DePaul University Theatre School > Alumni > Chrissy Callan

Chrissy Callan, Alumna

Chrissy Callan

BFA Costume Design '10


Tell us about your current projects and career.

I just wrapped up eight months on Transformers: Age of Extinction as the Assistant Costume Designer, including travel to Austin, Detroit, Chicago, and Hong Kong.

I also helped develop the superhero costumes for Spiderman and Electro in The Amazing Spiderman II, which will be released in May.

How did The Theatre School prepare you for your career?

The Costume Design program strongly emphasizes the importance of communication between the designer and “the shop."

My training in garment construction and crafts was an invaluable complement to the design courses, and has been a great advantage to me as a film costumer.

We work at an extremely fast pace. Understanding the physical constraints and possibilities of each costume helps me to better communicate with the cutters, ager/dyers, and the rest of my team efficiently.

Because I am familiar with the tools and materials, I can anticipate many needs before they arise, and solve the bigger problems with more confidence.

What was one thing you learned at The Theatre School that has stayed with you and that has been helpful in your current line of work?

In our first year of pattern-making, I remember Janet Messmer saying, “You’re never going to be doing something you’ve done before.”

We were taught, instead, to focus on the way we work; to bring an improved skill set to each new project, yet maintain an openness to the novelty of each situation.

As a creative professional, this is a perspective that continues to motivate me. Even when I am the youngest person in the department, there is still the sense that we are all on the same field. Everyone is a novice in a way, and no one knows what curveball is coming next. You have to surround yourself with people who understand this, and you have to be able to laugh...a lot.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time studying at DePaul?

When I was designing Haroun and the Sea of Stories, an Indian folktale mash-up by Salman Rushdie, I spent a lot of time on Devon Avenue immersing myself in the culture and shopping for the costumes.

I remember feeling so lucky to be studying in Chicago with access to those resources. I had never had to haggle with a shopkeeper before; but that’s how you get the good stuff! Thankfully there was a great little dosa shop where I would fortify my courage and check my budget sheet before returning to negotiate.

What advice would you give to students at The Theatre School?

After you graduate, no one is going to tell you what to work on or whom to work with. You are your own agent, your own advisor, your own advocate.

Use your time at DePaul to form your own opinions about what you like, what you don’t, what makes you feel strong, and what you should avoid to stay healthy. If there’s something you need in order to do your job better, do your own research and then ask for it. ​​