January 2021

John Delfino
Associate, Available Light

Q: How did you first get started in the lighting industry? came to lighting design through theatre, starting freshman year of high school when my teacher said to me...“Hey, you like computers? You should figure out how to work this lighting console.” This led to an undergraduate degree from Boston College that focused on theatre lighting, and then to a master’s degree in theatrical lighting from CalArts—a program I completed in 2015. The program at CalArts was quite diverse in its exploration of lighting and allowed quite a lot of latitude to explore other media - so I pursued themed entertainment, which felt to me like a synthesis of the theatrical lighting I loved and the permanence of architectural lighting. While finishing my degree, I also worked with Visual Terrain on a number of projects that introduced me to the world of architectural lighting. My current work as a lighting designer at Available Light, where I started after returning to New York in June of 2015, follows a similar trajectory: a focus on immersive and theatrical museum exhibitions, combining the storytelling and atmosphere of theatre with the timeline, process, and long-term thinking of architecture.

Q: How did you first get involved in the IESNYC?
When I returned back to New York City from my time out in Los Angeles, I knew it was an uphill climb to rebuild a level of connection in the industry that I had only just begun to develop. I also knew that education was a passion, and that doing everything I could to shepherd students into the industry as others had for me was high on my list of priorities. So, I made sure that, when joining the IESNYC, I included that I wanted to volunteer on the Student Lighting Competition committee. Erin Gussert, the chair at the time, reached out to me and I’ve been involved ever since. In 2019 I began serving as co-chair on the committee, helping to plan and coordinate the event with the committee and Brigid Hardiman, the other co-chair.

Q: How do you see your role as member of the IESNYC?
For me, the primary role of being an IESNYC member is working as a conduit between the many different disciplines, age groups, experience levels, and industries that make up the IESNYC. Connecting with each other, learning from each other, and bringing the next generations and their ideas into the fold—that’s my personal priority. The way that each individual manifests their ability to connect people is unique to them; others may not hold education so close to their heart, may have other passions that is worth pursuing instead. But to me that is the key—exploring and sharing these passions and using them to bring people together.

Q: In your opinion, what are the best assets of the IESNYC?
If you’ve read this far, my answers probably aren’t a surprise—but it’s the educational resources, and the connections you make with other members. There are so many resources available to members to expand their knowledge, no matter what level you’re at—Introduction to Lighting for industry beginners, webinars for those with more experience, and so much more in between. Then you add the numerous industry professionals, many with years or decades of experience and knowledge at their disposal, all of whom have something to offer you and are always willing to share. It’s remarkable, and exciting, and invigorating. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t point to the Student Lighting Competition as a high point for the Section—even if there is a tad of bias here. The level of creativity and skill the students show every year, coupled with the healthy inter-school competition, speaks volumes about the next generation of lighting designers, fixture designers, industrial designers, and engineers as they enter into the industry—and we should all be excited.