Profession set designer

Set designers develop a set concept for a performance and supervise the execution of it. Their work is based on research and artistic vision. Their design is influenced by and influences other designs and must be conform with these designs and the overall artistic vision. Therefore, the designers work closely with artistic directors, operators and the artistic team. During rehearsals and performance they coach the operators to obtain optimal timing and manipulation. Set designers develop sketches, design drawings, models, plans or other documentation to support the workshop and performance crew. They may also design exhibition stands for fairs and other events. 

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Personality Type

  • Artistic / Enterprising
  • Artistic / Realistic

Skills

  • Coach staff for running the performance

    Give instructions to all team members about how they should run the performance.

  • Monitor developments in technology used for design

    Identify and explore recent developments in technology and materials used in the live performance industry, in order to create an up-to-date technical background for one’s personal design work.

  • Analyse score

    Analysing the score, form, themes and structure of a piece of music.

  • Present detailed design proposals

    Prepare and present detailed design suggestions for a specific production to a mixed group of people, including technical, artistic and management staff.

  • Analyse the scenography

    Analyse the selection and distribution of material elements on a stage.

  • Draw prop sketches

    Make sketches of envisioned props to help develop the concept and to share with others.

  • Adapt existing designs to changed circumstances

    Adapt an existing design to changed circumstances and ensure that the artistic quality of the original design is reflected in the final result.

  • Safeguard artistic quality of performance

    Observe the show, anticipate and react to possible technical problems, ensuring optimal artistic quality.

  • Use communication equipment

    Set up, test and operate different types of communication equipment such as transmission equipment, digital network equipment, or telecommunications equipment.

  • Use technical documentation

    Understand and use technical documentation in the overall technical process.

  • Analyse the artistic concept based on stage actions

    Analyse the artistic concept, form and structure of a live performance based on observation during rehearsals or improvisation. Create a structured base for the design process of a specific production.

  • Model sets

    Produce plans, drawings and models of sets.

  • Develop design concept

    Research information to develop new ideas and concepts for the design of a specific production. Read scripts and consult directors and other production staff members, in order to develop design concepts and plan productions.

  • Communicate during show

    Efficient communication during live performance, anticipate any possible malfunctioning.

  • Meet deadlines

    Ensure operative processes are finished at a previously agreed-upon time.

  • Develop design ideas cooperatively

    Share and develop design ideas with the artistic team. Conceptualise new ideas independently and with others. Present your idea, gain feedback and take it into account. Make sure the design fits with the work of other designers.

  • Work ergonomically

    Apply ergonomy principles in the organisation of the workplace while manually handling equipment and materials.

  • Sketch set images

    Quickly sketch ideas for set layouts and details.

  • Adapt to artists' creative demands

    Work with artists, striving to understand the creative vision and adapting to it. Make full use of your talents and skills to reach the best possible result.

  • Define set materials

    Make set construction drawings, define a proper set building and select painting materials and methods.

  • Update design results during rehearsals

    Updating the design results based on observation of the stage image during the rehearsals, especially where the different designs and the action are integrated.

  • Research new ideas

    Thorough research for information to develop new ideas and concepts for the design of a specific production based.

  • Propose improvements to artistic production

    Assess past artistic activities with a view to improving future projects.

  • Draw stage layouts

    Manual drawing or sketching of stage layouts.

  • Perform quality control of design during a run

    Control and ensure the quality of design results during a run.

  • Understand artistic concepts

    Interpret an artist's explanation or demonstration of their artistic concepts, inceptions and processes and strive to share their vision.

  • Monitor sociological trends

    Identify and investigate sociological trends and movements in society.

  • Define prop materials

    Decide what materials the props will be made from, and document the conclusions.

  • Verify feasibility

    Interpret an artistic plan and verify whether the described design can be executed.

  • Create set models

    Create three-dimensional models of the envisioned set layout.

  • Prevent fire in a performance environment

    Take steps to prevent fire in a performance environment. Make sure the space complies with fire safety rules, with sprinklers and fire extinguishers installed where necessary. Make sure staff are aware of fire prevention measures.

  • Analyse a script

    Break down a script by analysing the dramaturgy, form, themes and structure of a script. Conduct relevant research if necessary.

Optional knowledge and skills

define prop building methods contribute to a safe working environment make set construction drawings analyse the need for technical resources follow safety procedures when working at heights provide documentation translate artistic concepts to technical designs prevent technical problems with scenic elements adapt artistic plan to location draw up artistic production prevent technical problems with stage equipment ensure visual quality of the set work safely with machines follow environmentally-sustainable work practices mark the information from the ground plans on the stage area update budget copyright legislation use personal protection equipment labour legislation paint sets document your own practice define set building methods keep personal administration work with respect for own safety build props lead a team organise resources for artistic production purchase props adapt props

Common job titles

  • General operations, assembly & set up
  • Designer, the studio
  • Scenic artist
  • Scenic artist/ prop maker (local applicants only)
  • Set design assistant / coordinator
  • Graphic artist i (temp)
  • Design assistant intern
  • Designer
  • Design director - madewell accessories
  • Production artist - part time freelance