Taylor Maurer didn’t go to college to get a job. She went to college to get paid to do what she loves. Chapman University was the perfect stage for her to fine-tune her skills and passion for lighting design. As a theater major and journalism minor, Taylor followed the guidance and advice of entertainment technology professor Don Guy, as well as absorbed his ever-new enthusiasm for lighting and allowed it to enhance her own. This mentorship, along with Taylor’s unbreakable commitment to do whatever it takes to build a career path inspired solely by her deepest passion, led the 2016 graduate to land a job as a lighting design assistant at Visual Terrain, a private, award-winning lighting design firm, known for designing the light towers at Los Angeles International Airport, as well as lighting designs at theme parks, museums, private residences and live entertainment. Taylor is also an entertainment technician at Disneyland, where she maintains and operates lighting equipment for various locations, such as the former Mad T Party venue, and the Food and Wine Festival. Whether Taylor is at Disneyland or with Visual Terrain, she’s always at her “happiest place on earth” designing lighting.
CU: Tell me about your career. What do you do on a day to day basis?
TM: As a lighting design assistant at Visual Terrain, it’s my job to support the ever-changing needs of the designers on a project. Whether that be acquiring the specifications of a certain fixture from the manufacturer, printing and plotting drawings and backgrounds, or discovering a piece of information buried in our email inbox, I support the project and the designers to best serve the design intent of the project.
CU: What insight do you have to offer current students and alumni who are searching for employment?
TM: Love what you do. You’ll be far more willing to go above and beyond for your employer (or whomever) if you are truly passionate about what you do. Love what you do enough that it is the reason you’re so excited to get out of bed in the morning.
CU: What advice do you have for current students who want to make the most out of their time at Chapman?
TM: Enjoy every moment. Your years pass by so quickly! The friends you make at Chapman will make or break your collegiate career, and will be great motivators as you graduate and move into the real world. Cherish them and they’ll be part of your life forever. Also, work while you’re in school. It really gives you perspective on the value of your time and money, and it sets you up with great experience to put on your resume for after you graduate.
CU: Which Chapman faculty member(s) made the greatest impact on you?
TM: Entertainment technology professor Don Guy really shaped my career, beginning with my portfolio review my senior year of high school. I honestly had no intention of going to Chapman, but Professor Guy’s unbridled enthusiasm for entertainment lighting changed my collegiate wish list. Throughout my four years, Professor Guy stressed the importance of professionalism, efficiency, safety and communication, which pushed me to be the best designer I could be. His guidance in my time at Chapman ensured that I graduated prepared for the challenges I would face pursuing a lifelong career in the entertainment industry.
CU: How has your Chapman degree helped you?
TM: Where to begin?! My degree was helping me long before I received my diploma. My class experiences equipped me with the tools to work as an entertainment technician at the Disneyland Resort while I was still in school, which gave me fantastic hands-on experiences and a really great work family. It is really great to say I’ve graduated from a phenomenal university that set me up for success. Chapman University pushed me to be the best possible version of myself, which has set me up for a life in pursuit of creating and supporting the best art I possibly can.
CU: How were you involved on campus during your time as a Chapman student?
TM: I wrote for The Panther for two years, which taught me so many amazing things about dealing with people (who knew that being a journalism minor would teach me how to be thoroughly inquisitive?). I also rode on the equestrian team my senior year, which was a whole year surrounded by the greatest group of women I could have ever asked for (go, Panthers!). I spent what spare time I had as chair of the Alliance of Chapman University Entertainment Technicians my sophomore and junior years before stepping down to focus on work (I really, really love working!).
CU: What is your favorite Chapman memory?
TM: I was so fortunate to be a part of the opening ceremony for Musco Center for the Arts. We (a group of tech students and Professor Guy) spent all week setting up projectors and truss towers. It was a lot of hard work and a great deal of troubleshooting, but we produced a really stunning show that featured incredibly talented students (audio, video and lighting technicians, as well as a group of talented dancers,) which showcased the potential that the university has, while also celebrating the opening of a building that will shape and inspire so many art students in the years to come.
CU: What was your favorite spot on campus as a student?
TM: The Waltmar Theater tech booth.
CU: Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Chapman Family?
TM: I’m a Panther, like my alum father before me. Chapman University will teach you the tools to be the best in your craft, but you have to be willing to work hard for it. I promise it’s worth it!
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