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The Costume Designer's Handbook: A Complete Guide for Amateur and Professional Costume Designers - Rosemary Ingham, Liz Covey I was given this book as an opening night present by the costume designer I assisted a few months ago. It's taken me a while to read this cover-to-cover, as it is a reference text, but I'm really glad I did. There is a wealth of information in here. The authors guide you through all steps of the design process: what to consider when reading the script; the differences between rough/thumbnail sketches to show the director and fully rendered illustrations for the shop, and how each should be approached; the realities of shopping and building (including using stock costumes or rentals if available/necessary); how to manage a budget.

There are lots of tips and tricks in here as well--for instance, in the section on drawing, in addition to describing various media and illustration techniques, the authors also offer their preferred types of brushes and technical pens, and the best way to maintain and clean each, as well as creative ideas for incorporating several different media in one drawing. In the section on swatching fabric, they advise carrying a reducing glass (the opposite of a magnifying glass) to see if a print will "read" on stage. There are instructions for quickly improvising a light table, blocking watercolor paper in a time crunch, and the best way to ship fabrics when you are purchasing them across the country from where they will be built. These little bits of wisdom were my favorite parts, which are often left out of other guides. The authors also offer a great deal of advice about communicating with the producer, director, and other designers on the show, which can be a huge source of stress in any team effort like theatre. For instance, what do you do when the director completely disagrees with your costuming choices? The colors the set designer has chosen clash horribly with the costume colors? Or the lead actor decides he hates his costume? Don't fear, Ingham and Covey will tell you exactly how to discuss these sensitive issues!

The final chapter is all about "The Costume Design Business" and is exactly what it sounds like--it lists the various different jobs involved in the world of costume design and how to get them. There's some great advice on how to write a cover letter and resume, as well as how to organize your portfolio. There is also a little bit of information about contracts and how to protect yourself as a freelancer.

I thought this book was extremely thorough, and covered all aspects of costume design that I knew I needed to know, as well as providing some information I wouldn't have even thought about! There are lots of inspirational illustrations and photos scattered throughout the text (but never enough!), and it was all presented in a clear, straightforward manner, with even a little humor thrown in from time to time. This is a valuable resource that I'm sure I will be continuously referring to.