Di Spalding, scenic artist

 16 November 2012

Di Spalding has been working as a scenic artist for 25 years. She is self-employed and works from her own studio, creating scenery for theatrical sets.

"Contact all the people who might be able to give you work, and keep on contacting them."


I'm from Redhill, in Surrey.

What job do you do?

I'm a self-employed scenic artist, working from my own studio. I've been doing this for 25 years.

Aside from painting scenery, I've done a bit of prop-making, sculpting and costume making with a company in Australia, but mostly I've worked as a scenic artist.

I had a permanent job at the Royal Opera House for four and a half years, but left because I missed the freedom of being self-employed.

What qualifications do you have?

I have a degree in Fine Art.

What do you do at work?

It varies every day, which is why I love my work. Meeting with designers, production managers or set builders is often enjoyable. 

Contact all the people who might be able to give you work, and keep on contacting them.

I also like the process of my work. It includes priming surfaces to be painted, painting, drawing, applying texture, spraying and sometimes polystyrene sculpting. Most of my practical work is pretty physical.

What's the best thing about your job?

The satisfaction of seeing something I've painted on stage, and the excuse to get rather messy and covered in paint!

And the worst thing about the job?

All-night paint calls on stage, especially if I'm working high up!

How do I get into theatre?

Don't be afraid to be pushy. Contact all the people or businesses who might be able to give you work, and keep on contacting them regularly.

Arrange to meet them if possible, so they can put a face to your name when you next call. When you do get offered work, be keen, enthusiastic and helpful, and you will be asked back.

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