Interview Freelance Scenographer Lucy Norton

Freelance scenographer working in Yorkshire, Lucy Norton specialises in theming events and festivals. She is a recent graduate from Birmingham Institute of Art and Design in BA(hons) Theatre, Performance and Event Design. In our interview we talk to Lucy about her ‘Event Designer of the Year’ award, working with Live Nation, studying at BIAD and more.

lucy nortonWho is Lucy Norton, How would you describe your work to a novice?

After studying a degree that no one understands what it is, i’ve become very used to trying and failing to describe my work to people. Its difficult because the boundaries are really blurred, it can be as simple as set, costume or prop design. But then there’s the making as well as designing and it doesn’t stop at theatre, it’s film, tv, events, festivals, public spaces, cinemas, shops. It’s everything you see that transforms a space into something else.

Working in Yorkshire, do you enjoy the creative scene in the area? Would describe it as a thriving area for creatives?

It’s brilliant, when I moved back home to Wakefield after graduating I was worried that there wouldn’t be any creative support or work available here, but it’s really surprised me. There’s so many people who are fighting to make Wakefield stand out as a creative city, it’s really amazing to see and be a part of.

zoo project festival 2What’s Wakefield got that would surprise us?

I heard that Wakefield is the only place in the country that hasn’t suffered from arts council cuts and has actually had an increase in it’s funding (but that may not be true ha)

You’re a graduate of Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, Did you enjoy your time there? Is it a place to study you would recommend?

I loved my time at BIAD. My course only has around 40 students a year, so it’s a really small group but that’s what makes it really great. The tutors know you and your work really well so the support is brilliant, and everyone spends so much time in the studios together that we all became good friends. The secret out of hours parties we had in the studio each term really helped too!

zoo project festival 3As a smaller group, did you find you integrated and worked much better together? Looking out for one another?

Definitely, having such a small group of us working in studios together was such a benefit. If anyone had a problem or wanted a second opinion on a design we just had to ask. Some of us were in the studios from 8:30 am til 8:30pm when it was getting close to deadline so we really had to help each other along and we made a lot of cups of tea for each other!

How did your award for Live Nation come about?

It happened through work experience I did whilst at uni, our course offers every second year student a work placement with Live Nation at Download Festival, designing and making the huge entrance signs to the campsites. My tutors chose a student who has worked really hard on event design projects over the 3 years there and I was lucky enough to be chosen. I was so pleased and the £1000 prize has helped me so much since graduating.

Aside from the prize, What did the award bring you in terms of attention and recognition?

It’s given me so much, in the festival season after I received the award I was given so much more responsibility from festivals, I started managing teams and leading designs much more than i’d ever done before, I think having the recognition from live nation really pushed employers to believe in me. Even just to be recognised as an ‘event designer’ was amazing, it gave me so much more confidence in my own work and ideas.

download dog

What kind of projects did you undertake at Livenation? Can you explain in more detail?

The main project was for Download Festival, we worked making large scale 3D signage for the entrance way into the campsite. It’s a big project because they’re huge sculptures, they’re built from MDF, styrofoam and fibre glass, all hand painted and then fitted with the right scaffolding parts so it takes a really long time. Everyone who goes to Download walks underneath that sign so it gets a lot of attention and it was nice to play a part in something that everyone sees and recognises.

zoo project festivalWhat have been some of your other favourite projects to completed in 2013?

My favourite has to be Zoo Project Festival, I had such an amazing time working there. zoo are really creative and they understand how important set dressing is for events so we really had a lot of fun with loads of weird and wonderful ideas. We dressed the whole festival site with crazy props and loads of colourful fun things, there were umbrellas hanging in the forest and bathtubs everywhere and hundreds of feather bowas, we also had amazing weather and it was just a really lovely few weeks.

On twitter, Who are your favourite people to follow?

I mainly use twitter to nosey at other peoples work, it’s so interesting to find different companies or artists you’ve never heard of and be inspired by different projects they’ve tweeted about or sometimes use it to become involved with open projects going on. And completely unrelated to work, I adore Caitin Moran, she’s hilarious and brilliant I must read her twitter feed every day.

What does 2014 have in store for you? Do you have any grand plans?

I’m really looking forward to a fresh start, lots of exciting projects and a new festival season! I’m also really looking forward to my graduation ceremony in march, we’ve had to wait a really long time and everyone’s looking forward to being reunited.

Away from work what do you best enjoy to relax?

Everything I do out of work recently seems to be the start of some new venture. I’m obsessed with cinemas, immersive and pop up and it’s a dream of mine to run my own, so I’m always watching films and planning how I could make an event around them. I spend every minute I have off from the project I’m working on dreaming up the next one!

kendal calling

truck festival sculpture

Website | @_lucynorton