Creating Art For Millions – Anna Dobies, 29 years old set designer from Poland. Creator of Yellow Dot Creative, designer of many TV studios, museum exhibitions, event and concert stages. Enthusiastic and ambitious, ready to take over the world of visuals.
How was your University time?
I studied Architecture and Urban Design at Cracow University of Technology (Politechnika Krakowska), and it is considered a good University in Poland and Europe. University was tough because of the amount of work that students need to put into the projects. We had a couple of complicated projects to do every semester. We had to present our progress every week- it required hours of work after classes. And I think it was good preparation for real life because designing is not just a 9 am-5 pm job, it requires much more time from you because of your clients who change their minds all the time and very short deadlines. It is not studies nor a job for someone who wants to have a lot of free time. University was also the best time of my life. I met my friends for life there and a lot of inspiring, creative people.
Creating Art For Millions
Why did you choose a career in this field?
In the beginning, I wanted to be an architect, I loved math and physics in high school, but I wanted to do something artistic and creative too. The architecture was the perfect middle ground. Becoming a set and exhibition designer was actually an accident. I have never even thought I could do this kind of work. I saw a job offer online, read the description, and thought to myself, “it seems weird, I like weird, I MUST try it.”
How did you prepare for the interview?
I didn’t prepare at all, because I didn’t know what to expect. I got a task to solve at home, and I nailed it, and that’s how I got a job. My advice for set design office interview are:
- Show that you can work with other people. We need a team to work together.
- Be creative, nobody requires you to have all knowledge initially, but you must have imagination and be original.
Make a portfolio of your 5 best designs. It doesn’t have to be set or exhibition. It can be private interior, product, sculpture, garden, public space, furniture- anything. We need to see that you are flexible. You will have to design very different types of sets in your job, for example, a gaming event like E3 and next week an Ancient Egypt exhibition.
What was your first job or nuggets from jobs you had that helped you get to where you are today?
A job in the set designing studio was my second job, right after a short episode of architect assistant job that I had during my studies. Being a “newbie” in this field is hard. I worked 200-230 hours monthly- in the office and on building site- earning an almost minimum wage. In the beginning, I was bullied by a “veteran” designer who didn’t respect me- because I was young and inexperienced. I wanted to quit after 2 months because of it, but unfortunately, I fell in love with set designing. So I stood up for myself. Because from the very beginning, I had to work extra hard and had to face mobbing- I grew strong, I learned a lot by making a lot of mistakes, I became confident. After a year of working in this office, I went independent and what I went through there shaped me into a confident woman who owns her career now.
Can you provide some book recommendations?
Absolutely not. You learn from experience and observation. Go to the museum, analyze how the exhibition was designed besides just watching exhibits. Learn 3D program(-s)- there are many free programs and even more tutorials online to study from. Watch tv programs and pay attention to how the set looks.
Any advice about CVs?
Keep it short and include only positions that your future employer might be interested in. The recruiter will look at your CV for 20 seconds on average. You don’t want them to see something insignificant over something that really matters. Delete your summer job as a waiter. If you don’t have experience in the field- emphasize any skills your future employer can use, like knowing 3D programs or speaking foreign languages.
Advice for someone looking for a job?
Constantly improve your skills. Learn more 3D programs, try to stay updated with new technologies. Designing world is very competitive, and there are new trends and solutions every day. You have to be tough and hard-working to keep up. Make small designs just for your portfolio in your free time.
How do you feel as an independent designer?
I feel amazing and terrified at the same time. Amazing- because I am the only one who controls what and when I design, I don’t have anyone besides my clients if they like my work or not. It gives me a lot of freedom in my creativity. I got to learn how to talk to clients, promote myself, manage my time, and allow myself to take a break. Terrified is a big risk and stress to take all responsibility for the project and have no support from more experienced designers. Also, money is unstable- if you don’t get a client- you don’t earn. It’s not for everyone.
What are your plans for the future?
Now I want to learn more about VR designing and develop this way. I think it’s a future. In around 2 years, I will move to Israel with my fiance after he graduates from University. I hope to be “big” enough to hire a couple of designers until then.