Albert Einstein once said, “Logic will get you from A to B. But imagination will take you everywhere.” I find that quote to be very representative of the way I approach a costume design or other costume technology projects. I love doing historic research, and following all the rabbit holes that one can fall down when delving into a specific time period or location—specifically the techniques and materials used in constructing a garment instead of just focusing on its outward appearance. The logical side of me is a huge stickler for historic accuracy in costuming. However, the imaginative side knows when that can be fudged a bit. I enjoy searching for that unique quirk or element of a period or piece, and building on that; melding time periods together; or merely tweaking certain aspects of a period-correct garment to be more pleasing to the modern eye.
My background in stage management has been a huge asset with how I collaborate with other artists on a project. I have developed a vocabulary that spreads across design areas, and makes communicating back and forth with the director and design team a very fluid process. As a designer, I am a very visual person. I use collage boards—both digital and analog—to communicate initial ideas or moods with directors and fellow designers. Working from my collected images, and additional input from the director, I will create and re-work multiple sketches until a design feels right for a character and the overall mood or concept of the production. Even after a design has been approved, I feel it still has not been truly “finalized” until it has been on the actor. Working with an actor in the fitting room is another combination of logic and creativity. Creatively, is it a true fit for the character? Logically, does it work for the actor, are they comfortable and able to move as required in it? Affirmative answers are my goal: I want the actors to feel comfortable in their costumes, and for the costume to become part of them and their character. If not, I want the actor to feel comfortable enough with me that they can voice their concerns, and we can work together as a team to find a solution that works well for them.
With a technology project, I enjoy the challenge of “piecing together the puzzle”: taking a designer’s rendering or sketch, and creating the end result using varying materials and techniques; and experimenting on what will be the best combination thereof along the way. Creating a tailored coat is the perfect combination of my logical and creative minds: creating the pattern draft is extremely precise, but the coat truly comes to life with all the detailed hand-work required. Dye work is where I have the most fun, however. I view it as a brilliant way to meld science and art, two things I am hopelessly in love with: chemistry is colorful! Much of my knowledge of dyeing and dye techniques is self-taught. I have immersed myself in research, and when presented with a specific project, will dive in head-first into experimenting with the endless combinations of dyes, colors, and techniques. Production deadlines, however, do keep me in check and have taught me to quickly identify the correct combinations for the task at hand with minimal time spent testing.