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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Sep. 20, 200112:00 PM EST

Profile: Luda Budnik

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Luda Budnik is the art supervisor at Sally Corporation, a company dedicated to special effects, robotics and animatronics for dark rides.

WHAT DOES SHE DO?

“I’m in charge of the art finishing, costuming, molding and sculpting departments.”

CLIENT BASE

Sally Corporation services theme parks, museums, department stores and the occasional miniature golf course. Budnik says the firm does not supply characters for movie studios because their products are meant to be used for an extended time whereas films only require props to last during a shooting.

WHAT’S REWARDING ABOUT YOUR JOB?

“When people are happy or fascinated by it. Some people get really attached to the robots.”

WHAT’S MOST CHALLENGING?

“Painting on the [synthetic] human skin. Once you put it on, that’s it. It’s expensive to start over.”

HOMETOWN

Minsk, Belarus.

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

Budnik left her home country in 1989 to make her way in America. “I quit a big design project and immigrated. It was a hard time for the country. I didn’t see a future for us. My husband immigrated first. He had a sponsor that lived in Jacksonville. He came over with his mother and brother. It saved us from that time.”

CULTURE SHOCK

“My mom was an English teacher so I could read and write but couldn’t understand what people said. Even if you speak it all the time, you forget some things.” To combat the language barrier, Budnik enrolled in classes at FCCJ, where she currently takes courses in graphic arts.

WORK ETHIC

In Russia, Budnik worked at her art school as a designer and teacher before coming to the United States. “My first job was as a kitchen helper at a restaurant. Because I had artistic ability, the owner had me decorate cakes. I made a huge Jaguar cake for Wayne Weaver [owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars]. It was fun making desserts because I had to try them, too.“ Simultaneously, Budnik held down a position in the framing department of Michael’s. A newspaper advertisement for an artist at Sally caught her eye and she has been at the firm for the last six and a half years.

EDUCATION

Glebov Art School.

WHEN DID YOU START TO PURSUE ART AS A CAREER?

“It started from a long time ago. From the first grade, my mom put me into a little sculpting school. I was skillful and liked to put things together. I started drawing seriously in the seventh grade.”

FAMILY

Budnik and her husband Max live in Lakewood with their daughter Lyuba, who is also artistically talented.

HOBBIES

Painting landscapes, gardening and reading biographies are her favorite distractions. Enchanted with fairy tales, Budnik most enjoys the film “A Nightmare Before Christmas” and the science-fiction show “Farscape.” To pamper herself, Budnik takes in a European drama or dines at a swanky restaurant.

—by Monica Chamness

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