Dordi Moen

Artist and Weta Workshop’s lovely little piece of Norway - Story by Tony Cutting

Born in Bergen, Norway to parents who were both teachers and involved in art, it appears it was almost inevitable that Dordi would become an artist.  Mum was an art teacher and Dad was the head of schools in the region Dordi grew up in.  She remembers having a pretty happy childhood along with her younger sister (5 years younger) who is now an art teacher herself. She describes her family as creative hippies and Bergen as being very similar to her new home here in Wellington. So from as early as she could remember, Dordi had a passion for art.
Her passion for art was heightened when she attended Krohnsminde Videregaaende Skole from the ages of 16-19 in Norway.  She then attended the Kent Institute of Art and Design in the UK where she achieved a BA with Honours (Fine Art Painting).
After getting her degree Dordi returned home and had her daughter, Embla.  As a stay at home mum she watched a few movies and while watching the extended version of the Lord of the Rings realised you could make money by working for places like Weta Workshop.  Confessing she is very shy, what appealed about working for a business like Weta was that she did not have to constantly sell herself in terms of her art and she could potentially be employed to do what she loved without the worry of marketing or selling.
Moving to New Zealand
Dordi decided she had to move to Wellington, New Zealand and see if she could explore working for Weta Workshop.  So with a 2 year old child in her arms that is exactly what she did.  Landing in New Zealand she decided to attend a specific course (Design for Film and TV) run in partnership between Massey University & Toi Whakaari (NZ Drama School) in Wellington.  
As luck (or fate) would have it, John Harding (Weta Workshop) was a guest teacher while she was at Massey and was impressed enough with Dordi’s work to recommend her portfolio to Richard Taylor at Weta – and as they say the rest is history. 
Weta Workshop
Now nine years on Dordi is still with Weta and she has worked on many projects including;
Prince Caspian
Under the Mountain
District 9
The Hobbit trilogy
Devils Rock
One of her favourite things is painting prosthetics and making them “real”. Examples of her work include working on Hobbit’s feet, Dwarf’s hands and the Orc’s in the Hobbit movies. She had great fun painting the tattoos for the Elysium movie making them all look believable.
Dordi likes drawing and painting people’s faces, and then making them look real.  She paints 90% of the collectables from all the movies which the public can buy through the Weta Cave and fan websites.  Dordi has established herself as a key member in the “Paint shop” team at Weta.  She is now married to another staff member at Weta and Wellington is her home.  Her mother has visited from Norway and visited the workshop and is happy knowing Dordi is doing something she loves.  Dordi does plan to get home for a visit sometime in the near future but for now life in Wellington is pretty good.
Making a career painting 3D objects, fabrics, organics material and just about anything created and used in the movies was possibly not what she had planned years ago when she started her artistic journey but this pathway has been great for Dordi.  She loves the collaboration of ideas, problem solving and family atmosphere at Weta.  The workshop is frantic most of the time and she mentions you really need to be willing to work hard and understand when projects are underway deadlines must be met, so sometimes that means working long hours and long weeks but the reward of finishing makes it worthwhile.
Dordi’s own artwork
When asked about her own art work she confesses she has not made time to focus on this but this will change.  She is keen to encourage Embla to explore her artistic talent and would like to start building up her own portfolio.  She has constructed an artist’s workshop at home hoping it will get used more and more in the near future.
Dordi Moen