Theatre Costume Design Grad Works at Famed Costume House
Student

Theatre Costume Design Grad Works at Famed Costume House

Theatre Costume Design Graduate, Jill Nofziger, is working as a costumer at the iconic costume house, Eastern Costume, in North Hollywood, California. 

Where were you born and raised? Snohomish, Washington, which is a small farming town north of Seattle. Previous to attending FIDM, I studied at Western Washington University in Psychology and Communication. Following graduation, I worked for eight years at a luxury travel agency as a concierge and then marketing manager. However, once I moved to southern California (thanks to my husband getting into graduate school), I decided to follow my dreams of working at The Walt Disney Company as a designer. I'm still working on that dream.

How did you hear about FIDM? What made you want to attend? I initially heard of FIDM from Project Runway. Because I already had a B.A., I really wanted to find a school that has a program focused on industry connections and advanced training. I scheduled my tour with Matt Schug who could not have been more knowledgeable, affirming, and kind. I expressed my deep love of Disney and my goal of working there some day. He assured me the school would prepare me for that path as FIDM has a number of alumni at The Walt Disney Company. 

When did you first become interested in costume design? My interest in costume design has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. When I was much, much younger, I used to design dresses and keep them in a private binder. I loved to buy books about the design of my favorite movie costumes (Titanic, Cinderella) and also books about Disney animation, especially villains. The artistry of the concept sketches and details of the physical costumes inspired me to create and design.

What were some of the key lessons you learned at FIDM? I arrived at FIDM thinking I knew how to sew. How wrong I was. The pattern drafting and draping classes in the first year of Fashion Design were so invaluable as they prepared me for creating custom garments from scratch. I also really loved the creative collection series which focused on creating a brand and image for yourself as a designer as well as how to create a strong collections unique to your design aesthetic.

Once I began the Theatre Costume Design program, I was blown away. The instructors, especially Kara McLeod and Mary Reilly, provided not only a unique presentation of costume history, design for television and film, and historical costume construction, but also the professional skills on how to be a designer and costumer within the industry. I learned so many little tricks on sketching, construction, color, fabrics, etc. that I could not have learned elsewhere. 

What was it like to participate in DEBUT? DEBUT was unreal. The Theatre Costume program used DEBUT as our introduction to a real show from conception to curtain. We did everything ourselves, from design to the final runway. There were many changes along the way, but we learned to adapt to them and find a solution opportunity. It created such a strong camaraderie among all of us, both students and teachers. The feeling when you finally see your design in the final show is overwhelming. All the time, tears, and pain that brought me to that moment suddenly disappeared and I was so proud of myself. 

What are some career highlights since graduating in 2017? I was a Her Universe Fashion Show Finalist at San Diego's Comic-Con in 2018 and am the costume designer on the 2019 production, The Hit, directed by Jason White. I was the assistant costume designer and set dresser for the 2018 film, Angel of Mercy, and a stylist for the StarCraft II World Championship at BlizzCon in 2018. 

Tell us about your current job. I am a costumer at Eastern Costume in North Hollywood. We are a costume warehouse that provide costuming services to film and television productions. In addition to my time there, I am a freelance costume designer. I recently had the opportunity to design the Queen's Court for Carnaval 2018 in Mazatlan, Mexico, which included three gowns with capes, crowns, and scepters. It was an incredible experience. I am also currently designing for a short film that will shoot later in March.  

What advice would you give to someone who wants a career in costume design? Take every opportunity even if it's new, scary, or different. You never know what you will do or who you will meet. It may lead to a career opportunity, or a new great colleague. The road to success is not linear. Enjoy the ride, and hang on tight.