Exhibit designers create fixtures, furnishings and display stands for events including trade shows, public exhibitions and conferences. They also create displays for museums, businesses and galleries. Some exhibit designers are employed by an independent studio. Others work for government agencies, museums and organizations that have their own design departments. Many exhibit designers are self-employed.
Increasingly, exhibition designers are utilizing computer aided design software to make designs. The designs are reviewed by the client and adjustments may be made. Their drawings, sketches and models are utilized as a guide for constructing the exhibits. They often supervise the construction of the exhibit.
Common job titles include exhibit preparator, exhibition organizer, display coordinator, design chief, show design supervisor and scenic designer.
Exhibition designers that work in the apparel industry design exhibits and booths for clothing industry trade shows and fashion shows. They also work with art museum curators and directors to determine the best use of museum space for displaying art and artifacts. Exhibition designers also create exhibitions for fairgrounds, libraries and malls.
- Plan for issues such as space limitations, safety concerns and traffic flow patterns
- Produce final specifications
- Present ideas as scale plans and sketches
- Order supplies
- Discuss exhibit ideas with clients
- Direct the construction of components and the assembly and installation of exhibits
- Collaborate with technical specialists
- Plan where to place items in an exhibit
- Estimate exhibit related costs
- Inspect installed exhibits to ensure they meet specifications
Those working in the field of exhibit design often travel to visit clients or to exhibition sites. Exhibition designers should be artistic and creative. They need good organizational and management skills.
The employment outlook is rated as fair for exhibit designer jobs. The median annual earnings for set and exhibit designers in 2008 was $44,660.
The field is quite competitive. In large design firms, exhibit designers may move up to managerial positions including art director. They may become department heads in organizations that design numerous exhibits.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
Exhibit designers come from a variety of backgrounds including interior design, graphic design, industrial/product design and architecture. Some exhibition designers have earned a bachelor's degree in fine arts or design. The bachelor's of fine arts program typically includes classes in principles of design, art and art history, and designing and sketching.
Some exhibit designers have an associate degree in design. Employers are increasingly expecting new designers to have knowledge and skills with computer aided design software. Those that plan to do freelance work may want to take classes in subjects such as marketing, merchandising, business management and project management.
Professional schools provide certificates and associate degrees in design. For some of the top jobs, employers may prefer those with a master's degree in fine arts. For some entry-level jobs, a two-year degree may be sufficient. Typically, on-the-job training is provided. Museums may provide internships for people interested in a career in designing exhibits.
Exhibit designers needs to have a strong foundation in topics such as computer aided design (CAD) conceptual design, making models, and safety regulations and applicable standards.
The top employers are the fashion industry, apparel manufacturers, design firms, trade show design firms and museums.
Schools for Exhibit Designers are listed in the Browse Schools Section.