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Studio School of Design Announces Registration Open for Inaugural Classes for June 2021

Stage Directions • Industry News • April 21, 2021

Mark Stanley, Clifton Taylor, and a diverse community of design professionals devise a new and innovative pathway to an education in design with the establishment of Studio School of Design. 

Declaring that “this is our problem to solve” lighting designers Stanley and Taylor along with a team of like-minded entertainment design professionals plan a pathway to transform their profession. No part of the global entertainment design world has been immune from the urgent needs of self-examination and charting ways to make breakthrough changes in both training for the profession and diversifying the community of artists.

“We’ve always been a welcoming and open profession. Proud of our liberal and inclusive views, but it is clear that the existing systems are not set up to bring about the change we so urgently need,” says co-founder Mark Stanley. The team at Studio School of Design (SSD) has taken a hard look at their profession—identified inherent challenges, and devised solutions. “As a community of professionals,” states co-founder Taylor, “we have come together because we know this is our problem to fix. It is those of us on the inside of the design profession who have to do the work to bring about change.”

“I’m so delighted for our field that the school is opening. Opportunities for excellent affordable education as an alternative to graduate education, and as continuing education for working designers, are long overdue for our community” – Jane Cox

“As Jane Cox reminds us, these are in fact the two challenges that the profession needs to address: affordable, accessible professional training, and the continuously expanding career demands of the field,” continues Stanley. Lighting designers tell stories in many areas outside of traditional theatre. That means a constant need for working professionals to learn new skills and learn new ways to design with rapidly changing technologies. All without the luxury of taking time off, turning down jobs and going back to school. Working professionals need much more focused and accessible training options.

“The Studio School is an opportunity for designers to advance their training, skill sets and experience in a way that has not been previously possible. It’s an alternative that is a game changer for continued education in our field.” – Al Crawford

Summer Online Courses Announced and Open for Registration
Summer 2021 Registration:  Opens April 21,2021
Classes begin: First week of June 2021
Course information and registration at:

SSD believes strongly that rebalancing the entertainment design profession’s diversity and equity balance is urgent and should not wait for a return to “normal”. Eventually they will teach in person but until Covid restrictions have been lifted they will be teaching in the virtual world. Their primary platform will be Zoom. In Fall 2021, they anticipate moving into a hybrid model—with some courses being online and others face-to-face/in-person in New York City.

Summer 2021 Courses:
So You Want To Be A Lighting Designer?
Faculty: Roma Flowers and guests
An introduction to the profession of lighting design. What are the career options in Lighting Design that are outside of the traditional theater? How do you get started in architecture, themed entertainment, concert, industrial, television, light therapy or art? This 9 week course will explore all of these career options with leaders from the profession, giving you practical information about what you will need to get started in these exciting career paths.

Business for Freelance Lighting Designers
Faculty: Amith Chandrashaker and guests
This course will cover the ins and outs of setting up your own business, working as a freelancer under the new and changing tax codes, negotiation skills, retirement savings plans, insurance plans, and other parts of working life not generally covered in designer training.

Lighting for the Camera
Faculty: Bob Barnhart and guests
Of course, your live event is being captured by the camera! This course covers creating and adapting for the camera. Interfacing with a video director, video engineer, and director of photography. Plus metering lights, managing color for video, and working in both HD and 4K+ environments.

Lighting Design Associate/Assistant Skills: Managing Large Productions
Faculty: Craig Stelzenmuller and guests
Working as an Associate or Assistant on large-scale projects is now a viable career option. This course will take an in-depth look at the Associates’ and Assistants’ role on large-scale Broadway productions. This is a template for gaining skills that are essential to those jobs and can also be applied to all other areas of lighting.

Tuition for each course is different. The range for all sessions within one course is: $200-$900. Most courses will also offer the option of choosing single sessions at $50-$75 so you can tailor what SSD is doing to your exact needs. Some scholarships will be available as a key component of the Studio School of Design is its ability to offer low cost or no cost training to individuals who will help create an entertainment design community that reflects the global majority.

