Welcome to Art Departmental: How I Started in the Art Department

So who am I and how did I get started in the art department? I’ve created Art Departmental to talk about the art department and production design at large.

So here goes… my first blog post– ever. I love the art department and I hope you do too.

Who Am I?

My name is Rose. I live and work in Toronto, Canada, primarily as a production designer or art director on independent films. I often work in set dec as well. I used to work in theatre within the Niagara Region all throughout high school and college. When I moved to Toronto to pursue my filmmaking dreams of becoming the next Martin Scorsese or Bergman, I found myself curiously propelled towards the art department. It felt very natural. So natural in fact that I had wondered why I hadn’t thought about this as my professional goal back in high school.

Art Departmental | How I Started in the Art Department

Martin Scorsese, my high school hero.

In high school, I understood that there was someone who built sets and procured props for films, but I didn’t think about it much. After all, the books I had read touted the film director as the ‘be all and end all’ of any film. The auteur theory made me think that if you weren’t the director, then why even bother. Of course, it takes people to make a film, but I must have naively thought that all of the people involved were somehow working their way up to being a director just like me, mind you, I was only fourteen years old when I fell in love with filmmaking, so I was clueless about almost everything. Anyhow, I wish I had known then what I know now because I would have taken those drafting classes I thought I would never need.

How I Started in the Art Department

Lo and behold, I started in the art department on my very first film set as a production assistant, when they were short-staffed in the art department. So I started helping out in every way I could in the art department because that turned out to be the most fun and exciting. It also helped that I was skilled in drawing and painting, and my Dad used to teach me how to use tools and build stuff because he had always wanted a boy but sadly received two girls instead.

Even after this film, I continued to think I should pursue the production department so I could learn how to produce and, one day, direct. Luckily, fate took over as the art department kept creeping back into my life, taking it over project by project. Now when I wake up some mornings, having dreamed up a fresh idea for a set overnight, I wonder how I ever lived without the art department. Film, art, and design are now my obsessions, and I know I’m not the only one– and this is why I’m here.

What is Art Departmental?

I’ve created this new blog to ramble about my work experiences, insights, inspirations, and tips I can give but also just to talk about the art department and production design in general. A lot of people don’t realize the amount of blood, sweat, and tears it takes to build the perfect environment for a character to live and breathe.

I want to make it really clear that I am no expert or leading authority on the subject, but I have been through a lot in the short time I’ve been doing this, and I have picked up a lot along the way. I love my craft, and I am good at my job for someone so young. I still have much to learn, but I make an effort every day to learn as much as I can whether I’m on a project or not.

This blog is about sharing the knowledge I learn along the way, working hard, educating, and inspiring both myself and you by building an art department community. There is no excuse for mediocrity. Resources are everywhere, yet somehow I have searched far and wide, and I seem to be the first person online to take on the art department full force. It’s time to put all of these resources in one handy place. There is a production designer, set decorator, and standby painter blog out there but most are not that informative, interactive, or updated, with the exception of The Standby Painter.

So… anyways… I hope you enjoy this blog or at least come out knowing a bit more about film, art, and design, and how these subjects intertwine and become inseparable in the art department. They certainly don’t tell you much about it in school.

If there’s anything in particular that you would like to see on Art Departmental, please let me know in the comments below.

Posted by Rose Lagacé

Rose Lagacé is a production designer for film & television by day and an emerging filmmaker by night. Rose is also the creator and editor of Art Departmental where she celebrates the art and craft of production design.

  1. i think your blog is great and i really enjoy it!
    i had been looking for an art department blog for ages so i started my own one but havent updated in a while 🙁

    always wonder why there arent more though, there are hundreds of music perfume fashion graphics etc blogs but no prod design ones! do prod.designers not have time for internet cuz theyre too busy picking out wallpaper?

    still your take is very different and unique, definitely checking by more often! maybe even get some ideas for my dissertation!

    24, London UK
    film student specialising in prod.design


  2. Hi Bibi,

    Thanks so much for the comment and the kind words. I hope you still drop in from time to time.

    Generally, I would say that, yes, Production Designers and many in the art department are very busy. It’s a hard job and takes a lot of work to do right. That’s the only reason I can come up with for the lack of blogs and websites dedicated to the art department. Well, also, I think the art department is a very closed door department. Every bit of knowledge is kept under tight wraps. The industry is so competitive and people don’t want to freely share their experience and knowledge because they don’t want anymore competition then they already have. I think that’s the wrong mentality and in order to get better art direction into cinemas, information should be shared.

    Anyways thanks for checking out the blog!

    Rose XO.


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