Chicago-based artist Lauren M. Nichols, who started acrylic painting at the age of 3, has been working with her traditional fine-arts background as a professional set designer for almost 15 years.
She originally found theatre as a way to expand her artistic abilities way back in middle school, it also happened to be a reason to quit vollyball. She then continued pursing visual art in a performing arts high school where she spent all 4 years in the tech club working crew and painting the sets.
After highschool, she spent two years studying drawing, painting and interior architecture at
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). She then transferred to complete her BFA at The Theatre School at DePaul University with a concentration in scenic design and scenic painting.
Shortly after college, she entered the world of Chicago storefront and since then has worked on over 50 productions in small spaces around the city in addition to many other larger shows including productions at multiple Universities. Lauren spent 5 years as a free-lance designer and painter before returning to school.
In 2017 she completed her coursework at Northwestern University's School of Communication Graduate School and earned her MFA in set and costume design.
Her designs revolve around finding a creative way to tackle the storyline and give the whole show a unique perspective through the landscape she provides the actors. She believes that a show at any level and any budget can be outstanding when you focus on the must-haves first. Lauren would rather do a few things rather well, than have many things of poor craftsmanship. However, she has found a love for creating naturalistic spaces that include even the smallest of often unrecognized details. She is a designer who will grab an audience member with her visual world and make them feel like they are part of the show. Her background in architecture and realistic 2D art assist in authenticating her designs.
"In a world where you can be anything, be yourself."
Past designs have been with DePaul Opera, Teatro Vista, University of Chicago, Rivendell Theatre, Firebrand Theatre, Highland Park Players, The Gift, Lifeline, Northwestern University, Jackalope Theatre, Harper College, The Theatre School at DePaul University, Metropolis, First Floor, Victory Gardens, University of Illinois- Chicago, The Children's Theatre of Madison, Northbrook Theatre for Young Audiences, Boho Theatre Ensemble, Glass Apple, Oil Lamp, Young People's Theatre of Chicago, and Redtwist. Over three summers, she also worked with high school seniors as part of The National High School Institute's Theatre Division (Cherubs) at Northwestern where she designed 4 shows each season and mentored students in the scene shop.
In addition to freelancing, she also works as a scale model-maker, draftsperson, and studio assistant to both Andrew Boyce and Collette Pollard. She has assisted on projects produced at Court Theatre, Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf, Julliard, Paramount Theatre Aurora, Timeline, St. Louis Opera, Oregon Shakes, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Asolo Rep, American Players Theatre, American Conservatory Theatre, Milwaukee Rep, Drury Lane, Berkeley Rep, Victory Gardens, Writer's Theatre, Old Globe, The Kennedy Center, and Alliance Theatre.
She has taught undergraduate design and skill courses at Northwestern University, the University of Florida at Gainesville, and the University of Illinois- Chicago, and currently teaches hand drafting, AutoCad, and digital rendering as an adjunct professor at The Theatre School - DePaul University in Chicago.
Upcoming projects include productions with Writers Theatre, Steppenwolf for Young Adults, and The Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences.
Too Heavy for Your Pocket 2021
A Streetcar Named Desire 2009