What Is Prop Design? (With Duties of a Prop Designer)

Props are essential components of any production, providing detailed and visual elements to stories, scenes, and characters. They are often overlooked and underrated, yet they play an integral role in the overall production. The art of prop design is an often misunderstood craft, with few people having a complete understanding of the creative process. In this blog post, we will explore the world of prop design, what it entails, and why it is an essential part of the production process. From large-scale set pieces to small but crucial details, props can evoke emotion, tell a story, and create an immersive environment for the viewer. We will also look into the intricacies of the craft, examining the design process, the importance of researching and sourcing materials, and the art of creating realistic, believable props. With the help of this blog post, you will gain a better understanding of what prop design is, and how it can be used to bring a production to life.

01/04 The Basics of Prop Design — Illustration: Learn about Prop Design_ENG

What does a prop designer do?

The following are some of the main responsibilities a prop designer might have:

Meet with production staff

Any new project for a prop designer starts with a meeting with the production team to go over the various aesthetics, styles, and overall vision they have for the show’s appearance. The production team’s requests must be taken into consideration by the prop designer to ensure they are met and that the props are consistent with the theme and plot of the show.

Read and take notes on a script

A prop designer’s regular responsibilities also include reading and taking careful notes on the play’s script. This is crucial for pinpointing the precise scenes that call for particular props, as well as for identifying the characters that interact with them to determine where the items must be placed on stage.

Conduct research

Additionally, prop designers do their own in-depth research based on the production’s theme and design, as well as the time period, fashion, and any other elements that might affect the aesthetic of the props. For instance, when creating the set for a show that is set in a family’s home during the 1790s in England, the prop designer might want to do some research on some of the typical household items of that era.

Create props

Making props using raw materials and various construction methods, such as sewing, welding, painting, and sculpting, is one of a prop designer’s main responsibilities. This is why it’s crucial for prop designers to have some sort of training in art and design, as their primary job responsibilities frequently call for them.

Rent and buy props

Prop designers are also in charge of researching, renting, and purchasing props from various sources in addition to creating them from scratch. To find items from a particular era or to find props they can easily alter to look like other items important to the show, prop designers frequently visit antique and thrift stores.

What is prop design?

An essential part of theater production is prop design, also known as property design, which entails locating, creating, and altering objects to be used as movable set pieces on stage. Prop designers frequently work as independent contractors, agreeing to contracts for a set period of time on various productions or shows before moving on to their next task. No formal education is necessary to become a prop designer, but experience in design, art, and technical theater can all help to enhance their skills.

A prop designer may use sculpting, sewing, welding, painting, carpentry, and graphic design techniques frequently in their work. Prop designers are also expected to maintain their organization, communicate with production to ensure that their artistic vision is realized, pay close attention to detail, and adhere to the deadline set by the production team. Resourcefulness is advantageous for prop designers as well, as they can save the production money by adapting existing items to the needs of the show rather than having them built specifically for them or buying them from scratch.

How to become a prop designer

You can take the following actions to launch your career as a prop designer:

1. Take classes

You can begin your career as a prop designer by enrolling in a design or art class where you can learn the fundamental design techniques required to be successful in the field. To hone your abilities and improve the items you produce for productions, think about enrolling in classes that teach techniques like sewing, sculpting, welding, or drawing. Taking classes can help you meet people in your neighborhood’s theater and art scenes, which could lead to job opportunities in the future.

2. Build a portfolio

You can start your own independent practice to hone your prop design skills and increase your marketability in the industry once you’ve taken classes and learned the fundamentals of art and design. To show prospective employers the breadth of your artistic abilities, think about compiling a portfolio of all of your practice pieces. Your ability to produce higher-quality work improves with practice, earning you a solid reputation as a prop designer in the world of technical theater.

3. Work for a local theater or production team

Apply for technical theater jobs in your area, especially those that involve prop design, as the following step in beginning your career as a prop designer. You can give employers a lot of examples of your work by using your class credentials and portfolio. Before eventually working your way up to working as a lead prop designer or prop master, you may begin by working in lower level, prop design assistant roles.

4. Build your network

The last step in becoming a prop designer is to begin developing a network of potential employers by getting in touch with former employers, professors, and colleagues. Think about locating a mentor, such as someone who works in the technical theater or prop design industry, who can offer you resources and career guidance. Utilize job networking websites to get in touch with local theater directors and production teams to offer your services and express your desire to work as a prop designer on their projects.


What is a prop in design?

All of the theatrical property—props—for a production are created, acquired, or discovered by a properties or prop designer. Anything transportable onstage that is not a costume is referred to as a “prop.” Props include anything from curtains and other set dressing to food consumed onstage.

What is the role of a prop designer?

All the props required for the production must be acquired by the props designer/manager. Additionally, early in the rehearsal process, they collaborate with the Stage Manager to gather the necessary rehearsal props. They might be asked to assist the scene designer with setting up the scene.

What is a prop designer called?

An artist or technician who makes custom props for a production, as well as any necessary alterations to props that are rented or bought, is known as a prop maker.

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