Taming Dragons with Nick Van Strander

by Amy on January 10, 2013

This week at LightArt we are taking some time out with the sculptural mastermind behind the Dragon (and many other LightArt Masterpieces), Nick Van Strander.


Position: Senior Artisan
Time at LightArt: About 2.5 years
Famous For: Vending Machine Snack Manifesto


Illuminate: So I hear you have a Movie Prop Background – what does that mean exactly?

Nick: I came out of school and was a Studio Assistant for a prop company that mainly specialized in advertising.  As their focus shifted and became more theme-based, I started branching out and doing props for indie film makers.

Illuminate: How does one embark upon the Movie Prop Making path?

Nick: It started when I studied sculpture at Pratt Institute and everyone I knew in Fine Arts was working day jobs that they didn’t really enjoy.  I had to find something interesting after school, something where I could work with my hands and creativity, and have some flexibility with materials.  I like when other creative individuals force you out of your comfort zone, and I thought that prop making would allow me to work with all these things.

Illuminate: Does your experience building movie props help you at LightArt?

Nick: Yes, I think the most obvious project was the Dragon.  When something big like that comes up, it is not intimidating because of the experience of working with some pretty bizarre stuff.  There is no intimidation factor and it frees up your mind to think about other things.  Also, knowing how things go together physically has allowed us to have some very clean and direct solutions to complex design problems.

Illuminate: Did you meet any famous people during your time building props?

Nick: Yes, I met some famous photographers, not really any movie stars.  I’m not allowed to say who I met though, that’s top secret classified information.  I do hope to meet more famous people though, they’re always so much more normal than you would think.

Illuminate: What do you do at LightArt, in 10 words or less.

Nick: Challenge designer’s preconceived notions about what lighting is.

Illuminate: What is your favorite LightArt fixture?

Nick: The Ribbon River installations – it always seems like they are so well integrated into the space.

Illuminate: What is your favorite thing about being an Artisan at LightArt?

Nick: That I work at a place where I am intellectually, analytically, and creatively engaged everyday.  There is no checking out at work here.

That’s all for this week, so stay tuned for more fantastic projects at LightArt!


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