The Creative World of Boyce McKinney


GA: How did you get started as an artist?
Boyce: Our Mother was very creative and a master musician. My Dad had a great eye for color. I have always been interested in art. The art world has so much to be involved in. I was winning art contests as early as the second grade. My teachers were always calling on me to make their bulletin boards and any art-related needs. Art was never offered in school until I was a senior in high school.

Years before graduating high school, I was introduced to a local artist, Bailey Graham Weathers Jr. He was a local medical doctor practicing in Stanley. “Doc” had a full art/sculpture studio at his residence. He would encourage all mediums used in the arts. He introduced me to the 3D world. I learned mold making and casting sculpture in Bronze, among other art styles.

I was always involved in the local churches doing Christmas, Easter and Bible school projects. In the early 70’s I was introduced to theatrical sets at the Gastonia Little Theater. As that interest was evolving, I became intrigued with movies like Star Wars and Indiana Jones. I remember sitting through “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, the second time in one day, thinking “I could do this”. That movie changed the course of my career.

GA: You also worked in Television designing and building sets and props?
Boyce: I began my career in the entertainment industry in 1985, I was hired as the Scenic Artist for Heritage USA, a Christian theme park outside Charlotte, NC. In early 1987, I had taken a position as a designer in the Creative Design Department. Later that year, I became the Creative Director for the park, as well as Art Director for the different live television productions.

GA: Tell us about designing theme park rides – and what is a “dark ride”?
Boyce: A “Dark Ride” is where a ride is designed for and built inside a building and there is complete control of the experience. Scenery, lighting, sound, even the smell that the audience experiences are part of the overall design intent.

Photo Credit: Rick Haithcox

In 1989, I left the Charlotte area for Orlando, FL. Live television was the reason for the move, but in just a few months, I was hired as Assistant Art Director for E.T.’s Adventure Ride (Dark Ride) at Universal Studios Florida. In 1990, I would make the move to Hollywood, CA to be one of the Art Directors at Universal Studios Hollywood for the E.T. Ride at that location. After opening the E.T. Ride there, I relocated back to Orlando. I was hired by Richard Crane productions as the Art Director for Pirate themed water Dark Ride being designed for a theme park in Italy. After completing the design phase, I packed my bags and headed for Italy to Art Direct the building and installation of the ride. This ride, at the time, was one of the largest rides in the world. It is three stories tall, 18 scenes and was over 11 minutes in duration.

After returning to the states I continued with Richard Crane Productions as the Scenic Designer for the dark ride in Hong Kong “Rise of the Dragon” and also the Scenic Designer for “The Magnificent Adventure”, a motion-based simulator ride at the same location in Hong Kong. After the Hong Kong projects I was named Senior Designer for Richard Crane Productions on the New Orlando Science Center.

When this project finished I relocated back to the Charlotte area and began a freelance career with Paramount Parks as a Show/Set Designer. At that time, Paramount Parks owned and operated 5 theme parks; Carowinds, Kings Dominion, Kings Island, GreatAmerica and Canada’s Wonderland.

GA: Tell us about the Coca-Cola project.
Boyce: Early 2002, I began painting murals. Most of the murals were in school districts in South Carolina. After several years I received a call from one of my colleagues. He wanted me to put my mural business on hold to work with him on designing the entertainment venues for the New World of Coca-Cola being designed and built in Atlanta. I agreed. One week we may be designing a Coke dispenser for one of their 400 brands, the next week a full interactive movie theater including seating down to the carpet and wallpaper. We had our hands on just about all of the theming inside the building.

Photo Credit: Rick Haithcox

During the next few years, six to be exact, I would be part of designing shows, rides, and them parks all over the world.

GA: You did some work for Ferrari in Abu Dabi?
Boyce: Yes. Ferrari had an entire complex in Dubai. We were contracted to develop an idea for a ride that you would actually ride thru the mechanics of a Ferrari engine. This was a water ride where your vehicle is a boat and you travel thru different areas of the engine. We had to come up with the ride track layout and all the scenic elements that surrounded your vehicle throughout the ride. The entire project was designed and developed in AutoCAD 3D, then taken into Photoshop for colorization.

We also designed two separate variety show theatres. We developed the interior of the theatres and themed them out to enhance the stage show.

