I think of myself as a storyteller — but instead of words, I make meaning through clothing and costumes. As a costume designer, I create clothing that can illustrate the changing of seasons and the end of mourning, as well as signal affluence or poverty, innocence or corruption. Costume and clothing track the passage of time and mark historic moments or events. Through careful and detailed research, paired with color, fabric and texture I can reveal a dramatic character’s nature and evolution.
What I love about the work is that it’s always different. It allows me to immerse myself in a new time and place, playing into my love for creativity and history.
Doing research is one of my favorite parts of the work I do. When I got into this work 30 years ago, I would go to the library for research. Although I still browse the stacks in the library, now, with the internet, I can access images day or night. Sometimes, even after a show is complete, I will go back to an image board and add something to it.
I hand draw and paint all of the costume renderings. More and more designers are working digitally. There is something lovely about putting pencil to paper. I start with a simple pencil sketch of each costume, then select the fabric. I use colored pencils and watercolors to add pigment and texture to the drawings, matching the fabric swatches. I like to think of costume rendering as a means of communication. It communicates an idea to the director and designers, helps actors imagine what they’ll look like on stage, and acts as blueprints for creating the patterns and sewing the garments.
Being a resident artist at Artists Rep means that I have the opportunity to collaborate with an ever-changing team of directors, designers, actors, and technicians. I learn something new with each and every project. I am grateful for the opportunity to spread my wings by doing the thing I love most, telling stories through costume for character.