Name: David Green
Title: Chief Operating Officer/President
Years Worked at VT: Officially, about 10 years. Unofficially, since 1997.
What/Who Inspires You: Music inspires me a lot. I’m also inspired by great photography: I could peruse Jay Maisel’s photos for hours. When it comes to work, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was inspired by Lisa. She lives light, and she lives this business. I have faith in her, or I wouldn’t have left behind my own career to be in lighting design.
Favorite Project (and why): My favorite projects are the ones with cultural significance, such as Beyond All Boundaries, Women & Spirit, Ashes & Snow, Museum of the Cherokee Indian, and National Museum of the American Indian. Four of those projects, I got to shoot our documentation photos of as well, which always adds to my enjoyment of a project. In particular Ashes & Snow: A Nomadic Museum, spoke to me as a photographer. Gregory Colbert’s images were breathtaking, and it was inspiring to see people emotionally moved by the experience.
Funniest or most memorable memory at Visual Terrain: When Swanee become a US citizen! I’ll never forget that. The whole office was just so excited to celebrate Swanee, and we went crazy with patriotic decorations.
Fun Fact About Yourself that No One Knows: I have always loved maps. I actually applied for a job as a cartographer (map-maker) when I was 19 or so. I had no formal training, but I took the hiring exam, and aced it. They offered me a job on the spot. When I showed up for work the next Monday, all the employees were standing around the front door, which was padlocked by the sheriff. The company had gone bankrupt! Worst first day of work ever… However, because I didn’t get that job, I kept looking, and the next job I applied for was with Disney, for WED Enterprises (Imagineering), and they hired me, and the rest is history. So it really is true that when one door closes, another one opens!
What led you to start working with VTI? Back in 1996, I was involved in the background, designing marketing materials, working on the website, etc. Lisa and I hadn’t been dating a month before I bought the company its first plotter! I joined the corporate board in 1997, but in 2001, when Passamonte Lighting Design became Visual Terrain, I went to the sidelines and ran my own company, Monteverdi Creative Consulting. In 2010, Dawn Hollingsworth and Jeff Ravitz left Visual Terrain. Lisa said to me, “You’ve run your own company for 10 years. Why don’t you come on board and help me run Visual Terrain?” I know you aren’t supposed to put all your eggs in one basket, but I also liked the idea of being on the same team, rowing together, so I said yes, and I’ve never looked back.
Favorite Aspect of Lighting Design (or working for VTI): As a non-lighting designer, but also a photographer, I am impressed at the impact that lighting can have on a space, good or bad. You can take a beautiful space and light it horribly, or you can take a so-so space and light it so that it becomes beautiful and welcoming. When you get a beautiful space that is also well-lit, it’s magical. For anyone who doesn’t understand that lighting is an art, just turn on the work lights and they will see the difference between function and beauty immediately.
What is your favorite part about being the COO of VTI? It’s the connection to the team. Because I’m not a lighting designer, my success comes from the team’s success. When the team succeeds, it makes me happy. When we opened the waterpark in Orlando – I didn’t work on the project directly – getting to walk through the park at night was just amazing. It’s like living vicariously through the team!
Many Designers have come and gone through the VTI doors. What do you think make VTI designers unique? Their willingness to be open to any different type of project. The lighting designers who have stuck around the longest are the ones who appreciate and embrace the chaos of working on different types of projects, whether its a senior center, theme park, museum, casino, or retail store.