Year in the Life: Lauren Gaylord, Pt. 1

Welcome Lauren Gaylord, our newest participant in the Year in the Life Series! We will be following Lauren for the next twelve months.

Lauren Gaylord
Processing Archivist
Institution: Pixar Animation Studios
Years at position: <1
Education: Westmont College (BA – History); The University of Texas at Austin (MSIS – Master of Science in Information Studies)

I work at Pixar Animation Studios as Processing Archivist. While I began this professional position in June, I’ve worked off and on in the Pixar archives for three years (and consequently have been through three orientations. You might say I’m the most well-oriented person at the company!).

Though I’ve been most recently in a corporate archives setting, I originally became interested in archival work through various undergraduate internships in art galleries, public libraries, and non-profit community or subject-based archives. I started my first position at Pixar after completing my Bachelor of Arts in History and worked for a year before starting graduate school at the iSchool at The University of Texas at Austin. While there I interned at the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection through my participation in the ARL/SAA Mosaic Program Fellowship and completed my final project at Whole Foods Market World Headquarters.

I was first hired at Pixar in a temporary capacity as an archives technician to fill in for a full-time archivist on maternity leave. Though I was technically in a paraprofessional role, much of my work resembled that of a professional archivist, from participating in exhibitions planning to processing collections. That position was extended until I decided to attend graduate school in Texas. I returned to Pixar in the summer between my two years of study to process artwork from Toy Story and oversee the completion of a three-year historical photo library project. Now back at Pixar full-time with my newly minted MSIS, I’m in a recently created Processing Archivist position that is dedicated solely to working through the archive’s rather large backlog of production materials. Currently that means I’m digging my way through concept art from Monsters, Inc. Though the film was released in 2001, much of the artwork remained unprocessed and in original folders when I came aboard.

The archives at Pixar were established in 1998 (twelve years after Pixar’s founding) and include both corporate history and production-specific materials from our feature and short films. While our production collections contain scripts, story notes, storyboards, sculptures, and 3-D reference, a bulk of the materials is physical concept art in the form of drawings, sketches, paintings, pastels, and other media. Our processing priorities are influenced by many factors, such as the upcoming move of our entire archives to a new facility, anticipated digitization projects, the studio’s franchises and sequels, and commemorations of movie anniversaries such as this year’s twentieth anniversary of the first Toy Story film.

With a department of eight full-time archivists, in addition to part-time technicians and interns, our team wears many hats. We are actively involved in Pixar’s robust exhibitions program (both external traveling shows and internal exhibits), as well as answering reference questions, providing access to the archives for ancillary departments, managing digital assets, maintaining databases, and organizing executive collections. And of course, as Pixar continues to make more films, we are constantly interfacing with current “shows” to accession the materials generated in the course of production.


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