Summary: A set designer is responsible for designing sets for theatrical productions. He/she is in charge of creating the environment in which the action will take place. Factors such as day, season, location and historical period must be taken into consideration by set designers in order to convey the correct setting for the play.
Duties: Some duties of a set designer include: confer with the play’s director regarding the interpretation and set requirements of the play; conduct research to assess the appropriate architectural designs and furnishing styles for the set; prepare working drawings of the entire floor plan of the set and scenery; render drawings or illustrations of the prospective design concepts; provide estimated costs of the entire set design; maintain the budget of the set design; integrate the interpretation, research, design and concepts regarding the set’s mobility and interchangeability; prepare charts of the items being purchased; oversee the construction of the set; purchase equipment, furniture and materials for the set; build scale models in miniature sizes; and design and coordinate with stage lighting for added decorative or dramatic effects.
Education and Training Requirements: To become a set designer, a degree in visual arts or design studies is required. Training and experience of a set designer will happen during his entire career. Those who wish to advance in their career then take jobs as assistants in studios or sets to be familiar with the practices and procedures of the industry. Additional skills are also obtained in learning about computer aided design or CAD.
Knowledge and Skills Requirements: Strong background in design and fine arts must be the core of a set designer. He must be familiar with all kinds of materials, computers and electronics that he can make use of for the efficiency and productivity of the set. Skills in coordination, operations analysis and time management all remain significant in order to meet the requirements of the production. Hard work, originality and creativity will yearn major advantages in the industry.
Working Conditions: Set designers usually work conveniently indoors in concert halls, exhibition venues, studios and recital halls unless the production requests for an outdoor venue. They often work part of a team having a leader among them to oversee all requirements of the set design. Pressure is present especially in cases when production dates near in which set designers are required to do overtime schedules.
Salary: The average salary for a set designer is $64,000. Freelance set designers work on a per job basis while television companies are more permanent with higher salaries as budgets can be significantly higher. The bigger the production, the more prominent the name the set designer can establish for himself.