30 Under 30: Christine Franzen, Projection Designer

In celebration of LDI’s 30th anniversary—1988-2018—Live Design gives a shout out to 30 Under 30: thirty young movers and shakers who are changing paradigms, looking at things from new angles, and rapidly rising to the forefront of their field. From scenic, lighting, projection, and costume designers to technicians and programmers, as well as those who work for manufacturers, production companies, or rental shops, our 30 Under 30 are the harbingers of tomorrow.

Christine Franzen was entrenched in the rigors of Animation at Eastern Michigan University and releasing some stress by building sets for the university's theatre department, when one of her professors, Jeromy Hopgood, suggested the Entertainment, Design and Technology program. The next day, she made it her minor and has been combining her love for animation and theater through projection design ever since. She has worked with Elaine McCarthy, fellow 30 Under 30 star Olivia Sebesky, Sarah Tundermann, and more. Her upcoming projects include content creation for Hopgood's design for Pipeline in September and assisting Tal Yarden on three shows: Network in November, Superhero in February, and Indecent revival in March. Don't miss out on this rising star.


Name: Christine Franzen

Age: 24

City, State of residence: Ridgewood, NY

Position/title: Projection designer

Current project(s): 

  • Assistant Projection Design, Paper Dolls (Mosaic Theater Company, Sarah Tundermann Design)
  • Storyboard Illustration, Boris Godounov (Opera National de Paris, Tal Yarden Design)

Most notable achievements: International opera work; assistant projection design in The Kennedy Center; and surviving in New York City.

When I started in this industry: May 2017, post bachelor's degree graduation in April 2017

How I got into this industry: I was going to Eastern Michigan University for Animation with the plan of shooting to be a Pixar animator. Theater was my stress relief, so I continued to act in plays and build sets in my time between classes. Eventually, my professor, Jeromy Hopgood, asked me why I wasn't part of the Entertainment, Design and Technology program. I changed my minor the next day and began learning to combine animation and theater with projection design. It felt like the perfect marriage of worlds that I had loved separately, and now exist together in an exciting and innovative way.

Influences: My teachers Michael Clemons (Woodhaven High School) and Jeromy Hopgood (Eastern Michigan University) for introducing me to theater and this industry. Olivia Sebesky, the first designer I ever worked for, has taught me so much about the design process and showed me such beautiful examples of work. She continues to be the quality of designer I hope to be someday. Also Michael Carson paintings.

Worst advice I’ve ever heard: “Artists need to compete (instead of work together) because there is always a shortage of jobs.”

Best advice I’ve ever heard: “Build a reputation for wanting to work hard.”

My favorite thing about the production industry: I love being a part of a team that builds something bigger than just ourselves as individual artists. It's a fun balance of fantasy, practical problem solving, and collaboration. The productions always feel special to me because I know how limited of time we get with them. Once the show is over, the true result will only exist in the past and the memories of the audience. That knowledge makes everyone cherish it a little harder.

Macbeth, Projection Designer at Eastern Michigan University Theater 2016

Favorite design/programming/technical trick: Tal Yarden's projection design for Indecent. I loved the powerful simplicity he always aces.

Plans for the future: Continue to assist and learn from the industry's many talented projection designers; pursue an additional path in illustration and traditional art.

Other interests/side gigs: Graphite portraiture; cartooning; day job as Madewell sales associate in Brooklyn. I can find you your next favorite pair of jeans!

Website if applicable: www.christinefranzen.com

Instagram: @christinefranzenart

Check out Live Design/LDI's other 30 Under 30: