Wendy Biscuit, a textile artist based in Vancouver, has shared several times on social media various ‘How to’ instructions for creating fabulous TV/Movie set-ready costumes for the every day cosplayer.
Previously, Talk Nerdy With Us published her ‘How to’ on making a Grounder costume from the show, The 100. Soon, another will join that one – a ‘How to’ on making a zombie costume like one from iZombie.
First, however, Wendy was gracious enough to answer a few questions about costuming and some of her experiences working with shows like The 100, iZombie, Supernatural, and X-Files. Keep reading to find out what she had to say!
How long have you been doing costume design and how did you get into it?
“I’m not a costume designer, I’m what’s known as a textile artist. We work very closely with the designer to create and establish the colour palette, level of ageing, and determine which SPFX techniques are necessary. Often it is a collaborative effort to design the over- all look of the costumes used on any production. I have been a professional Textile Artist for over 10 years. I came to it by accident.”
Which shows have you done costumes for? What’s been the most memorable thing you’ve put together?
“Shows that I’ve worked on, either as the head of department, consultant, contracted artist, or assistant- starting from the most recent- iZombie, X-Files, The 100, Planet of The Apes, Falling Skies, Supernatural, LWord, War, American Pie, etc..etc…etc…. Many of the Feature Films have not been released yet, so I am under obligation not to reveal the titles, but they’ve been a lot of fun to work on. Typically I enjoy Warner Bros. Productions. They often have comic book inspired parameters which I am very comfortable working within. I know what the Producers want to see, and often, the Producers know what to expect from my work. The most memorable creation I’ve made is about to be revealed in the new season of X-Files. For Supernatural, I created my first rotting corpse bride, as well as the sewer- dwelling prisoners of a vampire. Both Supernatural projects are very memorable due to the fact that they are early in my career as a Textile Artist.”
When you’re asked to work on costumes for a show, what kind of information are you given? How much input are you typically allowed for creative freedom?
“I’m given as much information as I need or want when beginning a project. As a Department Head I need important information such as stunts, special effects, plot, timeline, shooting schedule, budget, payroll, supplies etc. I will read and breakdown the script and be involved in many meetings, both creative and technical, and make many of the decisions regarding creative output. Other times, as a contract artist or assistant I just need to know, who is the character? what do they do? how long have they been doing it? How many multiples (exact copies) will I need to produce? The level of my input and creative freedom varies from show to show. Lately, when productions call me they know that I work very well with creative freedom and are hiring me specifically for that reason.”
Is there something you use as a signature that you put on every costume you create?
“I do not have a signature. Every production is unique. That’s why I love what I do. No two days are the same.”
What’s been the most challenging thing you’ve had to put together? Do you ever have to start over from scratch?
“The most challenging project I’ve put together was running the shop for The 100. Working on that show was like a creative marathon every day. I have a very Zen approach to the artwork. I allow it to reveal itself while I stay in the moment. The challenges are mostly due to timelines, camera deadlines, workspace environment and sheer volume. There are never enough hours in the day to properly complete projects. Starting from scratch is never desirable, but it happens from time to time. It usually involves an error with the Dyepot producing the wrong color due to mislabeled fabric content.”
How often do you have to turn projects down?
“I turn projects down often. I’m really busy and I have very specific goals for my Textile Arts career. Just this year I opened my own shop and prefer to work on a contract base only, as opposed to working in the production studio costume shops. It’s been a wonderful experience and allows me freedom to explore other creative projects in my life.”
You teach as well. What’s a typical week like for you?
“I teach. Yes. I’m very selective about who I accept as a student however, and limit my sessions to 2-3 classes per week. My classes are mostly one to one intensive master courses. I keep the schedule very open flexible because life happens! There is no such thing as a typical week in my life.”
What advice would you give to others who may be interested in getting into this field?
“My advice for others who get into this field would be to take risks, respect the senior textile artists and learn from them, stay focused on your goals, and work hard without any ego. Art is subjective, and as a professional creator- some of your work will be rejected. Prepare to toughen up!”
Is there anything you’d like to get to do that you haven’t had the chance to do yet?
“Life is full of endless opportunities. When I decide I want to do something, I work hard and stay focused on accomplishing my goals. I don’t wait for chances to come my way. I seek them out.”