• Question: Hi when I'm older I would like to be a set designer or a lighting engineer and as some of you create and essentially design things I was wondering if you could give me any tips on how to achieve my dreams

    Asked by TheToast25 to Yip, Jarrod, Iona, Eloise on 21 Jun 2016.
    • Photo: Iona Strawson

      Iona Strawson answered on 21 Jun 2016:


      From my understanding set design is more of an arts based career rather than engineering. You need to have good practical skills though, and I guess it depends on the sets as to what technical skills you might need.

      If I were you I would google university courses or look for production companies and see if they have any information that might help. Work experience would also be useful I think. You could contact any local production companies, or theatres, and see if they have an opportunities. That way you could see what the job is actually like, and find out firsthand how people came to do it.

      I became a designer through doing mechanical engineering at uni, but I don’t think thats the best way to do set design or lighting engineering. I hope this helps, and good luck.

    • Photo: Man Hang Yip

      Man Hang Yip answered on 22 Jun 2016:

      I’d say start with observing other good designs. If you expose yourself to more more nicely done work, you will start recognize what are good designs.

      In terms of what subjects you need to study, I think you’d need to take art and design courses, and possibly 3D drawing/rendering software, and perhaps technical drawing.

    • Photo: Jarrod Hart

      Jarrod Hart answered on 22 Jun 2016:

      Iona is right that set and lightning designed are mostly coming from vocational training, not engineering, however it does not have to be that way. Engineers can do almost any job, and do not have to give up on being creative artists 😉

      However, there are courses specifically for set design, and degrees are now often expected.

      Here is some info on courses available:

      As for actual advice, the secrets are:
      – follow your heart
      – don’t work with nasty people, there are other jobs with nice people
      – you only lose when you stop trying
      – don’t care too much what other people think

      That’s all for now, I don’t want to give away all my secrets in one place 😉