Re: picture resources?
- Just to add my 2 cents, I am now a professional costumer with my own shop taking a break from construction of Adelaide costumes for Guys and Dolls. Yes , I get paid now. 30 years ago I was a student at a then small college and involved in the theatre on campus. Since we were the only game in town we had built in audiences all year round and even a small summer theatre program that hired one professional actor per show in the summer and the rest of the cast was made up of amature actors who were from the community, the undergraduate campus and the graduate campus. All the tech positions were held by students mostly undergraduate students who just wanted to learn all they could. The program , though effective, was very underbudgeted, but the directors did as well as they could with what little money they had. We wanted to be involved so we did our own research , honed our sewing skills , and were not paid except of course for the experience that we gained that I and others still use even years later. There was no money to hire a designer and the directors were realistic enough to know that we were untrained but still able to produce something very akin to what was needed.
All I am trying to say is that community theatre is very important to the community and is built on the work of individuals who volunteer their time because they are interested in keeping theatre in their community going. If I had not worked for free for 4 years as a student and at very little pay part time for the next 5 years I would not be able to do the work I do today. I honed my skills , back then all for the love of learning and contributing to something larger than myself. It paid off in the long run. Now I have a good reputation for being able to supply just about anything that the region needs in costume. No brag just fact. Community theatre is just different from going professional.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Ok, everyone, I stand corrected. My frustration level got the better
of me. And I just realized I have been looking at my experience as a
glass half empty instead of a glass half full. I'm working on a play
right now so that is great. I'll stop grousing at least until I'm
finished with it, and I'll worry about what comes next at that point.
On Jan 19, 2008, at 10:12 PM, metholhill wrote:
> Amen to that. I started out as a volunteer 9 years ago, and did not
> even know how to sew, but could design very well. I sketched my own
> designs and through a lot of hard work and creativity came up with
> wonderful costumes. I am now a full paid costume director and we have
> just earned a brand new theatre for all of our hard work. Yes I said
> our! I happen to work with a wonderful team of directors and
> production people who value my work and cannot wait to see what I will
> do next. It is possible, having not had the opportunity of an
> education which I so badly wanted, to live my dream. I think this
> happens more than "educated" designers would like to believe.
> --- In TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com, "Randolph Keator"
> <rkeator@...> wrote:
> > Well let's carry it a bit further. Let's not allow anyone who would
> like to learn a trade or craft the opportunity to volunteer without
> first spending large sums of money on schooling. Ever occur to you
> there are those people in this world who are very talented and have
> the ability to teach themselves ? Not everyone requires or desires to
> go on to "higher" education through college. There are other avenues
> to learn. There is quite a span between becoming a doctor and a
> designer. How about we allow no volunteers at all in any walk of life
> ? If there is no pay involved then there is no service rendered. When
> I see you burning in your car I'll just stand back and wait for the
> "trained" and paid folks to get there. After all isn't "good
> samaritan" another term for VOLUTEER ? As I stated, everyone has to
> start somewhere.
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: Sylvia Rognstad
> > To: TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com
> > Sent: Thursday, January 17, 2008 10:15 AM
> > Subject: Re: [TheCostumersManifesto] picture resources?
> > I didn't start designing before going to school. to study it. I
> > that should be a prerequisite. Would you tell someone who wants to
> > a doctor to just find some books on medicine to read and hang out
> > shingle? After all, one has to start somewhere
> > On Jan 17, 2008, at 5:40 AM, Randolph Keator wrote:
> > > Maybe you should reread the first sentence of Bonnie's post.
> > > usually means NO PAY. Everyone has to start somewhere.
> > > ----- Original Message -----
> > > From: Sylvia Rognstad
> > > To: TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com
> > > Sent: Wednesday, January 16, 2008 1:11 PM
> > > Subject: Re: [TheCostumersManifesto] picture resources?
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- There are a lot of people out there who don't take costumes
seriously...they think anyone can walk into a closet, clothing store,
or hop online and find what they need in half an hour. However, in my
experience, they're people that I wouldn't want to be working with,
Producers/directors who are in this business to explore the art of it
take the time to familiarize themselves with what their designers are
going through. Some of them are paid, some of them volunteer. There
are a lot of people out there, in every aspect of this industry, who
have stellar credentials...and mediocre skills, at best. We had this
argument with our staff choreographer several years ago because we
wanted to hire one of the dancers that had performed with us to
choreograph several numbers...she was a brilliant choreographer, and a
fantastic dancer, but our choreographer was vehement about the fact
that we shouldn't hire her because she had no educational credentials
as a choreographer.
My experience in theater, in general, is this...your credentials will
get you your first job...maybe your second or even third. After that,
people are more interested in what you know how to do, and not so much
in where you learned how to do it. People worth working for will do
their best to pay you what they can...but sometimes that's not an
option. I have done some work for independent films in the area that
paid me nothing more than my name in the credits and a couple of free
meals. Some friends of mine have started a performing group and asked
me to help them with costumes and sets...they covered my costs for
supplies for their first show, but if you break down the rest of my
payment versus the time I spent working on their stuff, I got paid
less that $3/hour for my work. Why did I agree to it? More
significantly, why did I agree to work on additional shows for them?
Because I believe in the project, and like them, I'm willing to take a
greatly reduced amount of pay for my work in the interests of keeping
the group solvent until they build up a client base that can support a
more realistic pay scale.
