How to Get a Job as an Assistant in the Art Department

What exactly is an Assistant in the Art Department?

The Production Designer is in charge of the art department, and the art department is accountable for making all of the film’s aesthetically pleasing decisions. The roles are divided between those who work on set and those who are responsible for creating and selecting elements off site. On most sets, the art department is the largest department overall.

Who does the Job Exactly?

Art Department Assistants are responsible for assisting in the transformation of rough sketches into detailed drawings that can then be used by a variety of craftsmen to construct sets or modify locations. During the course of a production, it is reasonable to anticipate that more experienced assistants will work on the studio floor as backup art directors. Maintaining close proximity to the playback monitor and being available to make adjustments to the set if the Director of Photography so requests. For example, the Director of Photography can request that you obtain a prop at the very last minute. In addition to this, they do thorough surveys of the potential working places and contribute to the supervision of the building of the sets.

An Art Department Assistant may also be requested to execute a variety of additional activities, such as going grocery shopping and preparing beverages like tea and coffee, as well as purchasing art supplies and handing out drawings.

Key Skills

  • A comprehensive and well-rounded understanding of interior design, architecture, and the histories of each is essential.
  • A solid understanding of building and construction practises is essential.
  • Have a solid understanding of the history of design so that you can choose props from the appropriate era.
  • A solid functional understanding of the various CAD software products is required.
  • Possess strong abilities in both free-hand drawing and technical drawing as well as perspective drawing.
  • Possess strong expertise in the creation of props and a solid awareness of the prop hiring business.
  • Having an excellent eye for decoration and detail is essential.
  • Be able to reconceptualize ideas
  • Possess the ability to think in pictures.
  • When dealing with artists and staff, demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively, as well as diplomacy and sensitivity.
  • Problem-solving skills and the ability to react appropriately in unforeseen circumstances, along with the ability to remain composed and productive under pressure are essential.
  • You need to be willing to put in long, unpredictable hours.
  • Acquire an understanding of the prerequisites imposed by the applicable health and safety legislation and protocols
  • Have a valid and unblemished driver’s licence.

How to find employment as an Assistant in the Art Department

Gaining experience working on short films and movies with a modest budget would be one way to go about getting into the industry. After that, you may look for work in a drawing studio as a draughtsman. You need to have an impressive portfolio in addition to a strong interest in movies. You could add model sets, technical drawings, references, storyboards, and demonstrations of model making in your portfolio.

After gaining experience on the job and impressing the Art Director or Production Designer, you may be offered work as an Assistant Art Director or Standby Art Director on lower budget films or television programmes. This is done so that you can progress to the same role on bigger productions once you have gained the necessary experience. If you have experience working in Stage Management or Floor Management, you might also be able to transfer into the Art Department.


In most cases, a qualification is necessary for this position because it enables you to broaden your skill set and enhances the quality of your portfolio. The fields of art, architecture, product design, theatre, and interior design account for a significant number of alumni. After receiving instruction, it is extremely important to acquire on-the-job experience in the areas of studio practise, working on site, and the operation of art departments.

Where it may lead you is unknown.

You could begin your career in the art department as a draftsperson or an assistant in the art department before moving up the ranks to become an art director, a supervising art director, or a production designer.