Starting a Career in
Graphic Design for Film & TV

Info session recorded August 13, 2022

TRANSCRIPT
 

INTRO

Alright, I suppose I will go ahead and get started. So hi, I am Leah Spencer, I am a Graphic Designer for Film and TV based out of New York. And so I am actually a relatively new person in the industry I joined just about 2 years ago, so yeah, so I'm doing this because I remember who difficult it was as someone who came into this industry knowing no one and nothing um and getting from there to just making first steps to get into this career was a real challenge because there’s just so little information out there. So I really hope that this hopes build that informational void and it helps you all get onto your first steps towards this career.

 

Um and, so yeah, I guess I’ll give you a little bit of background on me so that you know where I’m coming from. I started in the corporate world. I worked as a graphic designer for a printing company. I was in two different roles there: I did both working working with clients’ files and I also worked as a graphic designer on a marketing team and I think as corporate work tends to go, it was just very repetitive. Oh sorry my dog is howling, he’ll stop in a minute. So, yeah, I worked at this corporate job for several years and at the time I was working there, I was also going through a graphic design certificate program at RISD (The Rhode Island School of Design) and I did that because I went to a liberal arts university and I felt like I was kind of missing the academic background that most people who go to art schools get. So I did that kind of to fill that gap for me. And you know, I wasn’t a huge fan of my corporate work and it just so happened that I listened to a 99% Invisible podcast episode with Annie Atkins and found out about her work and this job existing and I was instantly hooked and so I wound up sticking out in that corporate job for another year so I could finish with that and also complete my certificate program. And so I finished it, and I quit my job, and I moved to New York. And it took all in all from the time I moved here to the time I got my first job about 7 months I think. That was also when COVID was more of a factor, so things were a little slow at that point. But yeah, it did take me a while to get my first job and just figure out how this whole thing works. Um and so yeah I hope that this fills that informational gap for you all and helps point you towards a good direction.

 

Um so know that the information I share today will be specific to New York. There is a lot that is kind of universal no matter where you work. There is also a good amount that can really vary based on your region. Um so just make sure if you are planning on working anywhere outside of New York that you do get verification from someone in that area on regional practices there. Um so just keep that in mind. I will take questions at the very end, so if anything comes up for you, just take note of it and I will take those questions at the end. Um alright.So, I will go ahead and share my screen. [to chat message] Yes, Annie Atkins is amazing.

OPENING SLIDE

Okay, so Starting a Career in Graphic Design for Film and Television. This is really focused on really just getting you to from like step 0 to step 1; so what you need to know to just get to your first day of work.

 

WHAT WE MAKE

Alright, so you will find that once you are in this job and anyone asks what you do for work, they will have no idea what you do. Most people don’t even know this job exists. So, what do we do? We are responsible for making anything you see on screen that has text or imagery. And this is a super wide range of stuff. It can be for either film or TV and within that either live action or animation. Sometimes you’ll also see work in commercials or music videos, but primarily film and TV. And just a note on terminology is that you might hear people refer to themself as “graphic designer” or “graphic artist” – they’re synonymous, it’s just personal choice. And you’ll also hear the term “computer artist” – that’s a term that specifically that the union in New York that covers graphic designers uses. Um so it means the same thing, it’s just a term they use. I don’t think anyone outside of New York uses it. So just know that all three terms are synonymous.

 

Um so within the things that we make, they primarily fall into two categories: they can be props or they can be set decoration. Props are items that characters interact with. So you can see here we have Midge from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She is holding up a sash. It is being described in the dialogue, she’s holding it, so it’s a prop. And also not a prop, but a hero prop because it’s being very specifically focused on and discussed. And then we have set decoration. You will see set decoration abbreviated as set dec. And so that is anything that is in the space around the actors. So in the example here, we see Abe in The Village Voice office. This set is covered head to toe in set decoration. And something you’ll notice really the only items that you can really make out are the biggest posters and everything else is kind of just like pixels that make up a whole image. So you’ll find that set decoration tends to be more about quantity over quality, versus props, which is more quality over quantity because props are really meant to be viewed a lot more closely and set dec is meant to be viewed typically not always more at a distance to fill a space and make it feel on the whole a realistic environment.

 

WHAT WE MAKE - AS GRAPHIC DESIGNER

So as a graphic designer for film and tv, the items that we make are huge in range. A lot more that you will see in typical corporate or freelance graphic design. And so as a graphic designers, we kind of fill three different roles. And the first one is just as quote graphic designer. And so you’ll see examples here of things that we might make. So that could be posters, menus, tickets, packaging, magazines, and then you’ll also see some screens here. This is an increasingly large share of work that graphic designers do. Because you know as the real world becomes covered in screens, so does that film world that imitates the real world. So there are actually people who are screen specialists and who make both static screens and motion or animated screens.

 

WHAT WE MAKE - AS CRAFTSPERSON

And then we kind of have this second category which I have termed “as craftsman” or “craftsperson” and this strays a little bit away from what you would think of as being typical graphic design work. And so these are things that in this fictional world, really wouldn’t have been made by a graphic designer, they would have been made by a specialist in another area. But in the production side of things, we make them all. So you can see things like newspapers, there is some sign painting, some signage. You’ll also see we have an image of a dog in a hat smoking. As you can imagine, that is not really a feasible image to either just find if that’s what you specifically need, or to photograph. That is not something you could really do. So the job of the graphic designer is to create what we call a photo composite or photo comp for short. So we will take multiple images and combine them in Photoshop into one very specific image that is needed. And you'll see this being done for either things that are going to be used in the production. So this could be something that is a framed photo on someone’s desk. Or it could be something that you see used before the production has even started in what we call pre-visualisation or pre-vis for short. Essentially we’ll photoshop basically an image of the set that we’re going to use with how it will look when it’s all put together. So multiple uses for Photoshop there. You’ll also see this stained glass and tile. So one of the things that we’ll often do is make kind of faux surface. Because as you can imagine, for a set that might be built in just a couple short days and then need to be taken down a day later, putting down real tile and real stained glass might not be a great option. So we might print these surfaces on substrate and put them. Or we might also if there’s time and budget for it, we might also actually get these sent out to a craftsperson what we’ve designed or what we want the specialist to make.

 

WHAT WE MAKE - AS LAYMAN

And then there’s this third category that is probably the furthest from typical graphic design and that’s kind of just as a “layman.” So these are things that would be made by someone in this fictional world who is not by trade doing this. You know this is just a human making human things and from a first glance, it can look really easy, but it is actually really a challenge sometimes to make things that look really natural and authentic. So it’s a fun challenge and also a way to really try to get yourself into the mind of characters. You know, how does this character sign their name, how does their handwriting look, so things like that are really fun thing to try to figure out. So it’s kind of a split between things that you might expect a graphic designer to do, things you would expect another specialist to do, and things that you would expect just any human on the street to do.

 

THE ART DEPARTMENT

So as a Graphic Designer, you will be working on the production within the art department. And the art department is led by the production designer. The production designer also leads the props department and the set dec department, but those are departments in their own right and not under art, we just share a common lead. And so the production designer is really responsible for high level decision making. They will have conversations with the director and they make all the big decisions that affect things like color scheme and scale and location, things like that. Underneath the production designer, we have the supervising art director. They are responsible for overseeing the design and construction of sets, they’ll make sure we stay on budget, that everyone is getting everything done on time. And under them, we’ll have art director and assistant art director, and they are responsible for drafting the sets, making architectural plans for them, and making sure that they all get built as they should be. And then on the left, you will see art department coordinator. They are kind of like an office manager. And so they will be responsible for things like payroll, organizing meetings, keeping the office stocked, all those sorts of managerial things like that. And they also supervise the art PAs or production assistants. And you will see coordinators and production assistants in multiple departments, so you might also see a dec coordinator, set dec PA, or construction coordinator. And so the Art PAs are kind of the helpers of all things. I’ll go more into their responsibilities in a bit. And then on the right, we have the graphics team. So you have lead graphics and assistant graphics. They both are responsible for producing graphics, except that one (the lead) will be responsible for making sure everything is done on time, they will receive the new requests that we get, and they really are the organizational center of the graphics team. And also you’ll not that I have numbers on all of these roles and so if you’re on a lower budget production, you will see that you skew more towards the lower end of these numbers and might even see some roles being condensed. If you are on a higher budget production, you will see more towards the higher side of numbers, you’ll have more people in more roles, and you might also see additional roles added, like storyboard artist for example. So really the big takeaway from this is that if you are trying to get Art PA work, you should be reaching out to art department coordinators. And if you are trying to get assistant graphics work, you should be reaching out to lead graphic designers or supervising art director because it’s usually a joint decision between the supervising art director and the lead graphic designer on who they hire.

 

THE UNION

So if you are looking for work and especially if you're in a big city you will find that most productions are union productions. And so the union that we are under In the US and Canada  is IATSE, which stands for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. And so that covers everyone who works in film, tv, and theater. And for us working in the northeast, as graphic designers, we work under a local, which is the regional chapter of the union, called USA 829. USA stands for United Scenic Artists. So originally, this local was just scenic artists, but now it also includes computer artists, scenics, set designers, costume designers, lighting designers, and art department coordinators. So if you want to work on a union production, membership is necessary to be eligible for that work. The exception to that being if you want to get work as a PA, because PAs are kind of like an entry level position so you don’t yet need to be in the union to get that work. Um there are a few fees associated with being part of the union. One being a fee for the entrance exam that you’ll have to go through. There is a one time initiation fee once you are accepted, and then there are also quarterly and weekly dues. And so some jobs within some locals function with a job pool where your name is basically on a list and when work is needed to be done, they will call people in from that list and that’s how you get work. In the case of graphic design in New York and I think in most places, it is not a job pool, so you’re offered jobs because you are in the union, you are eligible and also you are given access to some private listings that help you get jobs on your own. Um to note that membership covers a specific region so if you move permanently you may have to join a new region. And you know because we are essentially freelancers, we do not have an HR department, so the union kind of fills that role. Mainly in running our benefits programs and in being an accountability point for productions. So the union is where we get our health insurance, our pension fund, and our annuity fund. And a note on that is that once you are accepted, you do have to accrue a certain number of worked hours to become eligible for benefits. So it’s not immediately offered. It typically takes around three weeks, sometimes more depending on the tier of production you’re on to become eligible. And as an accountability point, if you ever have any concerns about things like safety or being paid accurately or hours you’re working or harassment or anything like that, the union is there to help you.

