Dr Who Costume Designer Lecture

To be totally honest I am not a fan of Doctor Who but when I found out it was about the costume design point of view I got very interested. Even though it might not apparently be of my direct interest I try to attend as many lectures and seminars I can because there are always important elements to take for own practice, strategies or just knowledge.

Ray Holman after designing for other TV programs such as Silk, Law and Order and other BBC dramas, is now Head Costume designer for Dr Who. He started talking about the series of events that led him where he is now, an important approach for those that are at the beginning of choosing a potential career. He went to College for a foundation year in the Welsh College of Drama. He then went to work in insurance that he hated, being a creative. He then realised he wanted to continue studying acting but his participation in various projects brought him to understand his strength laying in the costume and set design. After graduation he went to Birmingham to start a training, and laughing he was remembering that he would spend days learning even how to professionally iron a shirt. First as Assistant Designer, he started building step by step his path to costume designer for the TV industry. In his late 20, the BBC production couldn’t find a Costume Designer for a 30 part series drama so they assigned him the role. Without feeling ready for the job, his job was a success and finally started the career he wanted. He also talked about some important considerations:

  • He was never a very confident person, this led him to do a lot of research every step of the way in all his projects or in what he was interested in. For example for the creatures he researches about existing ones, the environment  it lives in, the influences, the era etc. and all have to match to the script. The same applies for a costume, even though here you also have to make the actor like it. You never stop learning and researching for new effects and techniques;
  • He never thought he would be able to do creatures and now, together with his assistant Simon, they are leading it. Take opportunities that come, and with research and some skills, yours or the group you work with, it will lead you to the end result. Creativity is important but researching it is even more.

It is a hardly competitive sector, for example for 1 trainee position they have around 400 applications. But it is also important to consider, and not everybody knows, that there are many other positions to apply for. Many series such as Dr Who or Game of Thrones work with different roles and skills. Craft in TV:

  • Sawing/Pattern cutting – Ray and Simon have the knowledge and the language to it but they don’t have the time to do it, they have to delegate;
  • Fabric Sampling – They, or more often a designated person, has to go everywhere to find fabric samples to use for the garments or set. Sometimes they find the perfect one but maybe they don’t have enough meters or might rise some other problems. Therefore they need somebody that can be 100% solving the issues;
  • Tailoring – It is a big part of Dr Who, for example. They work with the Savile Row for a more traditional work and with Soho for a more Modern approach while keeping the Savile Row standards. In Savile Row you can find companies that have their own patterns and are not willing to change them, not even in details. There is also a lot of specialisation such as somebody that only does button holes etc.
  • Millinery – They often work with the same company but when they are overloaded with work and cannot deliver in time for them they go to other companies that have worked already in the TV industry;
  • Shoe Making – Very important for the actors and their commodity while being aesthetically right for the the set;
  • Jewellery – important accessory that in some occasions need to be made to measure because of some characteristics needed;
  • Embellishment – Embroidery etc. ;
  • Dye – They have a lab but not all do
  • Breaking Down – Ageing textiles or products, make them seem old or consumed. A very researched skill especially because there a not many people doing it;
  • Fabric painting/printing – For example they took samples of fabrics from India of late 40s and they digitalised and printed. Issues are: different tones and look depending on fabric;
  • Knitting and Crochet
  • Shopping – As strange it might sound, it is a role and not a particularly easy one. The shopper has to find the right things needed and sometimes they are difficult to find.
  • Belt Making – They outsource it because often there is a need for a laser cutter they don’t have;
  •  Photography
  • Psychology
  • Accounting
  • People Managing
  • Costume Hire
  • Digital Printing/ 3D printing
  • Others

For example for the nature based costumes they looked into the environment described in the script using the elements present such as rocks, shaved alpacas, leaves (fake), twisted leather etc.

