Design & Style, Arts & Entertainment

Your Career Is Your Story

Es Devlin

Lesson time 08:59 min

Es reflects on lessons she has learned from her career and advises you to realize that each job you have is only an iteration. She shares practical takeaways for making a career out of set design and her process for overcoming self-doubt.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Your Career Is Your Story • Getting In The Door • “If At First You Don't Succeed, Fail Again, Fail Better.” • Work And Life • Departing Words


[MUSIC PLAYING] - Whatever it is that you do every day, make sure you learn something. You probably will anyway by dint of just being alive. But ask yourself at the end of the day, did I learn something? Did I expand my knowledge? Did I expand my practice? And if you're about to go to sleep, and you didn't, then make sure you do. [MUSIC PLAYING] In 2015, I received an email. And actually, when I look back on the email now, I think it said, "Dear Es Devlin, would you like to recommend a director for a perfume advert?" But I actually misread the email. And I thought it said, "Dear Es Devlin, would you like to make your first large-scale art installation?" So having misread the email, I then proceeded to march ahead and devise the mirror maze, which was really the first time I guess I used the term artist about myself. And I really would invite you to try different words on like you might try on different clothes. You might be in a shop and see something you think you could never wear. Put it on. You might see a term that you think could never describe you. Just try it, and you'll be surprised. Because as soon as you start calling yourself the thing you want to be, people will just follow suit. [MUSIC PLAYING] If you choose to go into the world of performance design, one of the things that will strike you is, how do I start? Where do I start? How do I get a job? Who will take me on when I've never done this before? And it's always the perennial problem. Whenever you are starting out, how do you gain experience when what you need is experience in order to gain experience? That kind of catch-22. And I think my advice would be this. Firstly, you need to really know what work it is that you want to do. And you'll only know that by going to see the work of others. You must go. The number of people who write to me say, I want to be a stage designer, and then I ring them up. And I say, what work do you like? They say, well, I haven't ever seen any. I was like, well, you are going to have to go and see. So it doesn't matter how you do it. You can look online, you can watch videos of the work, but you must do your research. You must find out, who are the makers who are making work that you actually really respond to? Do that first, and then have a vision in your mind of which room you want to be in-- if you want to be in a room with me. You might want to be in a room with someone else. There might be work that you really admire. Really do that first, and then write to those people and say, please just let me walk into your room for a minute. Let me walk in the door. In my personal case, I was fortunate enough to, at the end of my studies in stage design, there was a competition. And the prize was a job. And the job was in the Bolton Octagon in the North of England. So I went to Bolton and made a show there, which was really important because it meant I had something in my portfolio that had been realized...

About the Instructor

For more than 20 years, Es Devlin has sculpted immersive experiences for opera, drama, and performers like Beyoncé, Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, and U2. Now the artist and designer shares her process so you can cultivate creativity in any form. From sketching to collaborating to creating powerful visual stories, learn how to turn the abstract—your ideas and imagination—into art you can see, feel, and share.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Es Devlin

Designer and artist Es Devlin teaches you her approach to creating powerful visual stories and cultivating creativity in any form.

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