 

WHY BE AN ART PA FIRST

So, why be an art PA first? It was recommended to me when I was starting out by pretty much everyone to be an Art PA and now that I’ve been through it, I am totally on the same page. I really think it’s an ideal way to get your start in a graphics career, or really any art department career. And so you know the first reason being it’s just because you can. You don’t need to be in the union yet, so it’s open to everyone. And you know the film & tv world is quite complex and  there is a lot happening and a lot of moving parts and so by being a PA first, you really get to understand what’s happening and how everything works before you’re in a higher responsibility role and things happen even faster and your knowledge of the system is even more important. So it’s a nice way to kind of acclimate yourself to this world. You also really get to make a lot of connections, which is super important because this industry is all based on who you know and who knows you. There are no public job listings like there are with typical jobs, and so just increasing the number of people you know and who know you do good work is really vital in becoming consistently employed. And you also get to learn from the Graphic Designers you work with. You might be able to observe them doing tasks you want to learn more about or just observe how they deal with daily activities. And you will see in this image, we have besides my large dog who is a certified tripping hazard you will see a very large printer and a stack of lots of ink and paper for that printer and other printers in the office. And as a PA you will be responsible for using printers like this and knowing how to change the inks, knowing which inks to use, knowing which papers to use, how to change those papers, all sorts of things like that. So getting experience running equipment like this is really valuable. And also you will have to go through an exam process if you live in New York or Boston to become a Computer Artist within the union and when you are going through that exam process, the people on the committee judging your application really love to see when people have PA experience because it says to them that this person really understands this job and that they have the knowledge to really hit the ground running as a graphic designer. And you know in the future when you are a graphic designer and you rely on the help of PAs, it’s really nice to understand from their viewpoint what happens throughout their day, what kind of parts might be super busy for them, when they might need extra information to assist with a project. All that kind of stuff is really valuable to know. And alternatively, this is all kind of mostly for being a PA on a union production, but you can also certainly look into getting work on indie films or non-union productions. You know, you never know who might remember you as someone who really showed up and did good work on a lower budget production and then maybe they move up to a higher level production and they remember you and hire you back, so you know it can always pay off in the future. And really any experience is good experience in this industry.

 

GETTING ART PA JOBS

So, how do you get an Art PA job? One of the best ways you can try is to cold call slash cold email Art Department Coordinators and send them your resume and introduce yourself and explain that you’re interested in getting Art PA work. One of the ways you can do this if you are in New York is you can go to the USA 829 website which I have a screenshot of on the right and there is a tab that says “member search” and you can go there and you can click on “art department coordinator” and put in a zip code for New York and then it will give you all of the art department coordinators in that area. And most will have contact information that you can use. So that is a great way to get in touch with people. And you know when you do email them your resume, I encourage you to edit the descriptions of your existing work experience to really tailor them to what a PA does. I think you’ll find in most work that there’s something that’s applicable to being a PA, so in the next slide I’ll give more examples of what PAs do, but just keep that mind and you know present yourself as someone who is ready for this work. And optionally, you can attach an image or two of your work/portfolio pieces just to show what you’re working towards, just to demonstrate that you’re serious about this career path. But make sure that you make it clear that you understand that PAs don’t do graphics and this is just an example of your goals. And so keep in mind that if it can really take a while to get your first job or jobs plural, so you know, it’s really a numbers game. You might have contact many people before something works out. It’s really a right person at the right time kind of situation and so just be persistent. You know, keep reaching out. It might take a long time, it might happen quickly, it’s hard to know. And so I recommend that you track who you’ve reached out to with a spreadsheet to make sure that you don’t contact the same person twice and also if the person responds and seems receptive, you can reach out again in a month or so and say hi just checking in wondering if anything has come up. So that is my recommended tactic. You can also contact graphic designers. They do not hire PAs but they might know of something. And also know that the art department coordinators keep a spreadsheet of available Art PAs and they communicate with each other. So if you reach out to someone and they do not have any availability, they might know someone who is looking to hire someone. And as far as places that you can look for work, there isn’t a ton, but you can try these places. ArtCube is kind of like Craigslist for film and tv, so you can try posting your availability there or be on the lookout for job availability postings. And then mandy.com, staffmeup, and backstage are all film and tv hiring sites. I found when I tried using them that they didn’t have too much in the way of art department work, but certainly take a look and you can also try looking on Facebook for groups that are about, you can try searching like “ohio film and tv art department,” something like that. So just try putting in key words for your region and the art department and see if you can find any groups because there usually are some where people might be posting. And alternatively, if you aren’t finding work as an Art PA, you can also go for work as a set dec or props PA and use that kind of as a jumping point towards Art PA work. Or really any other department. Set dec and props are just the closest cousins to the art department, but for example, one of the PAs on Maisel started as a costumes PA and decided that she wanted to be in the art department, so she went over to the art department one day, introduced herself, and the next season she got hired as an art PA. So however you can get your foot in the door is a good way to get your foot in the door.

 

ART PA WORK

So generally, art PAs work from 8 am to 6:30 pm. You do have to be on site and cannot be remote because there is so much hands on work to be done. Examples of that being, trimming prints, so just like trimming the white edges off prints, mounting those graphics onto substrate like matboard is a common one that we use. Wrapping graphics around items that need to be covered. So an example of that could be you have a stack of magazines and we don’t need to see inside of the magazines so it’s okay if they’re still the same on the inside, but we will see the outsides, so we wrap them in kind of like a label to go over the outside and make sure it fits into this world without having to make an entire magazine from scratch. Writing on gak. You will see an example of gak on t right. Gak stands for general area coverage. I know it’s a c, we use a k, I don’t know that’s just how it’s spelled. And so examples of that are mail, paperwork, just anything that helps fill the space. So in that example of set decoration in teh office, there’s tons of this kind of stuff. And you probably won’t see everything up close. Like for example, there’s a cancellation mark on one of these pieces of mail from 1921. That’s just the stamp that we had, you probably won’t see that ever. So it’s really just for the purpose of creating a really believable world when you step back. Research. You might be asked to looked up images of something specific so it can be used to make design choices, you might be to see if something existed at a certain time, things like that. Ordering materials, both for the office and say, ordering paint for the scenics to paint walls with. Getting lunch. We get lunch ordered for us every day, so the PAs help with making sure it gets to the office. Doing deliveries and pick up runs of stuff that we need. Bringing items to set, distributing drawings. Drawings are essentially architectural plans for the sets. Set lists and work notes are also items that we distribute to make sure everyone they have all the information they need about how a set will be built. You might be assisting the Art Department Coordinator with payroll. You might help stock crafty. Crafty is our term for craft services slash food services. So stocking the office with snacks. Stocking the art department with materials we use and making everything organized. So a note that you cannot do graphics as a PA, but you can do graphics-adjacent work. So an example of that being making mail like this or filling out fake paperwork or if the production ever wants something to be used for like you know they have a wrap party and they want a poster made for the wrap party, you could make that because it’s not going to be seen on the screen, so that’s okay to do. Occasionally, not usually all that much, you might be asked to work on a weekend day. And you can really utilize this time to learn more about graphics. If you know, you want to learn about how the graphic designers do photo comps and you want to see them photoshop some stuff, you can ask if you can observe them doing that if things are slow enough. You can try making your own version of a graphic from the script. Or you can also try making what I call master copies, which is the term that’s usually used in painting when artists will copy stroke by stroke the work of someone who is more established. And I think that’s really a great way to really delve in and understand how things are made and why things are made the way they are. Oh yes and also just let the graphic designers know and anyone else that you are really interested in graphic design. They’ll try to weave you into projects as they can and it’s good for them to know that because if they see you doing really good work, once you are eligible to do graphics work, they would probably love to hire you in a future situation where they can. And so generally art PAs make just about minimum wage or close to it. You typically will be working 11 hours but you will always get paid for 12 and so since anything over 8 hours is overtime, those last 4 hours are paid at time and a half. So cumulatively, it’s not the worst, but hourly, it is quite low. So in addition to your hourly rate, you will also be paid usually $20-25 per week for you to bring in your own laptop. I’ll go into kit fee and what that means later, but as a PA, you are expected to bring in your own computer. Lunch and crafty slash snacks are provided and as I said, the pay is on the low side and the hours are long, so those can be restrictive factors for some. So just keep that in mind.