Professional Practice IV – Writing a CV – Part two

In the Career e-modules there is a section to look at for more information regarding how to write a Creative CV with examples and useful links: CV & Cover letters

We begun the session by starting to discuss about the different important points covered in the previous lecture about writing a CV:

  1. Visual Style – Important for a creative person but also important not to abuse it
  2. Cover Letter – No more than one side of an A4. Is an introduction of yourself that tells why do you want to work in that specific company. Why they should take you and how can you benefit them;
  3. The creative CV can reflect a mix of styles such as chronological, skill based and creative, but the most successful are the all in one;
  4. Length and content: it is good if the CV is 1 page but if it is not enough to give all the information, write no more than 2 pages;
  5. Straight to the point and clear, put bullet points for the reader. In average people look at a CV for a couple of seconds before deciding to take the next or read more;
  6. Education – it is important to describe what you gained from the Uni experience, #(summery of that)

We divided in bigger groups. Each group had to discuss on a potential CV preparation depending on the sector of interest to work for such as:

  • Work for a design Company while Freelancing (my group) I would be interested in gaining experience of the design sector by working for somebody either part time or full time. In the meantime I would love to test the market with my own style and designs as a freelancer.
  • Teaching
  • Working in the Movie/Theatre industry
  • Others

Work for a design Company while Freelancing, key elements of discussion:

  1. Search for potential Companies to work for and select the interested ones
  2. Write a Creative CV and cover letter to reflect that company: different design, typo, more accent to some motifs than others depending on the specific Company etc.
  3. Be on LinkedIn either for employment or as a Freelancer – build connections
  4. As a Freelancer it is important to have a Website/Blog that showcase your designs, description of who you are etc.
  5. Be active and constant on social media in general: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter etc.
  6. At least in the beginning I think it is important to contact some Agents that can represent you. It is a good way to get to know the market in a more secure way even though this means, at least in the beginning, less money due to the fee of the intermediate.

Fashion/Custom making:

  •  Talk about specific fashion related skills

Creative Cv:

  • Cad visual interior for your designs

Education:

  • Important to communicate skills in writing rather than visually
  • Important to highlight experience in this sector rather than other

Identity/Branding:

  • Important to have own font

People look for enthusiasm and skills but key is team work, look how you can highlight this

While the groups were brainstorming we also had the chance to discuss for some minute with Es about our own CV, for those who started it already. I was pleased to have a positive feedback for my initial draft, and I am planning on finishing it in the next weeks for a more in dept feedback from her.

Professional Practice III – Costing & Pricing

Richard Morris  talked to us about what to reflect and taking action on when considering working for yourself. Since I chose to do a Business Plan as my dissertation I was very interested in the session. But I also believe that it could be very enlightening even for those who don’t seriously consider in starting their own business. I already had the pleasure in having Richard as tutor during ‘Are you sitting Comfortable’ (the chair project) and ‘Mind Your Own Business’ (setting up a small business) so I was expecting that for half of the time I would listen to numbers and organisational skills and he did not disappoint my expectations.

First of all he wanted to give us a global, in numbers of the businesses around Uk, dispelling some common myths that running a business is necessarily a full time job of big companies. In fact:

  • Only 50% of business in the UK are run full-time (Start-Up Britain)
  • 72% of businesses have zero employees (Office for national Statistics)
  • 46% of Welsh businesses have a turnover of less than £100k (FSB Wales)

At this point we all received a piece of paper listing important skills needed to run a business. Richard asked us to be totally honest in ticking the relative boxes and answer whether we had them or not. He made sure we understood that not having some of the skills didn’t mean we were not made to have our own business but that we had to work to improve them or outsource them in time of need. Working for oneself is a tough job that requires commitment and persistence. You have to deal with many aspects of the job such as Branding, Marketing, Profit & Loss, Pricing, Competitors, to mention a few.

Richard Morris quote ‘Do what counts till the year ends, every moment spend not doing is money and opportunity wasted’

After that we were asked to write down our expectations in running our own business. What did we hope to get out from working for ourselves? He then listed the majority of answers he would always get when asking this question:

  1. job satisfaction
  2. being in control of what you design/make
  3. being your own boss
  4. flexibility
  5. staying true to your values
  6. difficult business decision to take alone
  7. staying current, fresh and original.. with your own style

Talking about costs he mentioned two important  considerations to make, the first one regarding the costs of running the business such as eventual rent for the space, electricity, consumables, internet etc. and the second one regarding our ideal salary, to be developed separately, such as living costs, car, food, entertainment etc that realistically represents our expenses. This last one also called ‘Personal Survival Plan’.c

Eventual added expenses to consider:

  • if you start a business at home the costs of products are lower
  • if your business goes well and you move to a new studio to expand, the overheads will be higher and this will lead to increase your product costs that will probably displease your loyal and growing customer base
  • So the advise is to think long term and not undersell yourself in the beginning

An always problematic matter for those who decide to run their own business is how to cost and price a product or service. A piece of advice we received:

  • during the third year keep a record of the time spend developing your product range
  • keep a record of the cost of all materials used such as tools etc.
  • you can use this info to work out batch of products (no more than 6)p

expendable tools is something that breaks and needs to be replaced

what will the customer pay for the product? after analysing the product costs, if the products it’s not worth the amount we need to charge, there are some considerations to make such as:

  • Find cheaper suppliers of the raw materials
  • Increase the perceived value by making it look more expensive and so that sells to other markets
  • Lower your time costs in the making process, consider employing someone on a lower wage to undertake certain parts of the making
  • Make more than one at a time, increase the volume
  • Speed up the making process
  • Buy-in ready made parts to incorporate into the product

How many hours a week will i be able to dedicate for making my products?

  • running a self employed business, most of time available will take for admin work leaving just half of the time for the actual designing and making. Phone suppliers, chase them and others
  • Realistically speaking, considering various holidays we work 48 weeks per year, 40 (or even 50 h close to deadlines) h per week, of which only half, around 25 will be spend for making. This leads to a total of  48×24=1152 h per year
  • If we consider our hypothetical 31.280 overheads divided by the total designing and making hours of 1152, our hourly rate should be £27,15. The question to ask is if this is a realistic one for a textile designer graduate. Would anyone pay this amount?

Start your own business in the Uk:

  • Is similar to starting to practice as a freelancer
  • inform the tax office, you will be self employed
  • Start work and keep all receipts, and get an accountant (which I would add that it is not mandatory since I know people whom in this stage of business are capable to keep their own balance)
  • if you do this from home it’s called freelancing
  • if from a rented office, you’ve started your own studio
  • The simplest form of self employment is as a sole trader in your own name. This doesn’t require a company registration or business premises, but does require you fill in a tax return every year, and submit accounts detailing expenditure and income.

Also to keep in mind:

  • If you consider renting a studio space and employing others and subcontracting, then you need to consider opening a limited company where you might assume company director status.
  • Excellent advice from http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/startingup
  • You’ll need to choose a company name and check the name availability. Check with Companies House that this name is not used elsewhere
  • Do a business plan. It will be your main document to gain funding, gain interest from others, and keep you from deviating from your main purpose/mission.A Typical Business plan includes: Executive Summary, Vision/Mission Statement, Objectives/Milestones, The Management Team, The Products or Service (IP see next slide), Market Research, The Marketing Strategy, Operations, Risks – SWOT analysis (IP see next slide), The Financial forecasts, Intellectual property rights.

Intellectual Property Rights – It is important to consider patents, designs rights, trademark and copyright. For the last one, a good and inexpensive way for artists and designers to protect their rights is to place their art, drawing etc in an envelop and send it to themselves and keep it sealed.

TIPS:

  • Welsh Ice gives info and support
  • Stay in touch with the Centre of Entrepreneurship even after graduating
  • Keep an eye out on CSAD social media, cardiffmet webpages and others for Start-ups opportunities
  • Speak with specialist organisations such as the UK Crafts Council and Arts Council, they offer a range of great start-up materials
  • Inc Space

Consultancy – Revisited Moodboards

I added the sacred geometry to my Mood Board. I believe it goes very well with my  theme, both because of its mystic connotation as well as its geometrical structure that also reminds me of Art Deco. I plan in using some of these elements as a final finish.

Mood Board2

I integrated my Customer Board with the relationships I am celebrating through my theme that I somehow skipped mentioning:

Client Board 2

I also reconsidered my Competitor Board. I added a few of the designers I came across with during my ongoing research, while I decided to exclude Paperchase because it is not a direct competitor but a company that has more employed designers:

Competitors2

I didn’t alter my Colour Board so far.

Consultancy – More Research and Tutorials

Taking the hints and bullet points from Sian’s presentation I realised I had to go more in dept with my research. Especially my visit to John Lewis, Tk Max and smaller stationery shops around Cardiff, helped me widen my knowledge about my theme, what is trending now and about how other designers approach my theme or the high end market.

I came across some artists I knew about already and some designers I didn’t such as Katie Leamon, Nunchi and Sigel (among others) and saw more designs from my already chosen designer such as Sara Miller and Ted Baker:

collage designers.jpg

I also found a very interesting documentary on Netflix about space, ‘Cosmos: a Spacetime Odyssey’, learning about new galaxies and how the universe is much bigger than we imagine. Here is the official Trailer on You Tube:

Capture.PNG

I also continued with the digital tutorials on You Tube, this time I learned how to do Marbeling on Photoshop and transform it into a seamless pattern. I plan in using this technique to create my space inspired texture as background for my designs.

