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Salary issues

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  • Susan Johnston
    Have any of you tried to get insurance listing your occupation as seamstress? I did once and the rates increased dramatically. I was told it is due to the the
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 11, 2003
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      Have any of you tried to get insurance listing your occupation as seamstress?  I did once and the rates increased dramatically. I was told it is due to the the number of injuries a seamstress encounters as opposed to other occupations.  This needs to be figured in when considering salaries.

       

       TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com wrote:

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      ------------------------------------------------------------------------

      There are 5 messages in this issue.

      Topics in this digest:

      1. Re: salary issues
      From: "Tara Maginnis "
      2. Re: salary issues
      From: Siebel San
      3. Re: Re: salary issues
      From: "Beverly Bullock"
      4. Re: Re: salary issues
      From: sylvia
      5. Re: salary issues
      From: "michaela de bruce "


      ________________________________________________________________________
      ________________________________________________________________________

      Message: 1
      Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2003 12:25:10 -0000
      From: "Tara Maginnis "
      Subject: Re: salary issues

      No one seems to have mentioned the key to the low salaries for
      costumers and other stitchers: It is "Women's Work".

      The bottom paid job in every country in the world is that of
      seamstress, and as costuming relates closely to stitching, and is done
      by a workforce that is 95% female, it is often paid in a similar
      fashion.

      You can look in theatre departments across the US and you will also
      find that the costume designer is usually the lowest paid faculty, and
      in many cases is lower paid "staff" when all other positions are
      tenured faculty. It is rather unusual for the costume designer to
      feel she is taken as seriously as an artist by directors or other
      designers. It isn't unheard of for a costume designer to be rated as
      an equal, and I'm happy to say UAF is one place where we (the theatre
      faculty) all agree this is the proper way to do things, but even at
      UAF, once the level goes up a rung to administration, it isn't
      necessarily the case. I'm the only faculty in Theatre with a PhD, and
      yet I'm still lowest paid, because our former dean set our incoming
      salaries when we were hired. Ironically, she was female.

      There are lots of things costumers do, even in faculty positions that
      incourage colleagues to think less of their design skills however.
      Some things to remember if you want more respect:

      See to it that more of your designs look like they were made by an
      artist than a seamstress. Others don't care if you stitched it like
      God, on the contrary, the less a costume looks like something bought
      in a store, made by mom, or pulled out of a museum, and the more it
      looks like something from an art gallery, carnival, or a Disney parade
      the more they will recognize your work as art. Remember you are an
      artist who happens to have sewing as one of a multiplicity of skills
      you can use to make your art, you are not (only) a seamstress. Make
      sure everyone knows it.

      Do renderings and sketches and make sure EVERYONE sees them, including
      the actors. If you make extra copies of your renderings (xeroxes ok)
      you can post them in the lobby, or theatre department display cases to
      incourage ticket sales. People value you more if you are helping them
      generate income. Costume drawings are not just diagrams for your
      helpers to follow, they are a primary tool for gaining respect and the
      name of an artist.

      Actors take you far more seriously if you give them lots of
      information about their costumes, and even input into their costumes,
      as early as they can get it. Treat them as if they have brains, but
      don't assume they can read your mind or intentions. Don't just
      measure new actors, but explain why you are measuring them, what you
      indend to do with their costumes, when they are likely to be called
      for fittings, and who the people are in your shop. Respect them, and
      respect in turn from the actors will get you respect from everyone
      else. Directors get the idea you are brilliant and friendly, or
      stupid and rude, direct from their actors.

      Don't try to push your vision on a director, nor try to fight a
      director against his/her own vision, no matter how weird and
      misguided. If your director asks for some wacked idea set to go
      straight off of a cliff, go jump off it with him/her. If anything,
      take it even further, with great daring. Then you are supporting the
      director's vision, and if it fails he/she gets the blame, and you will
      still be praised, if it suceeds, you get double points. Look at all
      the praise the designers who assist Julie Taymor (Titus, Frida) garner
      even though the films haven't been big box office. Daring weird work
      makes people sit up and take notice.