 

829 ENTRANCE EXAM

So in New York, you have to go through an exam process, also for Boston too. If you are outside of this area, it might be that you have another sort of exam process that you have to go through. It might be that there is no exam process, that it’s just a portfolio review, it might also be that you are required to have a certain number of hours or credits to your name before you are accepted. So this is something that can really vary depending on where you are working. So this is just specific to New York and Boston. So for 829, you will be applying to the computer artist category, which as I said earlier, is the same thing as graphic design. The exams are held twice a year and the whole process takes 4 months if everything goes well. There are several stages and so you are expected to pass all stages to pass. If you do not pass any of the stages, you can restart the exam in the next round at that same stage and go from there. And there’s no limit on how many people are accepted. So if everyone who applies is ready to start work as a graphic designer, then they will accept everyone. So there is no number assigned to this. And it is beneficial to have film or TV experience when you start this exam process, but it is not necessary. For me personally, I did not yet have my first job when I started the exam. I did get my first job part way through so that did help me towards the end. But just know that it’s nice to have, it definitely helps you, but you can start it before you have gotten your first job. And it’s really important to follow the directions carefully and submit everything on time. There is a very detailed PDF online that will tell you everything you need to know about this exam process and you know, following directions and doing everything on time is something that’s really important in your future graphics job. Timing and getting everything to set that needs to be on set and following the directions you’ve been given is really important in that work, and so it’s also really important in this exam process. And you know, as far as what the committee is looking for in the applicant, they really just want to know that you have strong fundamental skills and that you are ready to hit the ground running and go. You don’t need to be a perfect graphic designer at the time you apply, they know that over time, you will develop skills, but as you stand as an applicant, that you are ready to start work. So if you have really solid Illustrator and Photoshop skills, if you understand what this job is, and if you show that you are genuinely interested and invested in this career path, those are all really good signs for the committee. So if everything goes well and you pass, there are some forms you fill out, you pay a $500 initiation fee to join the union, and $330 in dues and fees, you will get sworn in, you will go through a seminar that is run by the computer artists that will kind of give you a crash course on everything you need to know to start work, and then you can start working. So it is possible to join the union without going through the exam, but the initiation fee is about $3000 more and it is pretty unlikely for that to happen. You do need to have a job offer basically, so someone would have to say, I see you person who has never worked in film or tv, do you want to be a computer artist. So that’s pretty unlikely. It is possible though, so just know that the initiation fee is much higher and it’s just generally unlikely.

 

THE EXAM PROCESS - STAGE 1

So the first stage of the exam process is the prescreening portfolio. And so if you feel like you are ready to start the exam process, know that this is due September 2nd, which is coming up pretty soon, so if you feel like you want to get started, yeah now’s your time, there’s only a few weeks until September 2nd. So for this stage, you will be asked to submit some forms, your resume, a $200 application fee, and your prescreening portfolio. And so I have items required in that portfolio listed out on this little sticky note.  And so there will be more direction on the PDF given online of what exactly you need, but basically, this is really just an untimed portfolio practice round kind of where they just want to see what you’re capable of and where you’re at in your technical skills. And so because it’s untimed, you can really take your time to do really good tidy work and make sure that the work that you share is really representative of your skillset.

 

THE EXAM PROCESS - STAGE 2

So, let’s pretend that goes great, congratulations, you are onto stage 2, which is the practical exam. Currently this is done remotely over Zoom, or sorry, over email. They’ll email you the things you need to create. So on October 15th for this next round, which is a Saturday, you will get an email at 9 AM with a list of specific things for you to make and you will be expected to email those things back by 3 PM that day. So that’s just 6 hours for you to do what is really a decent amount of work. So it’s supposed to represent about half of what is a busy day for us. So they want to know that not only can you keep up with the technical abilities or technical demands of this job, but also that you can keep up with the pace and do good work under time constraints. So the projects will have specific parameters for you to follow. Everything can be created with Illustrator and or Photoshop. And you digitally submit everything, so you don’t need to print anything, you don’t need to physically make any of it, it’s all just sent to you and sent back digitally. You do not need to be 100% perfect to pass. I was not and it still turned out okay. So really just focus on following the instructions, being efficient, really showing what you are capable of, and if there is anything you don’t know, just make your best educated guess at it. And really try to show attention to detail and if you find yourself really in a time crunch, try to prioritize doing good work over rushing.

 

THE EXAM PROCESS - STAGE 3

So  great, that’s gone well and you can continue well and you can continue onto stage 3. And so stage 3 is the complete application submission. And for this, you submit some forms, you’ll be asked to submit 3 letters of recommendation, and your resume. If you have not yet gotten film or tv work and your letters of recommendation from people outside of film and tv, which was the case for me since I did not yet have my PA job at this point, you can ask for them from anyone who knows your work. Just make sure that you give those people kind of a brief description of this work so that they can say what skills they’ve seen in you that apply to this job.

 

THE EXAM PROCESS - STAGE 4

And so then from there, the last stage is the final portfolio review and interview. This will be scheduled with you ahead of time and you’ll be asked to email your presentation in before you present so the board can go through everything and review it before you show them your work. Before you do all this, you are allowed to ask a graphic designer you work with to review your portfolio with you beforehand. So that’s totally allowed that you are welcome to get feedback from someone before you submit and present your work. There will be 5 computer artists and sometimes an exam chair sitting in on your presentation. And they will give you 20 minutes to present your work and explain your work and how you created it and then they will ask you some questions about it and also ask you some questions about your background and your skillset. So all of this currently is done over Zoom and so it’s all remote, done from the comfort of your home. And so you will have a few different things you need to include in your portfolio as well as some things that you can choose on your own. The required elements are listed on the sticky on the right, so there are some photo composites that you will be making and you will also be making a complete project, which is really a self directed portfolio project that you can decide on specifics so that it really represents your skillset and what you’re interested in. So this is really a chance for you to show what makes you special as a graphic designer. So you know while you can do that for your complete project, it is important to make sure that the whole body of work that you show does include a variety of things like how you made them, what they look like, what time period they’re from, what kind of item you’re making, and how you made them. So just make sure that it demonstrates that you have versatility, because that’s a really important trait to have in this field. Optionally, you can make a few pieces physically if you would like so that you can both photograph it as a 3D object and also hold them up to the camera to show that you really have the ability to make it physically. Examples of that that would be good for would be something like a die cut box. You know if it’s just a poster and you’ve printed it out, it doesn’t really say thing, but making a die cut and showing that you know how to create that is a really cool skill to show, so that’s an example of something you could make. Any other kind of packing, anything that shows that you used physical skills to incorporate into your final product is great. And so you know, outside the required elements, you can include any work that you’ve done in corporate or freelance graphic design, you can include examples of illustration, animation, website design, anything that includes skills that would be used in this work is great to have. And you know the committee doesn’t just want to see your final result, they want to see how you go to that result, so they love to see any sketches, anything that is representative of your process is great to show. There isn’t a set number of items that you need, so really just focus on creating a good amount of content to fill 20 minutes.

 

GETTING GRAPHICS JOBS

So the exam has gone well, you are admitted, congratulations, and now you can get graphics work. So as I said before, you can be hired by the lead graphic designer and or the supervising art director. There are not public job listings like there are with corporate jobs so everything is really by word of mouth and by private listings. So the ways you can get jobs are by marking yourself available on an availability spreadsheet that the computer artists keep, you can reach out to art directors with your portfolio and resume from a report that you will be able to access as a member. There is a redacted screenshot of that on the right, so it will show you what is being produced currently and what is going to be produced in the upcoming months usually, so it will show you the title of the production, and who is signed on for it at the moment, the start and end dates, and where it will be shooting. So this a way you can kind of do some digging for contact information and contact people from this list. So it does take a lot of legwork, especially at the beginning to become employed. There’s a lot of work you have to do on your end to start to get jobs. But as you gain experience and more people get to know you and just become established in your field, you will be reached out to more with job offers. So it does get easier as time goes on. And so when you do contact someone who would like to potentially hire you, they will organize an interview with you. They’ll give you the basics of the production, and they will ask about your experience just like any typical interview. And to know that when you’re interviewing for first or second or you know just your first batch of jobs and you know if you feel self conscious about being new, just know that you are being interviewed because this person saw really great work in your portfolio and thinks taht you are capable. So don’t be too self conscious about it. Really put yourself in a position that makes you a great person to hire, make sure that your portfolio is great and resume is polished and you should be okay. And a note also that over time, your resume will just become a list with dates and names. So if you see resumes of anyone who is established in this field, it’ll just be a list basically. So that is typical. When you’re starting out, you can keep the format you have, just make sure you tailor any descriptions of work to show what relevant skills and experience you have. So you might be hired as what’s called a “day player” or you might be hired for a whole season or production. If you are hired as what’s called a day player, it’s kind of just like filling in for a few days, so that’s kind of just a temporary role, versus being hired full time for a whole production. Typically, productions last about 4-5 months, but that can really vary. And know that there is often very little heads up before you start work. Of the three jobs I’ve had so far, the most heads up I’ve had before starting work is a week, so things happen very quickly. It is very hard to plan anything, so just know that things change very quickly. And if you go through the 829 exam process, you’ll go through that New Member Seminar, so more information will be provided at that point on all sorts of things like vendors and how to read scripts and all sorts of things like that. So more information will be provided at that point.

 

N.Y. LOCATIONS

Um, so if you’re working in New York, there are a few places that are typical to work. These are popular production facilities. So there’s places such as Steiner Studios, Kaufman, Silver Cup, and Broadways Stages. Most of those are in Brooklyn and Queens. And so if you’re looking for a central place to live, good points to look at are Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Long Island City, since those are kind central to those studios. There is some work in New Jersey. They’ve reinstated some tax credits that have incentivized production over there and they’re developing studios, so there is some stuff over in Jersey. There is a little in Connecticut too but it is mostly lower budget. Same with Boston, there is some stuff up there too but it does tend to skew lower budget than New York. Having a car is helpful but not necessary. Probably about half the people I work with have a car, so it really depends where you live. And you know, parking is typically available at studios, not always. But even if it is available at the studio, keep in mind that you also have to park when you get home, which is a really big pain in the butt in New York, so just keep that in mind. Alternatively, you can rely on public transit or carpools, but a note on public transit is that as you can see in this satellite image, this is Steiner Studios, production facilities take up a lot of room, and so they are typically in less populated areas and typically less populated areas have less public transit, so something to just keep in mind. There certainly are bus routes most places, but they tend not to be super consistent and are a little slow in the city, so just keep that in mind. Also you will see in this image, so all of these light buildings and this building with the black roof, those are all soundstages. So this is Steiner Studios, it has about 30 soundstages, so it is a really big facility. And then this brick building is an office building. And so that is where the art department and many other departments are in this production as well as many other productions. So this is where Maisel is produced, as well as a lot of others. And so typically your office will be in an office building adjacent to the stages and so if you need to go over to the stages to measure something or see how something is working, it’s a pretty short walk away, you can just go over there. Some graphic designers are remote, but most have to work on site. Sorry my dog’s barking. So it can be an option, but for most people you need to be on site because there is so much work that is really hands on and when people have requests, it’s really ideal to be able to have a conversation in person and look at resources together and make decisions in person, so you’ll typically see that the only people who really do remote work are either those with some seniority or those who do screen graphics primarily because if you’re doing screens, they don’t need to be physically made, so that is more applicable to remote work than most graphic design work. Especially if you’re in a city, the work is local most of the time. There’s so much around you that there really isn’t need typically to travel anywhere. Some offices are dog friendly. So far I’ve gotten lucky in being able to take my dog to work, but some are not, so you might have to look into care if you have a dog for them. The dress code is pretty casual I think because you know you have scenic painters walking around with paint splattered torn cargo pants, kind of the overall environment is more casual than a typical office setting.

