Designing Pirate Fest

Designing Pirate Fest

Turning a parking lot into a pirate village is no small feat. Just ask Nicole Sowards. Nicole, a student in the Savannah College of Art and Design theatrical design program,  has take on the task. Below, Nicole gives us a sneak peek at her inspiration and what she has in store for this year’s festival.

What is the overall concept for this year’s festival?

Original concept sketch of the main tent.

The concept for this year’s pirate festival was inspired by the spoils of piracy. I really want it to feel like this band of pirates on Tybee

have gathered from all over to celebrate their riches and share their adventures with one another.Where do you find your inspiration? I try to gather inspiration anywhere and everywhere I can. I try to avoid getting stuck looking to one design, such as sets from Hook or Pirates of the Caribbean. I might look at a piece of furniture or fabric and be inspired in a whole new way. You can see a number of inspiration photos and notes on my Pinterest page:

Whats the process for bringing your design to life?

The process of design always begins with a blank piece of paper. The

Design Board – Kid’s Stage

design develops from a simple napkin sketch to a physical or digital 3D model, with the more technical draftings and measurements, based on the space and design parameters I am given, landing in between.

Right now I am sourcing out props, fabrics, rentals, etc… to see exactly what I have to work with and how I can incorporate it into the design.

Designs rarely end up the way you initially envision them; it’s a matter of compromise and working with what you are given.  Many times the design will end up even better than you first imagined because of those compromises and design challenges.

Anything else? 

Design Board – Mugs of Mutiny Tavern

I am so thrilled to be a part of such an exciting and highly anticipated celebration such as this, but I can’t do it without help from all of you. We would love to bring more volunteers on board for set up prior to the start of the festival. Also, if anyone has any boxes, barrels, fabrics, old jewelry, glass bottles, or any item they feel could contribute to the overall experience, that they would like to donate to the festival, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks to Special Events Manager, Casey Slone, and the Tybee Island Tourism Council, I have been given a very special opportunity, not only to design, but to experience a very special event that was started by all of you. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of it.

Make sure to check out Nicole’s final designs at this year’s festival. If you are interested in helping out, please contact Casey Slone @

Designing Pirate Fest

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