COSTUMES.ORG -- THE COSTUMER'S MANIFESTO WIKI

Advice1pagesStealing

Revision as of 00:54, 23 January 2014 by Andrew (Talk | contribs)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)

The Costumer's Manifesto: Idea Stealing

IDEA STEALING

IDEA

STEALING: Ideas rarely, if ever,flow spontaneously forth in original brilliance from a mind untouched by outsideinfluences. God does not, in costume design, tap lightly on your shoulder and tell you theAll New Perfect And Inspired Way to design

IDEAMiss Julie

Shows100pagesMissjulie for your graduate designseminar. Some people's designs may look like she did, but she didn't. Design is a processthat works out of and through many pieces of information, from costume history, tocultural perceptions of color, to actor's body proportions, to budget realities, and more.Trying to design costumes without being influenced by outside factors is thereforepointless.

ORIGINAL

ITY: Originality incostume design, therefore, is much more a case of finding the right idea than originatingit. Thought must mainly be expended in the looking for, and in the adapting of, ideassuitable for the purpose. Original thought is needed to arrange these ideas in new,different, and above all, appropriate ways for each show. Ideas can and should be drawnfrom everywhere, and it is the unoriginal designer who won't bother to look for ideasoutside of her own limited brain. "Idea stealing" is a matter of being open toall the ideas, colors, and textures the world has to offer, and using them in one's art.There are an incredible number of places that you can look for ideas that are worth"stealing," and your research for a show should not begin and end with onlycostume history and the script to guide you.

ASK

THE DIRECTOR: First and foremost,you need to know what your director is doing, what she wants, and what opinions she has onthe costumes. Some directors are designers themselves and have valuable and interestingideas for the visuals of a show. Some may be unable to do a pencil sketch, but still needyour designs to coordinate with their concept. Rarely do they send you off without ideas.Tom Riccio, a director I work with in Alaska, is the sort costumers are sometimes inclinedto write off: he can't draw and he's color blind. However, he has consistently given methe best ideas for shows: a full length coronation cape of giant Xeroxed dollar bills forUbu Roi, a flown-in stage covering "entanglement" costume of vines and garbagefor

ORIGINALASKThe Eagle's Gift, and masks that "magically" adheredto the face without strings for

Qayaq

You can support my site by buying products offered by my affiliate sponsors:

File:H.t

AmazonBooks4Extremebeauty.jpg

File:H.t

Victorian Corsets

Beth Zeitz

This Art Print At AllPosters.com

AmazonBooksWoodplanssewingcentercabinet.jpg

File:H.t

Fashions

[1]

This Art Print At AllPosters.com

File:H.t

Fan Series 19th Century

Series

This Art Print At AllPosters.com

AmazonBooksThegluebook.jpg

AmazonBooksThecraftersguidetoglue.gif

Click here to see this enlarged rendering of Antipholus of Ephesus morph into a photo of Antipholus of Syracuse! And to think I wanted to do this show like 1950'sFlorida. This silent movie comedy idea from Tom was so much better!

ASK THE

ACTORS

Whenever possibletalk to actors about character. This is what actors do. It's what they know about. Allthat stuff I talked about in

ACTORS Chapter 2 about Twenty Questions, Walk this Way, and soforth, is stuff actors do to get into character. In addition to designing the show as awhole, you also need to design each individual character's costume. Getting to know whatthe actors know about their characters is usually helpful in deciding what to do. Actorsfrequently come into the costume shop during the build of a show to ask questions aboutthe designs, and to offer suggestions. Treating this as normal, even helpful behavior,instead of an annoyance, not only is politic, but practical.

[Just to give you a clue how much an intelligent actor can grasp and convey about clothing and fashion theory, here is a link to an article by actor Peter Coyote in

VISIONS

FROM DRUMMING: Each year atUAF for example, we do an Alaska Native show. The actors, many of whom are Eskimos andIndians from rural towns, come into speak to me about their roles. These roles are oftenbuilt out of Alaskan legends, rural experiences, and visions from group drumming inducedtrances, that these students are far more familiar with than I am myself. It would besheer idiocy of me to pretend I know more than they do about what elders in the bush wearnow, or to turn down a request to wear Grandpa's polar bear skin boots to portray a greatShaman/hunter character. Creating an atmosphere of openness gets actors to come bring youtheir good ideas, so you don't have to think of everything. It also doesn't hurt to joinrehearsals and group work occasionally if you have the inclination, or to try out drummingand trances along with them. Whatever works.