Studio School of Design is on the Cutting Edge

“As the world continues to change so does the world of Design and Design Education. The Studio School of Design is on the cutting edge of teaching design with a new contemporary approach. The faculty are all professionals who are currently working in the field of design with hundreds of years of combined experience. I’m excited to see a new dawn on the horizon of Design Education.” – Natasha Katz

As a group of concerned colleagues, the SSD co-founders and advisors recognize that there is a need to change how designers acquire the skills they need to enter the profession. “The challenge that we are setting for ourselves to solve is how to provide the best possible professional education in design, and assure that this pathway leads toward breaking down systemic barriers to equity and inclusion that have been in place for too long,” says Mark Stanley. “The Studio School creates an opportunity to rebalance career opportunities,” adds Taylor, “away from its current white male-centered focus and to build a professional community that reflects and embraces the global majority. “

Studio School of Design’s second challenge is to create up-to-date and cutting-edge training for currently working designers. Nothing in lighting design is the same as it was even a mere 10 years ago. The technology of creation and delivery is a constantly moving target. “Figuring out the optimal way to design with the latest LED fixture, navigating the Tax Code as a freelancer, reworking your lighting design for a Zoom production, negotiating the fee for your next gig are all practical skills that we working professionals need now, “co-founders Stanley and Taylor declare.

Studio School of Design sees lighting design as a creative artform and is deeply invested in the potential of telling diverse and inclusive human stories through the medium of light. Studio School of Design’s core principles include:

  • Developing a new interdependent community of practice where experiential learning is embedded into a curriculum of design storytelling
  • Providing professional training, taught by professional designers
  • Celebrating the full range of human cultural expression and identity
  • Supporting those who are or have previously been marginalized or excluded from the design professions

Looking Ahead

“Education is important for lighting designers. To sustain a long life in the art of lighting one needs a method by which to approach one’s work. The best way to begin to develop this method is to learn the way of another or others and from that find one’s own. Studio School of Design will offer just such an opportunity.” – Jennifer Tipton

Initially SSD will be teaching online, but comments Stanley, “ we know that learning about the beauty of light is best discovered by seeing and creating it live.” Meeting the challenges of learning in person while building a career, SSD plans to offer future courses both live and online. (Covid protocols dependent.) Fall 2021 Courses will be announced by mid-July 2021.

The plans for 2022 include establishing a physical location in New York City; reaching out to students and professionals across the country and internationally; developing targeted online instruction; and creating regionally based live intensives.

“Fall of 2022 we will introduce a curricular program designed for students seeking a more in-depth course of study and training, says co-founder Mark Stanley. “This two-year Certificate Program will offer a broad range of design and skills training that will serve as a strong foundation for entering the design profession.”

Pipeline development and recruitment
Keeping the tuition costs and overhead low is key to opening doors to all who want to join the profession. In the future, Clifton Taylor says “it’s all about proactively recruiting in underserved, under-represented communities. I’m doing what I do today because of the local high school programs and other opportunities that existed when I was growing up. “SSD plans by 2022 to begin summer training in lighting design for high school teachers,” says Taylor looking ahead, “we hope this will be a path to developing talent and interest in the high school population in all communities.”

What about all the other design disciplines?
Clifton Taylor quips “well there’s a reason it’s called Studio School of Design and not Studio School of Lighting Design!” Future expansion will include many other disciplines of design.

The Studio School of Design Team
The Studio School of Design is led by a stellar group of individuals bringing decades of experience in education, design, not-for-profit management, media, equity, diversity, inclusion, law, and the lighting industry. In addition to co-founders Mark Stanley and Clifton Taylor, the Board includes Ken Tabachnick, George. B Walker, Jr., Linda Shelton, Pat MacKay, and Peter Vincent. Learn more about the leadership bios and background at:

The SSD Faculty and Advisors are a who’s who of the global lighting design profession. SSD’s Board of Advisors includes Abigail Rosen-Holmes, Adam Honoré, Al Crawford, Alejo Vietti, Amith Chandrashaker, Anne Militello, Avi Yona Bueno, Bob Barnhart, Christina Watanabe, Craig Stelzenmuller, Heather McAvoy, Irene Byrne Ohl, Jane Cox, Jennifer Tipton, Jesper Kongshaug, Kenneth Posner, Natasha Katz, Nick Gonsman, Richard Pilbrow, Roma Flowers, Tyler Micoleau, and Xavier Pierce. Learn more about the faculty and advisor bios and background at:

Learn more at Studio School of Design:









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