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Re: Questions from a newbie

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  • Curtis
    ... As has already been pointed out, if you re in it to make a decent living , you re in one of the best locations. I make a living at it, but it s more of a
    Message 1 of 4 , Jun 16, 2009
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      --- In TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com, "Lauren" <lauren.horwitch@...> wrote:
      >
      > My biggest question is whether one can make a decent living as a pro. Obviously, I'm not out to get rich, but I'm worried about trading one inconsistent, poorly-paying career for another one. Also, how much do degrees matter?
      >

      As has already been pointed out, if you're in it to make a 'decent living', you're in one of the best locations. I make a living at it, but it's more of a 'I'm getting by and paying most of my bills' type of living (though it does vary from year to year). It can be done, yes...but it's challenging and extremely time-intensive if you're doing it freelance (which is often what must be done in order to earn a standing position somewhere.)

      I'd also point out that there is, actually, a serious divide between design and wardrobe supervision. A lot of designers also supervise wardrobe, an occasional wardrobe supervisor also designs on a regular basis. Most organizations that I've worked with in my very limited experience have a wardrobe supervisor on staff, but they hire designers rather than having their wardrobe person design the show. There are designers (not many, but they are out there) who don't really know a lot about the actual construction process...they just draw what they want to see and turn it over to someone else to figure out how to make it happen. The point is, there are differing skill sets that come into play for the two positions...and if you study exclusively for one, you'll find yourself flailing to stay afloat if you get hired for the other (most programs will train you in both...but if you don't actively seek to develop both sets of skills, that training could be cursory and not very helpful.)

      On the question of degrees--in my experience, degrees are really helpful for getting your first few jobs. If you don't have a professional portfolio, the degree is the one thing you've got as a credential. After a few jobs, however, it becomes more important to sell yourself based on what you know how to do, and not where you learned to do it. The exception to this is if you get into union work, as there are often certain base requirements before you can get full union status (one of the graduates from my alma mater had to go on to get a masters in Makeup Design--a program that, at the time, only existed in about four schools in the nation that I could find--and THEN complete a cosmetology course before he could get union status to work on Broadway. I'm not sure what requirements may be in place for designers/wardrobe--Utah's a 'right to work' state so there's limited union influence here.) There's always a chance that you can wind up stumbling into a position out of sheer luck (which has happened to me a couple of times)--but that's still a case of not only knowing the right people, but having the right skills to impress them. You don't necessarily have to have a degree to do that...but it's the most cost-effective means of acquiring those skills if you don't manage to find someone who's willing to train you on the job.
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