VISIONSRuth Grant And EvelynAlexander in Naam.

BE

OPEN

TO SUGGESTIONS: The key iscommunication. The other folks working on a production are not the enemy. The otherstudents in design class are not your competition. Sit, and talk, and think, and look, andlisten. Ask for everybody's suggestions. There are no awards in design for thinking it allup yourself. Steal ideas liberally from anyone who gives you good ones. Get to know peoplewho give you good ones. Ideally you will create a group in your theatre of people who gettogether and swap ideas. This is why folks have production meetings, it's what theyare for.

BORROW

ING CONCEPTS FROM OTHER MEDIA: One of the best ways to find good design ideas is to look at other media likefilm, painting, sculpture, etc. For example, nobody criticized film designer for lifting her design for Dracula's gold robe in Bram Stoker's Dracula

MwbhImagesDracula5.jpg from thepainting style of Gustav Klimt.

AdviceManifestobookKlimtkis.jpg On the contrary, she received an Academy Award for Costume Design for doing so, because toadapt that style to that use was an impressively appropriate new idea. Idea stealing, inthis case, is unquestionably original thought. So, too was taking the musical City ofAngels, about a screen writer and his on film alter ego, and costuming it like one ofthe 1940's black and white movies that is the focus of the play. And, one need hardlyexplain that "borrowing" costumes from Seuratt's Sunday at la Grande Jatte,for Sunday in the Park With George, did nothing to reduce it's originality.

Harvard Law School Legal Brief on

copying of fashion design originals – “knocking off” (Essentially, don't waste your time trying to copyright or patent a fashion design, you can't. If somebody is copying you, be flattered, most people's designs aren't worth stealing most of the time. )

PAINTING

S AND DECORATIVE ARTS:Artwork is a far richer resource than even an art history class will indicate. Only thoseartists blessed by the art historians make it into those classes. There is also all theart made by the peoples of the

PAINTING Third World: masks, textiles, jewelry, carvings, painting.There is the art of "peasants" in the old world, made of straw, and fiber andwood. Art by women, like quilts, tapestries, fiber arts, rugs, samplers. Art that arthistory passed by because it went out of fashion like 19th Century Historicism, Realism,Pre-Raphaelitism, or 20th Century Symbolism, Mysticism, and the "Ash-CanSchool". There is art that "really isn't art" or is "minor art"because it performs a decorative or useful function, like furniture, automobiles, china,jewelry, or toys. Or art that isn't art because it is the product of modern technology,like photography, computer art, or items of mass production. There is art that is"bad art" because it was propaganda, or advertising, sponsored by Hitler orStalin or the Philip Morris Co. There is art that is forgotten because it was popular,naive and sentimental like Victorian engravings, or 1930's magazine illustrations. Thereis artwork everywhere you look, on food packages, in post offices, and all of it is fairgame for adaptation.

USING

LESSER

KNOWN ART: Forinstance, it seems absurd to me to consider doing Of Mice and Men, withoutconsidering the photography of Dorothea Lange who documented life in migrant farmer campsin the 1930's. It also seems a big missed opportunity for idea stealing that Tchaikovsky'scontemporary, Symbolist painter Mikhail Vrubel did a painting called "The SwanQueen" that no one seems to have adapted for use in Swan Lake. And I don'tthink anyone would complain about the designs for the film Edward Scissorhands,though the style is taken from decorative Kitsch of the 1960's and 70's, as well as sci-fifantasy drawings. David Hockney scored a hit with designs for The Rake's Progress,adapted from Hogarth engravings. I, myself once did designs for Marat/Sade,inspired by therapeutic drawings done by the insane.

LESSER'

CabaretPhotosResearch2.jpg Color swatches for the KitKat Klub scenes were chosen to match a painting by

Otto Dix (Clickthumbnails to see larger images).

