Concert/Theatre designer looking into architecture


Hi, I'm relatively new to this community so please excuse any moments of ignorance in this post (and please feel free to correct me). 

TL;DR A confused theatre major not sure if getting a masters in architecture is the right choice, and, if so, how?

To quickly introduce myself, I'm a theatre set/lighting design student (going into my third year next year). My primary focus is to become a concert designer but eventually my goal is to branch out into other fields such as fashion, film, experience design, etc. (kind of like a jack of all trades type deal). Unlike most of my peers, I came to college with virtually no background in theatre or really any type of spatial design. So to catch up to my peers and also get closer to my goals, I've been studying up on a variety of different fields and working in a variety of different jobs. 

Recently, I've been debating whether four years of theatre school would be enough to prepare me for the real world. The more I get involved in these fields, the more I realized how vastly ignorant I am in design as a whole. I will admit, back in high school I thought I was the shit. I was well known in my school for being "the kid who draws really good". But meeting everyone in college and witnessing the incredible things they create, I realized that I wasn't the shit but just shit. 

During my time (and now), I've been looking into other ways I can maybe enhance my designing skills. While doing a lot of research into this, I started considering getting a masters degree in architecture. I could make a whole essay on why I chose architecture, but to be brief, it's because I find it to be the most eclectic form of study. It's almost like the color grey; it could be white or it could be black but there's really no way of determining objectively, so we just call it grey. 

However, as many can agree, getting a masters isn't easy. Financially there are a lot of things to consider and the aspect of 3-4 more years of education is, I hate to admit, frightening. Being years behind everyone else and unable to be guaranteed a job after. I've been reading a lot of opinions on forums on getting a masters degree, and a good majority seem to come to the consensus that it's a waste of time and money and ultimately their biggest regret. But for some reason, even after considering these aspects, I can't seem to let go of it. A part of me fears that I might instead regret not having gone to graduate school and end up going much later in life or not at all. My parents (who are supportive of me attending grad school) think that applying much later (after graduating) would be even more difficult. And, honestly I still want to learn more! I learned a lot from my peers at school and I really wouldn't be where I am now if it weren't for them. And the many opportunities to experiment and fail without consequence has helped me thrive so much during my time at school.

Another part of me also worries about how the flying fuck am I gonna apply (and hopefully get in) to graduate school. I have zero connections to any architects so I don't really know anyone to ask questions. My school, unfortunately is an art school without an architecture program and none of my professors have the connections. Portfolio and GRE too have been another aspect of concern. I honestly don't know how to create a spiced up portfolio. I took a look at a lot of portfolios from this webs college admissions forums and, honestly, how do you make it look so damn good?!

Anyway, thats pretty much the gist of it. I'm open to any form of advice/opinion. And sorry about my wishy-washiness. I know it's frustrating. 

Jan 20, 21 10:41 am

I know two people who've been in your situation. Obviously this is anecdotal and there are bound to be many others going from set design to architecture.

The first person lasted 1 month in graduate school, then dropped out.

The second person graduated, went on to work a soul-sucking government job for about 15 years, then recently started his own sole practitioner office (and is struggling for scraps because he never worked in the public sphere).  However he has some family money which helps.

You sound ambitious but a little unfocused and over-estimating the impact you can likely achieve. All students are guilty of this but the world doesn't care about your feelings. Architecture doesn't pay super well and every day is stressful for some reason or another. Think hard about what you want out of life and go from there. 

Jan 20, 21 11:32 am  · 
1  · 

why aren't you considering working in theater design for a while first and seeing where that leads? 

you seem to be suggesting you don't feel your design skills are outstanding enough to meet your grand ambitions. if you feel behind now it's only going to get worse in architecture school.

i wouldn't consider jack of all trades a career goal in itself - but it's good to keep your mind open and see where opportunities lead.

fwiw i had two classmates (different years) go into tangential design fields - one is a very successful fashion designer, the other a creative director for branding at a cosmetics company. and i went to a very non-artsy engineering oriented university. so it can happen, but in both their cases the talent was very obvious during their time. the fashion designer in particular was notable for his excellent style more than anything in his work (though he always put together a good presentation).

Jan 20, 21 11:51 am  · 

also, applying for grad school after graduation is totally normal and especially for a professional program it's often done after a year or two of work experience. there is no reason to rush into a decision that can be made any time in the next 5-10 years.


Holy shit. *looks at theatre design degree*

If you're staying in theatre, don't go to grad school for architecture. Take courses? Sure. Read books? Sure. Get a degree? No.

Jan 20, 21 1:13 pm  · 

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