      Keep all whining and gossip to a minimum. You can't stop people
      coming to you with their gossip, but you can refuse to EVER dis a
      colleague yourself. No matter how stupid your director is being, you
      hurt the morale of your assistants and actors if you appear to think
      your show is going over a cliff. Even when it is, keep the pep talks
      up about how good some aspect of the experience will be. Act like you
      think the glass is half full, even if you privately think it is
      totally empty.

      If you are in a faculty position at a university, for heaven's sake,
      PUBLISH. Get a Ph.D. if you can, do displays of your costumes at the
      university art gallery, treat your classes and research opbligations
      seriously. Accept the horror of being the Dept chair at least once,
      and do faculty senate, Union office holding, and committee work.
      Don't do these all at once, but you should be doing at least a trickle
      of this stuff in any given year. Don't expect to ever get tenure if
      you don't. Even if your colleagues understand you are buried under a
      mointain of fabric in the basement, the university wide promotion and
      tenure committee will never excuse the omission.

      Don't bury yourself under a mountain of fabric in the basement all the
      time. Every show need not be done in such a way to max out your staff
      or yourself. This is not a competition for seeing who can get most
      burnt out before each show opens. Always think about ways to make the
      designs less labor intensive. Just because you have the skills to
      make perfect period wear, does not mean you need do it all the time.
      You don't need to build a costume to last 10 years if it is only
      getting used for five performances and three rehearsals. If you do
      one show a year for your theatre where everone says "wow" about your
      designs, and the rest of your show designs are low-key and let either
      the actors, lighting, or set grab the limelight, everyone will be
      grateful, and you will have time to breathe.

      Use your budget for the purpose of saying "no" and saving time. Spend
      money on things that save you time (pre-beaded thrift store items,
      good readymades, pre-ruffled trims, rentals), not that tasty fabric
      that makes you want to do extra sewing. When you are pressured by a
      director to come up with far more costumes than can resonably be made
      by you, explain how you will have to either keep them simple, rent
      them or pull from stock in order to not waste the budget. Get them to
      prioritize what costumes are most important, and what they see as
      filler, and you will be amazed at how much of a show they view as
      filler, or walking scenery, that can receed in importance, and work
      for you.

      These tips can help you do less work and get taken more seriously.
      Salary, of course, is based on market value, which is the pits in any
      female profession, escpecially one as desirable as this one seems to
      be for so many. Your market value will depend on many factors,
      (education, experience, reputation, pool of area talent) but much more
      of the variable is the actual place of work. Universities and
      colleges end up paying tenure track costume faculty like low end
      faculty (starting $35,000) and staff like low end part time staff
      (starting $10,000), regional theatres pay less usually, and community
      theatres often don't pay at all. Union work pays decently if you can
      get it, and is hourly. Generally the higher up the theatre is in the
      status order, the better paid the staff, and vice versa. Because
      there are so many willing would-be costumers, nearly any theatre can
      get a costume designer practically for free, but the quality that is
      produced is not always reliable since people working for free or
      nearly are usually just learning their trade. Many "free" communty
      theatre costumers are great, but the great ones have more sense than
      to take on every show, and the slow learners fill the gaps. The more
      $$$ a theatre spends on a designer and staff the more likely they will
      attract those with experience and talent to match the salary. So my
      answer about how much should the theatre spend: As much as they can
      afford, and be sure it is as much as the lighting or set designer
      makes.



      ________________________________________________________________________
      ________________________________________________________________________

      Message: 2
      Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2003 05:39:26 -0800 (PST)
      From: Siebel San
      Subject: Re: salary issues



      > Another thing that totally cracks me up is this. I hear
      > it all of the time. "Oh! You Sew?!" That is a dying
      > art!"

