Scenic Painter

Make backdrops for theater or film productions.
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Quick Stats

Salary Range
$26,000 – $84,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Scenic Painters do?

Scenic Painters create the backdrops and murals for film or theater. In a movie, for instance, Scenic Painters might paint a city skyline to be seen through a window. Or for the theater, they could paint a whole forest that the actors will wander lost amidst. Your work as a Scenic Painter, then, sets the scene for all the action that takes place in front.

You have a surprising amount of creative license here: The Set Designer will submit a painting or photograph for you to replicate onstage, or simply brief you on what you are supposed to create, then leave the rest up to your artistic perception. From there, you take it away: your material might vary from canvas to wood to mesh, but you need to figure out how to create the desire ambiance.

To do this you’ll need a strong background in fine arts. You should have the ability to sketch, render, and paint, so that you can take small-scale ideas and reproduce them as full-scale renditions. Plus, you’ll want a variety of techniques and mediums in your repertoire, so you can continually come up with fresh, awesome concepts.

Aside from the actual artistic creation, you are also responsible for buying supplies and scheduling the work. Additionally you must have up-to-date knowledge of health and safety guidelines, to ensure that you’re creating a safe work environment (and a fireproof finished product).

Should I be a Scenic Painter?

You should have a bachelor's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Ready for a Challenge: You jump into new projects with initiative and drive.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.

  • How to become a Scenic Painter

    Most Scenic Painters have a Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:amo9pa&chl=|certificate+%2812%25%29|associate%27s+%2814%25%29|bachelor%27s+%2860%25%29|master%27s+%2815%25%29|&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,60
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