 

N.Y. LOCATIONS - MAP

And so this is just a map of common places in New York. You see Steiner Studios, which is where I was just talking about, is in the bottom center, and so that you know most places are within Brooklyn and Queens. There’s a little bit in New Jersey. And then I also have a blue pin on Columbus Circle. And Columbus Circle represents the center of what we call “the zone,” which is a 30 mile radius around this point. And everything within that radius is contained in our contracts and doesn’t include any additional stipulation. And anything outside that range will include additional stipulations and you know you might be compensated for your travel outside of that. So everything inside that is what is considered standard work.

 

HOURS

Um so typically you will be working 9 to 10 hours a day, maybe more, but I think 10 hours is probably the most common. So that will mean you are likely going to be working from around 8 AM to 5:30 or 6:30 PM. Just with PA work, you are paid time and a half over 8 hours, so by doing 10 hours instead of 8, your pay actually increases by about 30%, so that’s a nice result of working so much. You will have a 30 minute unpaid lunch break and for anyone who works in the office, we get lunch ordered from a restaurant every day and delivered to us. If you were working on set, you would get lunch catered, but for the office, we will pick one or two restaurants and you’ll get to pick what you want to order within usually a $13 to $15 range and the office will pay for it and deliver it to you. And you know depending on COVID restrictions on where you’re working, you might be able to have a group lunch with the department, which is really nice and fun when you’re allowed to do that. I know COVID has kind of changed things, but it is a really nice way to you know have conversation having a busy day and take some time to relax with your coworkers. It can be tricky to take vacation time or leave for appointments when you are on a job. Especially in comparison to corporate work where the schedule is a lot more relaxed and flexible, there’s just so much going on in film and tv and such a regimented schedule that it does become more difficult. It is possible, it just necessitates a lot more planning and making sure that you’re leaving at a time that is good. But of course, you know, if you need to go to the doctor, go to the doctor. Like make sure your wellbeing is your priority, but just know that it is harder to fit into your day. You might occasionally be asked to stay late on days where things just need to get done for upcoming days of production or you might be asked to come in on a Saturday or Sunday. Again, you do get overtime so that’s nice, but it does really suck up all of your free time when that happens, so know that. And as I said you know the hours are long, so if you are a caretaker for either humans or pets, that might mean that you need to make arrangements for care. And we do have all federal holidays off, but they are not paid. We will also typically have Christmas week and one week in April or around then in the spring off. We do have one paid holiday which is MLK day, and for that we are paid 8 hours, but all of the other time off is not paid. So essentially, if you are not working you do not get paid.

 

RATES

So how much you make is determined by what tier your production is on. So in New York, we call the highest tier “majors” and so that is the highest budget. For that, the rate currently is $83.25 an hour. Below that are tiers 3, 2, and 1, 1 being the lowest, so those pay lower than the majors. If you’re working in Boston, you will see the term “Area Standards” and that is a rate slash contract that has been negotiated specifically for Boston. Some networks will also have their own contracts, examples being HBO and Netflix, so they have negotiated their own rates and they have their own contracts. So generally if you are working in New York and you are getting work consistently, you can expect to make a six-figure income. The range from the lowest tier to the highest tier ranges all the way from $28 an hour to $83 an hour, so there is quite a big range depending on what tier slash budget of production you are working on. You will see on your pay stubs at least in the New York area that your title will be described as assistant art director. We’re not assistant art directors, it’s just that we have the same rate as them, so that will be your title on your pay stub. And then you will be also be given some money for your kit fee. So instead of a production having to buy computers and printers and like all the tools at the start of every single production and lending them out and making sure that they have everything fro everyone, they will just pay you to bring in your own equipment. So I will give more information on this in a bit, but in general, you are paid about $200 a week for that in New York. Your kit fee is not regulated by any contracts, so it is negotiable.  Funds are deducted both on a weekly basis and a quarterly basis that goes towards the union. So if you’re on a majors production, that comes out to 2% of your weekly paycheck, plus $125 per quarter. Your production will also support your IATSE National Benefit Fund, so they will add money to basically the cost of having insurance, so you have a benefits fund account and the production will contribute money to that account. So that goes towards your health insurance, your annuity which is similar to 401k, and your pension. And so when it comes time for taxes, for every production you have been on, you will have a W2 for your hourly wages and a 1099 for your kit fee. So to give you an example of how much you can expect to make, this is if you are in New York and today in 2022, so the rate for majors is $83.25 an hour and if you’re working 9 hour days for a week, your gross wages are just about $4000 minus about $1500 in taxes plus about $200 in kit fee minus $80 in union dues for that 2% of your weekly income comes out to about $2559 a week. So that is quite good. There are some things to keep in mind of why it’s so high that I will go into in a minute and also keep in mind that this is specific to New York. And to the best of my knowledge, I don’t think there is anywhere else that has higher rates than this, so just keep in mind that your rates might be lower and that I think is both attributed there just being a really high cost of living here and also that our local has negotiated a really great rate for us, so just keep that in mind.

 

KIT

Okay, so your kit. So this is stuff that you are expected to bring that you own, that you maintain, and that you are paid for to be able to use by the production. So it is all maintained by you, no one else uses it but you, and the production will pay you to bring it in instead of for them to have to buy all of this stuff and maintain it. So typically you’re paid about $40-50 for this. Again it’s negotiable, so the higher the value of your kit, the higher you can negotiate for your kit fee. And everyone has a different kit. It really depends a lot on your personal preferences and what kind of work you tend to do and just want you find that you need versus what you don’t need. So the things that are really necessary for everyone are the computer and a printer. Typically 13 to 17 inches is the best for what we create. And then you will also need software, mostly being Adobe Creative Cloud. Most productions but not all use Dropbox, so you might also need Dropbox. Your phone, tape measure, and font library. If you ever need to get new fonts on a production, the production will pay for those new fonts, but it is really helpful to come in with your own set of fonts at the beginning. Nice to have items include things like scanner, Wacom tablet or other drawing tablet, Cricut or Silhouette which are computerized cutting machines, lightbox for tracing, paper trimmer, backup hard drive, Pantone swatch books, reference books, any ephemera you like to reference if you’re on a period production, and any art tools or supplies that you like to use. So the items here are examples of things that I have. Everything is personal to what you prefer, I have a typewriter. It’s because I love doing period design and I really love spending more time than you need to make them super detailed, so that is why I have a typewriter, but it is certainly not expected. I think most people do not have a typewriter in their kit. So this just being an example of your kit being personal to you and what you need to be successful in your job. And all consumables, which are things that are used fresh and then have to be discarded, so things like ink, paper, mounting materials, new fonts, and any stock imagery, are bought by the art department. So you are not responsible for putting ink into your printer, but you are responsible for bringing your printer in.

LEAVING A SALARIED JOB

So, before you go ahead and leave any salaried job that you have, there are a few things to know. The first being that you really lose any predictability and stability when you go into film and tv. You know we’re all freelancers and so it’s kind of the gig life where it’s always you know what’s next, what’s next, and making sure that you have enough work to keep you going. There, you know, when you have a salaried job, you know exactly how much you will make because that is your salary, you know what days you will be working, you know what to expect, most weeks are the same. But with this it can really vary and you can often have no idea what’s going to come next. So that is an element that you lose. There is no PTO as I said before. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid as a general statement. There is more complexity to taking sick days and things like that, but just as a general statement, you get paid for the days you come into work. Um yeah, because of the long hours it is really all-consuming during the week and occasionally even on weekends. So it does become harder to slip away for a couple hours and take care of things like going to the bank or calling the IRS, anything like that kind of just becomes a logistical challenge. And you can’t really take time off when you’re on a job. It is one thing to take an occasional Friday off, that’s typically workable, but to take like a whole week off or several weeks is typically not possible. Again, I have seen people make it happen, but it is challenging. And even between jobs, it can be difficult to take vacations because, especially when you’re new and you kind of have to be able to say yes to everything that comes your way and things can come up at any time, it’s also difficult at that stage to take vacations because you never know when things will come up. But you know again, if you’re in Canada and someone asks if you can show up tomorrow, of course you can’t, you can’t do everything, but it does make going away a little more difficult. Because we work as freelancers, all of our benefits are through the union, and so they’re contingent on continuous-ish work, so if you are not employed by union productions for too long, you might be at risk for losing your benefits. This does take a while to happen so you don’t need to be employed every single day, but just know that if you leave the industry for too long, that you can lose your benefits. As a PA, since you are not in the union, you do not yet have access to the union’s benefits. So if you are 26 years or older, you will not have benefits through your work, there are ways you can get it on your own, but you will not have access to it through your work. Taxes are also higher than if you are in a salaried job because when you are in a salaried job, your employer pays part of your taxes, and as a freelancer, you pay all of them, so that’s a factor. And also the benefits tend to be a little bit less robust in the film and tv industry than if you’re in a corporate job. So you might just be paying a little more for your insurance and you might not have some of the cool fringe benefits that you get at a salaried job. There is no 401k match, but there is the annuity fund which is a similar thing, so you can contribute pre-tax to your 401k, but it just will not be matched. You also can’t really pick one convenient or close by place to live because the place that you work changes at the start of every new production. And the regions you can get work in tend to be a lot more limited than if you were getting corporate work because productions are mainly in cities and big cities that tend to be big production hubs. So with a corporate graphic design job, you could probably get work just about anywhere, but in film and tv it does restrict you a lot more to being near cities. There is a fair bit of nepotism in the film and tv industry. You know it is a lot easier for those with connections to get into this work than it is if you do not, so that’s just the way that is and um yeah. There are longer hours, instead of a typical 40 hour work week, you will probably be looking at a 50 hour work week. It is more stressful, the pace is much faster, and things are a lot more rigid in the schedule, so that’s usually a source of stress. You are responsible for your own kit, so if your printer breaks, it is up to you to get it repaired or replaced. Oh and also about kits is your kit stays at the office, so if you want a monitor at home also, that means you need two monitors, so for me I bring my laptop back and forth and have a monitor at home and a monitor at the office. So you wind up having to have two sets of things.

