You recently worked on the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame at The Experience Music Project (EMP), an interactive music museum at the base of the Space Needle in Seattle. What were the goals and challenges for its lighting?
The goal was to create a science fiction experience that feels more real than a traditional museum. The challenge was to do this inside Frank O. Gehry's zany structure, a place where right angles are a foreign language. In exhibit areas, we used a lot of color gels, something we rarely do in most areas with artifacts. In the performance space and the stairs leading to it, we wanted to create the feeling of entering another dimension. Very limited architectural space in the stairs meant that we had to do something static that would feel dynamic. Glowing 5' LED tubes by TIR are randomly mounted in-line with conduit that covers the walls and ceiling. The tubes have an otherworldly glow to them that intensifies the effect. It really does feel like you're taking off into hyperspace.
What is the best career advice you've ever been given?
“Don't be afraid to admit you don't know something.” Faking it not only gets you in trouble later on; it makes it more difficult to open yourself up to learning new things that will really benefit you. I think everyone has to reach a certain level of confidence to be comfortable with this, but it is vitally important to becoming a creative lighting designer.
And what's the worst career advice you've ever been given?
“Everyone hates their job, so just do it and get satisfaction somewhere else.” When I heard this as a twenty-something in a boring job, I knew it wasn't advice I could follow. I've always had a low tolerance for boredom, and I think it actually spurred me on to move in a completely different direction.
What inspires your creative goals?
I'm inspired by light in all its forms and textures. I'm energized by working as part of a creative team where boundaries between disciplines disappear in favor of the kinds of cross-pollinating ideas that result in exceptional outcomes. When allowed, creative people can often frame ideas or ask questions related to disciplines outside their own in a way that jars your thinking and opens up new possibilities. That's exciting.
What piece of equipment can you absolutely not do without?
I couldn't live or create without a pencil. Although I use computers as tools for documentation and verification, my creative ideas flow most freely with a piece of graphite between my fingers.