Exhibition designers design and create exhibition and display stands, used to promote the client's products or services at exhibitions and conferences. They base the design around the client’s ideas of how it should look.
They might design halls for conferences or for trade exhibitions such as motor shows, book fairs, home shows and camping exhibitions. They may also design historical displays or scenes for museums and heritage centres.
You could be:
finding out what the client wants in terms of themes, ideas and promotions
looking at the space available and noting power points and lighting
working out ideas and layouts, discussing them with the client and perhaps altering them to suit
preparing detailed plans using computer-aided design (CAD) software to produce 3D images
making sure access is good and the display is safe
working with lighting staff and other design specialists
getting quotes for work and keeping to budget
supervising the building of stands and displays on site.
Pay rates vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Starting salaries for qualified exhibition designers in the UK tend to be in the range of £18,000 to £21,000 a year. With experience this can rise to £25,000 to £35,000 a year. Senior exhibition designers can earn up to £40,000 a year or more.
Some exhibition designers work freelance. They charge a fee, which varies depending on the work involved. It can be difficult to make a good income until you become well known.
You would work in a studio or office.
You would have to travel to meet clients and visit exhibition venues.
Hours may be long and irregular, including evening and weekend work, to meet deadlines and attend exhibitions.
You would sometimes work alone, and sometimes be part of a team.
You usually need an HND (SCQF Level 8) or degree in interior design, 3D design or spatial design.
For entry to a suitable HND you usually need 2 Highers or a relevant NC or NQ(SCQF Level 4-6), and for a degree, 4-5 Highers including English and Art and Design.
You need a portfolio of artwork for entry to college or university.
You could start by taking an NC or NQ (formal entry requirements not always needed), or an HNC (SCQF Level 7) (entry 1-2 Highers), in a design subject. This may get you into a job, possibly as an assistant exhibition designer, or lead onto an HND or degree.
For art school courses you need to apply through UCAS.
There are not many jobs available. You might start as an assistant designer with a specialist exhibition design company or a design consultancy. There may also be opportunities with large retail chains and hotel groups. Jobs may be advertised online or through recruitment agencies.
What Does it Take?
You need to be:
skilled in using computer design software
good at technical drawing
imaginative, creative, with an eye for design, detail and colour
able to think in 3 dimensions and make good use of space
practical and skilled in model making
confident and able to discuss designs with clients and give instructions to staff
adaptable and willing to change designs to suit clients
aware of health and safety issues and fire regulations.
You need to be able to:
work well under pressure to meet deadlines
work within a budget
keep up to date with design trends
work alone and as part of a team
communicate well with clients and staff
accept criticism of your work.
Training is through experience, on the job.
The Chartered Society of Designers offers training and encourages continuing professional development (CPD).
The British Display Society offers a distance learning Certificate in Display and Visual Merchandising. Check their website for more information.
You may start as an assistant exhibition designer and progress to become an exhibition designer.
In a large organisation you might be able to move into a management job.
With experience you might set up your own business or work freelance.