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Paper Patterns, Cloth Shapes and Wearable Garments.

Updated: Nov 6, 2020

Feral Interview with Amy Copland

Sewing scrubs for the NHS - For The Love of Scrubs Dundee team

What area/field are you in?

I am a freelance costumer maker, mainly working as a wardrobe supervisor within theatre.

Describe in as many ways as you like what you do. Tell me all your job titles. 

I have loved sewing for many years, 10 in fact. I love the process of paper patterns being cut into fabric and seeing the cloth shape into a wearable garment; the process of seeing a designer's vision go from paper to a performer wearing it on stage. When working in theatre I sometimes don’t sew at all but the process of working with fellow creatives who are all aiming to create a production like you, is something I love to do as well. Knowing an audience is saying 'wow' to seeing the final production is something money can’t buy, that feeling of accomplishment, that you have succeeded is truly amazing. I have had many job titles in my career, wardrobe supervisor, wardrobe assistant, costume maker, dresser and I have had many maintenance jobs too. 

We don’t have the luxury of a monthly wage, we are constantly having to prove ourselves and build our brand to gain future work. We do this because we love bringing art into the world for all to enjoy.

What is the biggest eye roll you’ve given a question or comment about being a freelancer? Or what would you like waged people to understand about working as a freelancer?

In all honesty I give eye rolls to the comments “I will buy you a coffee if you can sew this for me” believe it or not but that is a common thing to happen to me. People don’t see what I do as a real job and think buying a coffee will be enough of a payment to do their alterations, like how is coffee going to pay my rent? It is important for people who are on a full time wage to understand that most of the time being freelance is hard work and not fun and games. We don’t have the luxury of a monthly wage, we are constantly having to prove ourselves and build our brand to gain future work. We do this because we love bringing art into the world for all to enjoy.

What’s your favourite part of being a freelancer?

I love the freedom it gives me. To work a few small jobs at a time keeps life interesting, gives me the flexibility to plan my life how I want it. I get to work with so many new and different creatives while also working with people I have known for years. No two days are the same. I get to travel with work, I've been all over Scotland working in theatres and my recent adventure was working on a cruise ship before covid.

Norwegian Cruise Line Riviera dressing room with Amy's dressing team

What is the hardest part?

It is extremely hard when work isn’t always available to you, constantly looking for work can take its toll but when it comes its worth it, when you get that call because someone has recommended you for your work makes all the worries melt away. I admit not having a set wage coming in each month is a stress when you have bills to pay. 

How long have you been feral?

Officially 2 years since I graduated but I have done freelance work for about 8 years on and off. When I started out sewing I was at college, working in hobbycraft but doing the odd photoshoot here and there to build contacts and a portfolio. 

What have your highlights been? (Take a moment to have a brag about your accomplishments)

Ah, so many highlights over the years but I have to say one of my proudest moments was as a student, for my work placement I worked in an off broadway theatre in New York for 2 weeks. I had never even been to America before this, I flew alone, lived there like the locals and went to work. I worked my butt off when I was there and really built good connections, I learned so much about American theatre and their processes, it built my confidence as I received such wonderful references from the fellow wardrobe crew I worked with, I am still friendly with them and hope one day to head back to work with them again.

Why did you decide to become self employed?

It wasn’t a decision as such it kinda just happened. During my years as a student it was always spoken about; being freelance and working with different theatres, so it never crossed my mind that I would be able to have a full-time position. 

How do you protect your work time from distractions? 

It can get a bit messy, to not get distracted 'specially if I am working with friends or working from home. I try to just focus on what I am doing and put my all into my work. It really depends what I am working on and where it is. If I work from home I find myself using Netflix a little and then powering through work at night. 

I will forever stand up for everyone out there who is an artist and isn’t afraid to be who they are.

Where do you work? home?studio?/favourite cafe/all of the above?

I don’t have a set place where I work it just depends on the job and whether it is theatre or alterations. I am hoping to go back to the cruise ships, so does the ocean count as a work place? 

Do you think you’ll ever retire?

I could never retire! I wouldn’t want to. When I say I love what I do I truly mean it. I will be sewing and working in theatre until I can't no more. I might need to give up dressing when I reach a certain age as that can be a lot of physical work but I could never retire from sewing.

If money wasn’t factored into your work choices, what would be your most glorious dream for your future as a freelancer? Be as outrageous as you dare.

If I could I would love to have the opportunity to own my own costume warehouse filled with movie style costumes available to rent to film makers who’s budgets maybe aren’t the biggest. The reason for this is I have worked on so many short films that film makers are desperate to create there vision but money has maybe not always been there. It has never let them stop what they love to do and if I was able to help with the costume side of things that would be the best job to have.

Anything else you’d like to highlight about the life of a freelancer?

It takes a special type of person to take the risk and become a freelancer. We do this because we love what we do!. I will forever stand up for everyone out there who is an artist and isn’t afraid to be who they are.

Snow Queen - Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Thanks Amy for taking the time to answer my questions! You can follow her on Instagram and Facebook

Are you too feral to ever think about line managers, annual leave, sick days or retirement? Would you want to be interviewed for my blog post? If the answer is yes, comment or contact me through my website. I would particularly encourage LGBT+, disabled, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic freelancers to get in touch, as these groups are currently not present in my contents (I know lots and lots of freelance white women).

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