ECA Web Intern, Alice Chandler (4th year Sculpture – BA (Hons)), attended SHOW 2015 at the end of April to hear from some Performance Costume graduates who were speaking about their experiences after graduating from Edinburgh College of Art.
It has been no secret that Edinburgh College of Art’s Sculpture Court provided a fittingly dramatic setting for the 2015 fashion and performance costume show this year, with all of the shows selling out across the weekend. The standard of the work on offer was exceptional; the students put in long hours to bring their creations to life, and their hard work certainly paid off. Due to the high quality and strong work ethic developed at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), it’s unsurprising that many of the graduates go on to become hugely successful in their careers. After the shows this year, there were a number of talks from Performance Costume graduates, telling us all about their life after ECA and what they are up to now.
On Friday 24th April 2015, the Programme Director for Performance Costume, Megan Baker, introduced graduate Elle Wilson, who is the assistant designer for Outlander. After giving a “huge congratulations for the level of confidence in design” to the current students, Elle described how she arrived at her current position on the television drama series. She began to build up her portfolio before she graduated by gaining experience working on Masters students’ films during her time at ECA. After graduation she met Anna Robbins, another ECA graduate, who became her mentor for 2 years. Elle explained, “I learnt so much at ECA about the design process, and ECA taught me the details.”
Performance Costume is a multifaceted programme that combines creativity and skill in making, with in-depth research into history, literature and other contexts to the costumes. It really allows you to push your creative boundaries into research, and the career opportunities are vast, from designers to makers, cutters to embroiderers. Although it can include long, hard days, Elle summed it up by telling us “you have to have a positive attitude. We will get this done and it will look good! And make sure you are laughing at least once a day.”
Elle’s mentor Anna Robbins, who is currently the costume designer for Downton Abbey, also gave a presentation. All of the speakers spoke fondly of the serious work ethic they developed during their time at ECA. Anna explained that students should, “take the creativity and passion you develop and nurture at university and maintain the work ethic and stamina that you build there. Enjoy the experience. Never again will you have the chance to indulge in your creativity so exclusively.”
After Anna’s presentation, 2010 graduates Katy Taylor and Emma O’Loughlin gave a joint speech about their journey into the Game of Thrones phenomenon. They described ECA as an “incredible experience”, explaining that “ECA made us stand out, no one spoon-feeds you at ECA, you do get support but you have to learn for yourself.” The small numbers of students in the Performance Costume programme make it like a family, leaving you with connections and a network for life after college. 5 years after graduating, Katy and Emma are still gaining experience, working their way around the different sections of the Game of Thrones costume department, which has over 90 team members! In all, they said that at ECA, “you learn a good attitude, to be flexible, to make friends, have fun, be silly and make dreams become a reality.”