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Can you give me career advice on how I can costume for a living?

Can you give me career advice on how I can costume for a living?

Hi, Tara. Just been perusing your site. It's just marvelous! I've never seen anythinglike it. I hope you'll forgive me if I sort of spill an abbreviated life's story. My nameis Rachel. I'm 26 and I've been costuming since I was 15. My passion for the art verges onfanaticism. I've never found anything else that fills me with such energy, that motivatesme so much. I've completed all but a year of a liberal arts degree, and I've held jobs ina lot of different fields, but I spend every free moment sewing, shopping for fabric,reading crumbling library books about fashion through the ages, or walking through anycostume/textile/period dress exhibit that comes to the Smithsonian. >From time to timeit's occurred to me to try to pursue this as a vocation rather than just an avocation, butthere seems to be no end to the reasons not to do it. There's no work to be had, I'd learnto hate it, I couldn't live on it, etc. But the truth is, my needs are simple (hell, I'm asecretary making about 20K in the Washington DC area. I'm already poor!) and my fiancéisan engineer. While I need to stay financially independent, I've managed to live on muchless than I'm making now, and I'm beginning to think that creating costumes is moreimportant to me than anything else. So, I hope you'll understand that I must humbly begfor your advice. Do you think I should pursue this? I know there are design schools hereon the east coast. There are lots of theaters, TV stations, etc. who need people to designcostumes. I just don't know any people in the field, and I guess I'm a little intimidatedat the thought of going down to the Folger and saying "Hi, I'm a costumer wannabe.Any openings, or advice?" If you have any personal experience or thoughts, or*anything* to offer, I'd be awfully grateful. You have a really fabulous site. It's abeacon in the darkness for those of us who are hopelessly addicted to costuming! Regards-Rachel

My advice generally is that it is financially a bad choice, but then, which choice did Imake? Life is about trying to have fun while you survive. The Folger idea isn't a bad oneactually, but in addition to that I think you should try to attend the Costume Con 15 inBaltimore over the Memorial day weekend. I'm going, and you can ask me questions while I'mthere, since it's about an hour's train ride from Washington. For info on the conferencesurf to the Costume Con CCXV Home Page site, and you will get lots of details. Mostof the people at the convention will be folks like you with normal jobs, who do costumingcompulsively, and they are enjoyable people to know. There will, however, be a percentageof people like me who do it for a living, all of whom, will probably love to give advice!---Tara

"The Costumer's Manifesto"
by Tara Maginnis