Not everyone can afford to do that. I'm lucky that I have a regular
job as a costumer, that allows me the time to do freelance projects on
the side such as this. And some charity cases just don't succeed in
keeping my sympathies...one of the theaters I've worked with several
times in the past is just too far away for me to be able to continue
to justify driving that far for the amount they can afford to pay me.
I realize that we're moving on from the topic, but there's just one
final thought that I want to add, in response to the comment comparing
doctors to designers...doctors are not artists, and nobody's going to
die if a designer gets a stitch out of place. Designers are
artists...working within a somewhat rigid framework, but artists, just
the same. History is full of artists that got paid large sums for
their work...but they pretty much all started out doing it for the
love of the art, not for the paycheck...and that's how they got to be
good enough to earn the rewards they did. A lot of small theaters
around here would go belly-up if they didn't have volunteer or grossly
under-paid staff...but the larger theaters, that can afford to pay all
their designers, would have much smaller audiences without the smaller
theaters providing a tempting morsel, and whetting peoples' appetites
for something bigger and better. On top of that, several of my jobs
over the years have been specialty work for theaters whose lifeblood
is volunteer personnel. When they needed something beyond the skills
of their volunteers, they were willing to pay for it--but only because
I hadn't already alienated them for being a volunteer-only theater.
Let's face it...did anyone on this list go into theater/costuming to
get rich? I tell people this industry is tough, because 90% of the
money is made by 10% of the people working in it. But I love it, and
I can scarcely imagine myself doing something else. Some of us are
lucky enough to have landed in circumstances where we're making a
living...maybe not a very comfortable one, but a living...doing
something that we love...something that, in my case, I would have
ended up doing as a hobby, anyway. At the end of the day, when I
sometimes sit during the off-season and try and figure out which bills
can wait to get paid because I'm on economic lean times, that stress
is worth it for the satisfaction that I get from it. I do it for the
joy of what I'm doing, and count myself blessed beyond explanation
that there are people who are willing to pay me to do something that I
enjoy so much already. I'm not going to begrudge someone else the
chance to explore that joy, simply because their credentials may be
lacking. Some of them have been the best people to work with, because
their heart is really in the work.
So, that's my take on the whole situation...I would have put this
epistle in the mix earlier, but I had a massive communications
breakdown this past week (my phone, for some reason, decided that it
didn't want to recognize the cellular network anymore...and without my
phone, I didn't have a way to pay my broadband bill, until tonight...)
I love my career field...I credit it quite heavily with repeated
comments I've received about how little I've aged, visually.
Naturally, I looked younger and fresher than a lot of the people at my
20-year reunion...the job I do, day after day, is something that most
people think of as fun. And, as one of my former bosses put it, "The
day this stops being fun for me is the day I need to find a new career."
- Performing arts, historic sites, parks, libraries, schools, 4-H,
scouts, firemen, paramedics, and many others rely on volunteers to
some extent. Most volunteers learn on the job or through working
with an experienced person. And most do need occasionally
to "consult" with someone.
Unfortunately, it is also true that volunteers are seldom given
respect by either other volunteers or especially those in the group
who are paid. I know from my own volunteer work at a historic site
that I have researched costume enough that I should be the first one
called if there are questions regarding womens clothes at the site or
if they want a "public" program, but because all my efforts are
unpaid they never even think to ask. Instead, someone will ask
an "expert" to come, and not only do they have to pay for the program
they have to pay transportation and room and meals.
What gripes me is I am careful to document my sources, but when I
question some of the "expert's" statements and provide documentation
as to why I am even asking, I get totally brushed off, no answers or
no documentation, or very far-fetched conclusions - by the expert and
by the people who hired her. I have to admit that the experience has
so soured me that I have nearly stopped all volunteer work at that
site. It's one thing not to be asked to do a program, but another
thing altogether to be told the expert has to be right just because
of their reputation and I don't even matter enough for an answer.
- --- In TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com, "Hope Wright"
>A prophet has no respect in his own country...or, to quote another
> Instead, someone will ask
> an "expert" to come, and not only do they have to pay for the program
> they have to pay transportation and room and meals.
> What gripes me is I am careful to document my sources, but when I
> question some of the "expert's" statements and provide documentation
> as to why I am even asking, I get totally brushed off, no answers or
> no documentation, or very far-fetched conclusions - by the expert and
> by the people who hired her. I have to admit that the experience has
> so soured me that I have nearly stopped all volunteer work at that
> site. It's one thing not to be asked to do a program, but another
> thing altogether to be told the expert has to be right just because
> of their reputation and I don't even matter enough for an answer.
source (I wish I could remember which film/TV show I saw this one on),
"An expert is just some guy from out of town, most of the time..."
For a lot of places, the entire purpose of calling in such experts is
to wow their audience with the diverse range of people they are able
to attract...they are not necessarily concerned so much with the
accuracy of the message delivered by these so-called experts as they
are whether or not the patrons will be impressed by who it is/where
they work/who they've worked for/with, etc...because impressive
credentials make for good copy when they hit people up for
contributors (to help fund additional visits, of course). It's rare
that an administrator will look and say, "Y'know, we've got a
volunteer on staff already who knows all of that stuff...why are we
paying this guy?" The only time I've ever seen that happening was for
a western heritage program that was hemorrhaging money, and basically
got an ultimatum from its board of directors to at least reach a
break-even point, even if it couldn't make a profit (unfortunately,
the administrator was so zealous about trying to get as much done for
free as possible that he ended up alienating most of the
volunteers...and the program basically folded.)