“Inspiration” is the process of being mentally stimulated to do or to feel something, especially to do something creative. Therefore, I wanted to identify what most inspires me, within my role, as a landscape lighting designer.

I find that nature and natural lighting from either the sun or moon most inspires me. It should be noted that shadow also plays a large part in this stimulation. Shadow provides balance and interest, which is an associated compliment in lighting design. And when I find these moments of inspiration, they usually turn into awe—a form of wonderment.

How does one “feel” inspiration? I believe it’s in the experience itself. One must ask, what am I experiencing in this space? What do I see, hear and smell or even feel here? Are these positive experiences? Take the time to analyze these thoughts, because when these experiences are positive they are likely to be remembered.

As a lighting designer, my purpose is to provide for these emotional experiences. This is my means to measure the effectiveness of what I have created with light. It’s my standard or condition to evaluate achievement.”

Inspiration Quote.

"Nature is but another name for health” Henry David Thoreau

"Art is unquestionably one of the purest and highest elements in human happiness. It trains the mind through the eye, and the eye through the mind. As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life.” John Lubbock

"Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.” Anne Frank

Mentors and Highly Respected Professionals:

  • Frank B. Nightingale (1885-1965)—the ‘father of garden lighting.’ In 1933, he established this profession as an art-form and legitimate business discipline.
  • Howard M. Brandston (1934-present)—New York, USA—internationally recognized lighting designer with numerous accolades. He wrote, “Learning to See-A Matter of Light” (2008), which I consider a gem for anyone designing with light. He was an assistant to Stanley McCandless and mentor, too.
  • Laurie Olin (1938-present)— Pennsylvania, USA—a pioneer landscape architect/author/educator who sees the value of building things simple and keeping them simple, so that the special things can be special.
  • Stanley McCandless (1897-1967)—a recognized pioneer in the lighting industry and for his work in stage/theatrical lighting. He wrote, “A Method of Lighting the Stage” (1932), which paved the way for lighting design applications.
  • Olafur Eliasson (1967-present)—Copenhagen, Denmark/Berlin, Germany—an artist driven by his interest in perception, movement, embodied experience, and feelings of self.
  • Michael A. Gambino—California, USA—fellow colleague in landscape lighting and collaborative partner. I consider him the modern-day Nightingale, as I have found no other that works harder and ‘lives’ for this craft. He has developed a practice that employs only the highest level of standards to the installation process.
Background Music Credit: The Fragile Fate
Album: "Lilliam Ocean" (2016)
Musicians: Rupert Greenall, Jerry Marotta, and Eric Taylor
Mark Carlson is the Principal of Avalon Lighting Design and is an industry leader in this specialized art form. Design development and the design process are Mark’s competitive advantage. Mark continues to author books, Guides & Standards, and is a leading activist for the preservation of the Landscape Lighting discipline. Very few strive to this level of passion or expertise.