Lighting Designers & Light Artists

Below is a partial list of lighting designers and light artists and their work, for general reference. It’s a very small list from a very large field.

For the purposes of this class, I’m differentiating between the two as follows: light artists primarily use light technologies for expressive purposes, while lighting designers are using them primarily for utilitarian purposes, or to serve ends other than their own expression.

For example, light artists create works where the audience’s focus is on the light and the space which it defines. When you see a sculpture by light artist Jim Campbell, you’re there to see the sculpture. In contrast, a lighting designer creates lighting to enable activities. Industrial designer Ingo Maurer’s lamps might be aesthetically pleasing to look at and to operate, but if you can’t read a document or find your way through a space by their light, then Maurer’s job is not done. Stage lighting designer Natasha Katz might light a scene beautifully onstage, but if the performer can’t do their job on that stage, then Katz’ job is not done.

Of course, there is much overlap between these two jobs, and many practitioners can be considered as both.  Aesthetics are critical to both, but the designer must also serve the lighting needs of the user. These definitions are provisional, and will serve as the start of our discussion. During the class, we’ll refine these positions as we go.