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A Little History

 

It may have been a childhood fascination with a Christmas present received when I was around 6 years old: a Lite-Brite. This was a square, black plastic box with a light bulb inside. It had a perforated plastic front panel that held various paper patterns and came with an array of plastic colored pegs that you’d punch through the paper. If you were careful to get the right color pegs in the right holes you’d find yourself with a delightful little piece of art when you were done. The effect was magnified when the lights were turned off in the room.

I remember spending a good amount of time punching holes in those patterns, enough that I quickly finished the set that came in the original box and my parents had to order new ones to keep me busy. I’d make my creation then turn off the lights and study the result, moving so close to the pegs that the colors would blend into blinding swirls of color, then back to ponder the intensity. I learned that if you stood off-center from the pegs by just a little bit the brightness would go down and the color would get more vivid. Lighting geekdom started early.

In junior and senior high school, I discovered photography and the pleasure gained from making images with light. I enjoyed fussing with f-stops and shutter speeds, and experimenting with making prints in a darkroom. I took drama class – not to act, but for the chance to light the actors – and found working in the black shadows of a light booth running the lighting for a play to be a thrilling conclusion to several days of hanging fixtures and selecting color gels. I would occasionally be asked to help with lighting a play or event held in a gymnasium or church where the only equipment was what was built into the building. In those cases, I’d ask a neighbor who conveniently worked as an electrician for the Las Vegas Convention Center if I could borrow some of their gear. He’d show up with a truck full of PAR cans, Leko’s and dimmers.

Fast forward to 1988. I had been entrenched in the lighting industry for seven years and had a small lighting manufacturers representative firm called Lighting Resources in Las Vegas. We only had about 15 lines, but they were all manufacturers of high-end, architectural specification-grade lighting equipment – the best fixtures and controls you could get at the time, and I loved it. One of my clients and best friends was a lighting consultant who had burned out on Vegas and had taken a position with a manufacturer in the Midwest. He asked if I could finish some projects for him so he could start his move. I agreed, and shortly after found myself with a list of clients with new design projects, among them Mirage Resorts who was continuing development of resorts on The Strip after the successful launch of The Mirage.

I discovered then that what I really enjoyed most about lighting was the design side of things, not necessarily the selling of equipment. I closed the rep agency and opened a lighting design studio. That was a long time ago and a lot has happened in the subsequent years, but I’m still as passionate about illumination as I was as a kid.

Just wish I still had that Lite-Brite.

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