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How to become a lighting designer?

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by seolatlanta, Apr 11, 2008.

  1. seolatlanta

    seolatlanta LawnSite Member
    Posts: 176

    Ok here a good question for us to work on instead of us taking shots at each other , although that is fun sometimes.

    How does one become a highend , trained , lighting designer. I mean are there schools , classes , seminars, internships that one can do to become a designer such as Greg Yale and others that we all know about.

    I know there is a class at Rutgers , and maybe there are others as well. I also know that some here have trained under one of the masters of our trade. I just was reading an online article about these folks and it got me thinking about how they got there. How do you get where you are consistently doing projects over 50-100K?

    something to think about....

    If there are some classes that you took or something that you have done that you want to keep on the downlow , PM me.
  2. Eden Lights

    Eden Lights LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 805

    Do your undergrad work in the field of choice: architecture, art, electrical engineering, interior design, and etc. Then pick your favorite masters program in lighting and try to get in. My choice would be Parsons, Penn State, and Rensselar, but that's just a few. If I was coaching someone along I would go for a Art heavy program with a minor in EE or Artchitecture and then Grad work at Parsons for lighting.
  3. pete scalia

    pete scalia LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 960

    C'mon let's be serious here. Outdoor lighting design is not a difficult art and can be perfected by many with a little experimentation. The same design principles of landscape, interior, design etc. apply. Observe good lighting. It's easy to distinguish from the bad. Not how the fixtures are positioned and what lamps/beamspreads are used. Move fixtures around on your own yard and those of clients until you get it right. When is it right? When the person/s who is paying says it is. This is certainly not brain surgery and quality or success has more to do with subjectivity than anything else. Read Nate's book and he'll make a lighting designer out of you. It's very simple 3 levels of light and some different effects. You don't need to be a Rhodes scholar for this. You mention Greg Yale. Well you should be mentioning Pete Scalia. Pete Scalia doesn't go "flitting" around Long Island and Pete's loafers are not light if you get my drift. Pete put's Yale to shame every day of the week. I'm the big man out in the Hamptons not Yale. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
  4. Eden Lights

    Eden Lights LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 805

    I would agree with you Pete, except for the part about your work since we have never seen it?:)
  5. pete scalia

    pete scalia LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 960

    You'll have to take my word I'm the best believe thee me. They come from miles around to see my work. I was almost in architectural digest and I almost got martha Stewart's job until that fancy pants Yale stole it out from under me. He Asked to see my bid and under cut me by a couple of sheckles. I think that just about proves I'm good. Don't get me started about that Yale. He comes in there with his short shorts in the summer and spandex in the spring and fall. Give me a break Jake.
  6. Dreams To Designs

    Dreams To Designs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,406

    Lighting design is an art, and you either have the talent for it or you don't. There are plenty of technicians out there installing lighting and their installs are quite good, but the design is very poor. Quality lighting involves more than a bunch of fixtures shining up at a mcmansion to show it off to the neighbors. If you don't understand architecture, plants and the landscaping purpose you should stick to cutting grass.

    Some of the very good lighting designers have a background in theatrical lighting. Lighting a stage to create a scene is a talent that is inherent and fine tuned with practice.Understanding and appreciating art is also an important aspect of design. If you can't appreciate what you are trying to light, than why light it.

  7. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    I agree with Kirk on alot of what he said. I think knowledge of plants including seasonal habits of them as well as growth habits of them is very important.

    it does not have to be all raw talent. It can be an aquired skill IF you are dedicated to your art and really care about the end portrait. All to often here I see lights placed in the outer edges of a bed pointed hap hazzardly at the house. Yes, once the plants mature its more or less a nightmare.
  8. seolatlanta

    seolatlanta LawnSite Member
    Posts: 176

    Just so we are clear here , I am talking about someone who has some knowledge, not a mow& blow guy.

    I just find it interesting how some of these people are considered top level ( I wont mention names ) & I think some of their work is no better or creative than a smaller designer working out of his house. I guess it is how they have marketed & presented themselves.
  9. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    I think the title of Lighting designer should come with more than just a working knowledge of outdoor lighting. I would not consider a person who works or even owns for a landscape company for 5 years, even 10 years installing plants a landscape designer. just because you can sew, and sew well, does not make you a fashion designer. automotive designer, computer sysytems designer,etc.

    all these "designers" have something in common, they can create on paper a design drawn to scale. that requires not only talent, but a degree of skill taught by years in the classroom. to communicate through paper a vision of what should be done. A lighting designer, however, may not be a good lighting installer. many folks that are good with pen and ink are not so good with a shovel.

    I worked part time with Citigroup a few years back and the finance industry is really careful about throwing around names. financial advisor, consultant, analyst, designer, all have legal connotations dealing with your degree, experience, passing testing, and ability in the finance field. It would be nice if the lighting industry had the same value behind the names we give ourselves.
  10. NightLightingFX

    NightLightingFX LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 581

    Get involved with the AOLP - where else can you get to know and talk to the likes of: Nate Mullen, Tom Williams, Nels Petersen, Paul Gosslin, Mike Gambino, and alot of other great professionals. I have had the pleasure to get a lot of GREAT info and mentoring from Tom Williams. If you are serious about outdoor lighting and want to learn more about the industry. I think the AOLP is a great place to start.

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