Dave O’Donnell is one of those beachy, relaxed, creative types that, shortly after meeting him, makes you decide you want his lifestyle. Tucked away in a suite of studios rented out to fellow artisans of various crafts, passion for his work pours out of him, and he spends his days working out amazing new concepts for handcrafted illuminated retro and rusted signage for wedding venues, businesses, hip food joints, cocktail bars and the like through his company The Light Shack. I met him at his studio – a stone’s throw from the coast at Saltburn, to chat about why he does what he does, where his inspiration comes from, and how he can absolutely transform your Wedding backdrop in the most personalised way.
“I’ve always been interested in neon and light, it’s always fascinated me. My background has always been in graphic design, which I studied at college, and still keep my hand in by designing for a friends’ business. I have a lot of experience with lettering and typography, so while I worked in retail in London for ten years, I was always being drawn back to design, and always kept some connection with it. With the desire to return back to my coastal roots at home, I made the move, and got started. Beginning with accent lamps and illuminated props, I began to merge into the wedding scene.
It seemed a bit of a mad idea at first – I had so much to learn – I didn’t know anything about electrics! Luckily where I’m set up in the studio in Saltburn, I have some well experienced people around me helping. I’m self-taught, but I absolutely had moments where I was completely stumped, so it was great to have artistic and practical people around me! I’d never welded before either, but now I’m really confident with it. Social media is a great tool for broadening horizons and ideas as well –there’s a whole new world of people on Instagram who love welding! I started off working with MDF and doing smaller pieces for weddings which went really well and had a great uptake. Initially, the idea was to design and build props for weddings to hire out – to either businesses or directly to the couples themselves. This has further developed, and I’m now looking to design and fabricate directly to businesses, or for companies who specialise in prop hire, as well as couples looking to marry.
In terms of a “look”, white and polished has been popular, but I’m now really finding the rusted finish is so popular. Reclaimed wood is also so popular. I try not to do too much with it, as it already has character –building sites can’t wait for you to take it away! I’ll plane the wood a little and apply a lacquer, staying away from staining. I really like to think outside the box with my designs.
I think my work is something unusual and a talking point, a great feature for venues to offer their couples, and also great for the married couple to keep at home, if they come to me directly. What a garden feature!”
Find out more about The Light Shack on the website here.
This article was taken from Kiss The Bride Magazine, Issue 6 “Wander In Love”. Find more wedding inspiration and ideas here.Lights, Magazine Issue 6, Teesside, The Light Shack, Venue Styling