Read as Jim Leverton talks about his career as a Scenic Designer.  Find him at www.conceptdesigninc.com.

What do you do for a living?

I own a scenic design & production company.

How would you describe what you do?

I direct company operations to include marketing, sales, new product development, cash flow management, strategic planning, market analysis, growth strategies & new business development.

What does your work entail?

Mostly ideation from the standpoint of the above activities and making sure that delegation is prioritized and implemented.

What’s a typical work week like?

Typically about 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, working with my directors and co-owners to move everything forward according to a plan. At the same time, putting out fires, allocating resources, entertaining new ideas & doing research for competitive advantage. A lot of problem solving and customer support, all designed to enhance our reputation.

How did you get started?

I got fired from my first job in this field and thought I could just do it better than anybody I knew. Also, I needed to make a living.

What do you like about what you do?

Freedom and control. Plus, a taste for hard work and stress.

What do you dislike?

The fact is, it never gets easier. Somehow, I thought it should.

How do you make money/or how are you compensated?

We make money by selling and renting our products and services to a market that needs them and can resell and make a profit themselves.

How much money do Scenic Designers make?

Most scenic designers that work here make 30K to 40K to start and up to 50K and beyond if they branch into sales.

How much money did/do you make starting out?

I started out 33 years ago, so the answer’s not relevant to today’s marketplace. I think a scenic designer with a degree just starting out will command 35k with a Bachelor’s and 45k with a Master’s.

What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?

3D Design & computer skills to produce theatrical & creative concepts & solutions, ideally mixed with some hands-on experience.

What is most challenging about what you do?

People & the economy.

What is most rewarding?

Winning & growing in a positive direction.

What advice would you offer someone considering this career?

Work your ass off. Network! Gain exposure to all possible industries that can use your skills.

How much time off do you get/take?

Whatever I want to pay for. It varies according to how well we are doing at each moment in time.

What is a common misconception people have about what you do?


What are your goals/dreams for the future?

I want to turn a viable, profitable business over to my kids and semi-retire by the time I’m 70.

What else would you like people to know about your job/career?

I wouldn’t change a thing, especially all the really good mistakes.