Designing for the Big Screen

Dana Schneider 82 SC knows how to deliver the goods. The jewelry designer who crafts wearable art seen in hit Hollywood films recently hopped a cross-country flight to hand over one of her custom-made pieces in time for a Monday morning shoot.

“Even if FedEx shuts down, you still need to make your deadline,” Schneider told an audience attending the first Beyond RISD lecture on Tuesday. “You don’t want to be the reason why production can’t start.”


Best known for the creation of the iconic mockingjay pin (pictured above) worn by actress Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games, the Ohio-based artist has worked on over 60 films including The Matrix Reloaded and Tron: Legacy. Her intricate pieces are also featured in smash television series including Glee, Nashville and Californication. “There’s no resting on your laurels,” she explained. “It’s all about constant networking and working to be better.”

The artist has one essential piece of advice for emerging designers: get published. Schneider’s sales soared after Vogue published images of Rooney Mara (star of the American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) wearing one of her dramatic silver spiral necklaces. “You want to aggressively market yourself,” she urged students.

After graduating from RISD with a degree in sculpture, the designer moved out to Los Angeles to claim her stake in the design world. By this time, she says the round-the-clock work schedule was old hat. “I love the design process but my life is very chaotic. I still pull all-nighters,” she said to the audience with a smile. “It reminds me of the times I stayed up in studio until 2 am carving foam core for a Foundations Studies project. RISD was a very good training ground for real life.” 

Beyond RISD is a series of conversations that explore the exciting work of RISD alums. It was generously funded by Lisa Pevaroff-Cohn 83 TX, vice chair of RISD’s Board of Trustees. The entrepreneur who started her own successful jewelry business gave Schneider the warmest of welcomes on Tuesday night.

The next Beyond RISD talk will be March 5 at 7 pm in the Chace Center’s Metcalf Auditorium. David Stark 91 PT will discuss the art of event design.

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