TEA Connect Blog

08 June 2015

TEA MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Jonathan Bonner, Paragon Creative

Jonathan Bonner, Paragon Creative

"You never really stop learning and you certainly don't get bored."

TEA's European presence has grown significantly over the years, from a dedicated, small group meeting regularly at a pub in the UK to the very active EME Division now with a full calendar of events and the engagement of companies and individuals working in many countries. Paragon Creative Ltd. is one of those companies. Paragon's Jonathan Bonner (Sales & Marketing), a member of the TEA EME Board and spotlighted here, shows that there are many paths leading to themed entertainment and that following your passion and tenacity have their rewards.


How did you get your start in the industry? 

I studied Advertising and Marketing at University before moving into a variety of sales and marketing roles in various sectors. My true passion has always been theme parks and attractions, having been hooked since my first visit to Orlando many years ago. After researching the industry here in the UK I came across Paragon Creative and their impressive portfolio, so I sent my then limited resume to them. I was lucky enough to be invited in by the CEO for an interview. Whilst there wasn’t a job available for me at the time, he told me to keep in touch – which I did every few months whilst also working on a few creative projects of my own and trying to increase my skill base any way I could. A few years later I received a call asking if I was interested in a position at the company and I haven’t looked back since. It’s been a rollercoaster few years that have been both challenging and incredibly rewarding. And I’m constantly humbled working alongside the very talented and creative team here at Paragon as well as my industry peers from our partner companies.


Tell us about what you and your company specialize in and what markets you serve.

Paragon Creative is one of Europe’s leading design, build and fit-out companies for visitor attractions, theme parks and museums. We pride ourselves on being able to providing a full in-house service to clients from design to build and installation. Our services include design development, theming and scenery, props, figures, model making, interactive exhibits, engineering, exhibition fit out and much more. Since 1987 we have completed well over 1,000 projects all over the world. Some of our larger projects include The Olympic Museum in Switzerland, Saw: The Ride at Thorpe Park, Titanic Belfast and most recently the National Museum of Kazakhstan. Paragon Creative is part of the Paragon Entertainment group, which specializes in creating, developing and operating world-class visitor attractions.


What do you find is unique about working in our industry? What’s special about Themed Entertainment?

One of the most exciting aspects of working in this industry is that every project is completely different, meaning that you never really stop learning and you certainly don’t get bored. Visitor demand for more immersive methods of storytelling in leisure destinations mean that the industry is growing rapidly and more and more fantastic projects are being realized around the world, so it is certainly an exciting time to be involved. It is also a great feeling working in an industry that is dedicated to creating amazing spaces where families and friends can spend quality time together having fun.


Tell us about a current or recent project.

We have recently finished a £1.4 million project at the National Museum of Kazakhstan (one of the largest museums in the world). We were commissioned to research, design, build and install a series of historic models, figures and large scale scenic exhibits including a full sized Medieval Street, a sectioned Scythian Kurgan Tomb, a large scale gold mine set as well as a range of realistic and historically accurate figures, animals (such as horses and a camel with hyper realistic hair using our specialized ‘flocking’ technique) and models including a third scale Proton Rocket (18m length). As for current work, we have a strong and exciting pipeline of upcoming projects, which we’re sadly not allowed to talk about just yet!


What are the rewards of serving on a TEA Board?

I currently sit on the TEA Europe and Middle East Division (EME) board, which has been an incredible opportunity for me, and great fun too. I’ve met many industry peers this way and have been lucky enough to help out with and attend some of the incredible events our board is putting on at world-class visitor attractions throughout the region. Visiting these amazing attractions and meeting with the people that designed, created and/or operate them is a fantastic learning opportunity, and I’d certainly recommend that them to all our TEA members.


How did you find out about TEA - and why be a member? 

I was told about TEA through an industry mentor who recommended the various benefits of the organization. I signed up as an academic member and am now a member through working at Paragon Creative. TEA offers a great networking platform and is an organization where the more you put in, the more you get out, so I recommend all members to attend events and use the various networking opportunities to meet other companies and share industry information which can be massively beneficial in terms of learning about potential upcoming projects, opportunities for collaboration (as well as being great fun!). The recently updated website also acts as a fantastic marketing platform for member companies so I’d recommend keeping your company profile updated too.

Posted by Judith Rubin



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