By Nsim Team
A set designer is in charge of designing and creating the sets that appear in films, on television programmes as well as in the theatre. The role involves working and communicating with directors, producers, costume designers and other members of staff.
The role is one which fits inside the planning stages of a production, starting right at the conceptual planning meeting and running through right until opening night or until filming starts. You’ll have to understand the concepts of the production you’re involved in, work with your director to make sure you’re singing from the same hymn sheet, and have a good understanding of the creative sphere.
Although formal education may not be a requirement to be hired by some production companies as a set designer, it is highly recommended.
Below is a list of relevant coursework and training that is highly relevant to becoming a set designer:
• Computer Aided Design (CAD)
• Freehand drawing
• Scenic painting
• Model making
In order to become effective in a career as a set designer, and perform your job duties with competence, you need to posses a certain set of skills. These skills are usually acquired through a combination of schoolwork, practice, career experience and natural ability.
• Above average artistic ability
• Drawing, painting, sculpting, sewing, and carpentry skills
• Able to use computer-aided design (CAD) programs
• Able to perform research, such as researching period clothing and costumes
• Able to supervise construction and ensure the set is being constructed as designed
• Able to delegate work to others
• Strong understanding of theatrical rigging and safety
• Able to work within strict budgets and timelines
• Able to remain organized when working under pressure
As many set designers work as freelancers, portfolio development and marketing skills may be necessary in order to secure jobs. Working as a freelancer may imply that in the beginning of one’s career as a set designer, job stability may be very low.
If planning to work on feature films, an aspiring set design should strongly consider moving to a city where film production is highly active when they have gained sufficient experience.
Set designers must work very closely with other design professionals such as lighting, sound and costume designers. This may result in conflict of opinion, or it may be highly synergetic. Having your creations enjoyed by multiple audiences however, can be extremely satisfying.
A career as a set designer is perfect for individuals who love to work with others in order to create things with a visual impact. Anyone who is serious about pursuing a career as a set designer should first review the positive and negative attributes of this career. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as a set designer.
• Creativity and artistic vision
• Artistic flexibility
• Ability to supervise tasks
• Must be able to work in a team setting
• Must be able to handle pressure
• Attitude flexibility