Photo by David Newkirk
Hraefn Wulfson’s education began with Han Solo, Princess Leia and Stormtroopers.
“I was a huge Star Wars geek,” says Wulfson, co-owner of local design company McGrew Studios. “I saw it two weeks after the movie came out and said, ‘I want to build the Star Destroyer. I have a nail and a 2x4… hmm.’”
When he grew up, he drew on that same inner geek to create props for movies like Wind Talkers and The Alamo, including Billy Bob Thornton’s powder horn. He gets a kick out of showing a picture of two copies he made of the horn with the real thing. “Nobody has guessed which the original one is yet,” he says.
After nearly eight years in Hollywood, he came to Utah in late 2010 and teamed up with master costume designer Jennifer McGrew. “My goal is to make McGrew Studios a central hub where people in entertainment arts will go for anything they want or need for a project,” he says.
McGrew Studios, on Pierpont Avenue, also creates outfits for Halloween and weddings, and last year contributed to the University of Utah’s homecoming celebration and Salt Lake City’s holiday decorations.
The studio often holds exhibitions of its work and even has its own line of corsets, Salt Lake Tightlacer.
Wulfson is also an advocate for improving Pierpont Avenue and wants the city to provide better access to the street and improve its look with new lights. Thanks to his enthusiasm, he has earned the nickname “Mayor of Pierpont.”
Currently, he’s working on tables, props and set pieces for a film based on Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time books. “We’re talking to the city about doing a display somewhere with all the costumes and props with the film looping when it’s done,” he says.
Wulfson believes SLC’s art scene has more potential than ever. “Salt Lake City could be the next great American arts city. This is a blossom just about to bloom,” he says.
So far, SLC is his favorite of all the cities he’s lived in, and his goal is to help bring long term prosperity for the city’s creative economy.
“I’m not interested in plateaus,” he says. “I’m interested in always raising the bar.”
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