Sunday, January 6, 2013

Absence Makes the Heart Seek Photoshop

Well, maybe.  My absence probably didn't instill fondness. I certainly don't think the saying applies to blogs.  Absence makes for complete silence.  And no readers.  But that's okay, I'm not doing this anymore to generate more links, nor to set myself up as an "expert" in what I do.  I'm simply doing this to share what's happening in my life as a costumer and multi-media artist.

I thought I should update you all on what's happening and why I haven't posted for so long.  As you may (or may not) know, I was re-hired back at the University of San Diego in the position that I held three years prior.  I am the theatre program's Costume Designer for both the undergraduate and graduate student productions.

This has impacted my business significantly.  In more precise terms:  it came to a screeching halt.  I had my first big official "art fair" (as opposed to a street fair) and sold about $1000 worth of my previously built stock, but it came at a high price...  I was overwhelmed.  I had just opened a show at my school, and I was trying to do both at the same time.  I was exhausted and strung out.  I was happy that I was selling a lot, and that I had finally found my "niche" as the crowds were there specifically for my kind of stuff, but I couldn't then take the next step and exploit the opportunities.  My job at my school took priority.

And what a priority it was.  I had been originally contracted to do one show in my first semester back.  But I ended up doing another show and teaching two classes in Fundamentals of Theatrical Design on top of that.  I was completely inundated with work.  And Relished Artistry took a back seat.

With my university position comes benefits.  And I need them.  Health insurance is nothing to laugh at, and I hadn't seen a doctor since I left three years prior...  So I couldn't shirk my responsibilities at USD.  And since they were overwhelming, my business had to give.

This semester, I'm happy to say that I only have two shows on my plate.  One is a period extravaganza--Tartuffe-- and the other is a devised theatre project written by the students that no one knows what it may turn out to be...  I am going to have a bit more time for my business projects (as long as I can keep my fingers sewing at warp speed) come April.

Until then, I have decided to drop the LLC portion of my business and make it a sole-proprietorship, which is a good thing as I was advised I wasn't making enough money to warrant having an LLC, really...   This alleviates a bit of pressure, I think.  And while it doesn't make things much simpler, it will be better for me in the long run.

So.  That's where I am today.

And I thought I might share with you some of the new stuff I'm working on--specifically some costume designs that I have been developing for Tartuffe using the new Photoshop feature "Puppet Warp".  I'm a big fan of Photoshop, and I've found ways of making it useful ever since my partner (a graphic designer) introduced me to it many years ago.  It has been incredibly useful to have a person on the other side of the office to ask questions to, and I've learned a lot about the program through experimentation.  The hardest part is forcing myself to keep things simple because the program is a rabbit hole of possibilities.  It's like opening up a paint set--the sky's the limit!  You can do almost anything, and developing self-imposed parameters is an exercise in self discipline...

So the renderings with this post aren't approved yet by the director of the show, but they're my first steps in manipulating photographs of fabric and torquing them into the shapes I need.  While they may not be the most realistic renderings in the world (they're rather "collage-esque" in some ways), I think they provide an indication of how the costumes themselves may turn out...

As I said, I've had to educate myself a bit on how to use Photoshop, but some of the most helpful videos I've ever seen on fashion rendering have come from an account on YouTube called "Glamnicism" done by an Italian woman who uses Photoshop.  Her tutorials were incredibly helpful.  Here's one below:

I'm also learning that no fancy program in the world will help you draw better.  The bottom line is that you have to learn how to draw first in order to be able to communicate what you want.  I'm simply covering up my drawings with translucent layers of textures in specific shapes.  The underlying drawing is what it's all about.  And if you can't get that right, there's no point...

Anyway, I'm hoping this will turn out to be a useful tool in the future.  It's taken me 4 days to get to this point with the renderings, and the cumulative effect of communicating textures and colors is going to be quite worth it in the end--the director will see things much more clearly without having to translate things in his head and relying upon a level of imagination that he might not be able to draw upon...  I've found that's the case with a lot of directors.  They know how to work well with actors, but they really haven't a clue how to analyze a script, communicate with designers, or use their mind's eye to envision things...  The more I can help them with that the easier my job is in the end because I don't have to worry about things coming back to "bit me in the butt" as they discover things through their rehearsal process...  It's good to have that flexibility in the real world, but I'm a one-man-shop here at USD and if we don't know exactly what we want from the get-go it usually doesn't happen...

Regardless, I've been a bit busy.  My two shows this past fall, Anatomy of Gray and The Beaux' Stratagem were successful.  I'll try to post pics of them as soon as I can.  And as I said, my first official Art Fair (the La Jolla Art and Wine Festival) was a big success and I'll post on that one as soon as I can as well.  But I had a moment to get this written, and figured I'd put it off for far too long.

I hope that everyone is doing well, and that this is useful to you somehow...  : )

Best regards!!


  1. Corey, it's good to have a job that pays regular. I haven't had that for many years. Luckily hubs has a job. It's too bad you couldn't follow up with the Art Fair success but now you know where to go next time. Thanks for the photoshop link. I'm always looking for photoshop tutes because I'm so bad at it!

  2. Blog ambivalence. It's true that no one probably misses us when we do not post but it's like you're letting down something you've committed to. I am getting back into it as well, may be a way to write creatively and keep up my place in the world (that may be egotistical but oh well). See, author blog.


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