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Ghouls, The Discarded Souls of Taylor Swift, and Design Degrees

November 6th, 2023
Design In College

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Ghouls, The Discarded Souls of Taylor Swift, and Design Degrees

Fake graveyards set up outside a home in Boston with Taylor Swift's ex-boyfriend's names on them.

This spooky display was a fun find in Boston! Creativity is at an all time high.

Did you notice that Halloween decorating reached a whole new level of seriousness this year? It has become a competitive sport in some neighborhoods. 

One home on Boston’s Beacon Hill (Louisburg Square) was decked out with a “Discarded Souls of Taylor Swift,” display (I am talking about you Jake Gyllenhall and Harry Styles). Maybe you saw the viral video? I happened to be in the neighborhood on November 1st so I checked it out. The scene was impressive, if not a bit strange, but isn’t that Halloween?  

What surprised me most were the elaborate designs on just about every home in the neighborhood. We’re not talking about a few ghost blowups and skeletons purchased at Home Depot but set designs such as a full-on Harry Potter tribute complete with owls, dementors, and a Bellatrix Lestrange WANTED poster. Handcrafted ghouls and truckloads of pumpkins of all shapes and sizes were a feast for the eyes.

A front door with a pumpkin arrangement and bird in the top right corner along with Wanted posters from Harry Potter.

This Harry Potter display is the perfect & relevant Halloween front door-scape.

The level of sophistication was Oscar-worthy, and then it hit me. Beacon Hill residents are affluent and most likely busy with their careers. I seriously doubt they spent the weeks leading to Halloween constructing tombstones or drafting copy for a Beacon Hill version of The Daily Prophet. But they can hire designers. Who are these mysterious designers, and how did they learn the tricks (and treats) of their trade?

Did you know you can major in all kinds of design in college including set design? If you have a design sensibility this might be an area of study for you. Here are five of the many programs where you can learn the craft.

  1. OnStage named UConn’s Design & Tech program the top in the nation. Their BFA in Design and Tech engages students from the beginning of their college career, encouraging them to study all aspects of design including Scenery Design, Costume Design and Construction, and Sound Design. During students’ junior and senior years, they engage in portfolio reviews establishing work that can then be entered into the University Resident Theater Association’s final competitions in New York City. 
  2. Boston University’s BFA Theater Arts Design & Production begins with the First Year Design, Production, and Management Core, which enables faculty to evaluate students fully and provide the most effective mentoring during their college career.
  3. Michigan Technological University’s BS in Theatre and Entertainment Technology allows students to learn more about the technical aspect of the field, teaching students event production in a diverse array of areas including museum displays and themed retail. Post-graduation, students have the opportunity to take their knowledge to a variety of careers such as working on cruise ships or producing big-stage shows in Las Vegas.
  4. The Theatre and Screen Arts Degree with an emphasis in Production Design at Pepperdine University takes a student through the many aspects of theater production–-from hair and makeup to set design. Taking classes such as Theatre as Social Action and Career Skills for the Theater Practitioner, this major prepares students for the multiple facets of a theater career. Senior year includes an internship and capstone completed in the student’s field of interest. 
  5. At NYU, a new major is on the scene. Collaborative Arts provides hands-on work for students who are interested in multiple disciplines and are self-motivated. Whether interested in producing, choreographing, or art theory this major allows students freedom while teaching them to look outside of their scope of interest. Courses include Iconic Dances, Puppets and Performing Objects, and Animated Alchemy. 
    Wanted posters from Harry Potter.

    Who’s wanted? Check these posters out!

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