Lighting Design: Where Do You Find A Lighting Designer?
On The Road Series
It becomes obvious at a certain point that a band needs a “full crew” – for example if you suddenly start selling out coliseums worldwide… But, when and how should bands at the club and small theatre level invest their money? And since this article is geared at those musicians reading it, this means how do YOU invest your money in crew when you do shows?
This article is geared specifically at evaluating the position of Lighting Designer or LD. In this piece, I’m going to answer the question: Where do you find a Lighting Designer for your band?
You have decided you need to hire a lighting designer (LD) for your band, but where do you go to look for one? They don’t grow on trees, and unless you are lucky, one isn’t just going to call you up at the exact right moment and offer to work for you.
Here are some other ways to find people to start out with.
Let me start with a shameless plug: >I’m available<, but only when I’m not on tour with my primary client.
I keep a small list around of lighting designers who I think are good, and if you email me, I can point you at people who can do a good job, but I tend to stick to people that really know their job, and know bigger equipment. Some of these people are local to me, and some tour nationally. So if you aren’t in Seattle, or don’t want to fly someone to your area, it may be that I can’t help you, but it never hurts to ask.
Go to your local rock club, and see if there’s someone there that runs lights for people (often called the House Lighting Guy). Most of the larger clubs in most towns will have someone. If you watch their work there, and they are good, talk to them about doing your other shows. The odds are this will conflict with their “job,” but they can certainly give you referrals of others who they think are good.
There are places like www. roadie.net and other online resources where you can post “job descriptions” for lighting people. Don’t feel that lighting people who are qualified (or even overqualified) are necessarily out of your budget range. If someone isn’t on tour, and they are bored just sitting waiting to go out, you might get a great deal on a few nights here and there. It’s worth asking.
Go to the theatre department of your local community college and ask about people who are budding lighting designers. Some theatre people won’t touch music with a 10-foot pole, but others are thrilled to expand their experience in the craft of lighting.
Talk to other bands you know, share rehearsal space with, or do shows with, some of them may know someone. Referrals and word of mouth seems to be the second biggest job sources for me (right after people seeing my work, and telling me they want me to work for them).
Go to the small lighting rental houses in town, and see if they have any employees that work freelance as an LD. Most smaller houses are happy to see their employees earn a few extra bucks. They figure that if you hit it big, that person will then rent a lot of gear from them as you go out on tour.
There are Lighting Designers out there, and it’s not that hard to find them. (Finding a good one is another article). It’s just another thing that you have to do as part of building a team that carries you up the ladder of success in the music business.