Career spotlight: Costume designer

Three established costume designers reflect on their careers, describe a typical day, and offer advice for would-be designers.
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Essie Davis in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Image via

On screen and stage alike, the right costume helps define and convey character, aids performance, and pleases the eye. But how does one become a costume designer, and what is a typical day like in this specialised profession?

Laurel Frank, Costume Designer and Founding Member, Circus Oz, began working in the theatre after finishing university. ‘My focus was academic really, early in my career, and I thought that was the sort of thing that I would do, but I had making skills, garment-making skills, so gradually I started to focus on the production side … The costume making was a focus over time rather than something I started with; I didn’t go to a training institution, I did it on the job, really.

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Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on community radio station Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Festival Living Legend in 2017. In 2019 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021.

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