Some personal projects take a little while to put together, while others take years. This is one that took years. After I finished my TDK Joker, I noticed that a lot of people who were doing costumes also had Jack Sparrow outfits up their billowy rum soaked pirate sleeves. That kind of peaked my interest, as I wanted to expand my costuming horizons a bit with another large project. Over the course of the next three years or so, I started and subsequently “finished’ my Captain Jack Sparrow outfit, and had some great experiences along the way.
I was fortunate with this costume because I got several higher priced (and hard to find) items for relatively cheap. On one occasion I scored a set of three items for $350, which would have ran well over $1000 otherwise. Another time I purchased a pair of lightly used CA Boots for $100, which would have been several hundred dollars new. On other occasions people just flat out gave me things, like my vest from Mellissa Ebbe (who is now on Face/Off!), or some of my belt accessories which came from a costumer who decided he was done with trying to get his costume together. I was very fortunate to have so many friends in the hobby who helped out like this, as these connections also allowed me to purchase several items from the original sources, so not only was the costume accurate, but the items were from the very people that produced them for the film.
Eventually, when the costume was about done, I ended up doing a speech around Halloween at my community college in the outfit. This was pretty much the beginning of a new chapter in my life, as it would lead to many subsequent events. One of these experiences was that I got cast as the lead in Pirates to the Rescue!, a childrens’ show written by David Quinn, which was Kaskaskia College’s main stage play. This was my first acting experience. I can vividly remember hearing Quinn say “Oh, you’ll only have like 3 or 4 lines!”, but I’m pretty sure the final count was between 150-160. This would lead to many great things in my life that I would have never expected.
During this time, I was also featured on TLC’s television program Big Tiny, which was about my friend Brad Jordan and his sister. I was also hired by Macy’s to promote their fragrance department, all because I was Captain Jack Sparrow (they also thought Quinn was my manager). Eventually, I would also win several awards for acting at Kaskaskia College, including Best Actor, Director’s Choice, and the Alumni Award for two years running. I would also receive a theater scholarship, which paid for my tuition in full for two years.
This costume really brought me numerous and amazing opportunities, and it was always a blast to wear. Many people helped me out along the way, and it is always something that I am super thankful for. The opportunities and relationships that arose because of this costume have also been really rewarding. I would have never expected the simple concept of wanting to do a costume to have ever led to so many wonderful experiences or amazing people. It truly has been an awesome journey, all thanks to Captain Jack Sparrow!
I have been doing costume and makeup for several years, but recently I have taken a break. I ended up starting a new costume, Owen Grady from Jurassic World, which absolutely drew me back into the hobby. Costuming is a pass time that requires a pretty dedicated mentality. With previous projects I have been involved in, I have done a lot of research. I’ve collected reference photos, I’ve spoken to designers, costumers, and even helped Adam Savage from Mythbusters put together his Joker outfit. With all of the costumes I have done in the past, the key to success was hands down cooperation, attentiveness, and dedication to finding sources or coming up with ideas as a group. Unfortunately, I believe there is a new trend in costuming, which is running rampant across several sites: selfish jackassdness
Now, as a disclaimer, I’m not saying I always fall outside of this definition. In the past I have made poor observations/conclusions about costume pieces or props; however I always amend my thinking when more definitive facts arise. I also make sure I read everything that I can, especially posts on forums. I also try to help others out. I know how hard it is to just jump into costumes, and support is a main topic that people need to understand. However, during my recent build I encountered (and I believe this is a technical term) a shit ton of stupid.
Many times over did I receive personal messages asking for the same information which I had JUST posted publicly in a thread. On several occasions I noticed people asking the same question several times over, even when an answer had been given just a few comments back. People not searching for information has always been a problem, but some answers are literally only one or two post above the question. At one point in time one website member also thought I was someone else, and repeatedly asked me to provide pictures of something, despite the fact I did not own it, nor was I the 300 lbs man in the picture shown wearing it. Plus, I quoted him each time letting him now it was not me.
On another forum I wanted to make sure there weren’t any better versions of an item I am currently looking to purchase. I made a brief post just to make sure no one had any other good resources on locating a specific shirt. One member took the time to ask me if I had ever considered buying something totally different. I thought perhaps he meant “another shirt”, but his real intentions were “a completely different costume”. Why would you ask me that? Why take the time, out of both of our days, to ask me to change my own personal project, especially if I am actively pursuing the completion of said project? He finally stopped replying to me when I told him I was 100% committed to the idea, yet we exchanged messages several times.
Another issue is people blatantly withholding information from one another, and making sure everyone knows it. I have seen it several times within the past few months. Someone finds a public source for an item, purchases the ones they need, shows them off, then refuses (or ignores) requests to share a link to the source. Usually people purchase what they need then share the link, yet this process seems to be more prevalent now. At one point in time I even saw someone post they had visited a public location that had been used for filming in a movie, yet said they would not be sharing where it was located. I guess this gives the person a status of “greatness” no man could match, having visited a public place.