 

BENEFITS OF FILM & TV WORK

Uh hi everyone, I just realized I accidentally skipped this slide, so I’m going to insert this here. So you know, there are downsides of film and tv work when you compare it to a salaried job, but there are also a lot of really great benefits. And personally speaking, I think they really outweigh the downsides. And so you know I think the big thing for me is there is just so much variety in this work. I have personally gotten bored at every single job previous to this just about at the 6 month mark every single time and with this not only are you very rarely on one job for more than 6 months, but you also just do so much with so much variety that it’s pretty hard to get bored. Because you’re doing so many different things, you amass a much wider range of design abilities than you typically would in a graphic design corporate or freelance job. So that’s something that I really enjoy, kind of feeling like a jack of all trades. You get to work with your hands, which is a really unusual combination, to be able to combine both graphic design and handcrafting things. It’s something for me that I really really love and that keeps me um yeah just really engaged with the work. And it kind of feels to me like I’m being more productive when I can see the physical effects of my efforts. So yeah, I really love that we get to work with our hands, and be a little crafty. The pay is higher than a lot of corporate or freelance graphic design jobs. For me, it certainly has given me a pay raise to go from corporate work to this. You get to choose who you work with, and you will see that, especially with people who have been in the industry for a while, that they have formed a core group of people who they like to work with again and again. And so you know once you find that core group of people who you work really well with um and you know you find you’re on the same page with them and you work in a similar manner, you can work with them again and again, and that’s a really great avenue to keep consistency and be comfortable with the people you’re working with. If you don’t like something or someone on the other hand on a job, it’s only temporary and you never have to do that again. Meals and snacks are provided and often from ordering lunch out every day, you often even have leftovers for dinner, so a nice little benefit of that is for our very busy lives with long workdays is that you need to do a little less grocery shopping. Um and because we’re creating so much so quickly, it really helps build a portfolio quite quickly. I remember feeling at the end of that one corporate job and at the end of my graphic design certificate program that I was kind of underwhelmed with the amount of work I had done in that timeframe and you know with this, it’s just so fast paced that you really build up a portfolio quite quickly. The note on that however is you cannot share your work publicly until that production has aired. But if you get an interview for a job, you can privately share that work that has not been released yet with the art director and the lead graphic designer. But just make sure you do that in a secure way like making a password protected page on your website or by sending them a PDF with that work. There is also pay equity form union rates, so you know that you are making the same as all of the other people in your role. Um there is sometimes a possibility of negotiating above your pay rate, but as far as I know that’s somewhat rare, so for the most part everyone is getting paid the same in the same role. From my experience I feel like I get more respect as a graphic designer in film and tv than I did in my corporate job, I think you know just because we’re all creative professionals and we all have a passion for just creating and seeing what others create, there’s just a much more positive environment from what I’ve seen. And it’s just so enjoyable to see what others are making and it’s nice to know they appreciate seeing what we’re making too. Um you know I did say there can be a really small chunk of time between jobs but on the other side of that you might also have really large chunks of time off between jobs. And so that could mean you take that time for relaxation, side projects, traveling, whatever it may be. And also you know, because the pay for this job is pretty good, you may not have to work year round if you have already satisfied your income goals for that year. You know you can choose to turn down jobs at that point. And lastly, it is really cool. You know one of my favorite parts is just being able to go to set and see what’s being built. It’s really incredible to walk onto a set and walk into this separate world from the real world and then to see your graphics go into building that and from there to see them go onto the tv screen or a screen in a movie theater is just a really really experience.

 

WES ANDERSON FILMS VS. BASICALLY EVERYTHING ELSE

So for me as someone who was introduced to this world by means of Annie Atkins and her work, I did have some misconceptions about this job. I in general just thought it was a lot more romanticized than it really is. So we do do a lot of utilitarian not glamorous graphics. Examples being bills, exit signs, paperwork, texting screen, mail. You see an example of this on the right. This is a bunch of paperwork and bills that Mary Hayes made for The Bear. It is a very labor intensive process to make stuff like this, and it is also stuff that audiences probably will never appreciate. So it’s kind of thankless work that takes forever and the printer inevitably breaks four times and it’s just a huge pain in the butt, but without all this stuff, you know, people don’t notice it when they’re there, but they do notice it when they’re not there. So it is really valuable to fill spaces and create authentic worlds. But just know that not all of our work is beautiful and exciting, it’s often very ordinary like this kind of stuff. If you are in teh US, you are not allowed to paint, age, or install graphics like graphic designers in the UK do because of the US’s union structure. So instead of graphic designers doing everything in the process, we hand it off to scenics and or set dressers to deal with for its finishing stages. So it can still be beneficial to age, paint, or construct a couple of portfolio pieces just to become mindful of the process and understand what you can do on the graphics side to really prepare graphics well to be installed and painted and aged by others. And you know, even if they’re not as important here as they are in the UK, I still think a strength is a strength, so if you are really great at being hands on, that’s still a good thing in the end. Time and resources are typically not allocated to people like sign painters and other crafts specialists. That is kind of an unusual perk that you see in Wes Anderson films, that everything has really been hand-crafted and done by specialists. In most scenarios, that’s done by the graphic designers in digital approximations, so we will apply brush strokes to letters in Photoshop to make them appear as convincing as we can make them. We kind of just have to do the best with the resources we do have. And for most directors, they have a lot on their plates and graphics tend to fall towards the bottom of their priority list. So usually the only interaction we have with directors is getting their approval on hero graphics, so things that are really going to be seen close up on screen. And even when you do make hero graphics, it often happens that you barely even see them on camera. You know they’re at an angle, they’re a little blurry, you can’t really see or make out what we have painstakingly designed, so yeah. And inserts, which are shots directly at graphics, can also be rare, so even if you are working on a hero graphic, it can be that sometimes it’s still not even seen that well. So that’s also something that really depends on the production, it can vary, but in general, graphics tend to not have quite a big spotlight as they do on Wes Anderson films in most cases. And our work is mostly on the computer. I would say probably like 90% of the day I’m on the computer. So even when we are doing things that are supposed to look hand-done, it’s still on the computer just for the sake of time. We just don’t have time to hand-craft every single thing. When we do have time, it is really ideal to if that’s what it’s supposed to be, but just for the sake of having not a lot of time, we do most of everything on the computer.

 

COMPUTER SKILLS

Alright. We’re getting there, I know this is a lot of content. So in terms of computer skills that you need, primarily we use Photoshop and Illustrator. And so for me, I find that I spend about 70% of my time in Illustrator and about 25% in Photoshop and the other 5% in other categories, so for me, the most important skill I think is being really fluid and fast in Illustrator. And just being able to google your way through anything you don’t know how to do, because that happens a lot where we are asked to make things where we have never made them before, and you’re expected to just figure out how to make it work. So in Illustrator, knowing how to handle text, how to make a vector version of a raster image, outlining and embedding text, and replicating existing design, especially for period work. And in this context, that’s not considered plagiarism, we do a lot of replicating original items, particularly for period graphics. So you know, you’re doing something that’s set in 1970 and they need a Clorox bottle, you will look up images of a Clorox bottle from 1970 and recreate it from images. So that is a really common thing that we do. In Photoshop, doing photo comps, manipulating photos, and doing any sort of basic drawing. If you are doing any screens, being able to use AfterEffects, ProtoPie which is a somewhat new program that is being used, and any other motion graphics programs, both for making still screens and motion screens. InDesign, I use it sometimes if I’m making something that’s really text heavy, but most things that you can do in InDesign, you can also do in Illustrator. So nice to have, but not necessary skill.

 

PHYSICAL PRODUCTION SKILLS

So, physical production skills. Generally, they are most important on period productions than contemporary, but all in all still important to have. Operation of wide format printers as I showed before, knowing how to load the paper, how to change the inks, how to troubleshoot since inevitably things always go wrong with the printer. Knowing how to trim with crop marks, how to wrap items, there’s an example of wrapping a matchbook here where we’ve been given some blank matchbooks and they need to fit inside this world that we are creating, so we will design to the size of the item and print it on label paper and stick it on. Material selection, knowing what kind of material graphics should go on based on if they need to be waterproof to be outside, if they need to be stiff to stand up on their own, thick or thin, things like that. Knowing how to construct boxes and other 3D items and how to make things like die cut patterns and how to send that out to a vendor. And being able to have fun or neat handwriting or script. You know again sometimes we use fonts if it’s not going to be seen up close, but it is a really nice skill to be able to make something that is really specific to a need, or something that’s scripted, so that’s also a nice skill to have.

