When he was a student at East Leyden High School, Carlos Xavier Treto took as many art classes as he could. He ended up taking all the courses offered by the school, except for one.
“The one I couldn’t take was Advanced Art,” he later recalled. “The head of the department at the time thought I wasn’t good enough to do it.”
Rather than get discouraged, Treto decided to try harder and “train and develop more skills, so no one can ever tell me again.”
In 2021, 17 years after graduating, Treto returned to his alma mater as Artistic Director of Walt Disney Imagineers, the designers of Disney theme parks and one of the East Leyden Wall of Fame inductees. . At the Feb. 10 meeting of Leyden Community High School Dist. 212 Board of Education, he was spotlighted as part of the district’s One Amazing Story video series, which spotlights notable alumni and community members.
During a Zoom call with the board, Treto said if there was anything the school could have done better, it was to teach non-arts subjects in a way that students with artistic leanings like him would find relevant. He encouraged students to try to learn as much as possible in as many subjects as possible, as this would provide them with inspiration and help them broaden their horizons.
In a video the district filmed for the One Amazing Story series, Treto recalled that when he was young he had a cousin who had cancer and was able to go to Disney World thanks to the Make- a-Wish.
“He would come home and talk about his time there, that he felt like a normal kid,” he said. “So it kind of instilled in me this passion for helping kids, and not just terminally ill kids, but kids around the world, develop memories.”
After graduating from East Leyden, Treto attended the Illinois Institute of Art, the for-profit art and culinary college that closed in 2018, earning the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. He also earned the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Thematic Design at the California Institute of the Arts.
“Ultimately, [I got hired] at Disney Destinations to produce graphics for their commercials,” Treto recalls. “And then I was lucky enough to work at Walt Disney developing signage and graphics, and I did that for a little while before developing my skills and becoming a concept artist in the entertainment industry. theme.”
Treto has worked for Disney since 2008. His designs have appeared at New Fantasyland, Star Wars Land, Toy Story Land, Marvel Attractions and Disney Springs, among other Disney locations around the world. Treto also runs an independent studio, XTRETO Creative. According to its website, its clients include Six Flags and SeaWorld theme parks.
In the video, he was candid that the biggest challenge he faced had nothing to do with his professional qualifications.
“A lot of the challenges I had to overcome were related to diversity, people not thinking I was good enough to do these things,” Treto recalls. “My first name is Carlos and the reason my name is Xavier is because when I started my career I wasn’t getting, you know, interviews for those positions. As soon as I removed the ” Carlos” of my name and that I went through Xavier Treto, I had interviews everywhere I went, I had callbacks everywhere I went.
Ironically, Treto reflected, “Now people are excited and happy to find out that my first name is Carlos.” He told the board that these days he tends to go by the name “Xavier” simply because that’s his professional name and his reputation precedes him in the industry.
When asked if he had had the opportunity to speak to the head of the department who had turned down his application when he came to East Leyden for the induction, Treto said that at that time she was already retired, so he avoided any embarrassment.
When asked if there was anything the Leiden teachers could have done differently, he replied that it would be to make the lessons he was not interested in interesting and relevant for the artists. For example, Treto said he only became interested in physics in college, when he realized that knowledge of physics was important for programming how animated 3D objects behave. move and interact with each other.
In the video, he said that since he always expected to one day become an art director, he made it a point to study everything from special effects to marketing so that he had an understanding of what each member of their team does and is able to help.
Generally, says Treto, he encourages students to do what he did nearly two decades ago: learn as much as possible.
“The advice I would give to students with creative aspirations is to never stop learning, to be a sponge to soak up all the knowledge you can, to go out and discover new things, like new foods, new cultures, making friends with everyone, going to class, going to take things they never thought they would do, because to do that and by doing that, you build your knowledge to those things, and you come up with better and creative ideas because you’re experiencing different things in the world,” he said.
Support local news by subscribing to Journal & Topics in print or online.