Sparkling lights and big bold ornaments hung just so. Color-coordinated Christmas trees and displays that are so festive, pretty, and perfectly executed that you need to take a photo. You might not know him by name, but no doubt you’ve seen his work lighting up the Pacific Northwest for many years.
Alec Puskas is the owner and principal designer of Visionart in Seattle. He and his team are making magical memories all over the area, including at the Tulalip Resort Casino, the Space Needle, the Two Lincoln Tower apartment lobby, designer Luly Yang’s Seattle shop window, and more businesses and private residences.
Puskas was a professional dancer with a theater background prior to being hired at Nordstrom working in the visual department. He worked for Nordstrom for 10 years doing window displays and, on the floor, opening stores across the country. He was in Tampa, Florida, on Sept. 11, 2011 — and after that, everything in his life changed.
“I reevaluated my life,” he said. “I remember looking at the buildings and wondering how many people went there that day, and they didn’t even love their jobs.” Puskas liked his job but he was ready for a change. “My last day was Oct. 30. That’s the day I jumped off the diving board.”
Puskas figured since Christmas was around the corner, he’d do some decorating to bankroll himself through the holidays until he figured out his next move. “It snowballed, and it never stopped,” he said.
Now his company works on Christmas year-round — from planning, buying (he goes to shows and places large orders for clients early ever year), meeting, putting up displays and taking them down. He stores trees, ornaments and more in a 7,000-sqaure-foot warehouse in Seattle — that way his clients display stay safe, organized, and can be edited and repaired. Plus, they don’t have to find space to keep all the trees, garland, ornaments, and displays, such as a Santa riding a moped.
Puskas feels like his life has come full-circle — he has fond memories of exploring Chicago when he was growing up and marveling at the holiday decorations along with his father.
“As a child I was always mesmerized by the amazing windows,” Puskas said.
Every January he heads to Dallas for the Christmas Show and sometimes to Atlanta, and every couple of years to Frankfurt for the World Christmas Show. He recently took his team to Dollywood to get inspired by the décor there. He brings all his favorite ideas back for people in the northwest to enjoy.
Setting up large display is no easy task. For Tulalip it took five 26-foot trucks, two nights, three days, and 12 people to pull off. It is stunning — sparkle and shine everywhere from the moment you pull up to valet the car.
“People say, ‘You must be sick of Christmas,’” Puskas said. “But I feel very, very fortunate. I found my passion! I love doing it … and when I watch a family take a picture in front of a tree I designed – I’m part of creating a magical feeling, especially for the young kids.”
We asked the expert Puskas how you can improve your holiday décor game. Here is what he said.
- Choose a color palette. Pick a few colors and stick with it for a more uniformed, neater tree.
- Fake trees look good, too. Yep, fake trees don’t have sap, bugs, or need watering. Invest in a nice one and use it for many years.
- Pay more for nice LED lights. If you spend a little more on your lights, they will last a lot longer. LED lights are more energy efficient and they don’t get hot. Try them — they’ve come a long way.
- Buy shatterproof ornaments. Glass ornaments break. If you have kids, hard floors and pets, try buying nice shatterproof ornaments. You can’t even tell the difference.
- Edit yourself. You don’t have to put on every ornament every year. Mix it up. Put up the ones that look best together. Make sure they are neatly arranged.