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8543Re: How Did You Get Started as Costume Designers?

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  • eilonwy14
    Jan 8, 2007
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      > Should I enroll in an academic program? Is a degree crucial, or
      should I just try to network and gain more hands on experience? Would
      enrollment in an art college (FIDM) have significant advantages over,
      say, a 2-year costume design degree offered at a community
      > college (i.e. http://theatreacademy.lacitycollege.edu/thdept.htm) ?
      Also, would age be a factor

      Costuming is about 1)Who you know, 2)Your ability of collaborate and
      communicate well, and 3)Your specific arts and crafts skills.
      Getting into the right degree program can potential help in all of
      these areas, but so can going straight to work. The question is, do
      you have enough to get you started? Do you have enough sewing skill
      to impress those you work with? Do you have enough drawing skill to
      effectively communicate your design intentions?

      I work for the IATSE Theatrical Wardrobe Union in Seattle, and
      through that work I have made enough contacts to get the chance to
      show off my sewing and design skills in several Theatrical Costume
      Shops here. I got my MFA in Costume Design in the NYC area before
      moving here. Before that I worked in regional professional theatre
      all over the country, and before that I got my BA in Theatre and
      English in upstate NY. I started stitching and design as an
      undergrad, took a few internships, and then took it from there. Grad
      school was to specifically refine my draping and drawing skills, and
      get some more contacts. It's been a long road (15 years) and only now
      have I found a place I want to be long term. I did not take the fast

      I know little of the L.A. theatrical community, except that many who
      are involved in it have film careers or aspirations. In that
      environment I would think that it is even more WHO you know. You can
      work on that aspect by talking to everyone you meet in your current
      projects. Make sure they know about ALL of your skills and interests,
      because otherwise, I've found people will assume you are what they
      see. If they see a volunteer sewing buttons, they'll assume that's
      all you can or want to do. If you run into Production Managers,
      Artistic Directors, etc, while walking through the workplace,
      introduce yourself, even if, practically speaking, they have nothing
      to do with your current job.

      I'm basically a shy person, and these are the things that I rarely
      do, but I see other people doing them, and getting the jobs I wanted.
      I have a career I enjoy, but the more you can get your face and name
      to stick in people's heads, the faster you can acheive what it has
      taken me 15 years and a lot of student loan debt to do.

      (sorry about being so long-winded)
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