CHOOSING a career designing costumes isn’t going to rake in the bucks – not in the local theatre industry, anyway – but with the right attitude and passion, a sustainable vocation is certainly a possibility.

Need proof? Ask Tan Jeaw Nyee then. Not only has she worked on a variety of productions, but she can also now namecheck a Hollywood blockbuster in her CV, Scorpion King 3!

“I don’t think the relatively small community here should discourage anyone from pursuing a career like this, because one can always take those skills to the movie world, TV, commercials and even fashion,” said the Kuala Lumpur native, who earned a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Design from the California Institute of Arts.

As part of the upcoming Costume Designing Workshop by TAS Academy, the US-based designer will be returning to her motherland to share her wisdom on the subject.

The workshop will run from Oct 11–Nov 29 at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre and will consist of seven classes. The course is priced at RM550, with a registration fee of RM50.

“Just like what lighting or a soundtrack can do, what the actors in a production wear can set the mood for a scene, and audiences can learn a lot about a character by what they wear,” said Tan.

At the workshop, she will be giving costume design enthusiasts a first hand glimpse into theatre costuming and its processes, where they will also be able to pick up on the tricks of the trade.

“For any production, whether it’s a play or a movie, it’s a collaborative process. You’re looking at someone else’s words on the screenplay and the director may have his or her own vision. So, there’s a lot of back and forth, a lot interpretation,” explained Tan.

“Then you have to truly understand the characters to fit them with clothes that express their personalities. And after that, you have to source the materials and design, make and fit the clothes to the actors. It can be a long process.”

A sample of Tan's work, displaying how a final costume (above) turns out in reference to its concept art.

A sample of Tan’s work, displaying how a final costume (above) turns out in reference to its concept art.

As arduous as it might sound, Tan said it’s a highly rewarding job. Hence, she hopes to help young students figure out if costume design is really something for them by showing them some of the basics.

To register for the Costume Designing Workshop, call 03-4047 3060 or download the form online at Hurry though, as the programme is only open to 12 participants.


Former magazine and advertising writer who took up the job at R.AGE hoping to make a difference through his writing. Went undercover to research college marijuana dealers recently – that was pretty cool. Oh, and he’s the drummer for the band Once Upon A Time There Was A….. Never mind.

Tell us what you think!

Go top