Life as an Entertainment Designer: An Interview with Sasha Bailyn of

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Sasha Bailyn, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of

Sasha Bailyn (click here to view where image was taken)

Entertainment Design is a specific study that deals with the creation of compelling visual experience through public spaces and the entertainment industry. Example of these are theme parks, film, television firms, commercials, and video games.

In this post, we will talk to one of the people involved in the entertainment design industry.

Sasha Bailyn, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of, has granted PortPrep this exclusive interview about entertainment design as a branch of study in design and as an industry where designers can earn for a living.

What is entertainment design to you in a nutshell?

Entertainment design is the collaborative art of creating experiences that excite the mind: theme parks and rides, live shows, exhibits, and themed venues are just a few examples. What we call “entertainment” is orchestrated by a talented group of people known as entertainment designers (or sometimes “experience designers”), and represents a combination of artistry, imagination and technical know-how.

How did you come across the Entertainment Design field? What inspired you to become one?

I have wanted to be an entertainment designer since I was 6, after my first trip to Disneyland. I was creating worlds and imaginative experiences at an early age, so it seemed natural that I could grow up and create experiences for other people to enjoy. It wasn’t until college, though, that I realized there was an entire industry for entertainment design. Once I realized that my dream job actually existed, I came up with a 4-year plan to amass the right skills to be part of the industry.

What course/s did you study before going into Entertainment Design? Were they pivotal in getting you a job?

Réalisation d'un film

Réalisation d’un film (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I studied filmmaking in college, majoring in communications. Both disciplines gave me good insight and skills for entertainment design. Later, I went into architecture to get more of a spatial background. I wouldn’t say that these programs or disciplines were pivotal in getting me into entertainment design, but it is extremely helpful to be able to think like a filmmaker, brand developer and an architect.

What should students consider before studying ED?

Students should first consider what kind of career and lifestyle they hope to have. Entertainment design demands a flexible lifestyle: you may not have much control over where you need to live/travel, how many hours you work and how much money you make. If stability and reliability are important, entertainment design may not be the right field. It’s an industry of boom and bust – when there is a lot of work, the hours can be demanding and there may be constant travel. There will also be lag times when things are slow (such as during a recession) – this is when entertainment designers need to be clever about applying their skills to other industries or different kinds of projects.

What would you suggest to high school students looking into this career to do to prepare for university? What’s the most efficient and fastest way to become an Entertainment Designer?

Students should try as much as possible to identify what aspect of entertainment design they truly enjoy and have an affinity for – whether it’s engineering, interior design, theater, art, programming, etc. This industry is all about being able to bring skills and expertise to the table to achieve incredible, “never-been-done-before” things. A student’s best ticket into the industry is a strong portfolio and a clear sense of how they can contribute to the process. My advice is to pick a discipline to study in college, build a great portfolio and then network like crazy.

What do ED companies normally look for in their applicants?

Portfolio and experience, first and foremost. They want to know what applicants can do to contribute to the process. Companies also look for passion and drive.

What is Entertainment Design like as an industry? Is it currently a competitive market with lots of demand or is it still a relatively small industry with select companies and people to choose from?

Navy Pier Theme Park

Navy Pier Theme Park (Photo credit: Andos_pics)

The industry is very small and tight-knit, but the opportunities are global and vary dramatically in terms of project types. It’s definitely competitive between companies because there are only so many theme parks being built, and there is a also a sense of competition amongst individuals vying for similar jobs, but despite this there is a great sense of community. Entertainment design is extremely collaborative, so everyone has worked with everyone, and there is a preserved sense of camaraderie despite the competition.

Could you give us an idea on how ED teams deal with their clients?

It really depends on the team and the client. Every relationship and project is different, and each company has their own style.

Have you encountered clients who hired you to design non-public spaces such as offices? What are your experiences regarding this one?

I have not personally experienced this, but entertainment design companies do work with institutions such as schools, hospitals, etc. It takes a visionary client to hire an entertainment designer for a private institution.

What are some of the obstacles that an Entertainment Designer has to overcome?

  • Instability (in terms of job security, pay, hours, travel requirements)
  • Work-life balance / pace of work
  • Depending on personality, learning to work well with a team and receive constructive criticism

How is the career growth in ED?

It’s all about who you know, where you fit in and how good you are at what you do. The growth can be great at some companies, and in other cases, owning your own company or being a freelancer is the best way to get ahead.

What are the keys to success in becoming a great EDer?

Expertise, good teamwork and listening skills, passion, ambition, stamina

For more about Sasha and her services as an Entertainment Designer, visit her site by clicking here.

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