Here are a few of the projects that I have had my hands on:

  • Baseball Hall of Fame – Cincinnati, OH
  • The Museum of Broadcast Communications – Chicago, IL
  • The West Virginia State Museum – Charleston, WV
  • Norwegian Cruise Lines
  • Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines
  • Paramount Parks
  • NarroWay Productions

GA: What have you done locally?
Boyce: I have worked several seasons with Charlotte Center City Partnerson the Thanksgiving Parade. I have designed, built, installed a few things at The Billy Graham Library, NASCAR Hall of Fame, Jimmie Jams at the Fillmore.

I designed and painted the “Train” mural in Stanley…with a little help from my brother, Joe McKinney. Joe and I will work on projects together when our schedules allow it. I am probably known more for the annual Easter Cantata at The Stanley Pentecostal Holiness Church. I designed the sets and most of the costumes. The set was designed in 2002 and is still being used. Volunteers from the church fabricated the entire set and costumes were made by volunteers as well. It was and is still a team effort.

A few years back I was contacted to design and fabricate a 20,000 square foot Children’s facility for The First Church in Goldsboro, NC. One area is themed where the kids are in summer camp. A log cabin, a giant tree with a puppet stage and other scenic elements transport the kids to that favorite summer camp. Another area has the interior of a spaceship with puppet stages built to resemble transport modules. Yet another area is themed to resemble a coffee house with a performance stage. The last area is a high tech black box with the latest in audio and video equipment.

GA: What’s on the drawing board?
Boyce: I am currently working on an upgrade design for a TV set for a ministry in South Charlotte.

GA: What do you do when you’re not being a famous artist? I know you are involved in Motorcycles and you have a big ride scheduled!
Boyce: I am very involved in my local church. I love riding Motorcycles. I am involved with a program within our church organization called Mission M25.

In early May, I will ship my motorcycle to Los Angeles, CA. and will then fly to LA and ride cross country to Washington, DC. We finish with 1000+ bikers at the Vietnam Memorial Wall. This is the annual ride called “Run for the Wall”.

Run for the Wall’s mission statement:
To promote healing among ALL veterans and their families and friends, to call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action (POW/MIA), to honor the memory of those Killed in Action (KIA) from all wars, and to support our military personnel all over the world. –

On May 14, 2017, Mission M25 will begin to gather in Los Angeles CA from ten states to cross the USA on two routes to serve our TRUE AMERICAN HEROES. This will be the twelfth year M25 has served in areas of Chase Chaplains, Emergency Chaplains, Platoon Chaplains, Chase Vehicles, Hydration Teams and Sr. Chaplains. This year we will mobilize over 65 people, 30+ motorcycles, and 8 truck and trailer teams from all over the United States. On each Hydration Trailer there will be a banner displaying the names of Churches, Individuals and Businesses that help financially support our efforts of love and appreciation. These people are committed to ride across the nation in packs of motorcycles to hold Memorial Services, Wreath Laying Services, school visits and War Memorial Site visits.

I am the only person from the Stanley area (that I know of) that is participating in the cross country motorcycle run. We have several Pastors and Laymen from other parts of NC that are riding. This year will be my third year. Last year I spent 12 days and 3700 miles on the road with active Military personnel and Veterans from all branches of the military.

I consider this a very unique Missions program. Some people think we are just a bunch of people getting on our motorcycles and riding across the country…far from it. It was one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had. I have always had the greatest respect for our Military and Veterans.

This year instead of returning home at the end of May, there are five of us riding up to Montreal, Canada to load our bikes on a plane and ship them to London. We will begin a ride called “RIDE4SOLIDARITY-London to Jerusalem”. We will cross England, France, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and then into Israel.

Our motto: A motorcycle ride for peace, life, hope and democracy, in the face of terrorism. Supporting Israel and her important contributions to humanity.

GA: Who are your greatest influences and why?
Boyce: That is a hard question. So many. I would start out with Franco Zeffirelli. His adaptation of Jesus of Nazareth was phenomenal on so many levels. If I have a client who is interested in a Biblical set or religious mural, I will always go to his work for reference. Of course Steven Spielberg. I learned so much about lighting while working on the two E.T. rides such as Spielberg’s classic night blue with either heavy fog or just a mist. George Lucas. Need I say more?
Music; Petra, Mylon Lefevre, Kerry Livgren (Kansas) and of course, David Gilmour (Pink Floyd).