We had the good fortune of connecting with Emily Stovall and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Emily, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
From a young age I have searched for a creative outlet. I was always drawing, writing stories/creating my own worlds, and playing dress up. As I grew up fashion became my main focus, I was going to be a fashion designer because I wanted to make people feel and look as wonderful as possible. When I got to junior high I was cast in my first play and my love for theatre was born. The ability to tell stories that mattered and the once in a lifetime shared experience hooked me immediately. I had a wonderful theatre teacher who encouraged my interested in acting as well as the other elements of theatre. Which is how I was introduced to costume design. Through costume designing I was able to not only make the actor feel great in what they were wearing, but I was also able to communicate/tell a story through the costume. Theatre has combined my passions for drawing, designing clothes, and telling stories that need to be heard. And through high school and into college I realized I needed a job that not only provided an income but also provided fulfillment for my many interests and need to tell stories.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I feel what sets me apart as a costume designer is my ability to design for all body types from a personal level. As someone who grew up plus size and enjoyed fashion it was dismaying to see how little thought is given to people who exist outside of ‘industry standards. Though it is getting better, the theatre/performing arts industry is still stuck in certain ways. And I try to design keeping in mind that the performer has to feel their best/comfortable in the clothes they are wearing in order to convey the story to the best of their abilities. I am most proud of being able to get a job in my field directly after graduate school. I was lucky enough to know the cutter/draper (Cece Sickler) here at Arizona Opera, through my summer work at Utah Festival Opera. In my last year of graduate school I needed an internship so I reached out to CeCe. Who in turn put me in touch with Kathleen Trott (the Costume Shop Manager), and I was able to come be an assistant costume designer on the 2020 production of La Boehme. Which was a fantastic experience and led to me getting my current position at Arizona Opera as the workroom assistant/rental coordinator. As a designer the biggest lesson I have learned along the way has been adaptability. Live performances are always unpredictable no matter how much you plan. And you have to decide what is most important and what can be solved in a different manner. I think that is where a lot of the creativity comes in. Designing is creative but how to actualize and problem solve also need creativity. Along with costume design I am also a fine artist and a budding fashion blogger. My favorite mediums are graphite and watercolor. I was able to work on my artistic skills at grad school where we drew everyday. I find that most people can draw all it takes is practice and a little less self critique. I love doing life drawing with human models but I recently started painting watercolor pet portraits. It makes me so happy to be able to capture the personality of a person’s pet and how happy the person is when they see the painting. Plus painting cute animals is never not fun! I finally, after getting many orders from friends and family, opened an etsy store! (EGSDesignCo) I just started/am in the planning phase of a fashion blog. I wanted to create a space where someone can go to find how to style great outfits at a low price and how to style fashion for the person who is not a model/has an team to style and make them look great all the time. I also want to make a place for people of all sizes to be able to get styling advice because as I said before that is my main goal in life, to help people look as wonderful on the outside as they are on the inside.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am very new to the area and moved here during a pandemic… But, before when I visited I have a couple of places I’d recommend. The Phoenix Art Museum is my number one go to, because of how wonderful it is plus they always have great exhibitions.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My parents who were always encouraging, my theatre teacher Mrs. Brown, My mentors in undergrad, Laura Jefferson and Elizabeth Lewandowski. And my mentors from UMKC in costume design/technology Lindsay Davis & Sarah Oliver.
UMKC Conservatory N/A N/A Don Ipcok Mike Tsai