      That above statement cracks me up to, because when people
      like my family and friends find out that I sew, they
      automatically assume I'll do any repairs or alterations
      they need free of charge. My grandmother gets angry when I
      tell her my time is valuable and that I just can't tailor
      her pants right now because I need to be restocking my
      store. I charge $9 an hour plus the cost of fabric, but a
      lot of people tell me I ought to charge more.
      Jessica

      =====
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      ________________________________________________________________________
      ________________________________________________________________________

      Message: 3
      Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2003 16:43:15 -0500
      From: "Beverly Bullock"
      Subject: Re: Re: salary issues



      [This message is not in displayable format]



      ________________________________________________________________________
      ________________________________________________________________________

      Message: 4
      Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2003 14:26:34 -0700
      From: sylvia
      Subject: Re: Re: salary issues

      Some very useful tips, Tara. Thank you. I will try to remember them on my
      next design job which I'm about to start working on.

      Sylvia

      on 2/10/03 5:25 AM, Tara Maginnis at Tara@...
      wrote:

      No one seems to have mentioned the key to the low salaries for
      costumers and other stitchers: It is "Women's Work".

      The bottom paid job in every country in the world is that of
      seamstress, and as costuming relates closely to stitching, and is done
      by a workforce that is 95% female, it is often paid in a similar
      fashion.

      You can look in theatre departments across the US and you will also
      find that the costume designer is usually the lowest paid faculty, and
      in many cases is lower paid "staff" when all other positions are
      tenured faculty. It is rather unusual for the costume designer to
      feel she is taken as seriously as an artist by directors or other
      designers. It isn't unheard of for a costume designer to be rated as
      an equal, and I'm happy to say UAF is one place where we (the theatre
      faculty) all agree this is the proper way to do things, but even at
      UAF, once the level goes up a rung to administration, it isn't
      necessarily the case. I'm the only faculty in Theatre with a PhD, and
      yet I'm still lowest paid, because our former dean set our incoming
      salaries when we were hired. Ironically, she was female.

      There are lots of things costumers do, even in faculty positions that
      incourage colleagues to think less of their design skills however.
      Some things to remember if you want more respect:

      See to it that more of your designs look like they were made by an
      artist than a seamstress. Others don't care if you stitched it like
      God, on the contrary, the less a costume looks like something bought
      in a store, made by mom, or pulled out of a museum, and the more it
      looks like something from an art gallery, carnival, or a Disney parade
      the more they will recognize your work as art. Remember you are an
      artist who happens to have sewing as one of a multiplicity of skills
      you can use to make your art, you are not (only) a seamstress. Make
      sure everyone knows it.

      Do renderings and sketches and make sure EVERYONE sees them, including
      the actors. If you make extra copies of your renderings (xeroxes ok)
      you can post them in the lobby, or theatre department display cases to
      incourage ticket sales. People value you more if you are helping them
      generate income. Costume drawings are not just diagrams for your
      helpers to follow, they are a primary tool for gaining respect and the
      name of an artist.

      Actors take you far more seriously if you give them lots of
      information about their costumes, and even input into their costumes,
      as early as they can get it. Treat them as if they have brains, but
      don't assume they can read your mind or intentions. Don't just
      measure new actors, but explain why you are measuring them, what you
      indend to do with their costumes, when they are likely to be called
      for fittings, and who the people are in your shop. Respect them, and
      respect in turn from the actors will get you respect from everyone
      else. Directors get the idea you are brilliant and friendly, or
      stupid and rude, direct from their actors.

      Don't try to push your vision on a director, nor try to fight a
      director against his/her own vision, no matter how weird and
      misguided. If your director asks for some wacked idea set to go
      straight off of a cliff, go jump off it with him/her. If anything,
      take it even further, with great daring. Then you are supporting the
      director's vision, and if it fails he/she gets the blame, and you will
      still be praised, if it suceeds, you get double points. Look at all
      the praise the designers who assist Julie Taymor (Titus, Frida) garner
      even though the films haven't been big box office. Daring weird work
      makes people sit up and take notice.

      Keep all whining and gossip to a minimum. You can't stop people
      coming to you with their gossip, but you can refuse to EVER dis a
      colleague yourself. No matter how stupid your director is being, you
      hurt the morale of your assistants and actors if you appear to think
      your show is going over a cliff. Even when it is, keep the pep talks
      up about how good some aspect of the experience will be. Act like you
      think the glass is half full, even if you privately think it is
      totally empty.

