What does a lighting designer do?
Day to day my job as an LD can change a lot. From imagining exciting concepts and transferring those into actual design layouts. Other days it's comms, logistics and budgets. Other days it can be programming, operating and manifesting the show, all together aiming to achieve something that enhances the performance, and combined with the music completes the show with impact and harmony.
What makes a great lighting designer ?
A great lighting designer is not only someone with original ideas, but also someone who can successfully apply the technical skills required. The combination of creativity, perseverance, vision and rhythm, as well as good communication and patience making the difference between good and great.
Do you have any tips on how to become a lighting designer? What are the professional requirements?
Professionally speaking a successful lighting designer has experience. This profession is something you build over time and can take many paths to get there, gradually building the foundations to ensure the process is understood from the power supply to the lighting console.
I’d like to mention ‘3T Crew’: A free, practical training course for people from underrepresented gender and ethnic groups. The course equips the graduates with valuable skills, industry knowledge and connections to begin careers as touring technicians.
My personal journey began within the festival and music scene, juggling learning on the job whilst working another job to pay the bills. I was fortunate to gain a degree in 3D Design long before I even considered ‘Lighting Technician or Designer’ for a career. The course had transferable skills but involved completely different mediums. Eventually I was able to fully transition into being a freelance Technician and worked hard to gain the knowledge to become an LD. There is also training available with Avolites, Chamsys and GrandMA (Lighting Desks) which I recommend for learning how to use the console.
There are a variety of courses out there but it could be worth talking to local music venues or theatres for opportunities.
What are the common misconceptions about the role of a lighting designer?
Common misconceptions of an LD are that the role is better suited to a man, I love to see more and more underrepresented people making moves into this space.
Something I get asked about a lot is the amount of pre visualisation or rehearsal, and either end of the spectrum and anywhere is between is all possible. We can often get mistaken for the DJ when throwing shapes at the lighting desk…
What changes would you like to see happen within your sector and the music industry in general?
I would like to see more women, as well as more LGBTQ+ and minority groups, more welcoming attitudes to anyone who might not appear to be what is currently “expected”, whether a technician, rigger or crew. Through better communication we can help encourage a more diverse music industry, from the musicians in the band to the people behind the scenes. Attitudes that subtly and unsubtly deter curious people away from the industry need to be overcome with positive reinforcement and building each other up.