Recently, to top it off, I posted a bit of commentary about another article of clothing. Owen Grady’s shirt changes color from grey to blue several times in Jurassic World because of the filters used, the weathering, and direct light exposure. I even went out of my way to note this in the post I made. Someone felt it necessary to message me, give me the same freaking facts, and then tell me I was only half right because of it. He also made sure to note “as many people have said” before giving me the information, yet somehow he missed the fact I was one of them that’s been freaking saying it for the past few months.
Overall, I cannot believe how much things have changed within the past few years. Sure I had visited forums and read threads on certain costumes, but being online more often and being part of the conversation has suddenly made me realize a new trend in the hobby. People aren’t being as attentive as they once were, as they’re surely not being as cooperative or dedicated to helping one another either. With that, I think people will continue to become more self-absorbed, all in competition with one another, with no trophy in site.
Sometimes I consider costumes for a while before I actually do them, and some other times they just so happen to fall in my lap. Both of these circumstances occurred with my Sweeney Todd costume, as I had wanted to do it for a while, but also didn’t want to pay a ton for the outfit. Thankfully, someone on a website I frequent messaged me and asked if I’d be interested in most of his outfit for like $30.
I jumped at the chance to purchase the outfit, as he included the shirt, vest, and neck scarf tie thing. Upon arrival I realized how clean and crisp everything looked, so I weathered the vest quite a bit, using paints, washes, and at one point even some makeup. It took a few days to complete, but I was pretty darn happy with the overall look, which matched reference pictures pretty well.
For the shirt, I first did several dark washes on the shirt’s sleeves to make it look more worn. At the same time, my favorite part of the film is how much gore there is, and having never done a really gory costume before, I decided to follow through with the next stage of my plan. During Halloween a few months before receiving this, I had purchased fake blood for some reason. It came in a pump, so I decided to try it out on the costume. After just two days I had transformed the shirt into a murder sponge.
One other purchase I made was black pin stripe pants (which I actually liked more than the screen used ones), as well as a brown leather belt, both from Goodwill. I used a pair of black leather shoes I already had, and before I knew it, I had a decently screen accurate costume for under $35!
Following in chronological order of my costumes, I do believe the Mad Hatter comes next. One thing I had noticed while figuring our my Joker costumes was that a lot of people who dressed up as Heath Ledger’s characters also did Johnny Depp’s characters. This inspired me to start thinking about new projects, like Captain Jack Sparrow for a in-depth long-term costume, and the Mad Hatter for a more short-term build.
After getting my reference pictures in order I started looking at what I would need to construct a few items, and if I could purchase others. Thankfully some of the articles of clothing that were outside of my established repertoire became available to me though friends, many of whom I had actually met through my costuming resources. In many ways this costume was a collaborative project, with my top hat coming from my friend Crystal, oversized pins coming from my friend Charles, and the pants being a Goodwill find, which were customized by my grandma.
Though it was a quick build it came out decently accurate to the original costume. I think it turned out great, and is still one of my favorite costume designs. It did me well for the Halloween of 2010, though the Alice in Wonderland movie was a bit of a let down. Overall it was another fun build which allowed me to interact with people in a fun way, and build up my character and costume knowledge. It would also all me to play another variation of the same character on stage just a few years later in my original play, Through the Pages!
In the past year I have received more page requests on Facebook than almost anything else. It would seem it is every day that I get a notification from someone who wants me to like their page and be a fan. Most of them are costume oriented pages (because I know many people in that hobby), however some pages are for local businesses, and even fan pages for normal people. At first I found this quite strange, but now it flat-out bothers me. Before we begin, I would like to note something. I am bound to hurt someone’s feelings with this post. However, I think it is time I say something. This week I have already received three page requests, and it’s only Tuesday. I know it is fun to count the likes on your page, however I think it is safe to say I am not a fan of this practice. I have been doing costumes and make-up for around six years now, and I just do not see myself as being high up in social standing. I simply do not think that I require a fan page. For me it is a hobby, and I only do it for myself. I really have no interest in expanding my horizons to show off my work, nor make a name for myself. I dress up as celebrities or characters for fun, not to impress someone who could be labeled as a fan.
At one point in time I actually had opened a page for my costumes, but I quickly disbanded it after deciding it was not an appropriate route to take with sharing my work. I had just started making costumes and doing make-up. At the time, I think I wanted to show-off my hobby, but I came to a several realizations after thinking about it for a few days. Mainly I wanted my friends to enjoy my hobby, and no one else. I was not in the market of sharing my work to gain a following; I simply I enjoy what I do, and like to share with my friends what I am currently up to. In turn I care for what my true friends are doing, so I believe the feeling should be mutual. This ties into my first few realizations about my Facebook friends list.
I had suddenly noticed that the number of my friends had swelled to almost nine-hundred people. I decided that I should go through and delete many of the accounts, because quite honest, I was not for sure who many of them were. Likewise some of them were just not people I would associate myself with anymore. My goal was to only have people who actually meant something to me be a part of my Facebook account. Over the course of two nights I went through and deleted well over three-hundred of people. Suddenly I found that I had a higher quality friends list. I downsized it to a more manageable number, and everyone on it were then people I knew personally or respected in someway.
