Costume Designer

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Starting the Wiz: Research

The Wiz chalkboard is up and I’m starting to draw. I always do a huge, preliminary search for research before I start drawing. After I cast that net I doodle for a while, refine my ideas, then hit the books and the interwebs for more specific research to support the discoveries I make at the drawing board. Obviously I find a lot of information online–mostly of the moment research such as current collections and everyday street fashion. However, book research is so satisfying and often more focused. Here’s a picture of the bookshelf I started putting together for The Wiz.

wiz books

Some favorites to point out:
Moko Jumbies” by Stefan Falke. Found this one on Flickr, actually. The Moko Jumbies are stilt walkers in Trinidad and Tobago that perform at Carnival. A killer find, since Oz is partly influenced by the art and culture of the Black Diaspora. Great color/texture research and such a sense of play in the images. Also great character research, since the Moko Jumbies in the book are kids and my cast has at least 16 young people.

We B Girlz” Photographs by Martha Cooper, Text by Nina Kramer.  Used this one for Funk it Up Bout Nothin’ too. Oz is also influenced by the New York life Dorothy left behind. Our director, Tony, sees her as a street smart, culturally savvy girl. I’m doing a lot of research on what sorts of things a girl like that would notice in the big city and use to create her fantasy of Oz. My bet is she’s pretty taken with B Girlz. It’s not all pretty pictures though, I’m looking at images of piles of New York City curbside trash too–to inspire Evillene’s costume.

Illustration de Mode: Les Poses” by Catherine Collin. I bought this book at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. It’s completely invaluable and worth the inconvenience of being yet another book I schlepped home with me. 600+ pages of poses, often with up to 3 poses per page. Loads of expression and character in each one. I like finding the right pose for my renderings, it’s one more tool I have to communicate my point of view on the character I’ve designed. I used to keep clippings of good poses I’d find in magazines, but that got a little unruly. Problem solved.

I’ll sign off with an image from the Moko Jumbies. You can also find this image on the photographer’s Flickr page here.


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