 

LEARNING CURVES

Um and in terms of learning curves that you can expect, I think really the biggest thing is the pace of work. Usually we do not have time for the same processes you might be comfortable with in the corporate or academic sphere, being you know, brainstorming, sketching, several versions of drafts. The whole process just gets really abbreviated because we are doing so much in so little time and so you know things like this screenshot of a text where I you know we’re asked to make 8 more sheets of file labels and then all the sudden it’s 12 and it needs to be done ASAP, that’s a pretty common occurrence, and so just being able to respond to those really quick demands is an important skill. Um timing and prioritizing to get ready in time for what’s going to be shot, there are a lot of things happening and you know the schedule for shooting is primarily based on actor and location availability, so it’s not so much based on when graphics will be ready, so it’s our job to make sure that we are responding to the schedule that has been set and that everything is ready when it needs to be ready. Frequently making things that you’ve never made before, happens all the time. I think it’s actually fun to have that kind of variety, but it is something that can be difficult at times to figure things out on the fly and make things look great when we’ve never made them before. Being able to understand the artistic vision of the production designer. Um you know every production designer works in a different way, has different preferences, and just learning how to make things that work in this world that they are prescribing is a really important skill. Um knowing individual preferences in all of the departments we work with. So for example, um a scenic I worked with previously did not want us to do any digital aging on props or set pieces sorry. He wanted to be able to give them better texture by doing it by hand with scenics, so we did not do any digital aging on things. So sometimes we’ll do that before we print, but you know, this particular scenics preferred we don’t do any of it. So that’s an example of every time you start a new production, you work with new people and they might have specific preferences. Um knowing all of who’s what’s when’s where’s why’s and how things happens and where things go and things like that, that’s kind of a never ending list of things to figure out and you know it does become easier over time but it’s often still a puzzle of who needs what and when all of sorts of things like that. Um becoming familiar with your local vendors and their materials. We send things to out usually two main vendors in New York for most printing, so just becoming familiar with the materials they have, when you might go to one vendor over another for strengths or weaknesses one vendor might have. And all of the work we do outside of graphic design, um which is kind of a fair amount. And so that’s things such as getting approval on graphics from department heads, getting clearance from our legal team on graphics that we’ve made, getting quotes from vendors to find out how much things will cost to make, following up with those vendors to make sure that things are really getting done on time, tracking down graphics that have gone missing, things like that are really things that do eat up a decent portion of our day and that are not graphic design. Also working with people higher up who make requests and who might not understand the level of the request they have made who just expect it to be done. That’s something that you know you kind of just have to learn and or respond to professionally. So that’s sometimes a challenge. And you know letting go of your individual visions and being the makers of the ideas of others rather than your own. You know you’re responsibility is to use your skills and your knowledge to convert ideas into tangible graphics but as far as what those things have to look like, you know that’s not really up to us, so just being able to accommodate the aesthetic preferences and the styles of those that we work with is really important.

 

TIPS

So these are my best advice and tips. If you are currently in a salaried job, I recommend kind of sticking it out in that job to build up your savings, because as I said, film and tv can be really unpredictable and unstable so just making sure that you have a safety fund going. Um and so just to stick it out at that job while you seek Art PA work. Prepare to get onto COBRA benefits so you can maintain your benefits for a little while after you have left that job. And then to quit once you get a PA job that seems like it will last you a little while. You might sometimes get offers to fill in for just a couple days, so that's probably not a super stable to quit your current job for. But if you get hired for a full season for something, that could be a reasonable cause to quit your job I think. If you do not yet have graphics experience, my advice is to take one to two years to get work experience and to take classes in graphic design. I took classes for three years even through working full time and I think it made a huge difference in my work. Particularly if you can take classes in things like typography and layout and color theory and Adobe Creative Cloud programs, I think it’s super valuable. You know, knowing these kinds of type families that I have on the right, it really helps you make educated design decisions. And you know especially in period design because we break the rules so frequently, I think it really makes you a good rule breaker when you just know the rules. So being able to make really articulate design decisions, especially in a fast paced environment is something that I think you get out of really padding your educational background. And I would say just like don’t rush it, you know if you feel like you’re maybe not ready at this point, really take the time to invest in yourself as a professional and take that time to take classes and get work. Need water. So in terms of design exercises that you can try, again I recommend trying to do master copies of design that you find, whether that be older design or just design in your current world to try to convert a physical object that you have into a flat digital file. And also to try doing timed design. You know like set a timer for 5 minutes and make yourself make make a full business card or um you know a poster in just 5 minutes. It will probably will not be portfolio material, but it’s really good to train yourself to just pump out design that works at a basic level. And maybe it is that you kind of stumble upon something great in those really rushed, quick decisions, and it’s something that you can develop later on into something that you can spend more time on. You can ask graphic designers to do informational interviews or site visits. Site visits might not be feasible for COVID restrictions. Some productions are more strict than others with COVID restrictions and who can come in without being tested and things like that, but you can ask graphic designers if you can talk to them on the phone, if you can do a site visit and see their office. Really the more that you can talk to people and form connections with them, the better. Write down everything you are told, always ask when you have questions, and stay super organized are very very important. You know we do so much and it’s so easy for things to fall through the cracks when there are so many tasks on our tasks and so many new things coming in constantly, things changing, so staying organized and making sure that you have all the information you need to have is really important. Get to know other departments. Even if you are you know in the art department, it’s still great to get to know people in set dec and props and any other departments because we do work with them all the time and it also might happen that you get to learn more about say set dec and you decide that set dec is actually where you think is best for you or where is the best fit for your skillset, so you never know. Really just try to, especially as a PA when you have a little more free time, just try to branch out and talk to lots of people. Show up and do good work. You know everything is based on your reputation as someone who is reliable and great to work with and just produces good work, so make sure that the work you produce is representative of your abilities. If you are interested in looking for work in a country outside of the country you have citizenship, just know as kind of a blanket statement that getting a visa for film and tv work is a little extra complicated just because you do not have one long-term employer, you are constantly employed by new people and might have breaks in your employment, so I can’t speak to specific countries since everything is different in every country, but just know on a blanket level that it is a little more complex than if you were trying to get a job at a salaried office. And to keep NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) to take them seriously. It can affect your work prospects if you are the source of leaked information, whether it be accidental or intentional. So just be really careful with sharing information that shouldn’t be shared. And be persistent and a self-starter. You know especially in the beginning, it can be hard to get momentum in your career, so just really keep at it. You know it can take some time so be patient and keep working at it and um yeah.

 

RESOURCES

So these are some resources I will leave here for you guys to go through. Some online learning resources, some places where you can look into continuing education classes, Annie Atkins work and the resources she has, a few interviews. Gina Alessi who is a graphic designer has a course that will be coming out in the future so you can sign up for updates on that. There’s an Instagram page called “Graphuckery.” I think one of the best ways to get a realistic view on what a new career is like to see memes that people have made about it, so if you want a little taste of reality, that’s a pretty good place to look. And then I have some regional information on the other side for places you can go for more information, um depending on where you live. If your location is not listed here, these are just representative of the most common places all the sign ups were from, you can try searching your location be that a city or a country and all “film and tv commission” and you should be able to find some form of organization that you can go to for more information.

 

GLOSSARY

Um and this is also, I’m not going to go through all of it, this is just for you to keep for your reference. Some common terminology that you might hear. So this is just for you to keep. I will send this presentation out to everyone, so no need to write everything down, this is just for you to use.

Q&A

So that is the end, um, I will stop sharing. And let’s see. I’m going through the comments, I haven’t had time to look through everything. Okay if anyone has any questions I will be happy to take them at this point. Um you can go to reactions at the bottom of your screen and raise your hand or you can also um post your comment or sorry your question in the chat and I will answer from there. Let me just go through what I see so far.

 

Is it possible to work in multiple departments or are you only allowed to work in costume or graphics? You can get work to start out in any department um and kind of go from there. For graphics, you only work in the art department. It can also there is some variation in that you could be a graphic designer just for the props department and only do graphics on props, but you work still in the art department.

 

Biking to Steiner is the best. Yes, probably, also terrifying. I tried to bike to Steiner a few times and feared for my life, so, to each their own. E-scooter, yes great. Great option for New York. Yes, Mary Hayes is in Chicago, she’s wonderful. Quantum and DeBoer are the 2 main vendors in New York, yes.

 

My recommendation on printers. I guess I’ve only used Epson printers so far so I can only speak to that, but I do like it. I have an Epson SureColor P-900 currently and it can print up to 17” wide. There’s also a 13” wide printer but because I like to be able to use my printer for illustration work that I do on the side, that’s why I have a larger printer. So yeah, I guess I like it haha it has a light on the inside so you can watch as things print which I am a fan of. It’s like watching things in the oven.

 

Knowing everyone programs differently, what are your fave tips and tricks that make your Illustrator and Photoshop workflow more efficient? Do you use custom actions or have brush packs or fonts? Um right now because I’m on a period production, I like using uh, I’m blanking on the name, Retro, oh no I’m blanking on the name, Retro something. But you know, there are several places where you can buy actions, which are like set programs that you use to apply effects to your work. And so those are great for adding effects. Yeah I mean it really depends. Also fonts, there have been some new rulings in US legislature that affected what fonts we were allowed to use on a legal basis. So that has loosened things up, so technically we are allowed to use any font, but you might be on a production where the legal team is a little extra strict and says you can only use Adobe fonts, you can only use Monotype fonts, so that might depend on the production you’re on. Um, but yeah, in general, I mean I guess Adobe fonts are nice because they’re easy to activate and they’re not sketchy, you know in comparison to other free fonts.

 

One of the first slides said no remote work. Was that only meant for PA work? Um yeah so PAs cannot be remote. Um just as a blanket statement. It might be you know if you get sick you can work remotely for a couple days, but in general you do need to be in the office. For graphics, it tends to be that you need to be in the office, but there are some situations where you can work remotely. It’s just not as generally feasible as it would be in a corporate setting.

