Maura Sullivan is a costume designer based in Madrid, Spain. She has been with the Face 2 Face team for six seasons where she has designed A Christmas Carol, Drockula, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Jekyll & Hyde, Dis-Orient Express, Line and A New York Fairy Tale. It´s a pleasure to have her in our team. We invite you to get to know a bit better her beautiful world of patterns and fabrics through this interview.
Tell us about yourself, where were you born and educated and when did you decide to become a designer?
I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. In university I studied fine arts, textile arts and fashion design. I then moved to New York and got my master’s degree in museum studies: fashion and textiles. I don’t think I ever decided to be a designer. I decided I wouldn’t be anything else.
Do you remember the first item you designed?
In textile art class I created a coat woven out of cut up black plastic garbage bags. It got a lot of attention and it was suggested I go into fashion design. I took the advice.
What attracted you to designing for theatre?
My love of historic costume.
How did you start working in Face 2 Face´s costume design department?
Persistance. They didn’t know how much they needed me. Ha ha.
Can you talk us through the creative process you follow to create your designs?
Research and more research, and tons of images. I like to make moodboards for each character, I love Pinterest. Shopping for fabrics and trims also gives me many ideas. After I get my research and materials together I begin to sketch the characters.
What essential skills does a costume designer need to have?
It’s only half about the design. In addition to basic drawing, pattern making and sewing skills, you have to be a people person as you often work with many difficult personalities. Also, unless you have an assistant you need to be as organized as you are creative.
What´s the most important characteristic that a costume made for a theatre play need to have?
There is always an ongoing battle between the actor and the designer. A costume needs to be comfortable, to a point. Imagine how you would move diferently in a corset, or tight shouldered coat. You would have to stand and move like someone from that time period. The correct posture and walk can add a lot to the actor’s performance.
What would you say is the best thing about your work and which is the hardest?
My favorite part of the job is the research and fabric shopping. The hardest part is making everyone happy.
What do you enjoy most: the costume design part or the production process (creating or making the ideas come true)?
I love the design phase; but having control over the production process gives me the opportunity to play around and often discover new ways of doing things.
Do you have a costume or collection that you feel especially proud of?
I’m especially fond of the costumes I designed for Face 2 Face’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
What is the workplace of a Costume Designer like?
Mine is full of reference books, art supplies, post cards, toys, vintage sewing tools, rulers, scissors, and piles and piles of fabrics and trims.. and most importantly a large table with absolutely nothing on it.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to do what you do?
Dream big and never give up.
Thank you Maura!