We found out how ADJ lighting helps Mike Stewart – of Dallas/Fort Worth-based company Vendetta DFW – create his unique and lucrative brand of lighting design.
Mike Stewart is the co-owner, alongside ‘partner in crime’ Eduardo Gaytan, of the Dallas-based mobile DJ and lighting services company Vendetta DFW. Both Mike and Eddie come from the EDM world, having organized shows at various clubs across Dallas – something they still do today. “We started out in 2009 as a mobile DJ company doing clubs, corporate events and weddings,” Mike tells us. “Now we’ve branched off into doing full lighting and sound setups with complete DMX control.”
Mike’s story actually starts back in 2002, when he first set out as a DJ playing small events, house parties and fundraisers. Noticing it as an essential part of club nightlife, he started using lighting immediately, eventually going on to apply his knowledge to expanding the scope of Vendetta DFW. “Programming lights didn’t really start ‘til we started the company. I wanted to learn how to control my fixtures, so they weren’t just in a chaotic state of sound active mode!” says Mike. “I have now used just about every DMX software on the market and every console; from ADJ’s My DMX 1 & 2 to High End’s Full Boar and MA Lighting’s GrandMA.”
As well as owning Vendetta DFW – and still DJing clubs, weddings and corporate events up to three times a week – Mike works as a lighting designer and, as part of PSAV (based out of the Hilton Anatole Hotel), is the lead lighting technician for the Dallas area. With PSAV he works an array of (mainly corporate) events, including fashion shows, sorority/fraternity alumni meetings, and medical expositions.
“Lighting-only events started a couple of years back,” explains Mike. “I kept buying a few ADJ lights here and there; small moving heads like the Vizi Spot LEDs and Mega Tri Pars for up-lights, mainly for weddings. After a while, I thought to myself: we have all this gear that gets used very little, why not make some lighting packages and just offer those by themselves for other DJs doing events or bands who want to give their fans the full experience of a real rock concert?”
This venture has seen Mike program the lighting for other DJs, as well as bands, and last year his company provided the lighting for a Christmas parade float at the Grapevine Parade of Lights, winning second place for their efforts. However, recognition and necessity aren’t the only reasons he gives for following a career as a lighting designer. There are considerable benefits over DJing: “I kept with lighting because I started to make at least double the amount of money that I was DJing,” he says. “For all my DJ events it [lighting] was an add-on that I would use to put me over the $1K mark. It's a win/win; my ROI on all my lighting has been better than anything else like sound systems or DJ setups.”
Of course, Mike has honed his craft and gained the experience to command the fees he does for his services as a lighting designer and technician. Part of this success also comes down to his personal take on lighting; his individuality as a designer.
“What makes me personally unique is the amount of thought that I put into my setups and the limits that I push my gear to in order to get the best results,” Mike tells us. “When I use LED pars, I always put them into a Matrix to make the colors move in a cohesive manner that is visually appealing; my programming is built around certain color pallets that really make sense when you see all the lights together.”
This distinctiveness applies to the whole of his company too and according to Mike, “what makes Vendetta DFW an extremely viable company, long term, is the wide array of services that we offer.” These services include up-lighting; dance-floor wash lighting; moving heads mounted on truss towers; animated monograms from video projectors; static monograms from LED fixtures or halogen lamps; scanner packages; and full animation lasers. “We have packages for those clients who want a simple but elegant wedding, or for those that want to take it to that next level of entertainment,” he adds.
Having been working with lighting since he started out as a DJ in 2002, and with five years under his belt as the co-owner of Vendetta DFW, Mike has – as you’d expect – had some memorable gigs over the years. “One of the most recent events I have been a part of is Ibiza Thursdays, which is an EDM weekly we are doing here at Deep Ellum [venue] with the Music Ov3r Everything team,” he says. The setup for these nights is “pretty simple,” consisting of two Inno Scans, two Inno Rolls, two Mega Tri Pars, two Flat Par Tri 7Xs, a Mega Tri Bar and an oil-based hazer.
With his company catering for events of all types, another of Mike’s gig high lights is a wedding he did in an outdoor club house:“We had this long white curtain draped across the horizontal cross members in the ceiling and I was able to light up the curtain with the Tri 7Xs and use my Inno Scans on the ADJ Light Bridge, with the 32" TVs showing an animated monogram for the bride and groom,” he enthuses. “I finished off the setup with a facade up-lit with Mega Tri Pars to give it that classy look.”
Forever looking to move forward with his work, Mike and Vendetta DFW are about to roll out some new setups after placing a large order with DuraTruss. “The new packages will feature some brand new ADJ products that we are really excited about adding to our arsenal,” he says. We say: bring it on!
Always proud of our connection with the lighting designers and technicians – like Mike – who make the magic happen in venues across the globe, it’s just great to see forward-thinking, professional companies like Vendetta DFW creating pure lighting excitement with ADJ.
Mike Stewart can be found on his YouTube channel, where he offers tutorials on various aspects of lighting design, such as custom mappings in Traktor and how to create a matrix.
More information on Vendetta DFW can be found on the company’s website: www.vendettadfw.com
Follow VendettaDFW on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vendettadfw