The Art Department

Ever wonder what an Art Department does?

The Art Department

In the movie, television and entertainment industries the Art Department is the section of a production’s crew dedicated to visual artistry and design. The Art Department is often the largest department working on a movie or television show. Working with the director, the production designer and the art director are responsible for creating the overall aesthetic of the production. The production designer works very closely with set decorators. The set decorator must provide anything that furnishes a film set. With their own team of prop buyers and set dressers, the set decorator must source the props in-keeping with the productions aesthetic and design. The Art Department is imperative to visual storytelling. The talented design professionals working in the entertainment industry today are often the unsung heroes behind some of our favorite movies, TV shows and even commercials and music videos. They are the architects of many worlds.

Positions held within the Art Department

There are a vast number of positions in an Art Deparment, the main ones are:

  • Production Designer
  • Lead Graphic Designer
  • Art Director
  • Construction Buyer
  • Set Decorator
  • Concepts Artist
  • Supervising Art Director
  • Prop Maker
  • Assistant Art Director
  • Storyboard Artist
  • Art Department Coordinator
  • Art Department Assistant
  • Lead Set Designer
  • Property Master
  • Leadman
  • Design Researcher
  • Gang Boss
  • Senior Model Maker
  • Prop Master
  • Draper
  • Set Dresser
  • Production Painter
  • Prop/Production Buyer
  • Sculptor
  • Scenic Painter
  • Draughtsman
  • Carpenter
  • Rigger
  • Construction Foreman

Guilds, Unions and Societies

There are organizations throughout North America and Europe that promote and protect the interests of the various areas that exist within the Art Department.

  • North America

  • Art Directors Guild

  • Set Decorators Society of America

  • International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees

  • National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians

  • Europe

  • British Film Designers Guild

  • French Production Designers Association

  • German Association of Production and Costume Designers

  • Austrian Film Designers Association

  • Swiss Syndicate Film and Video

  • Italian Production Designers, Costume Designers and Set Decorators Guild


There are many undergraduate and postgraduate college courses in the disciplines of film, television and theatre design. Below are some the degree programs available in the United States:

  • UCLA - MFA Design for Theatre and Entertainment Media (details)
  • SCAD - BFA in Production Design (details)
  • Chapman University - MFA in Production Design (details)
  • New York University - Design for Stage and Film (details)
  • George Washington University - MFA in Production Design (details)
  • Arkansas State University – BFA in Theatre Design Technology (details)
  • Arizona State University - Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Design and Production (details)
  • Iowa State University - Bachelor of Arts in Performing Arts Theatrical Design (details)
  • West Virginia University - BFA in Theatre Design and Technology (details)
  • Utah State University - BFA in Theatre Design and Technology (details)
  • University of Nebraska - MFA Stage Design (details)
  • American Film Institute – Production Design (details)

*If your university has a course for film, television or stage design please contact us and we will add it to the list

Written by Published on 8th May 2016

Please note that guest comments need to be approved before they appear.