The Costume Design Process Study of Humanity – Clothing/Garment Design –Anticipated Audience Reactions
“Inspiration can be anything and it can find you or you can find it.” Joanna Johnston (Nadoolman Landis 2012 p.80)
All my work is based on the anticipation of the audiences’ possible reactions toward the impression or the illusion I create with clothing, patterns, colors, and material choices I make for the characters. The whole artistic piece that is created is kind of like a really complex dialogue between the creators of the work and the audiences. For me, creating an impression or an illusion (or believability) for a character is a process that cannot
be fully explained in words. Some choices I make are conscious like the openness of a neckline or a pattern of a dress. But many choices, and especially the overall combination composed of many individual choices, is led by emotional and bodily reactions to a play with possibilities, a sense of what might work. In this process I tap into my deep and strong reactions that balance my artistic choices with a systematic study of the culture, context, and the politics at play.
”Dress is a basic fact of social life and this, according to anthropologists, is true of all known human cultures: all people ’dress’ the body in some way, be it through clothing, tattooing, cosmetics or other forms of body painting...In almost all social situations we are required to appear dressed, although what constitutes ’dress’ varies from culture to culture and also within a culture, since what is considered appropriate dress will depend on the situation or occasion...Bodies which do not conform, bodies which flout the conventions of their culture and go without the appropriate clothes are subversive of the most basic social codes and risk exclusion, scorn, or ridicule.” (Entwistle 2000 p.6-7)
For me, the holistic process of costume and garment design, the creative and interactive process, is a vital way to understand the world and humanity. I perceive this process as an intellectual, embodied, passionate, and inherently challenging endeavor from which meaningful (and potentially alternative) insights into the diverse human experiences and conditions are gained. Through the process of inventing and communicating through whole characters or individual characteristics an invigorating opportunity arises to create impressions that are not solely tied into one time or place but fictional combinations. The creation of a fictional character, which might at its best become very ‘real’ and thus be felt by audiences, offers an illusion of a unified character. Essentially, all the characters I construct through the choices I make as a designer offer competing, even conflicting viewpoints combined of cultures and persons from any possible time and place.
One of the luxuries afforded to those of my trade is the freedom to identify and deeply reflect about and relate to anyone from the entire breadth of human history. In this creative process we as costume designers are entitled to share our visions, whisper our
(and others’) secrets, as well as weave something of ourselves and others into the fabric of humanity. By embracing the essence of the individual characters and by crafting the details as to best project and support the major themes of the work, an intimate connection is formed for the character constructed that links this character to the ones before and after.
While my work changes at each assignment, so does my sense of self (as an individual and a professional) and my understanding of people and humanity. In the most privileged sense, my work affords me constant opportunity to study myself and those around me, which brings upon growth. Every new job brings change and along with this new opportunities to explore the spectrum of human character, which jointly develops my mind, my sense of body, and the understanding of my spirit (life philosophy).
In designing costumes there are ideally infinite possibilities for expression and ample options for how to communicate with the audiences. The greatest pleasure I gain from my work is to see the characters come to life, to watch them begin to breathe and occupy space in the places created by other professionals involved in the productions, as well as in the minds of the audience members.
Audiences are really not just audiences in a sense of passive observers of the final product. Rather, I and all the other creative crew members interact with the anticipated audiences intimately throughout the design/creative process. Although these interactions are first solely based on anticipation and expectations or based on the work done before, this emphasis on the potential interactions with the audiences who will later come to interact with the piece is a very real and lively relationship throughout the process.
To sum up my views of the costume design process I hope to emphasize how essential the interconnectivity of people, processes, and various aspects of life are for my work: how my working processes are guided by my commitment and passion to study the enormous capacity of people to love and to live deeply felt lives. My desire to share this fascination is a powerful source of inspiration in my costume designing. I continue to find myself in awe at the diversity and capabilities of the human form and body in providing canvases for expressions of felt experiences.
Neliapila, Juha Lankinen
Coming winter 2015 , story of four boys.
These pictures are from the play The Seagull by Anton Tsehov. I did the costume designing as well as designed jewelry. This neckless was made from real seagull's skull which the Natural History Museum of Helsinki thankfully gave to me.
Translation: Jalo Kalima Director: Jarno Kuosa Composer and conductor: Mari Sainio Set design: Perttu Sinervo Costume design: Kirsi Gum Lighting design: Jonathan Miller Lighting design assistant: Milka Timosaari Sound design: Esa Mattila
”I am Going to Sing to You”
”A study of the familiar turning unfamiliar, the unseen becoming visible, shouting the unspoken.”
