon for the 85th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It’s only the third time in the history of the parade that Macy’s has let someone other than its own designers create a balloon, and Lapinig’s will soar above the heads of approximately 3.5 million New York City spectators and be seen by 50 million television viewers. The Briefs caught up with Lapinig via email recently to discuss his achievement.
How did it feel to be chosen to design a balloon for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?
As an artist, this is probably one of the greatest honors one can receive. I will definitely walk away from all of this feeling accomplished and also have more confidence in my talents.
I can’t even say that this was an immediate dream of mine that has ever crossed my mind simply because the idea of having your own Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon is so far-fetched. Instead, this achievement goes beyond my dreams, and I’m thankful for it every single day.
How did you come up with the idea for the design?
I figured everyone would have a typical holiday elf approach, and I wanted to stand out from that crowd. I wanted to challenge myself to see what else can be designed out of this blank elf figure other than the obvious. With its rotund body and head, I was inspired to transform the figure’s face into a moon with the New York City skyline for a body.
Where will you be watching the parade from?
I was given VIP tickets for my family and myself, so we should be in the grandstands right in front of the Macy’s store!
Photo: Keith Lapinig with his Gazer Elf at the Macy’s Parade Studios.
For a recent story about Lapinig and the contest, visit the New York Daily News; For an up-close look at the Gazer Elf and a behind-the-scenes tour of the Macy’s Parade Studios, watch the video below.