Jordan Ninkovich

Production Designer

Growing up in Richmond, British Columbia, Jordan Ninkovich was raised in a creative yet business-oriented household. His father traveled extensively as an entrepreneur, often with Jordan accompanying him. As Jordan traveled the world, he drew on these experiences to express his artistry and creativity. He was also inspired by magazines, comics, cartoons, and films, specifically science fiction movies.

In high school, Jordan excelled at athletics. He played basketball and received top awards for best player and shooting guard while playing for the varsity squad. On the heels of these accolades, Jordan was inspired to play semi-pro basketball in Europe, and he might have done so had he not injured himself in his senior year.

After graduating high school, Jordan began his post-secondary education at the Vancouver College of Art and Design (VCAD) and majored in Interior Design. After a period of time, he transferred from VCAD to Yorkville University. Here, he studied Performing Arts. Later, Jordan continued his performing arts studies at industry-specific acting schools in Vancouver.

In the years since, Jordan Ninkovich has captivated audiences as an actor, all the while creating production sets for companies such as Hallmark, Lifetime, A&E, TUBI, and Fox as a production designer.
His outstanding work ethic and leadership skills have bolstered every production team he works with. Jordan prides himself on entering each production design project with the mindset of substantially raising its quality. As a result, he provides producers, directors, and networks with excellent deliverables for each production. Most recently, he was part of a production design for Cough in His Web by executive producer Whoopi Goldberg, a new film for Fox called The Shell Collector, a few Hallmark Christmas movies, and much more. Recently, Jordan Ninkovich was nominated for a Leo award. Many of his production design projects are submitted for other industry awards, as well.

In addition, Jordan designs and builds luxury homes, and has been recognized for his efforts in building a series of unique dwellings on the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. In addition, Jordan Ninkovich is an author. His latest effort, Epidemic, is about bullying and obesity in youth. In support of this book, he went on tour across Canada in 2016, speaking to groups of young people on the subjects of bullying and physical and mental wellbeing.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

Becoming a film and television production designer blossomed from being in front of the camera as an actor. I loved being on set in a variety of different departments, whether it be acting or production design. Even though acting was my first love in the film industry, ultimately, I enjoyed the atmosphere and the environment of being on set more than anything else.

With regards to my other job as a building designer, experiencing the passion of designing someone’s home or commercial space, and seeing their joy at the end result inspired me to pursue this vocation further. I love to bring happiness to people through my creations. The homes I design are artistic, beautiful, and picturesque. I have two jobs that I absolutely love.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My typical day begins very early. I practice intermediate fasting in order to clear my head and stay focused. If possible, I squeeze in a little physical workout before I begin work. I prepare myself to work for a minimum of 12 hours each day, if not longer. I get connected with the powers that be, then check in with my team as we proceed to work, in many cases through all hours of the night.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I bring ideas to life through meditation. I’m always careful to take moments to reflect on the task at hand. I think creatively in a state of clarity. I can create multiple versions of any project and look at their different elements on a case-by-case basis. There are many moving parts to consider in production design. I have to consider the actors, the crew, and the information contained in the script. Then there are the networks and producers, and everything else in between. Throughout all of this chaos, I find a rhythmic balance of a harmonious design to please all the parties mentioned above.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Honestly, the trend that excites me in film and television is a move toward producing more period pieces. I love art nouveau and the Art Deco movement. I love the aesthetic of the 1940s. That being said, trends come and go. As a designer, I always need to be on top of what’s de rigueur, and I definitely like merging the old with the new and having fun with it. It’s always a good time.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

The biggest habit I have keeps Starbucks in business! Honestly, coffee is an all-day habit that keeps me going. That, and taking moments of Zen or just taking a breather in the morning makes me more productive. Last, I accept whatever each day gives me and just go with it. I understand that we’re all human, and at the end of the day, there are a lot of moving parts to every production. But there’s always a solution to every issue. I find that taking a few minutes to let either a positive or negative situation settle is always productive. Then, I can either accomplish the task or deal with it as best I can by taking the best approach available to me. Taking a moment to simply find balance allows me to be a better problem solver.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I was more of a dreamer when I was in school. The best advice I could give to my younger self would be to cherish the power of actually learning and expanding my knowledge a little bit earlier.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

There are a lot of people who are really quick to cast judgment on certain people or situations without hearing both sides. Some people do not understand that we’re all human, and we all make mistakes. Our whole purpose is to learn, grow, and support each other. The widespread adoption of greater understanding, acceptance, and universal grace would benefit everyone.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

One thing I do over and over again is to put a little bit more effort every day toward life in general. Giving a little bit more effort each day enables growth in many different aspects of life. There is always a feeling of accomplishment when you go that extra mile.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

The strategies that have helped me the most are to network consistently, be a leader, go the extra mile, and always keep growing. I tend to never say no. It comes naturally to me. While some people take advantage of that trait, others don’t and instead really appreciate it. That’s when doors tend to open. That advice may not be for everyone, but it works for me.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

There are huge risks to having a business. You have to know who you can trust, and sometimes that is not crystal clear. When trust is breached, there are things that happen beyond your control. As a result of one such circumstance, my business suffered financially. The reality is that the world provides you with learning experiences, and you grow when you deal with them. It’s not easy, but there’s a lot to be said for those that don’t tap out during difficult circumstances due to disappointment. In the case I just described, I had to brush myself off and keep going to try to make things right.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure! In my role in the film industry as a production designer, I’m always in need of new materials all the time. Gems are always needed, like old furniture or knick-knacks that can be used for props. My suggestion is to collect and sell items that can support different departments within the film and television industry. As an example, if someone owned an ice business, they could make a lot of money just from all the Christmas movies that need ice in the middle of summer for scenery and backdrops.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

The best $100 I’ve recently spent was on products and supplies for my Cricut. The Cricut is this little device that prints out vinyl designs and other different things. It’s amazing. You can make a bunch of stuff with it, and I’m telling you, if you love arts and crafts, it’ll keep you up at night. If you want to create stuff on the fly, little gifts, little homemade things, or just have fun, Cricut can’t be beat. It’s honestly addictive.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I love all of the Adobe Applications. They have YouTube tutorials for any new products, which make them much more accessible and easy to use. Industry technology is always growing. Finding the time to learn is important. The YouTube platform is amazing in this respect. You can learn a lot of neat things. Photoshop, Illustrator, AutoCAD, SketchUp, and Rhino are also useful—especially in this industry.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I don’t have a specific book I would recommend, but I do advocate for reading in general. I think it’s really smart for people to read books that expand their minds and enlarge their worldview.

What is your favorite quote?

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” — Albert Einstein

Key Learnings:

  • You can have more than one focus during your career.
  • We all make mistakes. The magic comes when you work through them.
  • When you’re free to design without restriction or pressure, that’s when creativity flourishes.