Today, I am highlighting Ira Levy of Levy Lighting. Not only is Ira one of the premier lighting designers in the world, he is someone I know and trust which is why it was no surprise I asked him to help Theo and I with our wedding. Here, I share my interview with Ira in which he shares more about his vision, his company, and his keys to success.
First, I would like to thank you for being a part of our special day. How did you feel about the overall event?
I enjoyed the collaboration on the wedding event. It was particularly rewarding since it was for someone who always shows appreciation and is great partner in the creative process. I enjoyed working with the other vendors such as Gio, Darren, and Valerie since we all have a good chemistry together. As a result of that, the process is an organic one, and it changes and evolves easily.
You are a leader in the industry, how long have you been in the business?
I have been a lighting designer for over 15 years. That said, I was involved with the production of shows and design of events since I was in college. I worked with bands such as U2 and artists like Eddie Murphy when I was 18, I designed night clubs and put on some of the largest rave parties in New York prior to going into lighting design full time.
What qualities separate you from the rest?
I never stop moving forward; innovation is my proclamation! Technology is part of our DNA. It helps us realize our visions without clouding the visual landscape with unnecessary hardware and fixtures.
How do you feel the industry is changing? My side of the industry is changing a lot!
On the one hand, with the increased availability of technology and led lighting, everyone is providing lighting, that doesn’t make them a lighting designer per se. At the same time, technology is an integral part of my design philosophy. Advances in projection technology and computerized imagery are a large part of my current creative direction.
What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received in your career?
Never give up. I learned how to do it by myself on an early project for Calvin Klein. I was new to the fashion business, and I worked all night creating a unique artistic installation for Calvin Klein, he walked in the morning of the event and wanted to change a large portion of the project. At that point, I could have got up and walked away, since no one knew me, I had no reputation to lose. I took a little break and decided that is not the way I roll. Instead, I ‘rolled’ up my sleeves and called everyone I knew, I made it happen! The anecdote is, that when Calvin returned to view the changes that he insisted on, he decided he my original installation better.
What would you tell someone who wants to achieve your success?
Keep pushing, and don’t give up, it could take years to realize your goals! There are still clients and designers who I contacted 10 years ago that I am only now working with. I know it is a cliché, but this is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep watering the seeds and you will see the growth. People want to see staying power, they want to know you’re not going to give up on yourself or disappear.
Give us a quick view, of how your clients respond to your pricing?
The responses are scattered, and the way I approach pricing is rather organic. Sometimes I find, that rather than give out pricing, I prefer to design to budget. If I know what I am working with on the way in, it avoids suggesting things that the client simply can’t afford. At the same time if I am working with a client who I feel can afford something but maybe doesn’t want to spend for it. I will show them things they have never seen. I know that, when I want something, I will find a way to make it happen.
How did you feel about the way we incorporated your expertise in the wedding?
I loved it, even though you were a little nervous that it wasn’t enough, I knew it was right for the space and the client.
Aside from your website (above) readers find out more about your work? Various articles in our press section and online searches in Google and trade sites such as biz bash.
What was the most unexpected part of the evening for you?
When the curtain drop worked! No matter how many times you test those things, there is a chance something may happen. The curtain drop was flawless, and from then on it was smooth sailing.