A question for Schuyler Telleen ('04) on keeping 'Portlandia' weird

How did a degree in Humanities help your career as an art director?

I’m completely self-taught on the technical side, but I have such a wonderful knowledge now because of the critical thinking and drive to want to learn that I really got from Western. I often find myself mentoring people (who obtained film degrees) in critical  thinking, because when you get a script, you have to expand the boundaries of your knowledge. You’re living in a different time, a different socioeconomic landscape, you’re letting go of a lot of the notions you were taught and the way you had to think growing up. And if you don’t possess the skills for critical thinking and expanding your mind to say, ‘How did this person come to this place?’ you will lack the ability to tell a narrative story in any visual way, whether you have technical skills or not.

You need to figure out how to create as much enthusiasm and energy as possible and let your mind go at all times. A lot of people don’t know this, but I dabbled in so many things at Western. I’ve talked to producers, directors and people as I travel and the thing I discovered most people look for in a candidate in my position or any business is enthusiasm, enthusiasm, enthusiasm. You have to have the motivation to want to learn. If you want to be somewhere, you’re a valuable asset.


Schuyler Telleen (Humanities), left, has won two Emmys for his production design work on "Portlandia." He and his wife Kaitlyn McConnell ('03, Theatre), right, met when they were cast in a scene together in Western's Theatre Department.