 

My favorite movie or tv show outside of Maisel as far as graphic design sense goes? I know this is really typical, but The Grand Budapest Hotel. I’m sorry, it’s expected and it’s true.

 

Examples of what to expect on the exam? I can’t really give any information outside of what’s provided, and also it changes every year, so I can’t really speak to what it will be this year. But you know don’t expect to expect to be creating anything super wild, it’s definitely within the realm within most designers’ abilities. So yeah don’t be too afraid of things you’ll be expected to do.

 

Is it worth pursuing design for film and tv in a small city or remotely? Could be? I mean, I only have experience working in a big city, I do know that smaller cities tend to have lower budget productions and on lower budget productions, they often don’t even have a graphic designer. And if they do, it tends to be pretty low paying. So just know that, you know alternatively, it’s kind of a trade off where you’re in a big city, there’s lots of jobs but there’s also lots of competition. If you’re in a smaller city or town, you know, fewer jobs but you can really kind of corner the market, so it’s kind of a trade off.

 

Why PAs don’t have benefits in the union after 26 years old? Do PAs under 26 have benefits? No so PAs no matter what age you are, do not have access to benefits because you are not in the union. I think if, I would have to get veirifcation on this, but if you are a union member from another category, I’m pretty sure you can maintain your benefits if you are working as a PA, I’m just pretty sure you will not continue to get money contributed to that fund from your production if you are working as a PA. So I hope that answers your question
*CLARIFICATION: I think I misunderstood this question. 26 years is just the cutoff in the US for having the option to be on your parents’ insurance, so if you’re 26 or older and a PA, you won’t be able to be on your parents’ insurance or your work’s insurance — you’ll have to find alternatives individually.

 

How do you find your materials, paper, research, etc? Um we keep a stock of paper in the department for things that we commonly use. And anything that’s specialty we order, so we do a lot of ordering from B&H for our paper, there are some other specialty places depending on where you live. And it’s kind of just trial and error to see what stuff works. I think for me one of the things I’ve discovered recently is that cheaper paper is often better on period productions because things just look too good on high quality materials. So I’ve been doing a lot of printing on crappy printer paper recently.

 

Yeah Epson, I haven’t had any experience with Roland. But also I mean, the really large format printer we have in the department, um and a note on that that that really large printer is owned and operated by the art department. So the only printers we typically have are up to 17”, it could be that you have a giant printer and you include that in your kit, but it’s not expected or common.

 

What about a graphic designer transitioning from another field? I mainly do key art and home video packaging. I’d rather not be an Art PA at 40. I understand that. I do have some PA experience though. Yeah I mean it’s totally possible, especially if you’ve done as much research as you can, try to do informational interviews with people, and just get as much information as you can. I do understand, most PAs tend to skew younger. But absolutely, I’ve seen PAs be older than 40 so do not think that is restrictive, it’s just what you tend to see because it’s a lower paying job, but yeah I mean you can totally get experience in any other department or role and it’ll be helpful. And also I think just in general, because we do so much in terms of the range that we’re responsible for, you will be shocked at how relevant seemingly irrelevant experience becomes. Like I worked at a frame shop in college and never thought that would be relevant to graphic design, but now it’s really helpful that I know how to take stuff out of frames and reframe them. So you know that’s an example of something. If you’re bilingual, that’s a really good skill to have. You know we do have access to translators, but mistakes could happen and we would never know because we don’t speak that language. So if a production is going to have something that’s really heavy in Spanish, and you’re bilingual in English and Spanish, that is a really good qualification to have.

 

Um, is having a car/drivers license usually needed to get job as a PA? Probably? I think I was asked if I had a license when I applied for my PA job. I don’t think it’s restrictive completely but it definitely does make you a stronger candidate for a job if you can drive.

*CLARIFICATION: a drivers license is valuable, but the department will likely have its own rental car that the PAs use.

 

Do you think you would ever host workshops in NY similar to what Annie Atkins does? At this point in my career because I am so busy, maybe not, but in the future, I think that would be really lovely.

 

Are 26 folks in the US on parental benefits? I don’t know. I will give you guys, actually you already have it, the last page in the, the 2nd to last page in the presentation has links to locals and they are great places to ask questions like parental benefits.

*CLARIFICATION: yeah sorry I think I misunderstood this too as “parental leave benefits.” Yes, 26+ folks in the US get kicked off their parents’ benefits.

 

Specific classes you’d recommend. I mean for me personally, I went through RISD’s continuing education graphic design program, and that was, it usually lasts 2 years, I did it in 3, I just slowed things down a little bit. So I mean, I recommend going through a full program like that, but alternatively, just taking single classes in things like typography and color theory are really valuable. So yeah, any and all classes.

 

Where would you go for period research pre-1910? So many places I don’t know it really depends on what specifically you want. If you want like original documents, sometimes I go on archive.org, it’s the same source for Wayback Machine, and they just have a really extensive collection of scanned books and documents. So that’s a really nice way to search. I will say that period design is somewhat frustrating to research in that if you ever use the word “vintage,” you get like Etsy things that people have made that look vintage, not things that are vintage, so that can be kind of a tricky thing. So finding sites that have um really good cataloguing and search options are great. Also I use, my uh like most common used research is eBay actually. Because when people post things on eBay, they tend to post really specific information, they will show pictures of the item on all sides, they might even give you dimensions on the actual item, and that is really rare information to find on just like any image posted online, so I do a lot of searching in the collectables category on eBay. That’s kind of a great resource, and you know the items there are always changing so you never know what you’ll find.

 

Do you need to have professional design experience to get into the union? I have a BFA in graphics but not much freelance corporate experience since they went into the film industry from doing Art PA work. No, um you definitely don’t need it, I think it’s helpful, but yeah I mean I know people who have come in from being a graphic designer from being uh you know costume designer or working in like crazy seemingly unrelated things like insurance or like being an office manager and again you know like there’s so much in this job that you wind up having relevant skills from kind of wherever you come from. So if you do have a professional background, great, I think it is usually an easier switch to go from corporate graphic design to film & tv graphic design than it is to go from other film & tv roles to go to graphic design for the first time, but it’s possible to do both.

 

Um, is there a major difference for graphics between scripted tv and network tv? Currently on a narrative out in Long Island City, but very interested in late night daytime TV. I have not experienced network, or anything outside of, the two shows I have been on have been The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel for season 4 and season 5 and I worked on an Apple TV show that has not been released yet. So that’s the limit of my experience, there are definitely, I mean even between like tv and film, film definitely tends to skew more like relaxed pace, you have more time to go through everything, so there are differences in every format of production. But there are several graphic designers on Saturday Night Live who work in New York, so you can look out for their work. I mean it’s kind of crazy, they can do work on something in a week and then have it shared publicly a week later, whereas you know for most of us, we do some work and then we wait like a year, year and a half before we can show it to anyone, so I guess that’s kind of a nice side of it, that you can build a public portfolio pretty quickly.

 

Retro Supply, thank you I totally blanked on that. Yep, True Grit Texture Supply is another great source. Texturelab.com, yes. Heritage Type, yes. 

 

What is expected as a beginner in your portfolio, quantity and variety? I mean ideally, lots of variety, you know for me personally, I am pretty invested in period graphics, um and so that’s something that I’ve tried to tailor my portfolio to, but I think for most people, the goal is really to be a jack of all trades. And to show that you are capable of working on whatever someone calls you in to work on. So um yeah being able to show that you have relevant skills for any sort of job is really good. And you know, quantity comes with time. You are always more than welcome to make portfolio projects on your own, it doesn’t have to be work from an actual production. Especially when you’re new and you don’t have much in your actual production production, you’re welcome to still have some self-directed work in it.

 

Um things you need to know about clearance, general rules of thumb. Um clearance tends to be more of a strict thing on contemporary work than it is on period work because people are still alive, business are still in, still going, whereas with period work, usually people are no longer alive, businesses may have gone out of business, and so that tends to be a little bit more relaxed. But like you know on the Apple TV show I did, it was contemporary slash futuristic, and even things like the logos on AC’s we had to change, where as on a period production, you probably wouldn’t have to do that, so it’s really period specific and production specific. Every production has its own legal team, so they might have specific rules for that production. But generally, you know as long as you’re not portraying anything negative about a brand or a person, generally it’s okay. But you know for safety, we tend to use crew names instead of you know real names on things, we’ll make up new brands, things like that, so yeah, it really depends.

 

Best place to find period correct fonts? Um yeah I mean one of the things I have in my source of resources is old type foundry books. So it used to be that type foundries would release a catalogue of their types or their fonts every year, and so that’s kind of a nice way to have a list of what was available in a specific year. I also really like using Fonts in Use, which is a website that you can go to and you can search like “1970s” and it will give you fonts and examples of those fonts in real examples from the 1970s.

 

Um how people in film manage their physical slash mental health, is there a lot of bullying on productions? So far, I don’t, I really haven’t seen bullying. I think it’s really kind of similar to working in any setting, where the people you work with tend to be great and sometimes there might be someone higher up who is a little bit of a pain, so you know you find that everywhere. But for me personally, the people I’ve worked with have genuinely been great. So there can be some strong personalities in film and tv, but the people that you tend to work with in your art department and other departments tend to be really great. I mean as far as how you manage your physical mental health, as I said it can be hard to take time out of your day, but you know you can’t get work you can’t do work if you’re not at your best, so you know take care of yourself, make that a priority and you know if, the people I work with right now, if I said I need to take a day off, we would make that happen. So you know most people are great to work with, and do what you have to do.

 

Do you have to be a PA first before being a graphic designer in the union? You don’t have to be but it is beneficial.

 

Have you ever had to recreate a logo because a certain organization would not allow use of real logos? Yeah, example, I’ve been listening to the Office Ladies podcast and an example they gave the other day in the podcast is they had to flip the colors in the Red Cross’s logo, because they didn’t want their logo to be used, so yeah sometimes you will make a logo that is kind of a facsimile of a real logo and sometimes we will just have to make something that is completely different for legal reasons.

