Ernie Merlan

Put experience to work for you!



Serving museums, movie productions and amusement parks with production design and creative direction.  For over twenty years I have worked in the movie and amusement park industries, 12 years with Disney Imagineering, designing and executing projects for public spaces like Coney Island and Universal Studios.  An early adopter of augmented reality design, I have created  virtual experiences for Disney 's Innoventions and many more cutting edge projects. 

Favorite Project

For the last seven years and a half years I had  the honor of building Exceptional Minds, 501c3 non-profit, a visual effects and animation school for talented young adults with Autism.  As the Executive Director, I saw ten of our graduates get permanent jobs in local studios, including Marvel and Cartoon Network.  Another 20 artists currently work in the Exceptional Minds Studio. The visual effect team works on projects like Star Wars: the Last Jedi and Marvel’s Black Panther.  The animation team completed projects for the Los Angeles Zoo, Sesame St. and the Special Olympics. 

I am a creative and a builder. Once the organization was off and running, my work was done.  With a 3 million dollar operating budget and 200 full/part-time students  per year  it was time to  leave the school in good hands and get back to doing what I do best, create!

Passion Project

Today, I am lucky enough to provide design and creative direction for studios and museums around the globe, while working with my community on a passion project.   

Muralism Mission: To beautify the community with paint by number murals filled in by the community, prepared and finished by uniquely abled artist working alongside professional muralists.

Our goals are to:

·     Bring beautiful art to our community.

·     Employ people with social, physical and/or mental challenges as artists.

·     Feature local professional muralist to work with the artist.

·     Work with our artists to build good work habits, social skills, and confidence.

·     Transform global awareness of the unique abilities of these artist.

·     Paint 100 murals in Los Angeles before the 2028 Olympics!


Recognized for Community Service

Honored by Jane Seymour's  Open Hearts Foundation, the Sesame St. Foundation, Adobe and District 2 Councilman Paul Krekorian.

Speaking Engagements

I’ve had the honor of speaking at the Sesame St. Foundation Annual Dinner, the Profectum Convention, Miami Dade College, CSUN, Autism Speaks, the Boston Autism Convention, FDR Foundation and Autism Live. 

THEA Award Recipient for Templo del Fuego, Universal Portaventur, Spain

THEA Award Recipient

Internationally recognized Themed Entertainment Associtation award for “Outstanding Achievement”, Universal PortaVentura, Spain

Contact Me

Are you looking for a creative leader?

Let me put my experience and out of the box design to work for you!

Ernie Merlan

349 Ash Street, Carpinteria, California 93013, United States

(818) 620-3617