Joel Naprstek is a concept artist/designer at the Macy’s Parade Studio. He has worked at the Studio for almost 15 years and was the lead designer of Macy’s Pride + Joy float in this year’s NYC Pride March.
How long has Macy’s been involved in the Pride parade?
Macy’s has been involved in the Pride parade as long as I’ve been here and that’s about 15 years. We’ve always had a presence; we’ve always had a float, balloons, a variety of different things. But there was a whole new float design for this year.
How did you come up with this year’s float design?
The other two artists at the Parade Studio and I were tasked with coming up with some ideas for the Pride float and the way we worked on this was that a group of us came up with a variety of ideas and we all got together, talked about them and picked which one we all thought was the way we wanted to go. My design was the one that was chosen.
So, from there, we went on to developing that idea further—different variations on it, different colors for the star on the back, how the overall coloring might be, railings and that kind of thing.
It starts out with small pencil drawings on paper. Some people here start digitally; I usually start with pencil and paper. From small drawings the concept develops into a full color rendering that then has to go up further to marketing, corporate people and so on.
It’s a group effort to come up with this whole thing. It starts with the germ of an idea, but everybody gets involved, working through it, talking it over, adding and eliminating. And that applies to the whole crew out here—the carpenters, the painters, the sculptors, the welders. Everybody has their part in it.
Describe the various aspects of the design and what you were hoping to make.
We were talking about the fact this was going to be about WorldPride. So, I felt we needed a globe in there somewhere and the rainbow, of course, that had to have the specific Pride colors. When you think of a rainbow, you think of the complete arch. The idea for the star at the back was to make it gold—a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow type of thing.
The float requirements were that it had to fit a lot of people and a sound system. So, you have to think about all those things while you’re designing it. I felt that the globe with the rainbow going over the top would allow more people to come up on the riser, the steps up in front and the steps along the side and get a maximum number of people onto the float.
How did seeing your float idea come to fruition make you feel?
To see the design that started out with your germ of an idea become this whole float and then be in the parade with a lot of people enjoying it—it’s a good feeling. So many people get something out of it. It’s not just a project that I do on the drawing board and it’s done with.
What has it meant to you to be involved with Pride?
It’s a big thing because I feel that inclusion is very important—diverse people, ethnic groups, orientation, all that. To me it’s a big deal and it’s something that’s very important. It’s at the forefront of things these days.
As an employee of Macy’s, I’m very proud that the company is strongly involved with this. And as far as my involvement is concerned—it doesn’t get broadcast out that this was my design, but I know it’s my design, people I care about know it’s my design and it means something to me. It just does.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
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