During her career, Kristine Grippo has worked in the Los Angeles area as an art director and artist for music and motion picture industries. Her work can be seen on the History Channel, on billboards, in magazines, on television and in galleries, historic churches, hospitals and private collections. Her work even contributed to an Oscar win for Best Achievement in Art Direction for the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. In Southwest MO, Grippo designs wooden American flags and magnolias for home interiors that are sold at Schofield + Gray in Fordland.
417 Magazine: How did you first start working in film?
Kristine Grippo: I was in the music industry for a long time as an artist. I started out working for Tower Records making $5 an hour right out of college—back when they did window displays. The first display I got to do myself, I was intimidated. You get brave, and you go in. My boss gives me three CD covers, and he says, “Pick which one you want to do.” One of them was Aerosmith’s Get a Grip. (My last name is Grippo.) I was promoted and transferred to the store in Santa Monica.
I’m working on this display for a developing artist, like Celine Dion at the time. Just as I was wrapping it up, a man came in the store and said, “What are you doing?” He was the visual effects photographer for the movie Nixon. I walked around and showed him my showcase of work, and I knew this was it. Two days later, the technical special effects director for Independence Day came, and he took me over to the studios [and] showed me all of the 2D editing. Toy Story was just starting. They took me under their wing and opened the world for me.
417: How did you come to work on the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button?
K.G.: It’s a funny personal story. My boyfriend at the time booked a trip to Ireland without me. Needless to say, that relationship ended. As soon as he left, I got the call to come on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button in the paint department. Once you’re in, you’re locked in 24/7. And look what happened; it ended up getting national acclaim for being one of the most beautiful movies.
417: And your work generated an Oscar win for Best Achievement in Art Direction?
K.G.: It’s nice to have your peers recognize you as well for the work you’ve done. It’s rare. It’s very rare. It’s amazing to have a venue where you’re able to do that… creatively especially. It’s very challenging; it’s not glamorous at all; it is tremendously hard work. We were the best of the best.