At the same time I noticed I was “following” many accounts. I quickly realized many people I had been friends with had transferred my account to a different category on Facebook. I was no longer friends with them, however I still got their notifications. I was essentially now just getting their updates, but they were not getting mine. The interest these people had in me was obviously no longer mutual. I found this as being quite one-sided, disrespectful, and odd. Needless to say I unsubscribed myself from these people as well. Essentially, they saw me more as a fan than a friend, something I didn’t really appreciate.
I think a considerable amount of costumers feel the same way, which is not exactly a healthy thing for the community. I know right before I stopped visiting one prominent costume website a small group of people had stopped supplying any information on how they achieved certain looks or where they bought specific parts for their costumes. It seemed there was a power grab going on, and this small group was setting the trend for the entire site. I had not visited this website for a few years, but a couple of months ago I decided to take a look. Sure enough I found that many people on the site (old and new members) seemed more interested in stroking their ego than being a part of a helpful community. A new standard had been set on the site, and not for the better. At one point in time it had been a place that influenced open discussion and had reliable members, but it seemed to have taken a turn for the worst. It was now more commercialized in appearance, and the members were only thinking of themselves. All they wanted were more views, comments, and followers of their work. They no longer cared for one another like they once had.
Within the same time frame of a few years ago, a handful of people I know had started opening their own Facebook fan pages. Many of the people liking the pages were family or friends, and the pages were not really any different than their own person accounts. Perhaps it was more for fun than anything else. This was a few years ago, and I really did not think anything of it. Flash forward to today, and nearly every costumer I know has their own fan page, if not multiple pages. And believe me, they want you to know they have this page. They actively seek people to like their pages, and even invite you to invite everyone on your friends list to join them as well.
One young woman I know markets herself as a professional costumer, and has had multiple pages. At one point in time she and I had been fairly good friends, however we had not spoken to one another for a while. We went about two years with no contact, but I suddenly got an email from her. There was some small talk exchanged, and out of no where she asked me to give her a costume piece I owned. I told her I was not really in the market to sell it, and she said she would take it for free. I explained to her that I had planned to use it myself (hence owning it), however she did not let up. She then asked for a donation, as to afford said costume piece, but I declined that as well. She then offered several prints (pictures of herself in costume) in exchange for some money, but I still told her no.
To my disbelief, this is a regular occurrence with many of my fellow costumers. Not only do they seek donations for their costumes, but they sometimes rely on monetary assistance from their fans. These funds will either go towards an entire costume, or even a trip to a convention. Neither of these things are cheap considering this hobby, so it was shocking to me that this is a normal occurrence. Selling prints are also a feasible outlet for income, however I would never put a second thought towards buying a picture of someone I know dressed up. If anything I find it a laughing matter. Why would I want a picture of you dressed up? What would I even do with it? Why should I even care? I don’t have answers to any of those questions.
If you do not make costumes for a Hollywood production company, then you are not a celebrity. In fact, even if you actually do work for a business out of Hollywood in the costume or make-up industry, then you’re still probably not a celebrity. Either way, I do not understand why you expect me to enjoy your work so much that I should be one of your followers. I cannot believe how many people believe because they own a nice costume it gives them the right to a higher social status in the costuming community (or even social sphere). This had been a minor issue within the community, however TV shows such as Heroes of Cosplay seems to have spread the aura of D-List costume celebrity personas as being a real thing in the larger world.
Likewise, I think this has influenced costumers (even poor quality ones) to pursue their own little slice of fan following, as they see the same thing happening all around them on the internet. Boring people are making a so-called name for themselves by just owning things. They simply want attention, and for some reason people are giving it to them. I mean, I do understand that some costumes are way better than others, and some people look more like their characters than others, but why be a fan of that? If you like Captain Jack Sparrow, why would you worry about being a fan of costumer Joe Blow? Why not just be a fan of Johnny Depp directly, and cut out the middle man as it were? I understand that everyone want to spread their own brand and make a name for themselves in the process, however not everyone can be a celebrity.
With the advent of every other costumer on my friends list having a page or two, I finally had to ask myself, why are costumers even thought of as something you would be a fan of? Personally I think I would prefer the original as oppose to the knock-off. The thought of someone who dresses up even mildly resembling a celebrity is quite strange to me. Especially when so many people think they are deserving of a page dedicated to their work. Wouldn’t you prefer to share your projects with your friends and family who actually care? Or do you prefer followers and fans?
Personally, I think I will stick to sharing my work on my personal Facebook account, where my family and friends that I care about can check it out it if they want. Thinking that I am worthy of fans does not settle too well with me, and I can say that I am above asking for donations to fund my hobby (nor will I try to sell you prints of my work). I know many people who would disagree with those sentiments, but I just do not look at my craft in the same way. For Facebook, I will stick to being a friend, not a fan.