LETTING

YOUR AVAILABLE MATERIALSSUGGEST DESIGNS: Another good source for ideas is the material at hand. Every nativeculture in every land on the planet has managed to make art, and costumes out of thematerials at hand. In Alaska, costumes were made out of

LETTING fishskin, bird skin, and allsorts of fur bearing animals. Decorations were made from flattened porcupine quills,puffin beaks, and shark teeth. Almost anything can be made into costumes, and often thebest idea comes when you only have a few things to work with. As an example, on

Jesus Christ Superstarwe had only enough money to costume allthe actors in the show if fabric cost $1 a yard. The only fabric we could get at thatprice was tobacco cloth, a kind of extra strong cheese cloth in a sheer beige. When washedit forms into a sort of lumpy

Fortuny pleating and takes dye well. So that was the idea.We just swathed everybody in pleats, and then

spray dyed the pleats with RIT to look likedrawings in Medieval gospels. The concept was a direct result of the budget requiring weuse only this one fabric. Limitations of this kind actually make design decisions simple.

PortfolioDyepaintHipriest.jpg

PortfolioDyepaintMarymagd.jpg Close ups of

Jesus Christ Superstar fabric painting.

NOTE

ALL GOOD STEALABLE IDEAS: Yournotebooks, idea boxes, scrap books, Xeroxes and costume books which you were encouraged tosave in the chapter on

NOTEFaking Creativity come in handy here. Anyidea that is worth stealing is worth writing down, drawing, or Xeroxing for later use.When you come upon a good idea at the library, in an art gallery, out in the world, or inthe movies, you need to record it in some way so you can use it when you need it.

MOTHER

NATURE DIDN'T MAKE NO UGLYCHILDREN: Now the title at left is a perfect example of the above idea about noting thingsdown. I don't remember when or where I heard this statement, but I wrote it down as acatchy title to introduce an otherwise obvious idea: You can steal ideas from nature, notonly plant and animal forms, but microscopic views of things, outer space, decay, sky,weather, fractals, rock formations, patterns in sand and sea, you name it. Regular contactwith nature is also renewing to the spirit and psyche. I myself have been findingincredible inspirations in color, texture and shape lately from a study of mushrooms inthe wild. Even fungus is incredibly beautiful when you really look at it closely.

EXPLORE

TACKY CRAFTS STORES: Neverunderestimate the aesthetic possibilities of Kitsch and its building materials.Dimensional fabric paints were commonly used in designing tacky T-shirts long beforecostumers regularly used them. Ditto for metallic Friendly Plastic. Chenille yarn, oftenused to make sweaters and appalling stuffed toys, also makes excellent period Victorianchenille fringe. Costumers are a tiny, impoverished bunch, but amateur crafts people comein all incomes and cover the earth. As a consequence, companies rarely waste time makingand marketing crafts materials for us, but shoot to the bigger market. So, in big craftemporiums like Ben Franklin Crafts, you can find hundreds of materials that, while theyare usually put to dreadful use, can be made to do much more exciting things than usual.Wander through the aisles, look at the supplies closely, and try to imagine how they couldbe used in the costume shop.

MOTHEREXPLORE

20011Mvc-003f.jpg

20011Mvc-005f.jpgCostumes for

Alice in Wonderland decorated with flowers taken from tacky afghans.

HARDWARE

STORES: Ditto the abovefor hardware stores. Besides which it is incredible fun to stand in the aisles lookingwith intense keenness at dryer hoses and other hardware, trying them on the head, aroundthe neck etc. as clerks and home handymen look at you like you just slipped your moorings.Hardware stores too have a constant rotation of new, inspiring supplies. I should mentionin a historical footnote, that hot glue was a little used carpentry supply adopted bytheatre people in the late 60's and early 70's almost twenty years before they hit thecraft stores. If costumers never went to hardware stores, they could have waited anothertwenty years for them to come to their attention.

HARDWARE

ShowsInspector09703 06.jpgTheInspector General, AK (1992)

ARTIST'S

PAINTING STYLES/INTERIORDESIGN BOOKS FOR COLOR PALATE: Color palate is one of the things I do least well on myown. My color sense tends towards the conventional and even cliché. This fortunately isnot a problem. I simply steal them. One can take them from color swatches in interiordesign books, or do as I often do, take them from a painter with the appropriate mood.

ARTIST'SOfMice and Men

's colors I stole from dull 1930's Sears Catalogs,

Woyzeck'scame from Breugel the Elder, Frank'n'Stein's I stole from black and white movies,

Qayaq, The Magical Man's came from Eskimo masks,

Cabaret's came from painter Otto Dix, and The InspectorGeneral, AK's came from the Monopoly game. I could go on, but I'm sure you get theidea. If you feel yourself falling into a color rut, jack yourself out with an infusion ofan outside color scheme.