 

Um, let’s see. What kind of projects and skills do lead designers slash art directors or anyone hiring graphic designs tend to look for in portfolios? Um, yeah I think it’s specific to the production they’re gearing up for. So when I was getting interviewed for that Apple TV show, it was futuristic, so they asked me to send um some examples of futuristic work, which I didn’t really have so I sent them my contemporary work and that was good enough I guess. But yeah I mean they want to see that you have skills that will be relevant to that specific production, so that’s another reason I guess to just have a really varied portfolio so that you have something to suit everything.

 

Do you work with post production like VFX artists? Yes. Especially if it’s something will need to have something done to it in post, we will have a conversation with them sometimes on what they need from us. Sometimes with screens, we will use what we call practical screens, which are screens that are really on in real life. And than can either be controlled by the actor or by someone in um who’s controlling the screen off-screen. Or it could be just like a fake screen or a green screen where post puts in our screen that we design after everything has been shot. So yeah, we definitely work with them.

 

As an 18 year old, would you suggest doing an internship, are those possible on a film set or are there production assistant jobs in terms of getting experience? Um I have heard of a few people getting internships, um, but i think it’s pretty rare and it tends to be something really only offered to um people with family connections unfortunately. So yeah, the best place to go is Art PA jobs, because I mean really if you are an intern you’re doing the exact same thing as an art PA so it’s kind of the same thing and internships tend to be kind of rare.

 

Um yes, archive.org is amazing. Um, how can we work on graphics if we are only an Art PA? Do we have to be in the union, is there non-union graphics position? Yeah so I mean it is possible to get graphics work on a non-union production, it just tends to be a little bit rarer that that’s available, and it tends to be a lot lower paying, so that’s the reason for shooting for union productions. If you are an Art PA and you want to create graphics, you can create graphics that are only going to be used in your portfolio, they are never going to be on set, that is okay to do in your free time. Um or as I said, if the production asks for you know a birthday banner or um an example is on season 4 of Maisel, at one point I was, at the point I was an Art PA, they asked me to design an illustration for the wrap gift. So that was graphics work, but because it was not for the screen, it was okay for me to do.

 

What else. Do you have an example of a project that didn’t hit the mark or you couldn’t complete tasks? How did you deal with it and move forward? Uh yeah, on that Apple TV show, I ordered something that was the wrong size and it was a truly gigantic, it was like the biggest graphic I have ever gotten produced and it was horrifying and it was like my 2nd week of work and it was awful. And so yeah I mean it took more money to fix it, which the production had, and that happens when you’re new that you make mistakes. I don’t think it’s a mistake that I would make now, but that’s just part of the process is messing up and I think in that scenario what had happened was I just hadn’t asked enough questions from decision makers, so you know, making sure that you ask every single person that might have an opinion, um or might have an influential opinion, is really important. And yeah it was embarrassing, but I you I know I stuck through it, I worked with our vendor and we got a new one, they weren’t happy about it, but yeah, that’s life.

 

Do you have any advice for a rising senior working towards BFA in graphic design who wants to jump into this field after graduating? Portfolio preps, when I should reach out to Art Department Coordinators, when I should secure a PA job, etc. Uh yeah, yeah just work on portfolio that make you excited. Like this is your time to make exactly what you want because once you’re on a job, you’re making what other people want you to make, so this is kind of your time to be experimental, what works for you, what your skillset is, um and what yeah what makes you special as a graphic designer. So yeah just make a lot I guess a lot. Just make stuff. It doesn’t have to be good, just keep making things and I think just the process of making something every day is really important. And I think you know for me, looking back, I think there was this phase in my development where I could recognize what I was creating was not good, and so I knew there was something wrong but I couldn’t articulate what that thing was.  And being able to go from there to being able to articulate exactly what you need to fix is like a monumental shift in design thinking. And I think that’s one of the really valuable things I got out of my certificate program was we did so many critiques. And you know, in the moment, they can feel a little boring, but the process of being really specific and articulating exactly what is working and exactly what isn’t on other people’s allows you to them apply it to your own work. So yeah being able to self-critique is really important. Yeah, and just make a lot of stuff. It doesn’t have to be good. Just keep making and things will get better.

 

Do you know of any good designers to get in touch with who work in Europe like Annie Atkins? The link that I provided at the end of the presentation for the UK is the Graphics Union. Um so that is a great resource to go to and they can point you towards other resources too I’m sure.

 

Um when you make graphic props with handwriting on them and you need to make some exact copies do you scan the handwriting or write them one by one using tracing paper? Usually we print them. There just usually isn’t enough time to handmake everything. And even if you do use tracing paper, you can still make little errors, so it just is a safer process. The downside is that printing will never look as good as something that has been made by you know your hands and a pencil. Like there are dots of ink rather than a really solid line, so it does look not quite as good super close up. Um but if you remember that the camera will probably never be closer than like 6 feet away, it’s probably okay. So yeah in an ideal world, we would do everything by hand, but in reality and in practice, we do a lot of copying and printing. Um also to keep in mind that if you ever use the laser printer, there is a slight sheen to all of the ink, so you know, if you print something, especially something that’s thick or bold, you can usually see that when the light catches it, so that’s an example of where we would either do it by hand or make sure to do it on an inkjet.

 

Um how were you able to be hired for a union graphics job while you were taking the exam? Did you apply after or while working as an Art PA? Um my situation is kind of unique in that what happened was I had started the exam process partway, or no I had started before i got hired, and so at the time that I finished the exam process, I was in the middle of that Art PA job so I passed the exam and it just so happened that the graphics team was really in a jam and needed extra hands so because I had just passed, I was eligible for work. And so that's why they were able to switch me over to graphics. Had I not finished the exam at that point, they would have not been able to do that. So yeah but you need to have finished the exam to be able to do graphics.

 

Um do you ever get a response from cold calling or emailing in the art department, if any should it be the art director? What’s deemed persistent too pushy when emailing? Um yeah I’d say maybe like 40% of the people I emailed would respond. And I think by the time I got my job on Maisel, I had emailed every single Art Department Coordinator in 829 as well as maybe 100 computer artists and art directors. So it took a lot and it kind of is a numbers game in just trying to contact as many people as you can. Some people who responded did give specific timeframes on when I could try contacting them again, but I would say like about a month I think is reasonable. And you know like, try not to be pushy, but you do need to be persistent. And it is a good trait to show that you are persistent and you do whatever it takes to get the job done. Like our Art PAs all the time are having to call back multiple times to make sure that a vendor is going to ship something on time, so that is something that you need to be able to do, so it can go both ways.

 

Does having an online presence help? I think. So far I have not been hired because someone saw my Instagram page, but you know, it’s always a good thing to get your work in front of more eyes and you never know who will see your work and recommend you for something, so I think it’s helpful. Especially having a public website where if anyone hears of your name, they can google your name and look at your work, I think that’s really important. Yeah I mean I post my work to Instagram because I’m a nerd for my job and I love what I do and I love when other people are interested in it, so that’s like part of the reason, but yeah, there is the hope that someone who is a decision maker sees your work and wants to hire you.

 

Um, what’s the design briefing process like when starting a project? Do you generally know all of the props you will have to make or does it evolve through the project? Yeah it changes on a daily basis. Um usually for props, the propmaster will come into my office and say hey, here is this item, we need it to be covered in something for this specific scene, we need 12 of them, and we need it tomorrow. That’s kind of like a typical brief. We might have more discussion on it if it’s a hero prop and what exactly it needs to accomplish, but yeah I mean ideally you get a list at the start of every episode if you’re on a tv show or at the start of the production on film of what will be needed through that entire episode or film. But often things come up very last minute and we’re always adding things to our list of to do’s.

 

Do you find that set dec prefers laser prints because they can be aged without bleeding? Yeah I mean that’s a benefit but also know that there’s a difference between pigment inks and dye inks so the Epson P900 that I have, it bleeds a tiny bit when it’s put in paper, or put in water, but it bleeds much less than like this little printer I have behind me, it’s an Epson Expression something, you know it’s just like a little inkjet printer, so there is a difference in inks that you use in inkjet printers and some are more water resistant than others. But yes it is a benefit that toner can never bleed at all.

 

Um let’s see. I emailed 10 people the other day and 4 people got back to me. Yeah that’s like a pretty good return rate I think! Yeah, if they ask for 12 make 20. That is true I do tend to try to make a few extra secretly, you know if you’re asked to make 15, make 16 or 17 and keep them, but don’t tell anyone because if you tell them then they want them now and they lose them and then you don’t have them. So, and it’s like a super secret power when they’re like we need one more real quick and you’re like I have it it’s all ready, so yeah, that’s a great tip.

 

If anyone wants to, oh, is there a resource for art department coordinator email lists or production listings in the area? Not that you can access yourself, but you can email art department coordinators and ask if they would mind putting you on that list. Yeah. If anyone also wants to ask any questions live, you’re welcome to do that or you can just keep posting them here, either way. Um, yeah, I think that might be just about it. Does anyone else have any questions? No? If you do think of any other questions, oh general rules for clearance? Yeah I mean basically, they just want to know that we’re not saying anything negative about a person or a place or a company that’s just really the main thing that we focus and that we’re not infringing on any copyrights, those are really the main things, and outside of that, you know we do our best to make sure it’s cleared. But yeah, okay, great, I hope this was helpful for everyone. This recording will be available to you within a day or two and I will also email out the presentation file. If you have any other questions, feel free to email me and I will do my best to answer them. But I hope you all can go out and enjoy this beautiful weekend and that you feel like this career is within reach because it’s a really fantastic career that I love and I hope that you all feel that it’s accessible. So um yeah thank you so much for joining and listening to all this and uh good luck with everything! Alright, goodbye!