I thought I'd circle back around and revisit the Paper Portfolio that I had written about while I was interviewing for graduate schools. Having now finished my MFA I thought I'd give some updated tips. For the most part the only time you will need to have a physical paper portfolio is when interviewing for school (grad/undergrad) or in very specific summer stocks, regional theatres, etc.
The final page of a portfolio is usually an odd single page (since you started with the resume), so something that is a little different than what is filling most of the portfolio can be a fun way to end/start the discussion you want to have with a future employer or educator.
I’ve done it! I’ve finished my MFA and can now go back out into the world. Rather terrifying right!? But, I have learned a few things while in grad school and one of them is it is ok to be terrified as long as you don’t let that paralyze you. New things are always frightening. The fear of the unknown is a real thing and when working as a freelancer in the arts most of your life can feel a bit unknown. Feel that fear and then plow ahead with your plan.
There have been many times where I have been cautious about something new or a bit scared of how it will go, but I come at it with a plan and sense of experimentation. I recently had the opportunity to meet the head of a large costume shop in New York City and sit down with the staff to practice a bid for a project play. I was terrified of messing up, looking unprepared, etc. but, I didn’t let that stop me. I came with a plan, a positive attitude, and the knowledge that this was a fantastic opportunity that would never come around again in such a nurturing environment.
You can be terrified. There is no weakness in being scared as long as you don’t let it rule how your life. Feel that fear, acknowledge it, and use it to fuel yiurself forward.
New can be good. It brings a freshness to your spirit. Here’s to all the new terrifying things to come and may we all meet them with gusto. Happy Holidays.
When I was graduating from Northern Arizona University with my BA in Theatre Studies I was very anxious about what to do next. I had applied frantically to many places but none had responded. I graduated and headed back to my parents' home to keep applying and applying. Around July I was running out of hope until I received an email...from Walt Disney World Resorts. They were offering me a six month job in Costuming at the parks.
Now, this was not just a magical job offer out of the blue. No, this was a magical job offer from a well constructed application, cover letter, and interview I did months before graduating. A friend of mine was a Disney College Program rep and she (with very little convincing) got me excited about the prospect of working for Disney after graduating and helped me through the application process. At the time of graduation I was not selected for the summer extended program so I assumed I wouldn't hear back from them. But, I did hear back in July for the Disney World College Program fall semester.
"Hold up! You graduated already! How can you do the Disney College Program "
This is true, but I had applied while still in college which qualified me for the program. Having graduated already made the program a little different for me than for others who were still at university. The biggest difference was that I didn't have to take any extra classes. While on the Disney College Program (DCP) most cast members still at university are required to take some courses that count for credit back at their originating university. Having graduated already I was able to use that time for other things; like meeting with other Walt Disney World Resort cast members who were part of the creative team behind many of the costumes used in the parks and resorts.
Working under the DCP umbrella right out of undergrad was a great transition time for me. I was surrounded by other people close to my age with planned community events. I also had a paycheck that already had my rent taken out so I didn't have to worry about paying on time. It was a good mix of college familiarity and "real world" responsibilities.
So from August 2012 to January 2013 I worked at Disney's Animal Kingdom backstage costuming the parades and characters guests could meet in the park. During my time there I enjoyed sneak peaks into upcoming Disney experiences, memorable interactions with fellow cast members and guests alike, and magical holidays. The people I worked with made my time at Disney's Animal Kingdom a great first job out of undergrad. I look back fondly on my time with Walt Disney World Resorts and encourage the experience to costumers out of undergrad who enjoy running shows and obviously Disney.
First job out of undergrad:
Disney College Program-Animal Kingdom Costumer
I could have extended my time working with Disney and DCP into the spring and following summer, but I had another position lined up. Sometimes I wonder what I would have been doing right now if I had stayed. I probably would not be getting ready for my final thesis semester at Rutgers, but who knows, I may have ended up here through another path.
As I near the end of my program at Rutgers I have been thinking about how to move all my belongings. More recently I found out I will be leaving my current home sooner than I had planned, so the theoretical idea has become much more tangible.
Moving my everyday things isn't the hassle right now (it will be); it is moving all my costume design reference books, art supplies, and past projects. I am not a hoarder, but I find it very difficult to give up certain things especially if I put time and creative effort into them. As we speak I have all my sketches in a VERY large rolling tub under my bed and most of my costuming books in a roughly 18 x 18 box. So what is the problem you ask? Well, that is not taking into account all my art supplies currently living happily in my office at school. This is also not taking into account how heavy those two boxes are. Moving requires you to carry your things and I am not looking forward to carrying those boxes!
But what can I do to make moving easier? The better question is what could I have DONE to make moving easier. Most solutions are preemptive ones. Something I have been doing over the past few years is scanning all my art work. Now, this is great if you use conventional sized media as well as flat media. If your design requires glitter, texture, or is on a large piece of media, you may be rethinking scanning. I tend to use a medium sized paper common from most art stores, and that size is too big for even most office and school scanners. I have gone to specialty stores, but if there is any texture to the artwork they will not scan it as it can ruin their equipment! Yikes! Luckily I have pretty passable Photoshop skills and can piece together a multi-scan of an image so my digital library of work is up to date. I'm just very sentimental so I keep most of my original works as well.
But my books! Besides being heavy, it would take too long to scan them. I could have bought a digital copy in the first place, but I have a thing for physically turning pages. I also own a few vintage books that a cherish and wouldn't want to part with. So what is a costume designer to do?! The best thing I have found to do is go to the gym and build those muscles AND to pair down your collection. If you aren't showing the work on your portfolio site, or it doesn't bring you joy, give it away or trash it (some relatives would love your work as framed presents.....). If you don't do many 1930's shows maybe sell those books to a used bookstore or donate them to a library you go to.
Finally, rendering supplies...those things just multiply! Sometimes you use only one color in a set or you move on to a different media. Again, donate those to a local school, art camp, etc. Put a blast out on Facebook to see if any other artists want to try a new brand or media for cheap. Another cool thing to do is challenge yourself to only use what you have...you could come up with an amazing design because all you had were green shades of paint and hot pink colored pencils (you never know!).
So, for all of you packing or unpacking boxes starting a new journey, good luck! I am joining you a little sooner that I had planned. Do any of you want some art supplies? :)
Back in April I had the opportunity to travel up to Salem, Massachusetts with my fellow Rutgers MFA Costume Designer, Taylor. We visited the Peabody Essex Museum to go to the World of Wearable Art exhibit.
It was inspiring and mind boggling. It really showed me how much creativity is bottled up all around the world. Creators from wood workers to taxidermists had wearable pieces of art on display.
World of Wearable Art (WOW for short) is a design competition where your artwork must be able to we worn. The competition takes place in New Zealand every year for the past 25 years! One of the designers I have had the luxury of working with, Mio Guberinic, was a winner with fellow designer Alexa Cach. (See their winning design here) Although their creation was not included in the traveling show at the Peabody, many other past winners had immaculate pieces on display.
Taylor and I enjoyed the show; especially how the mannequins were posed and used to show off each work of art at its best. My favorite was Lady Curiosity (pictured above center). Her bustle is a curiosities cabinet! So cheeky!
The show closes June 11th 2017 (which is why this post is not on a usual Monday) so if you are anywhere near Salem go see it before it moves on! It is an amazing experience for any designer and really opens your tool box up to using "non-conventional" materials in your designs.