Hollywood conceptual designer visits OU

With over 25 years of experience in the entertainment industry, conceptual designer Tim Flattery spoke about his process of designing some of Hollywood’s biggest movies.

With credits that include Captain America: The Winter Solider, Transformers and Batman Forever, Flattery was able to share his vast knowledge with OU last Wednesday night. The multi-talented creative concept artist designs many of the film’s more fabricated elements, like futuristic vehicles, robots, cities and whatever else the script calls for.

“When I get hired on a movie, I get hired to design elements of the movie,” Flattery said. “Whether it is the Hellicarrier from Captain America or the Batmobile from Batman, I’ll work with the production designer and the director; I’ll read the script and interpret the aesthetic of the film.”

Flattery explained his creative process behind designing some of those movies’ most innovative concepts.  Many of the designs did not happen overnight. He showed early versions of his concepts that looked vastly different than the final product. Flattery said it’s the knowledge he has gained over the years that helped him craft the complex concepts audiences see in the movies.

Flattery moved from Michigan to Los Angeles 28 years ago to work in the entertainment industry. He always considered himself a geek and loved anything science-fiction related. He chased his dream of working in movies and after he graduated in transportation design, he started working for some of Hollywood’s biggest names.

Throughout his presentation, he mentioned working with J.J. Abrams, Michael Bay and possibly most notably Tim Burton. Flattery talked about each of the directors’ unique styles, including Burton’s unorthodox approach to design. He explained how it is his job to take what the director has envisioned for the story and make it a reality, no matter how crazy it might be.

“What I’ve learned from working with these people…they see the world differently with how they tell their stories, and that has inspired me to see the world differently so that I design things in a unique manner to serve their stories,” Flattery said.

Flattery moved back to Michigan this year and is currently Chair of Entertainment Arts at the College For Creative Studies in Detroit. He creates curriculums and mentors new designers for those who dream to work in the entertainment industry.