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Meet Nathan Scheuer of N.W. Scheuer Designs

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nathan Scheuer.

Nathan, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve always been interested in design and the arts, largely due to the exposure that my parents gave me to that world. From as early as I can remember, we would go and see concerts, musicals, symphony performances, or we’d spend an afternoon or evening at the art museum or sculpture parks. Both of my parents had innate artistic ability, whether it was my mom’s hobby of drawing or calligraphy or my father, who was an amazing craftsman and could build a room addition or a beautifully ornate piece of furniture with ease. However, it was my brother who got me into theater. He is ten years older than I am, and growing up I idolized him and wanted to be just like him. He introduced me to Shakespeare by reading the plays to me as a kid and expanded my knowledge of books and movies. I watched him as he performed in high school, college, and graduate school and was convinced I was going to be actor just like him. Unfortunately, unlike him, I wasn’t a talented actor. Luckily I discovered the production side of theater and ultimately went to school and pursued a career that combined my love for storytelling with my love for design.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I’ve been very fortunate in my career, but as with any freelance business, there are always ups and downs. When I’m in between productions or work, it can be both a nice and relaxing break, while also being a nerve wrecking bout of unemployment. Being successful at being self-employed is balancing completing the task at hand to the best of your abilities, while also actively searching for the next opportunity.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m a freelance theatrical designer that specializes in lighting and projection/video design. I’ve worked on practically every type of live event from a concert, opera, classic ballet, modern dance, straight plays, musicals, corporate, galas, etc. and I love the variety that my career gives me. Every project is a new adventure, whether it be a new venue or a new story in which we’re trying to tell. In theatrical design, my job is primarily about telling a story, not just about the aesthetics. A successful show is when my work is unnoticed by the audience, but they have followed and felt a connection to it. In lighting, it’s more than just visibility, it’s about controlling the audience’s focus, whether it’s drawing in their attention or distracting them; it’s about creating an atmosphere for the show through intensity, highlight, shadow, color, texture, and movement.

My specific design style, as with most designers, changes based on the project. We have to adapt to the show, the vision, the venue, or our fellow designers, Theatre is collaborative, and we have to design and execute those ideas in unison with many different departments, and I love that. It’s always a puzzle that you’re trying to solve. No matter the ultimate concept for a project, there are so many moving parts that have to align and no matter how much planning is done in advance, things will change. I take pride that I’m able to adapt and accomplish my vision with the limitations that accompany each project, whether it be time, money, labor, inventory, etc. Those limitations often spark my creativity.

What were you like growing up?
I grew up in a suburb of St. Louis, Mo. and was a good kid. I enjoyed school and didn’t really get myself into trouble, but I had a lot of interests and at times, probably seemed like a walking oxymoron. I had a vivid imagination and would create entire worlds with friends, and then would turn around and go play hockey or baseball with others; I loved to be outside and run through the woods but also loved to sit inside with a good book. My mom still lives in the house that they bought before they had my brother and I, so I never moved as a kid, and my neighbors were my neighbors for my whole childhood. Our street was filled with kids my age, and I luckily gained a whole family from neighborhood.

I started to do theater when I was in middle school, and the high school director, who was my brother’s a few years earlier, invited me up to help out on the high school productions. For some reason, the high school kids were nice to see and we quickly became friends. We started to hang out after school or on the weekends by taking over a coffee shop or a restaurant for a few hours and then transition to someone’s house for a movie, game, or bonfire. Most people have rough middle school years, but I thought I was on top of the world because I was hanging out with kids 3-5 years older than me. I might be one of a select few that didn’t have to have my parents drop me off on a middle school “date” because one of my high school friends would take me.

Since my older brother left for college when I was in third grade, all I wanted to do was go to college. So, by the time I got to high school, I was focused on those years after graduation. I tried to do as much as I could for classes and clubs without overextending myself too much. It’s a lesson I’m still trying to learn.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Cheryl Mann, Peter Wochniak, Ben Dickmann, Phillip Hamer

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