Whether you’re looking to hire a set designer or become one– it’s natural to wonder: What educational background and unique skills do the best set designers possess? In general, they are creative and practical, conceptual, detailed, self-motivated, and a team player.
Knowledge of a set designer’s duties, educational background, and creative skills will help you understand whether the job is right for you or who to hire when you need the best for your upcoming event or production.
What Does a Set Designer Do?
Set designers play an integral part in the production. Roles may vary and can include the following:
- Consult with creative team members to determine the set’s overall look and mood.
- Research historical and thematic elements to include in set construction.
- Communicate conceptual ideas to lighting, makeup, and costume departments.
- Build scale models and computer renderings of the set to help visualize final production.
- Produce storyboard sketches to convey ideas and work out problems in lighting and composition.
- Oversee construction crews tasked with building the sets.
- Deploy a knowledge of different set materials to keep the production under budget.
Set designers work alongside storyboard artists, model makers, art directors, lighting directors, and the director of photography to bring a theatre, film, or TV production to life.
What Technical Skills Do Set Designers Need?
Like many creative positions, a set designer is a competitive role– often requiring connections and referrals to get your foot in the door. Having a solid technical educational background also helps. While it’s possible to get into the field with an Associate’s Degree, 67% of students interested in set design pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in fine arts, theater arts, graphic design, interior design, visual design, photography, architecture, or communication. In addition, just under 10% of students earn an MFA.
Students pursuing these degrees will learn:
- Artistic composition
- Blueprint reading
- Camera and lighting production processes
- Construction tool use
- Computer-aided design (CAD) program competency
- Set modeling
- Spatial and visual competencies
- Technical drawing and sketching
What Soft Skill Qualities Make a Good Set Designer?
In addition to the above, the best set designers possess:
- Attention to detail, creativity, and imagination
- Communication skills and the ability to present ideas to others
- Time and project management skills
- Patience, perseverance, problem-solving skills, resourcefulness, and adaptability
- Team player with self-motivation and leadership
Finally, set designers often work long hours– so stamina is necessary.
Looking for a Good Set Designer?
If you need an expert in set design, Movie Prop Rentals, based in Miami, offers two experienced professionals. For several decades, Jerry Blohm and Graylan Franklin have designed sets for thousands of TV commercials and music videos, as well as major motion pictures, theatre, and TV productions. Movie Prop Rentals can design, build and ship sets, procure props, and fabricate custom components for your build. We also setup, teardown, and procure heavy machinery and permits– whatever you need to get your production off the ground! Contact us for a custom quote.