Networking is about connecting to individuals and companies that are within, or connected to your industry. It is about being known for the work that you do, as well as knowing others – their work practices and approaches to making work, and how these might connect with your own work. The act of networking is diverse; including socialising, inviting individuals to see your work and seeing the work of others.
- Join your professional organisations and sign up to their newsletters, events and social media.
- Subsidised companies have regular opportunities for meeting new creatives, so don’t be afraid to write to the company’s artistic director to make an appointment.
- Invite your network to see your own work.
- See as much work by others as you can, and follow up personally if you sense a potential professional connection.
- Australian Production Design Guild (that’s us!)
- ShowLoop : via Linkedin (Australian resource for Live Performance and Events)
- Facebook Groups (you will need to request to join many of these):
- APDG Emerging Designers’ Network (run by APDG members!)
- Sydney Costume Professionals
- Australia, I Need Crew (Professionals)
- Australia, I Need Crew (Entry Level)
- Film and TV Networking Australia
- Costume Networking Group (UK)
- Crew is what I need (Australia)
- Australian Filmmakers Society
- Art Department Sydney
- Theatre Network Australia
- Live Performance Australia
- Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance – this is your union
- Scene Change – international networking links
- Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space
- OISTAT – International Organisation of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians
- Creatives of Colour
- The People of Cabaret (Currently working on a directory of POC artists across all live performance genres and which includes designers).
- Bus Stop Films makes films with, for and about people from diverse backgrounds and abilities.
Tips and Tricks
- ‘If there is a company or director that you really want to work with, reach out to the designers that work with them. Your relationship with that designer can act as a personal introduction to the company or director’
- ‘Don’t forget to nurture your designer peer group – mine has been a wonderful support and point of reference right through my career’
- ‘Alumni peer groups need an organiser to keep them useful – this could be you’
- ‘Connect with companies and individuals by building genuine rapport without expecting work opportunities’
- ‘Personally invite people to see your work’
- ‘The professional peers I most naturally keep in contact with (because they are my friends) really are my network; I’m just as likely to get work through my friendship with an actor, or a composer, or another designer as I am by conventional networking’
- ‘When I had my portfolio and website ready, I wrote to every company, director, artistic director, producer I could find contact details for. I sent out 30 emails, and felt happy to get 5 replies. One of these was my first job’
- ‘It took me a while to work out which groups and newsletters were really useful for me’
- ‘When you see a show and you love the direction or design, get in touch and let them know’
- ‘Joining an APDG committee can help strengthen your network with fellow designers, it is also quite satisfying to know you are contributing to improving your industry’
- ‘Reach out to those you admire to build your network. Make sure it is an actionable email that they can respond to. Their time is precious, so start with 1 or 2 smaller, easily answerable questions rather than 20.Chances are, they will respond’
- ‘A lot of work comes from other designers passing on your details when they are busy on another job – so keep your network active!’
- ‘Set up Google Alerts to local industry events, theatre or screen news, funding announcements etc.’
Many designers find a mentor an invaluable support at different stages of their career. A mentor may be a professional peer who you use informally as a sounding board or may be a more formal relationship. The MENTORAPDG program is a scheme tailored to placing young and emerging live performance and screen designers in a supported mentoring relationship with senior designers over a 12 month period.
Various government and NGOs have focused mentoring programs:
- People of Cabaret mentoring scheme supports indigenous, Bla(c)k and/or of colour live performance artists.
- The Women in Theatre program
- The Australia Council provides a guide for mentoring arrangements.
An award nomination or win can be a great boost to your confidence and may make a difference to how your work is noticed and future work prospects. Industry award events are also a great way to network and share your professional experiences with your peers. Awards can be a way of measuring your professional standing against your peers.
- APDG Awards (National)
- Ruby Awards (SA)
- Green Room Awards (Vic)
- Sydney Theatre Awards (NSW)
- Helpmann Awards (NSW)
- Matilda Awards (Qld)
- Brisbane Design Awards (Qld)
- PAWA Awards (WA)
- Australia Council Indigenous Artists Awards (National)
- Theatre Network Australia lists awards and grants in their member newsletter.
- Wikipedia lists Australian theatre awards.
By keeping our skills current we are able to make our work more efficient and enjoyable. By maintaining our professional qualifications we remain competitive. Short digital training courses can advance our skills. These are called ‘microcredentials’ and are the future of learning, and most offer certification. Improve our grasp of software updates, or be a real breakthrough with a program that we have ‘learned’ by trial and error. Professional development lectures or courses can build our business skills and help to develop our networks. Arts extension programs can provide intellectual and creative stimulation in areas of practice that can inform our own.
- AFTRS Short Courses
- NIDA Short Courses
- UTS Open
- Masterclass (Online)
- Skillshare (Online)
- TAFE Short Courses and Certificates of Attainment (NSW)
- YouTube channels or playlists such as Notes on a Scene, Variety, Oscars, TIFF Talks, most guilds like Directors Guild of America, StudioBinder, TED, Insider, Lessons From a Screenplay.
- Shot Deck – website for screen stills and talks.
- LinkedIn Learning – previously Lynda.com
- Software programs often set up a basic guide through learning videos. For example Adobe and Rhino3D. Some offer them free on their websites whilst others give you links after you buy the software.
Don’t forget the APDG’s Dialogues in Design! A wonderful place to hear Australian designers and creatives talk about their work.