Most professions have a simple path. You go to school. You pay your dues at an entry level position. You move up in your field. You build your life.
My path to designing costumes for special events was not that simple.
I skipped the experience of going away to party at college. Instead, the journey to finishing my degree was extremely intense, leaving little free time. After college, “paying my dues” meant working for free in order to establish my name in my field. “Moving up” was often lateral. In fact, I like calling it “moving around” in the field.
Building a successful life means separating that “starving” from “artist” title. Holding onto my artistic soul on top of this goal has only added to this challenge.
Some projects I took on would give me full artistic freedom. However, a laughable paycheck would accompany it. Well-paying projects would completely bore me.
Sometimes a hybrid of these two would still leave me frustrated. For example, a creative and well-paying theater project would trigger memories of those shape sorter toys that toddlers play with. A triangle would fit inside the triangle shape. A circle would fit inside the circle shape. Then I came along. My shape would not fit anywhere. I was often told that my designs were too loud and distracting for a story. Despite these criticisms, a voice inside me has been pushing me to the contrary. I had a need to tell stories with my costumes, and not build costumes around a story.
Then the world of special events saved me.
We live in an age of overexposure. Honestly, how excited are we when we see a tiger at a zoo? We have already seen incredibly detailed documentaries online everywhere. Because we see so much every day, unique one-on-one experiences are what excite us.
The special events field is no different. Event planners create intricate worlds for their party guests. Thus, they need visual storytellers such as me to enhance their environment.
Parties, gatherings, weddings, break up the redundancy of our daily lives. We look forward to them. How disappointed are we when we attend yet another expensive New Years Eve party, where all we can say afterward was that is was “ok”?
Now, how would we feel about the same party if we were entertained in such a unique way, that it stuck in our memory? What if that party was full of fun, personal interactions?
This is how I have ended up on this point in my career path. I have started my own collection of rentable costumed characters for event entertainment.
If my “Garden Party Gal” came up to you, and poured a drink out of her hose
and into your glass, you would at least smile.
You would brag about how you went to the best Halloween party when describing how my “Vampire” poured “blood” out of her victim’s neck for you.
My human “Paper Lantern Parade” would leave an impression on you as they stroll past you.
If you needed something sweet, My “Sugar Doll” would have plenty of chocolate for you to pick from.
The reactions to these costumed characters so far have been overwhelmingly positive. I feel that I have finally found a creative and sustainable market for myself!
My new challenge is how quickly can I pull these costume ideas out of my sketchbook and into another interaction for another party guest!