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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 set designer for almost 15 years.

She originally found theatre as a way to experiment with her painting skills as a volunteer back in middle school, and  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 high school, 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.


Upon graduating college, she entered the world of Chicago storefront and has since worked on over 75 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 for an advanced degree. In 2017 she completed her coursework at Northwestern University and earned her MFA in set and costume design.


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"In a world where you can be anything, be yourself."

Her designs revolve around finding a creative way to tackle the script and give the whole show a unique perspective through the crafted landscape. 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. While she welcomes any opportunity to work on musicals and other large-scale productions, she has found a love for creating small naturalistic spaces that include even the tiniest of details. Her scenery often becomes a character in itself. Lauren is a designer who will grab an audience member with her visual world and make them feel like they are part of the the experience. Her background in interior architecture and realistic 2D art assist in authenticating her designs.


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 has worked as an associate/assistant to Andrew Boyce, Collette Pollard, John Culbert, and Cameron Anderson. 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, Curtis Institute of Music, Lyric Opera, Milwaukee Rep, Drury Lane, Berkeley Rep, Victory Gardens, Writer's Theatre, Old Globe, The Kennedy Center, and Alliance Theatre among many others.

She has taught undergraduate design and skill courses at Northwestern University, the University of Florida at Gainesville,  and the University of Illinois- Chicago.

She  currently teaches hand drafting, AutoCad, and digital rendering  as an adjunct professor at The Theatre School - DePaul University in Chicago and hand drafting for MFAs at Northwestern.

Upcoming projects include productions with Writers Theatre, Paramount, and The Marriott Theatre for Young Audiences.

She is the 2024 winner of the Michael Maggio Award for Emerging Designers.

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Too Heavy for Your Pocket 2021

A Streetcar Named Desire 2009

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