This Is How I Work

Young Aspiring Lighting Designers Could Learn From This

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Lighting designer and programmer Bobby L. Grey has worked on large-scale international tours to live for broadcast to corporate events. After working at Disneyland for a year, he hit the road with the lighting designer and mentor Joe Paradis. Grey has worked on Absolut Nights, Tripolee Stage at Electric Forest Festival, Mojave Stage at Coachella, KROQ Weenie Roast, and more. His touring experience includes Vance Joy’s world tour and 311’s 2013 Unity Tour. He most recently accomplished the dynamic production design for 311 Day 2018, a two-day biennial event in Las Vegas. He is currently an associate designer at Sightline Design Group.


Name: Bobby L. Grey

Age: 28

City, State of residence: Mayfield, KY

Position/title: Associate Designer

Employer (if not freelance): Sightline Design Group

Current project(s): 311 Day in Las Vegas, several broadcast-heavy corporate events, two artists and a stage at Coachella, and programming for a world arena tour this summer.

Most notable achievements: I have had the privilege of lighting some of my favorite bands, working with some great folks and the chance to do “the best job on earth” all over the world.

When I started in this industry: Late in high school

How I got into this industry: I got bitten by the theater bug. I started working at our local performing arts center in Paducah, KY, which was more or less a Broadway roadhouse. From there, I spent a year at Disney in Los Angeles, and then got the chance to go out on the road as a programmer and LD’s assistant, and when not touring, I started freelancing as a programmer, draftsman, and lighting designer.

Influences: All of the kind and extremely long-suffering mentors that have taken me under their wing along the way: the wonderful folks at the theater in Paducah who taught me how to hang par cans, focus a leko, and cut a gel; Joe Paradis, who first took me on the road and broke me into programming; and Stan Crocker and Seth Robinson at Sightline, who have allowed me to help out on some of the coolest projects I could’ve imagined working on.

Worst advice I’ve ever heard: “Oh, just look at the manual…” Yes, of course, we should all RTFM, no doubt, but I was told this after asking someone how they did (what I now know is) a very simple thing on the desk that, frankly, isn’t listed in the manual. So many things we do regularly are workarounds that we learn by doing, and sharing them with each other is very important.

The best advice I’ve ever heard: My grandfather’s words that I have written and hung on the wall in my office…I look at them every day: “Don’t alibi, just fix it. Remember you will never be perfect and will make mistakes. Don’t be defensive about things that are wrong or create an alibi for why it happened. Nothing is more disgusting than the person who can ‘do no wrong’ and has an alibi for anything and everything that goes awry.”

My favorite thing about the production industry: The niche community of professionals we get to work and collaborate with. We work in a very small business and finding other like-minded folks who share the same passion for this great job is amazing. Plus, we all get to hang out all over the world putting on shows.

Favorite design/programming/technical trick: PSR, merge presets, and cloning.

Plans for the future: I can’t wait to see what projects pop up next. I hope to continue to develop my skills and broaden the scope of my abilities.


Live Design