Capture1

I have also attended Screen Printing and Digital Printing workshops to practice and be able to work independently for the final collection.

Inspiration from Pinterest:

 

 

 

Pitch it Wales Event

I am currently writing my business plan as my final dissertation. Instead of writing a ‘normal’ 10.000 words dissertation I preferred to actually test the market and understand if there is a potential in selling my own creations one day, through my business. This event, as much as others, arranged by the Centre of Entrepreneurship, are a great way to learn some professional practice, attitude, communication and presentation skills, as well as marketing and other skills that can be applied not only as a business owner but as an employee as well, thanks to this very business approach.

A committee born on the partnership between Cardiff Met, Inspire Wales and Be The Spark. A first time success they all hope to continue in the future. Six business owners were selected among the many that applied with the possibility to pitch in front of 6 investors/business angels for the chance to be financed 50k each. The pitch had to be 5 minutes long with Q&A sessions after each one of them. The investors would then leave the room and deliberate as a group weather to fund the business or not. In the end 2 businesses got the full 50k funding, plus mentoring, Toddle and CanDo Laundry.

For me it was interesting to see not only their business ideas but at this stage, how they presented it, from how they were dressed to the language they used, how they interacted with the public and the investors to the number of slides in their presentation etc. They almost all had around 10 slides. Some were speaking like they memorised the speech, others talked freely, reading more or less from slides or little cards, but all talked about their motivation with confidence, showing the time and energy spend in researching and knowing their market. In the end this is what did the difference.

I’ve learned about Doopoll.co, an easy way to ask questions to a group and provide statistics based on the answers . About more initiatives from the Entrepreneur Team such as Countdown to launch, which is a 5 days workshops developing and learning new skills at the end of which the participants get the chance to pitch their own business for a small funding of some hundred pounds. I am planning to attending this, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my participation for New Designers 2019, since it will also take place in June. I have also learned about a strategy called Brand ambassador to promote one’s brand. Five out of ten proposed a 5% equity asking the full amount of 50k. One, the less experienced asked for 45k with 10% equity. This was also a good reflection point.

20181017_145121.jpg
Anda Avramescu, Oct 2018, CanDo Laundry Pitch Presentation Q&A time, Business School and Management, Cardiff Metropolitan University

Professional Practice II – Creative CV

Some interesting and inspiring CV I researched for in Pinterest:

This  session was all about how to produce a CV and how to use it after we leave uni. An argument that I didn’t think would require more than half an hour but I suppose you never stop learning how everything we to can always be improved or updated.

Es asked us why we were interested in assisting this session and everybody gave a quick answer. There were some who wanted to learn how to write an art oriented CV, for a job experience, write a creative CV, how to make a CV stand out or how to make it more unique, how to underline in it emotions personal characteristics such as enthusiasm or how to write a non boring CV. So the whole session started to have an interesting approach.

Even though I came across this information earlier this year, it was a good reminder to learn again about Graduate Trainee Schemes There are quite a few out there in companies such as M&S starting next summer. Applications are already open for whoever might be interested. There are some websites to look for these schemes such as:

In Art and Design there aren’t always fixed roles to apply for depending exactly on the course you graduated from. In fact, most of the roles do not specify a degree needed to apply. There are many interdisciplinary roles that could for example qualify for the same job both a textile student and a graphic designer etc. I believe it was this crossing roles that inspire Cardiff Met to encourage students to combine in their practice workshops from across all art and design courses. It was also very interesting to learn that around 20% of graduates in art and designs are in totally unrelated jobs in 2 years from the graduation. I can only imagine that the people in this percentage either found a better payed job and kept their passion as a hobby or during their studies they might have understood that they didn’t want to make a living out of that anymore, as they initially thought when they enrolled.

There are many job roles and in different categories that a graduate can apply for:

  • Designer and Maker – Freelance and Company
  • Business/ Creative- Buyer, Visual Merchandiser
  • Media- Film, Television, Theatre Design
  • Commercial – Advertising, Marketing, PR
  • Education and Community – Teaching, Art Therapy
  • Design/Art practice – Commissions, Residencies
  • Technical – Colour Technologist, Quality Control

Professional Arts Facilitation Roles:

  • Teaching/Arts Education
  • Art Therapy/Arts in Health
  • Community Artist
  • Creative Projects Manager/Event Management
  • Workshop Leaders

For those interested in education there are applications through Ucas. At this point I thought it wouldn’t be of any interest to me but I immediately found out that these applications are not only for those interested in becoming an academic but also for those interested in giving workshops in schools.

