In college, people often come with the purpose of finding out what they want to do for the rest of their lives. For theatre technology junior Heidi O’Ferrall, she has been pursuing her career of choice for the past year now: becoming a costume designer. 

“This is my first semester at UTA,” O’Ferrall said. “But I’ve been working independently as a costume designer and fabricator for about a year.”

O’Ferrall and her classmates won the top prize for a class project called Project Runway two weeks ago. O’Ferrall’s professor Michelle Harvey said the project included creating a fictional character and costume out of recyclable materials. They were not allowed to buy anything. 

“We made a space-warrior princess armor,” O’Ferrall said. “And I wore it. It was made entirely out of plastic bags, duct tape, cardboard and flattened aluminum cans.”

O’Ferrall and her teammates made their costume for their Introduction to Theatrical Design class with Harvey.

“It was well-constructed,” Harvey said. “You wouldn’t necessarily know it was made out of recyclable materials. They seemed to have a strong concept for the character that worked well with the design choices that they made from it, and it was wearable.”

O’Ferrall, who spends about 60 hours in the process of making her costumes, posts them on her Pinterest and Facebook accounts. She said that since a year ago, she has made nine costumes, and she got started in costume designing through cosplay, also known as costume-playing favorite fictional characters in literature and media.

“There’s a whole community of people who dress up, mostly for conventions or other events like that. That’s just a nerd-community type thing,“ O’Ferrall said.

She made one of her first costumes about a year ago out of two Nintendo Power Pads, sewing them together to make a dress. She started getting serious about costume designing sometime around September, she said.

“I’ve always been an artist,” she said. “I’ve done painting and drawing and all kinds of creative things, but I wasn’t necessarily very productive. So, this has been something I’ve been able to pour myself into and really apply myself.

One of her most frequent collaborators is her friend Amber Jones, who is a visual communications junior.

“I actually have never taken pictures of somebody else before,” Jones said. “I’ve taken pictures for fun, but literally the day that we took pictures on the train tracks for my project was the first time I did portraits. And that was with Heidi.”

Similar to how O’Ferrall’s craft improves with every thread and needle, Jones’ craft improves with every photo shoot she has with O’Ferrall, Jones said.

“Ever since we’ve started to collaborate, she’s gotten more into it,” Jones said. “It excites me because it’s always a challenge. Like, every time I shoot with her, it’s like ‘What are we doing now?’ ” 

O’Ferrall said she plans to continue to grow as an artist and to advance her work as a costume designer.

“It’s something I’m now pursuing with all my free time,” O’Ferrall said.  



David Dunn is an aspiring filmmaker, critic, and analyst currently attending the University of Texas at Arlington, and writes for the newspaper, The Shorthorn.

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