TravelRussia92876 16.jpg

THE BEAUTY OF THE

GARBAGE

HEAP: Myfavorite place for stealing both ideas and materials, is of course, the waste basket. Butwhy stop there? There is Salvation Army for the show with a budget, and the city

GARBAGE dump forthe show without. The dump, in fact is an inspiring experience, not to be missed: shoppingfor free! And such materials! Curly metal shavings in all colors and sizes, dead packagingof all kinds, beautifully distressed textiles, strange broken objects of industrial andmechanical use, strips and sheets of metal and plastic punched out in different designs,dead doll and toy parts, crates of all sorts, plastics, papers, you name it. All free, andall looking for an idea to make them useful again.

ShowsBell92873 16.jpg

WHAT

YOU ARE LOOKING FOR: Moreimportantly, the garbage objects themselves are ideas, about color, texture, and material,and it is really just a case of identifying the idea you need. In all the above cases,artwork, crafts supplies, garbage, or whatever, you are simply sifting through preexistingideas. Your job is then to find the appropriate one, or ones for your show. The newidea, the one that you will have to produce, is how to adapt theold idea to the needs of your production. This is where idea stealing metamorphoses intooriginal thought.

Product Links

The Costume Designer's Handbook : A Complete Guide for Amateur and Professional Costume Designers The Costume Designer's Handbook : A Complete Guide for Amateur and Professional Costume Designers

The Costume Technician's Handbook : A Complete Guide for Amateur and Professional Costume Technicians The Costume Technician's Handbook : A Complete Guide for Amateur and Professional Costume Technicians

[2]

Costume Step-By-Step : The Complete Guide to Designing and Making Stage Costumes for All Major Drama Periods and Genres

The Magic Garment : Principles of Costume Design The Magic Garment : Principles of Costume Design

Costume Construction Costume Construction

Elegantly Frugal Costumes : The Poor Man's Do-It-Yourself Costume Maker's Guide Elegantly Frugal Costumes : The Poor Man's Do-It-Yourself Costume Maker's Guide

Dream Sewing Spaces : Design & Organization for Spaces Large & Small Dream Sewing Spaces : Design & Organization for Spaces Large & Small

Eiko on Stage Eiko on Stage

Costume in Detail : 1730-1930 Costume in Detail : 1730-1930

Fetish : Fashion, Sex, and Power Fetish : Fashion, Sex, and Power

Costume Design (Screencraft) Costume Design (Screencraft)

20,000 Years of Fashion : The History of Costume and Personal Adornment 20,000 Years of Fashion : The History of Costume and Personal Adornment

Irving Penn Regards the Work of Issey Miyake : Photographs 1975-1998 Irving Penn Regards the Work of Issey Miyake : Photographs 1975-1998

Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwoman's Dresses and Their Construction: c.1660-1860 Patterns of Fashion 1: Englishwoman's Dresses and Their Construction: c.1660-1860

Beauty: The Body Transformed

Patterns of Fashion 2 : Englishwomen's Dresses and Their Construction C.1860-1940 Patterns of Fashion 2 : Englishwomen's Dresses and Their Construction C.1860-1940

Men's Seventeenth & Eighteenth Century Costume : Cut and Fashion Men's Seventeenth & Eighteenth Century Costume : Cut and Fashion

Period Costume for Stage & Screen : Patterns for Women's Dress 1500-1800 Period Costume for Stage & Screen : Patterns for Women's Dress 1500-1800

Corsets and Crinolines Corsets and Crinolines

Setting Up Your Sewing Space : From Small Areas to Complete Workshops Setting Up Your Sewing Space : From Small Areas to Complete Workshops

Wood Plans IFS-#1013 Sewing Center Cabinet

The Cut of Women's Clothes, 1600-1930 The Cut of Women's Clothes, 1600-1930

Madeleine Vionnet Madeleine Vionnet

The Glue Book

(un) Fashion (un) Fashion

The Crafter's Guide to Glues (Craft Kaleidoscope)

Homme

[3]

"The Costumer's Manifesto"
by Tara Maginnis