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Our Design Scholarship is an opportunity for aspiring designers to have their work judged by some of the best in the industry, plus win some sweet prize money. It’s a global competition, and we get entries from all around the world. Our distribution partners select local winners, then there’s a second round to determine the grand prize Richard Diehl Award winner. We received over 1,600 submissions and awarded scholarships to 30 students for 20 winning projects in the architecture, entertainment, landscape, and interior design industries.
See the full list of winners of the 2019 Vectorworks Design Scholarship.
LEARN MORE This year’s grand prize winner is Kristopher Clemson from Santa Cruz, California for a project he calls “The Octagon.” He’s our first ever Richard Diehl Award winner from the entertainment design industry. We sat down with him to talk about how he got it done.
Before the Scholarship
In the fragmented darkness of a Tool show, Kris Clemson looked up and squinted. The music pounded through his chest and the crowd swayed with it. He focused on the lights.
Tool is one of his favorite bands. He had traveled four hours from San Francisco to Reno for this concert, knowing it would be well worth his time. He was right.
He remembers deciding in this moment that he wanted a career in show production. “Here’s something I can actually get into,” he recalled to us. He said the work of the lighting technicians and production assistants excited him. If there’s any one way to decide your career path, excitement has to be a good way to do it.
Clemson would soon graduate from Full Sail University with a degree in show production. A couple months later — September 2017 — he started his own lighting company, Bifröst Lighting LLC.
The Path to Victory
Fast forward to February of 2019 when Clemson opened a newsletter calling for entries to our Design Scholarship. He had just finished a project for Bifröst and was looking forward to another opportunity to test his abilities. He started right away.
“And this time maybe for a reward,” he mused.
His project draws inspiration from his favorite concerts and shows. A large EDM-style stage, Clemson’s design puts you right at the show just by looking at it. Below you’ll see intricate arrays of lights bolstered by the large octagonal screen and supporting side screens. Each screen flows into the next.
Stage/lighting design submitted by Kris Clemson to the 2019 Vectorworks Design Scholarship.
Clemson finished the conceptual design for his project around April, he said, leaving four more months before the submission deadline. He used the time to teach himself Vision, our previsualization software. It took some trial and error, naturally, but after a while Clemson produced remarkable previsualizations that border professional-grade quality.
“Vision made my project go,” Clemson said. “It turned it up to 11.”
Clemson’s project stood out not only for its beautiful show, but also for its in-depth presentation. His submission came with a double-digit-page document filled with schematic drawings, viewports, layouts, diagrams, measurements, and more. He even submitted captivating video clips of his fully cued show.
With his big win, Clemson wants to use the money to pay off student loan debts. He said he wants to upgrade his hardware and software, so he can perform more advanced workflows and really focus on growing Bifröst.

Viewport for Kris Clemson's scholarship submission, "The Octagon."

How to Get a Scholarship
Our scholarship happens annually. Anyone who’s an undergraduate or graduate student can apply. Recent graduates will be ineligible in future scholarship runs. You must be enrolled in an acceptable design-based degree program, a list of which you can find on our webpage.
Each year, we ask the grand prize winner what advice they’d give to future entrants. See what Diego Bermudez, our 2014 winner, has to say here.
Clemson also has sound advice:
“Really suffer for your art,” he said. “Find meaning in the whole process instead of just the end result. That was my inspiration.”
Lastly, know how much time you have. Balancing school and a design project may be tough, so be sure to enter your email address to be notified of when the 2020 scholarship opens. That way you have as much time as possible to send us a winning submission — just like Kris Clemson.