Designer, by way of Actor

I’ll come right out and say it, I learned a damn lot about being a designer from being an actor.

I’m not a school trained designer, I’ve learned through trial and error and pushing myself time and time again. I like to think I’m becoming better at it every day.

For most designers, selling the work may be the problem and I was no different. At least until I started feeling a bit more sure-footed in my designs and craft. The selling of the design though was never an issue and I thank the likes of Sophocles and Shakespeare for it.

This device is best explored by actor Josh Tregenza, who transforms himself into the cheeky Guard and the elderly Teiresias with chameleon-like changeability

Acting has always been about crafting a particular story. That story is chosen by the director. The story is not intended for only the director and I, but for the audience. It is presented to the audience after the we agree that our performance (our story) is good enough.

This is a story that if you swap act with design and director with the client then it applies to designers just the same.

Both Actor and Designer start out with a general idea of what the work entails. They then need to work with the director/client to get a better understanding of what they want. The actor/designer needs to interpret what they have said and transform the work into the best result.

Directors and clients are never always right and in both cases I have questioned and argued with each. I’ve always wanted to come to an understanding of what is best for the audience.

As actors need techies and makeup artists, designers need developers and researchers. Everyone doing their part to pull together great work.

I started off as an actor, I became a filmmaker, photographer and then designer. I thought I was getting further away from where I started. I never figured I’d end up looking at my beginning and finding the similarities that I have.

Originally published at

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