I believe that in relationships people begin to resemble each other more and more as time goes by. Quite often we don't even think what kind of clothes we offer as an example for our children. This contemporary dance piece gave me an opportunity to research the potential meanings and manifestations of these simple themes. The set designer, Jenni Viitanen and I experimented with attempts to blend and connect the clothing and set smoothly. The walls and the dancers' shirts where the same fabric. This supported the non-verbal body language and full-spectrum visual effects by Jenni Pystynen. The project was a big success and a good example of quality teamwork, where everybody's own artistic signature is brilliantly and distinctly applied to a harmonious, unified whole.
Minä aion laulaa sinulle
Minä aion laulaa sinulle
Cocoon is an aesthetic exploration in underwater movement. The short film was originally a part of a commissioned work for the Casino Helsinki for their large scale public screen, but is now released as standalone short film. Underwater Casino project page has more info about the installation project.
Director, Producer, Editor, Colorist, Compositor: Petri Ruikka Performers: Anni Alitalo and Heidi Karjalainen Choreography: Anni Alitalo, Heidi Karjalainen & Petri Ruikka Cinematography: Tuukka Ylönen Camera Assistant and Safety Diver: Jarkko Virtanen Best Boy: Tomi Lakonen Costume Design: Kirsi Gum Makeup: Elisa Uimonen Music: Markku Mäkelä Assistant Producer: Sini Parikka Concept developmet: Petri Ruikka & Henrik Axlund Production Company: www.woland.fi
”All the Small Horses” was a performance about sexual violence.
I built the garment from 100 pairs of the cheapest pantyhose, every pair represented victims all sharing the shame and suffering of untold abuse. The garment was meant as a symbolic memorial to cheapskate's violations of human rights, destruction of dignity, and robbery of privacy and the unity, understanding, and empathy helpful in healing. The space where it was performed was an old building with old wooden floors and when Krista Petäjäjärvi was dragging the garment it got pinched by the floors splinters making little marks on the stockings. Every pinch , every mark is permanent and honors the damaging nature of the humiliating, painful memories .
During the second year of my studies we had an exhibition in the theatre museum to present our artistic processes. I believe that the best symbol for my creative work is a puzzle and in this show I had three showcases on display:
The first showcase had thousands of puzzle pieces of all different sizes, shapes, and materials piled on the surface. The piece symbolized my conscious and unconscious ideas. The void of a frame was meant to indicate how my imagination alone frames the different and seemingly endless possibilities.
The second showcase consisted of fewer pieces that were bigger and differed in shape. While this piece consisted of several hundred pieces I only included wooden puzzle pieces and covered each one with specifically chosen colorful stick-on-materials. The piece is intended to communicate how my ideas begin to gain shape, culminating, and relating to the other elements and members of the artistic group.
The third piece consisted of two magnetic puzzle pieces placed on different sides of a piece of glass. This piece involved the audience and, as spectator/participants, people were invited to move the pieces around making the piece on the other side of the glass to move as well.
This exhibition aided me in coming to understand my personal work and thinking processes. Perhaps the most descriptively accurate way for me to describe the design process is still through the concepts of ”frame(work)” and ”puzzle” identified here, which both to me illustrate a process in which even the pieces that first do not seem to fit with each other, in the end, can be connected to create an image. The process is about selective reduction, identifying the essential from the clutter and chaos of all possibilities. Other designers have described their approach is similar in ways. For example, French scenographer-architect Jean-Guy Lecat (Gener 2009) talks about space in a way that the stage must have simplicity and lightness, yet the hardest thing in theatrical life is keeping things light and simple because to create something simple and effective you have to have (good and meaningful) ideas. When I speak about finding the ideas it is like finding the simplicity, finding lightness or reducing the pieces of the puzzle to the few that are truly essential in creating the desired impression.
Pori City Orchestra: Wagner Gala Concert
Costume design for the visualisation of a Wagner Gala-concert for Pori Sinfonietta. The concert was produced by Aalto University Department of Art's Pori unit and the Satakunta University of Applied Sciences and students from both schools participated in the production in various roles.
Director: Petri Ruikka Conductor: Jukka Iisakkila Producer: Marjo Mäenpää Cinematography: Tuukka Ylönen Still camera operator: Tommi Kolunen Costume Design: Kirsi Gum Choreography: Anniina Jääskeläinen Performers: Ramona Panula & Jenny Silfver & Anniina Jääskeläinen 3D-modeling and lighting: Henrik Axlund Editing & Color & Compositing & 2D animations: Petri Ruikka Stage design and Hippotizer programming: Petri Ruikka
Director: Henrik Axlund Creative Director: Jirka Sauros Copywriter: Kati Hartikainen Script / Concept / Visual Design: Henrik Axlund & Petri Ruikka Producers: Petri Ruikka & Martti Tervo Costume Design: Kirsi Gum Make Up: Elisa Uimonen Animation & Compositing: Henrik Axlund