2012: My Story


Well well well welly wellington.  What a year.

What a bloody brilliant year.


Well actually, the first half of the year was pretty average, I finished up my first year of uni, completing the year and pocketing a pretty neat 73% average mark, a percentage I’m really hoping to beat this year, I certainly feel I’m working hard for it!

My year really kicked off when I broke for the summer.  Before I went off to The Pleasance, I received a phone call one morning from ROBE, offering me an intern position at the PLASA show.  I couldn’t believe my luck, I was going to work for a multi million multi award winning multi national lighting manufacturer for a few days!

Before this could happen, The Pleasance dominated my summer.  I threw myself entirely into it, and I am infinitely grateful to everyone who I worked with at the Pleasance, both the companies I had the pleasure of working with, and the other staff at The Pleasance.  I felt like it was the first time in ages that I stepped out my comfort zone, and I learned so much from everyone.  I made plenty of friends who I hope to see again, and I hope to return to The Pleasance for another fringe season in 2013.

As if my time at The Pleasance, and the prospect of an internship at ROBE wasn’t enough, halfway through my time in Edinburgh, I received a random email from ETC.  I’m subscribed to all sorts of their email newsletters, so I shelved it for later that evening, as I wasn’t expecting emails from ETC.  Later that night, I checked the email, there was no content, no text, no subject, just a singular attachment.

Dear David,

Congratulations!  You’ve been selected by ETC to receive one of six sponsorships to the upcoming LDI 2012 trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Selection was based on the sponsorship application you recently submitted to us.


Live Design International,

Las Vegas, Nevada.

Las. Vegas. Nevada.


A couple of frantic emails to ETC confirmed my hopes and dreams: I was going to LDI.  But I wasn’t just going to LDI, I was going to LDI as the international sponsored student of ETC, one of “Fred’s Kids.”  Wow.

The next couple of weeks of Edinburgh flew by.  I had so much to look forward to.  I’d had the best summer of my life, and I had so much more still to do.  After I left Edinburgh, and said goodbye to my Fringe family, I spent a couple of days convalescing at home, before packing a bag and heading off to Stansted airport to meet up with Ian from ROBE.  From there we flew to Brno in the Czech Republic, and I had one of the best weekends of my life.  We ate, drank, slept and played with super expensive lights, and had a chance to avail ourselves of the hotel’s wellness centre.  I met some truly amazing people out in the Czech Republic, and it was only going to get better once I got to PLASA.

It did.

Because of my internship, I got to meet some truly amazing people, whom I would never have got the chance to talk to without the help of ROBE.  Ian was always setting us up to talk to people, introducing us like a proud dad, telling people who we were and why we were here.  We were made to feel like family, and everyone on the ROBE team was just as welcoming and friendly as Ian was.  I went to all the right parties, met all the right people, collected all the right business cards, it was an absolutely unforgettable few days, and I will forever be thankful to ROBE, Ian and Josef for the chances they have offered me, and the boost that they have given my career.

After that, I had about 24 hours to recover, pack my bags and head to uni, but the fun wasn’t about to stop there. I had LDI to look forward to!

Before LDI, I hadn’t done an awful lot of international travelling alone, and I’d never been to America before, and I’d never been to LDI before.  Basically what I’m trying to say is the prospect of LDI terrified me.  America is big and scary, LDI is big and scary, a Boeing 767 is big and scary.  I still couldn’t believe they had chosen me, out of all the applications they had received, I still can’t believe it, having flown 13000 miles, stayed in a swank as fuck hotel, hobnobbed with some truly awesome people and stayed in Vegas all courtesy of ETC.

Turns out I had nothing to worry about.  As I had been welcomed by ROBE, ETC welcomed me with open arms.  I met some amazing people who worked for ETC, I chatted with some personal heroes of mine at a drinks reception they organised for us.  I met Matthew Griffiths, Mitch Hefner, Ken Billington and so many other amazing people, I was even offered an internship at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis!  I even had the chance to say hello to friends at the ROBE stand.  They were all as welcoming as they had been at PLASA, giving me their valuable time and conversation.  I was invited back and treated as one of their own, really reinforcing the idea that they valued me as a person, not just a recipient of their philanthropy.  They wanted me to succeed in this industry, which is nice!  As well as all the connections ETC gave me at LDI itself, I was given a parting gift in the form of a mentor.  Tracy Eck, the head of imagineering at Disneyland Paris, is my mentor, and she and I are working together to help further my ability as a lighting designer and to further my career in the industry, in whatever discipline I choose to.

On top of all of that, my course is really starting to pay dividends.  Aside from the fact that without this course, and guidance from my tutor, Stuart, none of the above would have been possible, I really feel like I’ve developed this term.  They’ve gone hard, setting a lot of tough assignments, but every single one has developed me, helped me grow as a lighting designer.  The modules are relevant and informative, and we are all developing our own ways of learning within our cohort.  As we progress, we specialise more and more, sharing fewer modules with live event technology.  This means we are more cohesive as a group, and our dynamic has changed.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, the winter term has been truly amazing, and I can’t wait to get back into things next term.

All in all, 2012 has been the best year of my life so far.  Not only have I managed to take some incredible opportunities which have come my way, I have developed as a lighting designer and as a person.  I really can’t wait for 2013, and I already have a few things lined up, so keep watching this space :)