Exhibition Designer

    If you are wondering how to become an exhibition designer, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of the design industry, as well as job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    Exhibition designers design displays and stands for events such as:

    discussing requirements with clients
    large public exhibitions such as the Ideal Home Show
    conferences and exhibitions for trade and industry
    temporary displays for business, museums, libraries and galleries.

    Typical responsibilities:

    presenting their ideas as sketches, scale plans, computer-generated visuals and models
    discussing their ideas with clients
    producing final specifications
    handling orders for supplies
    liaising with technical specialists such as lighting staff.
    In smaller companies, exhibition designers oversee the construction of the components (usually in a workshop), and assembly and installation at the exhibition venue.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of good exhibition designers include:

    design and artistic skills
    the ability to think creatively and laterally
    technical drawing skills
    the ability to use computer aided design (CAD) packages
    the ability to work to tight deadlines
    model making skills
    good communication skills
    numerical skills
    awareness of health and safety issues
    teamworking ability.

    How to become an exhibition designer
    You may be able to enter exhibition design at junior assistant level. It will be an advantage if you have Interest and ability in areas such as computer aided design (CAD) and photography.

    Before applying either for work or training you should put together a portfolio of your art and design work.

    Entry requirements for designer positions vary between different jobs, but whether or not they require formal qualifications, all employers will expect to see evidence of your design ability, so you will need a relevant and up to date portfolio. You might be able to enter from another area of design.

    Many employers will expect you to have a formal qualification. British Display Society (BDS) vocational qualifications include:

    the Advanced Diploma in Exhibition Design
    a range of design certificates.
    They are offered by a limited number of colleges. See the BDS website (in Further Information)for details.

    At higher education level you can complete degrees, HNDs and foundation degrees in design-related subjects. Degrees in exhibition design, which are available at a limited number of universities. Other relevant subjects include:

    spatial design
    interior design
    three dimensional (3D) design
    graphic design.
    For information about foundation degrees see Foundation Degree Forward. To search for colleges and universities offering art and design foundation courses, foundation degrees, HNDs and degrees see Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

    Entry requirements for courses may vary, so you should check with colleges and universities for their specific requirements. If you do not have the formal qualifications you may be considered if you can show exceptional talent through your portfolio and experience.

    Training and Development
    You may be able to take part in graduate training scheme with larger companies. Other training opportunities will depend on your employer and the size of the company. You may be& able to:

    work towards work-based qualifications
    attend college by day release to study for vocational qualifications such as NVQs
    shadow more experienced staff.
    NVQs are available at Level 2 in Design Support, Level 3 in Design and Level 4 in Design Management.

    Organisations such as D&AD run courses, workshops and design award schemes for members, which you may find useful for professional development. For example, D&AD runs Workout, a range of one-day development courses. Visit the D&AD website for details.

    You may find it useful to join a professional organisation such as the Chartered Society of Designers, as this will give you access to advice, and opportunities for ongoing training and development and networking.

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    Newly-qualified designers earn around £15,000 per year
    Experienced designers can earn between £20,000 and £30,000
    Freelance designers are likely to be paid a fee for each exhibition – rates vary widely.

    Job Prospects
    As an exhibition designer you may be employed as part of a team by an exhibition design practice. Other employers include large organisations such as museums with their own design departments, and retailers.

    Once you have a successful record of work you may be able to progress to a more senior position such as team leader or senior designer.

    With experience you could become freelance, in which case your success will depend on building up your contacts and reputation.

    Useful design resources:
    Association of Exhibition Organisers
    119 High Street
    HP4 2DJ
    Tel: 01442 285810

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