A set painter is classified as a technician who works in the entertainment industry, primarily in films, TV shows and live theater. This is mainly a unionized job which pays by the hour; it is quite difficult to find work if you don’t belong to one of the unions organized in this industry. Further information on how to become a set painter is discussed below.
- Set painting involves painting background scenery and props, forming part of the production activity on a film, TV studio set or a theater scene for plays, opera, musicals, etc.
- While you don’t need to be a Michelangelo or Picasso to paint sets, you must have some experience of throwing paint on a wall or painting life-size structures such as building cutouts, trees, lamp posts and other background props used in the entertainment industry.
- Start with joining the school or any local community drama club, where you work on creating sets and props; look for part-time or vacation jobs in set painting in nearby TV stations or theaters.
- Begin maintaining a portfolio of the work and projects you’ve done; once you’ve received your high school diploma, you can look for courses in production and technical processes used in the entertainment industry, or courses in art/painting, etc.
- If you’re serious about learning more than just set painting, head to film or art school, where you can attend programs lasting for two years or more, this will also give your resume an edge over other resumes.
- Check for work you can do on independent projects, where non-union workers are welcome, to gather some much-needed work experience.
- Research information on unions for film technicians and craftsmen, which have chapters or offices in a location close to you. Some examples of nation-wide unions are the United Scenic Artists Association (USAA) and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts (IATSE).
- Being a union member ensures that you get paid a decent wage, along with health, vacation and other benefits.
Follow the guidelines provided above to become a set painter.