Prop maker

A prop maker


Prop makers construct, build, prepare, adapt and maintain props used on stage and for filming movies or television programs. Props may be simple imitations of real life objects, or may include electronic, pyrotechnical, or other effects. Their work is based on artistic vision, sketches and plans. They work in close cooperation with the designers involved in the production.

Prop makers typically perform the following tasks:

  • Interpret and analyze production designs, blueprints, or instructions to understand the requirements and specifications for props.
  • Create props using a variety of materials and techniques, including sculpting, woodworking, metalworking, painting, molding, and casting.
  • Collaborate with production designers, art directors, and other creative professionals to develop and refine prop designs, ensuring they align with the overall artistic vision of the production.
  • Select appropriate materials, tools, and techniques based on the desired appearance, functionality, and durability of the props.
  • Use specialized equipment and machinery, such as 3D printers, CNC machines, and power tools, to fabricate and assemble props.
  • Apply various finishing techniques, such as painting, distressing, aging, and weathering, to enhance the realism and visual appeal of props.
  • Ensure props meet safety standards and regulations, especially for functional props that involve mechanical or electrical components.
  • Collaborate with prop masters, set decorators, and other production team members to coordinate the logistics of prop acquisition, storage, transportation, and maintenance.
  • Conduct research and source reference materials to accurately represent historical, cultural, or fictional elements in prop designs.
  • Adhere to production schedules and deadlines, working efficiently to meet the demands of a fast-paced production environment.
  • Maintain a clean and organized workspace, ensuring proper storage and cataloging of props for easy retrieval and inventory management.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to prop maker:

  • scenic painter & prop maker
  • property modeller and maker
  • set dresser & property maker
  • scenic artist & prop maker
  • property maker and scenic painter
  • scenic painter and property maker
  • prop maker and set dresser
  • prop builder
  • set dresser and prop maker
  • prop maker and modeller
  • property builder
  • property maker and designer
  • property maker
  • property maker and scenic artist
  • property maker & modeller
  • prop maker and scenic painter
  • prop maker & modeller
  • prop maker & set dresser
  • property maker & designer
  • prop modeller & maker
  • scenic painter and prop maker
  • prop modeller and maker
  • set dresser and property maker
  • prop & puppet maker
  • scenic artist and prop maker
  • property maker and modeller
  • property designer & maker
  • property maker & set dresser
  • prop designer and maker
  • set dresser & prop maker
  • prop maker and designer
  • scenic artist & property maker
  • property maker & scenic painter
  • prop maker and scenic artist
  • property maker & scenic artist
  • property designer and maker
  • prop maker & designer
  • scenic artist and property maker
  • property modeller & maker
  • property maker and set dresser
  • scenic painter & property maker
  • prop maker & scenic artist
  • prop designer & maker
  • prop maker & scenic painter
  • property & puppet maker

Working conditions

Prop makers typically work in workshops, studios, or production facilities. The work environment may involve exposure to various materials, tools, and chemicals, requiring adherence to safety guidelines and the use of personal protective equipment. Depending on the production schedule, prop makers may need to work irregular hours, including evenings, weekends, and overtime, to meet project deadlines. They may also need to travel to different locations for on-site prop installation or support during productions.

Minimum qualifications

While formal education requirements may vary, prop makers typically have a combination of artistic skills, craftsmanship, and practical experience. Many prop makers have a background in fine arts, theater arts, sculpture, or a related field. They may acquire specialized training through vocational programs, apprenticeships, or on-the-job experience. Proficiency in various fabrication techniques, knowledge of different materials, and the ability to work with diverse tools and equipment are essential. Attention to detail, creativity, problem-solving skills, and effective communication and collaboration are important qualities for prop makers.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Prop maker is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Prop maker career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to prop maker.

scenic painter
set builder
followspot operator
prop master/prop mistress

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of prop maker. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of prop maker with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

mask maker
lighting director
production designer
puppet designer
video designer

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of prop maker.

