Education and Training for Theming, Design, and Fabrication
One common question we get here at Monster City Studios is “Are you hiring?”. We get a lot of walk-ins who have seen our building while driving by, looked at our website, or heard of us through different media sources and have made that very same query.
With the wide range of materials and process that we employ here at Monster City Studios, many people wonder what we look for in a potential new hire. First, we look for creativity. Most of our projects call for an artistic eye, not only in the creation of our projects, but in creative problem solving as well.
Creativity is a given. You want the specifics. What skills and trades do we look for? Techniques we use on our projects range from digital graphic design and 3D modeling all the way to custom carpentry, metal work, sculpting, mold making and specialty painting techniques and treatments. Another trait we look for in our employees is to a have a well rounded understanding of all the skill trades we employee. Our staff are specialized in their given trades but need to understand the different processes that their co-workers perform and how that will affect their involvement in projects. Since we are a non-union shop, our staff can be leading a process in their specialty one day and then be assigned to a team under one of their fellow employees leadership of a different process the next day depending on the workload and schedule.. A job may require you to sand foam one day and make a mold the next. In general, the more trades/skills you understand the more valuable you are as an employee.
So with that in mind, what type of education/training should someone looking to get into the Entertainment Design and Custom Fabrication profession seek out? Our employees come from all over with various forms of education and experience. A lot of design and theming shops are more concerned about what you have done rather than where you have been, but if you are looking to hone your skills at school, there are a few different options.
The first option is to find a school that offers a degree that covers a large majority of what we do. However, programs like that are few and far between. That said, EntertainmentDesigner.com has a great article highlighting a few schools that offer entertainment design and technology degrees/certificates. These programs generally focus on bridging the gap between digital and practical design. So you can expect to learn 3D and 2D digital design programs such as Adobe Illustrator, SolidWorks, Zbrush, etc, as well as plenty of practical art skills from sketching/drawing all the way to sculpture and machining. This article is, however, 3 years old, and I know a few of the programs have been discontinued.
The second option is to get a general arts degree and study various liberal art techniques. While a general arts degree may not go into the detail or how you can apply it to the industry, the fundamental lessons are the same. We deal quite a bit with 3D pieces, so naturally, sculpture is a great skill to have under your belt. Wood and metal working are also great skills to have as they can teach you how to use various machines as well as common shop safety practices.
The third option is to go into a theater production program. A lot of people in this industry have theater backgrounds. As theming is a large part of what we do, learning skills such as stage craft, traditional set design, set construction, technical direction, scenic painting, lighting design, costume design/construction and prop fabrication can cover a lot of the bases that studios look for.
At the end of the day, we're an art studio. So if you are an artistic person with the portfolio to prove it, you are already on your way to a career in Entertainment Design and Custom Fabrication. Most studios use such a large variety of techniques and skill sets, there's almost always a place for certain types of artists. I hope this helps start you on your path to becoming a maker. There are plenty of studios out there that can use your talents.