I am a lighting designer. When I find myself in a group of new people and I’m asked what my job is, their comments to my answer are always a mix of shock and awe: “it’s a very interesting job…; a very important thing…; we see many things around that’d be wonderful if they hadn’t been lit so bad…”; and so on and so forth. Everybody is curious, a lot are fascinated, many are enthusiast, some are even envious.
I feel then really flattered, sometimes even embarrassed, and I get proof of my privileged condition: not only I do a job I like, but this also enjoys great social consideration.
The funny thing, though, is that this consideration turns out to be just a conversation piece among people who’ve just met other people. In my day-to-day professional life, I’ve got to spend a big chunk of my time to convince clients that mine is an activity which, all in all, is worth spending some money for.
And I have to fight with whoever says they do the same job, but actually have other goals in mind, give it away for free or sell it off so much that they end up running the practice down altogether.
And all this isn’t really a sign of great consideration for my professional category.
These two phenomena are basically the two sides of the same coin. As a matter of fact, they both show that people don’t know what our job is all about, and so tend alternatively either to idealize it or to diminish it, according to the circumstances.
I’d be very glad to let go of some of my vanity. I’d willingly accept from people just met the same comments which are usually reserved to business consultants provided I had a job that is, at last, considered as normal.
(Published in the column “Il corsivo di Oscuro”, in Luce e Design, n. 4/2007)