A theatrical costume designer designs, purchases and creates all of the costumes and accessories that are worn by the cast in theatre productions. If you have a fashion background, are intrigued by costumes or theatre, or have creative and artistic talent, consider a position as a costume designer.
The characters in a theatre production must convey through their acting and costuming a specific time period, setting, social status, age and geographic location.
The theatrical costume designer works closely with the costume supervisor. The theatrical costume designer works with the director, lighting crew and set designers to come up with creative ideas. Together, they must ascertain the atmosphere and the look and feel of the production and the characters. They decide what each character is expected to convey via their costuming. The costume designer sketches costume designs by hand; he may also use computer programs for designing. The theatrical costume designer is also responsible for reading the script.
Mid- or large-scale theatre productions may call for the costume designer, costume supervisor and wardrobe manager, possibly along with other team members, to buy and/or make the costumes. On small-scale or low-budget productions, the costume designer may have additional job responsibilities, including managing costume budget; measuring actors to fit garments, accessories, wigs, shoes and hats; and shopping at fabric, charity, clothing and craft shops. They may also have to draft and cut out patters, study textiles, dye fabric, paint and sew. Further costuming responsibilities may include distressing costumes to appear worn and faded, arranging costume fittings and dressing the actors, making alterations and cleaning and repairing costumes (See References 1).
The costume designer is expected to research the setting, time period and geographic location of the theatre production in order to accurately and authentically portray the character in the correct costuming. Research can be done via the Internet or in libraries. The theatrical costume designer should also have strong knowledge of costume, theatre, social history and art.
It's beneficial for a costume designer to have experience with computer programs such as Photoshop to devise costuming ideas and sketches. Education or training from a fashion school will put you in a better position to attain a job in this field.
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