Whitman Grad Finds Her Role as Scenic Artist

Before finding a job posting, Lindsy Tortorice didn’t know that a career as a scenic artist was even  possible.

A crucial part of many good plays is the sets the actors are acting upon.  Scenic artists are people who take the designs from the set designers and make them come alive and give the audience the feeling of “physically being in the scene.”

After graduating from Walt Whitman High School and then the University of Tampa, Lindsy went to Western Suffolk BOCES for cosmetology school, to become a hairdresser.

But during the Covid-19 epidemic, Lindsy found that customer service changed, and she wasn’t enjoying the work. Soon after, she found the posting for a job at the John W. Engeman Theater in Northport.

Since she had a Bachelors in fine arts and painting from collage, Lindsy decided to take the job.

The past year at Engeman Theater has been a huge learning experience for her.

The process of making set designs ready for a show is multi-faceted. “First the designer of the show designs the set and meets with the technical director, lighting designer, and the director of the show. Then they come up with a plan of how they are going to create the set. After that, the carpenters and the technical director– who scenic artists work with– build the sets. Finally, the scenic artist interprets,  paints and brings to life what the designer painted. With the help of the designers, giving the artist advice on how to paint the sets, the artist takes their drawings and makes them life-sized,” Lindsy said.

The day of a scenic artist is never the same. At the Engeman theater there are new shows every 6-8 weeks, so, Lindsy is always working on something new. “Doing something new every 6-8 weeks keeps your brain stimulated and moving instead of doing something for a year straight, which really helps me because my brain just bounces everywhere,” she said.

A typical day for her at the shop, which is separate from the theater because of space requirements, might mean getting to the shop, mapping out her day, mixing paints, and then painting. Some weeks, she talks to the designer in the beginning to figure out what the highest priorities during the week. Her typical day at the theater involves getting to the theater, moving all the sets into the theater, and working overnight to paint the stage floor.  “Every single day is different for me. My routine is wake up, go to work, figure out what I’m going to do today, paint it and go home,” sheaid.

As with any job, being a scenic artist has its own rewards. For Lindsy the best part of her job would be watching all her hard work come together and seeing the end result. The production crew gets renderings in small drawings from the designers throughout the process of making the sets but doesn’t see the whole production. The week before the show is open to the public  everyone who is involved in the show gets to see all their hard work come together.


Leave a Reply