How Do I Become a Production Designer?

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  • Written By: Whitney Leigh White
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 10 May 2019
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A production designer manages a variety of multimedia projects, including movies, TV, and other productions. This type of designer is responsible for managing all aspects of a production, such as lighting, costumes, props, and more. Even though there are no educational requirements that must be met in order to become a production designer, you may find it helpful to attend art or film school. You should also take note that much volunteer work is usually performed in order to become a production designer, and, for most, it takes years to land a big job. There are many skills that you must master in order to become a production designer, including how to work with props and effectively manage subordinates, but, most importantly, you must have a huge imagination.

Most colleges do not offer a production designer degree program, but, most do offer many art, film, and production-related classes. Enrolling in these will help you to understand how the production industry operates, as well as how to effectively manage subordinates. You will find it very helpful to take art classes that teach you how to create moods within productions and draw out emotions from the audience.


Even upon graduating college, you will most likely not be hired for a big production designer job. In fact, you will probably not make any money at all because most hopefuls in the industry have to volunteer working on the backstage of a production. During your volunteer time, which generally includes being a "water boy" and running small errands, it is pertinent that you document everything you do by taking photos. This helps in building and enhancing your portfolio. The larger your portfolio, the more apt you will be to land a job as a production designer in the future.

After volunteering, apply for a job as a theater technician. This will supply you with a small amount of income during your volunteer years. The most important thing to do during your volunteer time is to network and work your way up the ranks. It is through your networking that you will acquire more volunteer jobs and further enhance your portfolio. Great places to network are nightclubs and by attending a large amount of various productions.

There are a number of skills that a potential production designer should have. You will find it very beneficial to have an artistic eye if you want to become a production designer, as you can learn to note the set up stages, how to dress actors/actresses, and more. It will also helps you to innovatively provide productions with authenticity, such as time and place. A successful production designer has superb research skills, can handle large amounts of stress, and has the ability to access all parts of his or her imagination.



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