The Art

When landscape lighting first became a profession, it was treated as an artform. Over the several decades, it transitioned into more of a trade—as a functional solution to darkness. And still to this day, the majority of people installing these outdoor lighting systems view it as a trade practice.

Avalon Lighting Design is different than the majority, as I treat this work as an artform. Why? Because it has the ability to evoke emotion, as well as to help provide well-being in human health. The landscape lighting industry has a lot of good technicians…those that can install systems, but very few that truly understand the importance and psychology of light. This is what separates the mediocre from the advanced.

No matter who you work with, you should challenge them to explain their position with regards to this “art”—landscape lighting design. Ask them to explain the importance of emotion, ‘affect’, and compositional principles.

Why is Avalon Lighting Design the best choice?

  • My Background—very few have the educational background to support this work, as well as the direct, hands-on experience of working the trade.
  • My Developments & Contributions—I have been proactive in my contributions to the profession and artform. I have written professional guides & standards, and I have developed an online educational platform that serves everyone. My current offerings are new to the industry and will pave the way to professional advancement in this artform. The following are two major developments of mine:
    • Experiential Landscape Lighting Initiative (ELLI)—this website is the profession’s only educational resource dedicated to the landscape lighting design profession.
    • Frank B. Nightingale—this website acts as a historical preserve for the history of Mr. Nightingale, as he was the originator of this artform.
  • My Passion, Abilities, and Professionalism—the most important attribute in this work is passion. I have a strong proven record of over 20-years performing these works, as well as continued relationships with my customers. I’ve also been recognized nationally and internationally as a multi award-winning designer.


Inspiration is the process of being mentally stimulated to do or to feel something, especially to do something creative.

I am inspired by several things, all which I believe God has provided for. I am a creative person, which explains why I am a lighting designer and a drummer.

  • Nature and Light—Sight
  • Music—Sound

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. He was the first to display the wonderful relationship of nature and light at nighttime. Frank was truly passionate about landscape lighting--he is my mentor in lighting.
  • 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.
  • Jeff T. Porcaro (1954-1992)—California, USA—internationally recognized drummer that was most known for his band, Toto. Although he played with most of the greats, he is considered one of the best ‘groove’ drummers of all-time. I consider him my mentor in drumming because his work was about the ‘feel’ of the music.
  • Michael A. Gambino (1964-present)—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.
  • Janet Lennox Moyer (1954-present)--Arizona, USA--fellow colleague and internationally recognized landscape lighting designer. She is most recognized for her work in advancing landscape lighting design education, and raising-the-bar for high-quality photographic work.

Avalon's Inspiration

I am now in a position that identifies proven experience within both the trade and artform. I am inspired to provide excellence in 'affective' landscape lighting design, and my mission is to:

  • Act as a leader in educating others in the understanding and learning of 'affective' lighting design.
  • Provide advance measures, guides, and practices for the betterment of this artform.

Mark Carlson is an industry leader in the landscape lighting design profession. He’s an educator, author, designer, visionary, and contractor. He also is part of a collaborative effort to collect and preserve the history of Frank B. Nightingale (father of garden lighting). Additionally, he established the Experiential Landscape Lighting Initiative (ELLI) as an educational resource to the profession.

Frank B. Nightingale established the landscape lighting profession as an artform and discipline in 1933. I developed an exclusive website dedicated to this man, who is a mentor for all in this specialized work: