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Hello, all. It's been a long time since I frequented a forum, so I hope I'm not posting in the wrong place! I apologize in advance for this little speech.
I'm in my senior year of high school and have been accepted to the art school I've been planning to go to, but I'm currently at a loss as to what I should study there. My school has a foundation year, so this is just food for thought and a little reassurance on my part. I always assumed I would pursue graphic design since I'm handy with Photoshop and designing simple, elegant compositions. I designed a teacher's business cards and the drama club's logo--little things like that. Okay, really, it's what first comes to mind to a young artist such as myself considering practicality in the workforce. The thing is, though I enjoy what little graphic design I've done, it's just not my passion. My "ideal" job would be a costume designer, specifically for period pieces. My interest in history and culture almost rivals my interest in art. Plus, I've already dedicated so much time and energy to portraiture (my subject of choice) that it seems to make sense to transition to another form of art that centers around the human figure. Ideally, I would being drawing the costume illustrations, budgeting the physical costumes, choosing fabrics, and tailoring them here and there. I'm not so good with the actual sewing from scratch part... Hah. My school doesn't offer a straight fashion major, but they do have graphic design, illustration, and fiber/textiles. I'm also thinking of adding a minor of Culture and Politics, if my bank account ever allows it. The area I'll be studying in has plenty of small theaters that have offered various internships to students in the past. At least a few alumni are part of the fashion force. I mainly chose the school for its location and because I felt comfortable there on my visits, so I wouldn't think of changing schools anytime soon when I don't even know what being a costume designer entails, exactly. Does anyone have any experience in this field who could possibly throw in a few words on which of those majors would be the safest bet for me? I will of course get in touch with school career advisers, but as of now I'm more concerned about the career itself.
I doubt school career advisors/consellors will know anything about the costume design industry. Costume design is a major career in entertainment and theater so I would orient my research in that direction. I'm sure it's a union gig in any of the main entertainment or theater centers so that particular union would be a good place to start as far as career data goes.
One good networking source are science fiction conventions and anything to do with "cosplay". Costuming has become a major subgenre within sci-fi/fandom culture and can offer great resources and contacts.
Thanks, Jeff. Sorry I didn't notice the reply until now. Cosplay is indeed a good place to start, I would assume--I'm going to start learning to sew this summer by tackling a cosplay outfit. At least I've got part of the illustration down, haha.
I roomed with a bunch of fashion majors over the years, and one thing I can tell you for sure, if you want to have anything to do with fashion or costuming you'd better learn everything you can about sewing. Fashion design has very little drawing and a whole lot of sewing, pattern-making, draping and other technical stuff. (So the fabric/textiles option may be a good thing to take advantage of.)
And yes, cosplay might be a great place to start. The more sewing and prop-making projects you do, the better.
Another possibility is to look into re-enactment groups and other "creative anachronism" groups (Ren Fairs and such) - could be a good source of contacts and also a good source of knowledge on historical costumes and how to make them. My sister was involved in a Revolutionary War reenactment group for a while, and learned how to sew simple Colonial garments as part of the group's activities (they had a sewing circle, too.)
I'm not very good with sewing as of now, but I feel confident enough to say that it's probably a skill I could easily learn if I have enough time, based on my other skills. My parents were Civil War re-enactment enthusiasts, so I know that life! I haven't had any hands-on experience with historical garments, but I've studied them so much I could probably pass a Victorian lady's maid. I spent some time managing the costumes in my high school's drama group a year or two ago as well, but I was mostly based on set design/painting. As I said, I would have a year of foundations if I went to the art school I'm probably going to end up at... The good thing about that would be the safety net that is the possibility of switching back to Graphic Design. I have a near full ride scholarship to a state university too, but they don't offer anything like fibers or textiles. I'm having a slight mental breakdown choosing between the two schools now, but at least I have something to go on from your replies! Thanks.