We've received so many promising entries for young design professionals that we're going to keep profiling them so you can keep an eye on what they're doing. And the hits just keep on coming…
Residence: New York, NY
Position/title: Freelance lighting designer
Current project(s): Assistant to Marcus Doshi for the National Design Triennial at the Cooper Hewitt Museum; lighting designer for Women of Trachis with Target Margin Theatre Company.
Most notable achievements: My friendships — I have gotten to know many people over the years from within the industry and outside of it. I have been quite fortunate to meet wonderful, interesting, and caring individuals that have always supported my work.
When I started in this industry: I got started while in school in Miami. I was asked to design a production of The Cure at Troy that toured in Greece.
How I got into this industry: I trained as a performer in a small conservatory of arts in Miami. I ended up spending a lot of time chasing props, coiling cable, and listening to a lot of interesting backstage stories. I found a wonderful group of people that had a different way of describing our work on stage. I got hooked.
Influences: The world outside my window.
Worst advice I've ever heard: Never assist!
Best advice I've ever heard: There are so many, but I think the best was to find a lesson in every experience, good or bad.
My favorite thing about the production industry: I have always felt that design is a form of language that is modulated by artists to create a conversation and that, regardless of our roles in that conversation, whether its software designers, directors, carpenters, electricians, designers, etc., we have a craft to honor.
Favorite design/programming/technical trick: I am not sure I have one yet.
Plans for the future: Keep designing
Other interests/side gigs: Traveling, currently planning a trip to India, would love sometime to take a cooking class and tango lessons.
Awards, honors: World Stage Design Competition Toronto 2005 Finalist; National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts Scholarship recipient, 2003
Organizations, memberships: Associate Artist, The Civilians.
Michael L. Kimmel
Residence: Hoboken, NJ
Position/title: Freelance lighting designer
Current project(s): Urban Cowboy National Tour, Career Day on Broadway
Most notable achievements: Having avoided theatre and the arts until college, I considered it an achievement just to start establishing myself as a designer. After overcoming a few setbacks, I faced a different challenge of learning to co-design with my partner, Lisa Weinshrott. After a number of obstacles and changes in my career path, I was proud to get to the point where I could get through a master's program in two years while continuing to design several shows outside of school at the same time.
When I started in this industry: 1990 is when I first walked into the theatre. My freelance career started in 1997, and I started co-designing with Lisa in 2001.
How I got into this industry: I got a job in the AV department at college, which led to a stagehand job at the touring house on campus. This was the first real introduction for me to the performing arts. I got to see some of the best dance companies in the country while working with a great group of people. It didn't take long for me to realize there was no turning back. Eventually, I changed my major from computer science to dramatic arts.
Influences: Because my start in lighting came from watching dance, I think dance lighting influenced me quite a bit early on. Creative possibilities are endless in dance compared to other theatre forms where there are always some restrictions. I like to bring that freedom to all of my projects, regardless of how realistic the lighting needs to be. It challenges me to go beyond my first thought and realize that is always so much more possible than just what the script calls for.
Worst advice I've ever heard: For that effect, you should rotate a split gel on the gobo rotator. (I didn't follow that advice).
Best advice I've ever heard: Don't give up.
My favorite thing about the production industry: By freelancing, I am always working with new people in new places instead of working in an office from 9 to 5. I also enjoy the surprises that come up. One day, you are lighting a show in New York City with clip lights, and the next day, you're programming moving lights for a high school musical. There are new and different challenges every day that keep you on your toes. It never gets boring.
Favorite design/programming/technical trick: If you only have one fixture to create a water effect, of course a gobo rotator and cyan gel works well. The trick is to cut a quarter-sized hole in the center of the gel. I discovered this trick when the ME put a very slightly burnt out gel in, and moments later, it burned a hole right through. That hole created the coolest effect, and now I use it when my resources are limited.
Plans for the future: I will continue freelancing and trying to branch out more into other areas beyond just the performing arts. I love doing theatre, dance, and opera, but I also want to explore other areas of lighting design.
Other interests/side gigs: Playing tennis, web design
Awards, honors: 2006 Paper Mill Playhouse Rising Star Best Lighting