• Is costume design your full-time profession?
In short: no. I create costumes as a hobby and for contests, shows, fundraisers, and individual commissions or contracted projects.
• Why the name AvantGeek?
I came up with the name originally as part of graphic design project in school, creating one-off magazines. Mine was for eccentric pop culture fashion, I thought the play on Avant-Garde was perfect. It wasn’t until later I decided to post my own costume work online using the name.
• How can I purchase a dress?
Commissions are limited to contracted works and collaborations at the artist's discretion. However, a selection of ready-made works may be sold at future dates. To be notified, consider subscribing on Instagram, Facebook, or Patreon for earliest access.
• When did you start making costumes?
I was 11 years old and wanted to be Link (The Legend of Zelda) for Halloween. I took two green pillowcases from the closet (sorry, mom) to be my tunic. I started sewing costumes consistently and with a machine while in college.
• How much time does it take to make one of these dresses?
Depending on the materials and size of the garment, it takes anywhere from 10 – 50 hours over the course of several weeks.
• Where does the inspiration for using recycled materials come from?
New fabric right off the bolt wasn’t something I could often afford when starting out. Instead I tested what I already had or could find at thrift shops: tablecloths, curtains, plastic bags. Eventually I was sculpting dresses from papier-mâché or cutting up aluminum cans for armor. It's a lot of fun!
• Where did your inspiration for food-themed dresses come from?
While in school I spent my summers singing at children’s birthday parties as various princesses. Beauty (ahem, Belle) was a popular character and one day I went by Taco Bell afterwards, still in costume. My friend took a photo, it went viral, and I decided the pun needed its own dress. Two years later the Taco Belle dress was made and went viral as well. It was a ridiculous design and I loved it, so I’ve kept finding odd things to style dresses after/out of.
• Any advice for others looking to get into costume design or cosplay?
Invest in a sewing machine. Lots of basic machines go on sale online all the time for under $80, like the SINGER Tradition (one of my first machines I used for years).
Look up tutorials for making a dressform using duct-tape and/or foam if you can’t buy a mannequin. Coming from experience: be sure to have someone around who can cut you out of the tape if you choose to make your own.
There are thousands of patterns out there, so if you've got an unusual design in mind, just keep searching and consider "franken-patterns" (mixing parts of multiple patterns) to get what you need.
• What was your major in college?
Started in theatre, then graphic design, then art education. I graduated with a BSEd and BFA with a focus in oil painting.
• Who is that fabulous black cat in your photos?
That is Edgar, aka: Eddie, Edard, The Gar, GarBear, GarGar, Bearbear, Little bear, and many other names he still has not approved of.
• Will you make __________ or a video about making ______?
Maybe! While I prefer creating original, unique pieces, I am always open to suggestions.