  • Work ergonomically: Apply ergonomy principles in the organisation of the workplace while manually handling equipment and materials.
  • Understand artistic concepts: Interpret an artist’s explanation or demonstration of their artistic concepts, inceptions and processes and strive to share their vision.
  • Follow work schedule: Manage the sequence of activities in order to deliver completed work on agreed deadlines by following a work schedule.
  • Adapt props: Adapt existing props for use in a specific production.
  • Build devices into props: Build mechanical or electrical devices into props.
  • Develop prop effects: Work with creative personnel to design special effects involving props using mechanical or electrical devices. Advise on feasibility and develop the needed prop effects.
  • Work safely with machines: Check and safely operate machines and equipment required for your work according to manuals and instructions.
  • Use personal protection equipment: Make use of protection equipment according to training, instruction and manuals. Inspect the equipment and use it consistently.
  • Adapt to artists’ creative demands: Work with artists, striving to understand the creative vision and adapting to it. Make full use of your talents and skills to reach the best possible result.
  • Prevent fire in a performance environment: Take steps to prevent fire in a performance environment. Make sure the space complies with fire safety rules, with sprinklers and fire extinguishers installed where necessary. Make sure staff are aware of fire prevention measures.
  • Prepare personal work environment: Correct settings or positions for your working instruments and adjust them before starting operations.
  • Maintain theatre equipment: Check up on, maintain and repair tools and machinery used for onstage purposes, such as lighting equipment, stage sets or scene-change machinery.
  • Finish project within budget: Make sure to stay within budget. Adapt work and materials to budget.
  • Translate artistic concepts to technical designs: Cooperate with the artistic team in order to facilitate the transition from the creative vision and its artistic concepts to a technical design.
  • Work safely with chemicals: Take the necessary precautions for storing, using and disposing chemical products.
  • Maintain workshop space: Keep the workshop space in working order and clean.
  • Define prop building methods: Decide on how to build the necessary props and document the process.
  • Manage personal professional development: Take responsibility for lifelong learning and continuous professional development. Engage in learning to support and update professional competence. Identify priority areas for professional development based on reflection about own practice and through contact with peers and stakeholders.
  • Work safely with mobile electrical systems under supervision: Take the necessary precautions while providing temporary power distribution for performance and art facility purposes under supervision.
  • Work with respect for own safety: Apply the safety rules according to training and instruction and based on a solid understanding of the prevention measures and risks to your own personal health and safety.
  • Interpret artistic intentions: Interpret the artistic intentions of the author.
  • Maintain props: Check, maintain and repair props.
  • Build props: Build props from a variety of materials, working with the design staff to create the appropriate prop for the production.
  • Keep up with trends: Monitor and follow new trends and developments in specific sectors.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of prop maker. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Photography: Art and practice of creating aesthetically appealing images by recording light or electromagnetic radiation.
  • Lighting techniques: The characteristics of techniques used to create atmospheres and effects on camera or on stage; the equipment required and appropriate setup to use.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of prop maker. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Draw prop sketches: Make sketches of envisioned props to help develop the concept and to share with others.
  • Manage consumables stock: Manage and monitor consumables stock to ensure that the production demands and deadlines can be met at all times.
  • Manage technical resources stock: Manage and monitor technical resources stock to ensure that production demands and deadlines can be met at all times.
  • Work with the camera crew: Work with the crew responsible for the camera operation and movement to get directions from them on where to stand for an aesthetic result.
  • Plan workshop activity: Plan workshop activities according to production needs.
  • Purchase props: Buy the required props for a performance.
  • Perform first fire intervention: Intervene in the case of a fire in order to extinguish the fire or limit the effects pending the arrival of emergency services according to training and procedures.
  • Ensure safety of mobile electrical systems: Take the necessary precautions while providing temporary power distribution independently. Measure and power up an installation.
  • Attend rehearsals: Attend rehearsals in order to adapt sets, costumes, make-up, lighting, camera set up, etc.
  • Support a designer in the developing process: Support designers in the course of the developing process.
  • Keep personal administration: File and organise personal administration documents comprehensively.
  • Promote yourself: Market one’s own strengths in terms of skills and knowledge.
  • Organise workshop space: Arrange the space of an equipment workshop to ensure maximum efficiency, including installing ligh fixtures, a workbench, etc. Decide on the activities and equipment to fit in and the most convenient way to work.
  • Develop professional network: Reach out to and meet up with people in a professional context. Find common ground and use your contacts for mutual benefit. Keep track of the people in your personal professional network and stay up to date on their activities.
  • Ensure cooperation among production, costume department and make-up department: Work with the staff responsible for costumes and make up in line with their creative vision and obtain directions from them about how make-up and costumes should look.
  • Hand props to actors: Hand the right props to actors before each scene. Give them directions on how to use objects.
  • Work with the lighting crew: Work with the crew responsible for the lighting setup and operation to get directions from them on where to stand for an aesthetic result.
  • Work safely with stage weapons: Take necessary precautions while preparing, transporting, storing, training and operating stage weapons (stabbing weapons, shooting weapons, etc).
  • Define prop materials: Decide what materials the props will be made from, and document the conclusions.

ISCO group and title

3435 – Other artistic and cultural associate professionals

  1. Prop maker – ESCO
  2. Prop Maker Job Description + Infos | Backstage
  3. Featured image: By greyloch from Washington, DC, area, U.S.A. – Pyrrha Omega, CC BY-SA 2.0,
Last updated on June 26, 2023

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