CDG - The Costume Designer

Fall 2016

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24 The Costume Designer Fall 2016 BY ANNA WYCKOFF F rom Zeus to Gilgamesh, heroic narra- tives have existed across every culture since the beginning of civilization. These stories predate writing, and their resonant success across the centuries reveals much about the human psyche's need to believe in something bigger. Leap forward two millennia to see the epic rise of the superhero in world culture. As the sophistication of visual effects in film and television enables a por- trayal more realistic and engrossing than ever before, companies like Marvel and DC Comics in partnership with larger studios have translated the success of their graphic novels into box-office gold. With a fan base that is vast, international, and lifelong, the cult of the super- hero is a phenomenon that seems almost insatiable. On the production end, keeping up with the audience's appetite has created a myriad of new industries. Behind every superhero is a team hundreds of people deep. Perhaps no one is more crucial than the individuals who design and create the garments, which visually express their supernatural power. Very different from contemporary or period Costume Design—which is rooted in tangibles like time and culture—in fantasy, science fiction, or future world design, the biggest challenge is to not only cre- ate something that has never been seen before, but also use techniques and materials which are equally revolu- tionary. The Costume Designers Guild has many mem- bers that are on the forefront of this rapidly changing landscape. We spoke to Costume Designer Christine Bieselin Clark and illustrators Constantine Sekeris and Alan Villanueva to gain insights into the complexity of envisioning a new world. We also considered the integral role illustrators play in capturing the concept in a way that can be visualized, approved, and most importantly, greenlit. SECRET IDENTITIES After designing a host of independent films, Christine Bieselin Clark entered the superhero micro- cosm by assisting Costume Designer Michael Wilkinson. She worked on a number of films with Wilkinson including 300 and Tron, which she co-designed. This served a springboard for her own design in films, such as Ender's Game. Her nuanced understanding of the genre comes from time in the trenches discovering that which can only be learned firsthand. Illustrator Constantine Sekeris has been in the business 20 years and comes to costume from a background of designing and building creatures. He trained under legendary film special effects, makeup, and creature creators Stan Winston, Rick Baker, and Steve Johnson. Sekeris sculpts as well as paints, and is a member of Local 800, the Art Directors Guild. "I was very fortunate to learn not only sketching and design aspects, but also how to build. You know, I kind of fell into Costume Design," he says. Presently, Sekeris works directly with Marvel Comics. Alan Villanueva has been in love with designing characters for as long as he can remember. He says, "I'd examine the designs of my action figures and what they wore, and re-create them into artwork in my sketchpads. That's how it all started." He received a BFA in Illustration at California State University: THE SUPER BEHIND THE HERO

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