Forbes first discovered his love for theatre through an extra credit assignment for his college English class: volunteer ushering for the school production of Look Homeward Angel. Immediately hooked, he began studying scenic design at the University of North Carolina. “[My teacher] would put a backdrop down on the stage floor and we would all gather around between classes and sit there just awestruck while this man painted,” he says. “I think that’s where I got the love of backdrops from.”
But it would be a few years before Forbes realized his love for paint and color exceeded his love of design. Forbes began designing sets for Off-Off-Broadway productions and—as is the case with lower budget theatre—painted all of his own shows. “It was going to be ten years before I got a Broadway show to design and people were offering me ten times as much money to paint because I was good at it,” he says.