      If you are in a faculty position at a university, for heaven's sake,
      PUBLISH. Get a Ph.D. if you can, do displays of your costumes at the
      university art gallery, treat your classes and research opbligations
      seriously. Accept the horror of being the Dept chair at least once,
      and do faculty senate, Union office holding, and committee work.
      Don't do these all at once, but you should be doing at least a trickle
      of this stuff in any given year. Don't expect to ever get tenure if
      you don't. Even if your colleagues understand you are buried under a
      mointain of fabric in the basement, the university wide promotion and
      tenure committee will never excuse the omission.

      Don't bury yourself under a mountain of fabric in the basement all the
      time. Every show need not be done in such a way to max out your staff
      or yourself. This is not a competition for seeing who can get most
      burnt out before each show opens. Always think about ways to make the
      designs less labor intensive. Just because you have the skills to
      make perfect period wear, does not mean you need do it all the time.
      You don't need to build a costume to last 10 years if it is only
      getting used for five performances and three rehearsals. If you do
      one show a year for your theatre where everone says "wow" about your
      designs, and the rest of your show designs are low-key and let either
      the actors, lighting, or set grab the limelight, everyone will be
      grateful, and you will have time to breathe.

      Use your budget for the purpose of saying "no" and saving time. Spend
      money on things that save you time (pre-beaded thrift store items,
      good readymades, pre-ruffled trims, rentals), not that tasty fabric
      that makes you want to do extra sewing. When you are pressured by a
      director to come up with far more costumes than can resonably be made
      by you, explain how you will have to either keep them simple, rent
      them or pull from stock in order to not waste the budget. Get them to
      prioritize what costumes are most important, and what they see as
      filler, and you will be amazed at how much of a show they view as
      filler, or walking scenery, that can receed in importance, and work
      for you.

      These tips can help you do less work and get taken more seriously.
      Salary, of course, is based on market value, which is the pits in any
      female profession, escpecially one as desirable as this one seems to
      be for so many. Your market value will depend on many factors,
      (education, experience, reputation, pool of area talent) but much more
      of the variable is the actual place of work. Universities and
      colleges end up paying tenure track costume faculty like low end
      faculty (starting $35,000) and staff like low end part time staff
      (starting $10,000), regional theatres pay less usually, and community
      theatres often don't pay at all. Union work pays decently if you can
      get it, and is hourly. Generally the higher up the theatre is in the
      status order, the better paid the staff, and vice versa. Because
      there are so many willing would-be costumers, nearly any theatre can
      get a costume designer practically for free, but the quality that is
      produced is not always reliable since people working for free or
      nearly are usually just learning their trade. Many "free" communty
      theatre costumers are great, but the great ones have more sense than
      to take on every show, and the slow learners fill the gaps. The more
      $$$ a theatre spends on a designer and staff the more likely they will
      attract those with experience and talent to match the salary. So my
      answer about how much should the theatre spend: As much as they can
      afford, and be sure it is as much as the lighting or set designer
      makes.


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      [This message contained attachments]



      ________________________________________________________________________
      ________________________________________________________________________

      Message: 5
      Date: Tue, 11 Feb 2003 00:54:41 -0000
      From: "michaela de bruce "
      Subject: Re: salary issues

      > Do renderings and sketches and make sure EVERYONE sees them,
      including
      > the actors. If you make extra copies of your renderings (xeroxes
      ok)
      > you can post them in the lobby, or theatre department display cases
      to
      > incourage ticket sales.

      And a lot of people do *love* to see costume designs. I mean it's not
      just costumey people:)

      > Actors take you far more seriously if you give them lots of
      > information about their costumes, and even input into their
      costumes,
      > as early as they can get it. Treat them as if they have brains,
      but
      > don't assume they can read your mind or intentions.

      Yes please. In the theatre world I'm called on far more as an actor
      than as a costumer (because in the groups I've been involved with
      it's all been very insular and costume is very protected from
      outsiders). As an actor costume is so important, we want to know from
      the start if the vision matches how we've worked on our characters.
      We put in so much time and effort into developing a character,

      === message truncated ===



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