How to become an art director: Laura's story

Meet Laura and find out about her life as an art director. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

When I was at school, I never dreamt I would work in television.

  • Laura works in the art department, deciding what sets and props are needed for live and pre-recorded children’s TV shows. Her job is varied and can involve co-ordinating her team, drawing sets, buying products or even making clothes for puppets
  • She studied Art and Graphic Design at school, which she regularly uses for this job. She also did Maths, which has helped her with budgeting and managing the accounts in this role
  • Laura's advice for anyone who wants to get into a TV art department is to have a broad creative skillset – whether that’s drawing, 3D making or designing on a computer
  • Laura says working hard and finding the different opportunities that are out there has led her to a really great job.

Laura is an art director. A similar role to an art director is a set designer. Set designers design and create the settings for commercials, television, theatre and films.

What to expect if you want to be an art director

  • Set designer salary: variable
  • Set designer hours: 40 to 42 hours per week. You could also work freelance or be self-employed

What qualifications do you need to be a set designer?

  • Typical entry requirements: You'll usually need four or five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 certificate or diploma in Production Arts. Or you'll need one or two A-levels, or equivalent, for a higher national diploma or two to three A-levels, or equivalent, for a degree in any of these related subjects: Graphic Design, Advertising Design, Illustration or Fine Art.
    You may be able to get into this job through a Creative and Digital Media advanced apprenticeship. You'll usually need five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent, including English and Maths.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales

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