Set and Exhibit Designers

Design special exhibits and movie, television, and theater sets. May study scripts, confer with directors, and conduct research to determine appropriate architectural styles.

Median Annual Wage: $49,810

Education: Bachelor's degree (39%); Master's degree (26%); Professional degree (13%)

Projected Growth: Slower than average (3% to 7%)

Related Job Titles: Designer; Exhibit Designer; Set Designer; Exhibit Preparator; Design Chief; Display Coordinator; Scenic Designer; Show Design Supervisor; Production Designer; Set Decorator

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Source: O*NET OnLine information for Set and Exhibit Designers.

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  • Read scripts in order to determine location, set, and design requirements.
  • Develop set designs based on evaluation of scripts, budgets, research information, and available locations.
  • Attend rehearsals and production meetings in order to obtain and share information related to sets.
  • Confer with clients and staff in order to gather information about exhibit space, proposed themes and content, timelines, budgets, materials, and/or promotion requirements.
  • Collaborate with those in charge of lighting and sound so that those production aspects can be coordinated with set designs or exhibit layouts.
  • Prepare preliminary renderings of proposed exhibits, including detailed construction, layout, and material specifications, and diagrams relating to aspects such as special effects and/or lighting.
  • Research architectural and stylistic elements appropriate to the time period to be depicted, consulting experts for information as necessary.
  • Select set props such as furniture, pictures, lamps, and rugs.
  • Inspect installed exhibits for conformance to specifications, and satisfactory operation of special effects components.
  • Assign staff to complete design ideas and prepare sketches, illustrations, and detailed drawings of sets, or graphics and animation.
  • Direct and coordinate construction, erection, or decoration activities in order to ensure that sets or exhibits meet design, budget, and schedule requirements.
  • Submit plans for approval, and adapt plans to serve intended purposes, or to conform to budget or fabrication restrictions.
  • Observe sets during rehearsals in order to ensure that set elements do not interfere with performance aspects such as cast movement and camera angles.
  • Examine objects to be included in exhibits in order to plan where and how to display them.
  • Design and build scale models of set designs, or miniature sets used in filming backgrounds or special effects.
  • Plan for location-specific issues such as space limitations, traffic flow patterns, and safety concerns.
  • Estimate set- or exhibit-related costs including materials, construction, and rental of props or locations.
  • Select and purchase lumber and hardware necessary for set construction.
  • Coordinate the removal of sets, props, and exhibits after productions or events are complete.
  • Coordinate the transportation of sets that are built off-site, and coordinate their setup at the site of use.
  • Acquire, or arrange for acquisition of, specimens or graphics required to complete exhibits.
  • Design and produce displays and materials that can be used to decorate windows, interior displays, or event locations such as streets and fairgrounds.
  • Confer with conservators in order to determine how to handle an exhibit's environmental aspects, such as lighting, temperature, and humidity, so that objects will be protected and exhibits will be enhanced.
  • Arrange for outside contractors to construct exhibit structures.

Source: O*NET OnLine information for Set and Exhibit Designers.

  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Operations Analysis - Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
  • Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Source: O*NET OnLine information for Set and Exhibit Designers.

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