There are also jobs in Promoting/Managing art such as:

  • Gallery Curator
  • Arts Administration
  • Conservator
  • Exhibitions Manager
  • Arts writing/journalism
  • Researcher/information/archivist

As it seems most graduate jobs don’t require a specific degree discipline. Most graduate employees ask for potential, enthusiasm, and how the candidate would fit in with the company. There is also the possibility in combining a part time freelancing/self employed job with an employed one. So you can be a freelancer and give workshops, be self employed and be employed in a company. As a curiosity: after graduation, people tend to go through several jobs before settling for the right career path.

Useful websites:

IMPORTANT:

  • Most jobs in industry are not advertised. The advice is to send speculative applications. First identify the employers/companies you want to work for, study them through their website and do a cover letter for each one of them;
  • Networking and making contacts. Make yourself known. Employees often say that the employer made themselves known to them, this is how they got the job – key message gained from Es from people from the industry attending New Designers;
  • Search job pages in Linkedin and generally on social media;
  • Sign up for job allerts;
  • Attend Events.

Search for jobs:

Make specific industry oriented CV!!! Types of CV:

  • Chronological (the old fashion), even though we are creative it is still important;
  • Skills based, list all skills;
  • Visual/Creative one;
  • Specialised CV;
  • A mix of these styles. It is the best because you have to put a bit of all.

Ask:

  • Does my CV fit the purpose?
  • Does it mach my personality?
  • Does it fit into what the company I’m writing to wants to hear?
  • The cover letter goes alongside a portfolio and hand in hand with the CV?
  • Think, what makes you stand out and what shows your uniqueness?

Essentials:

  • Have a clearly laid out and concise CV;
  • It is important to have bullet points;
  • A full record of education and work history, no major gaps;
  • No grammatical errors, punctuation;
  • Put emphasise on strengths and major skills.

CV Structure:

  1. Personal details: name, address, cell number, website, blog if relevant, social media. Everything that is relevant. If not relevant like the date of birth, you don’t put it, it just takes space and won’t have a say as pro or con for hiring;
  2. Some people put a profile of some lines in but often it tends to say the same in each profile ending up with too generic statements that anybody could say, if it s like this don’t put;
  3. Skills: extra curriculum activities are important. For ex. music theatre – you put confidence to relate to it, instead of describing it too much in details. Academic reports from jobs, etc that had important feedback. Put bullet points with skills and put a short sentence that goes together in context of how we developed it. Design skills, creativity, personal skills, languages are all important. Include self taught skills that I’m developing if at a good (medium high) standard and relevant;
  4. Education and qualification. Give a paragraph of degree with dates. Not only listing modules, but what you gained from each. Put A levels and highlight the marks in the relevant subjects (technical sketching for me);
  5. Employments/Work experience – It they take too much space group some together if relevant instead of list them individually;
  6. Hobbies and interest a few lines only, if a self taught skill is not medium high maybe it’s better to put it in here, if it’s high it might go in the skills if relevant.
  7. No more 2 pages of CV, better if only 1 page.

Reference: If there is no space, don’t put references, just put a line saying to ask for reference if needed. As reference you normally put two: 1) one of the tutors, 2) one from outside Uni.

Evidence of Skills is shown through different experience: Course work, including organising exhibitions, live projects, placements. Work experience, Leisure activities, Travel, Social etc.

How the Skills Section should look like:

  • Skills profile as a distinct section with bullet points;
  • Be concise and give clear specific examples;
  • Match your strengths to the job requirements;
  • What can you do? How can you prove it?
  • What does the employer/industry want? Do your research
  • Where are skills gaps, what can you do about this?

There are many personal skills one can add: Initiative, Creativity, Independent judgement, Oral communication skills, Flexibility and adaptability, Self reliance, Self confidence, Organisational skills etc.

Style: for example a class mate applied (and got the job) for Lush. and She knew they were sensitive regarding the LGBT community so she did a rainbow coloured CV and changed the font accordingly. Es also showed us very creative CV’s, some successful, some less where the creativity overcame the purpose of the CV, so it is important to be aware of the overall look and feel and find the right balance.