CREATIVE HUSTLE INTERVIEW : COSTUME DESIGNER MINGO



Always go for it, the worst thing you can get is a no, but at least you tried - MINGO







Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Mingo, I dibble and dabble in a lot things that interest me. But my passion that I’ve been building on for years is Costume Design for Film, Television and other entertainment.

Why do you do what you do?

I do costume design because I love telling stories through history and fashion. Costume design is the best of both worlds. It’s art that allows me to constantly learn new things and stretch my creativity.


How do you work (alone or collectively)?

I work both collectively and alone.

You can’t do anything in the entertainment and fashion industry without a team. We are our greatest allies. The vision can initially be one person’s, but you always need a team to help execute it. And then you work alone when you’re playing your position to bring the overall vision together.

What’s your background?

My background is costume design, styling, creative directing, fashion design and merchandising. I

earned my Bachelors of Science from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Fashion Merchandising with a focus in Marketing. I’ve earned my Advanced Associates degree in Fashion Design from Fashion Institute of Merchandising, and now I’m obtaining another Advanced Associates Degree in Costume Design for Film and TV. Between all of my programs I’ve created opportunities and had internships to gain more skills and learn more about each art.

What’s integral/essential to the work of a creative ?

A sound mind, heart and dedication is very essential for a creative. In my Christian faith we believe that we should guard our hearts and mind because everything we do flows from it.

What role does the artist have in society?

The artist's role is to express the raw truth of society. Good, bad or indifferent. Somewhere in between it there’s beauty.

What has been a seminal/impactful experience?

An impactful experience I had was being a missionary in Jamaica. It introduced me into an entire different life. Jamaica is so beautiful and the people are so peaceful. They helped me have a greater appreciation of life. Their values are not embedded in material things. They find happiness in everything, their vibes are unmatched.

Explain what you do in 100 words?

Whew. So I’m going to focus on my experience working on short films as a Costume Designer. I get a script, read through it once for the story and then multiple times to get the logistics. Then I Meet with the directors and producers to get acquainted and overview of the production. Once that’s sealed, I go to the design phase. I do character break down and research the time era/ setting/theme. I do mood boards and costume illustrations. Then I’ll check in with the directors and producers to make sure I’m honoring their vision all while bringing my own voice to it..once the ideas are sealed I’ll begin creating, shopping and renting costumes. I’ll do fittings before hand if time allows. Then once production starts I’ll be there all day during filming with my costume supervisor. We prep the costumes, organize, and dress the actors. We watch the monitor for continuity and make any changes that the directors need us to make. Once we’re in the union the process and duties will be different as a costume designer.

How has your practice change over time?

My practice has changed by the skills I’ve learned along the way through school and personal experience. I’m tapping more into expressing my ideas through digital art, because that’s where the industry is headed. Also my mindset I’ve always had a creative mind but I’ve become more business minded. I’ve also learned to work smarter not harder.

What art/ creative genre do you most identify with?

I mostly identify with historical genre.

I always loved history, it’s my own version of time traveling. It gives me so much pride in who I am and where I come from. And it also helps me learn and understand the beauty and pain of the world.

What work do you mostly enjoy doing?

I mostly enjoy creating my own version of history through art and costumes. Once I gather all the research it is my job to continue telling the story of people that once were here or that are here now. I always honor the past while recreating it for the present and future.

What’s your strongest memory of your childhood?

My strongest childhood memory is learning sign language when I was 4. It showed me how powerful my hands were and that there’s other ways to communicate. It opened my mind.

What’s your scariest experience?

My scariest experience was moving across the country to pursue my dreams. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew I had to do it to get skills and resources that would get me closer to my dreams.


Mingo in class explaining her costume design concept for Masked Singer with Marina Toybina, FIDM Alumni & Costume Designer of Masked Singer on Fox.


What’s your favorite artwork?

My favorite artwork is Tierra Whack Whack World. One of the most creative and innovative projects I’ve witnessed in a long time. She changed the game. She inspired me to reach new creative heights and continue being true to myself. That album/visual has been the soundtrack of my life for the last two years.


Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?

A situation that recently inspired me was sadly Kobe's death. I live in Los Angeles so it was something that I couldn’t escape. But his life inspired me to live life

to the fullest, put my all into my craft and family. It really made me think about how I wanted to be remembered when I pass on.

Life is too short and time is fleeting so we have to make everything count.

What’s your most embarrassing moment?

My most embarrassing moment was my 3rd quarter in my Fashion Design program. I designed this crazy skirt that I didn’t get it fully finished in time. While my classmates liked it my professor told me it looked like a mistake. I took that as disrespect so we literally went back and forth for a good 5 mins in front of the class. I was embarrassed because of how I handled myself at that moment and how I didn’t manage my time right to finish it. Later on that day we made amends and ended up talking for an hour about life. She ended up writing one of my recommendation letters to get into my Costume Design program and still is one of my favorite professors at FIDM.

What jobs have you done other than being a creative?

I did administration at The School District of Philadelphia Board of Education office and was a truancy court representative between Undergrad and my recent program. Also was a sales associate at Crossroads, Ten Thousand Villages and Ann Taylor.

What is an artistic outlook on life?

An artistic outlook on life is realizing how unpredictable it is and not to go against change, but flow with it. It saves us from worry and stress.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

My most memorable response to my work is when my Steampunk Professor Plum costume went on display at the Costume Designer Guild in Burbank, California. Costume Designer Sharon Davis, Michael Kaplan and the entire Blackish TV Costume Crew were in awe of my work. They were fascinated by my uniqueness, color story, fabric choice and how well balanced it was. They kept telling me how they could feel the energy of the costume. And to evoke feelings is one of my greatest goals. And also responses from my family and friends. It meant the world to me.

Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

It can get lonely being away from family and loved ones, but I remind myself that each time it is only temporary. And being with someone who understands your lifestyle can be tricky as well, but I feel like if it’s meant to be we will make healthy adjustments/compromise where it’s needed. I strive to balance my career and personal life in a healthy way. That’s why I come home every chance I get. I always remind myself that my career is just one avenue of my world and that other parts of my life hold weight as well.

What do you dislike about the creative world?

I dislike the grind culture that the creative world has..it’s not healthy at all. Creating is such a personal “all or nothing” process, you can’t possibly perform to your best ability if you don’t get the proper rest and take care of yourself (mind, body and soul).

You’ll be burnt out and then won’t enjoy it as much.

Mingo outside of Johnson House Museum/Underground Railroad station in Germantown. 


What do you dislike about your work?

I don’t like some parts of the process. Sometimes I get very anxious when creating. There are times when my anxiety makes me feel physically sick everytime I go to create. That can make the process even longer.

What do you like about your work?

I like that my work evokes feelings. One of my professors told me that she’s always excited to see me present my work because she never knows what it’s going to be but she knows that it will move her.

Should art/ creative endeavors be funded?

Yes I believe some art/creative endeavors should be funded (but not demanded) and if they can’t be funded it should come from the muscle. When I wasn’t in school all of my projects and equipment came out of my paychecks from my job, because it was something that I decided to do. Now with school I’m blessed to have scholarships, financial aid and parents that invest in my learning experience.

What role does funding have in what you do?

Funding plays a lot in what I’m doing, especially because I took the school route. Going to school for art is very expensive, the cost of living in Los Angeles is expensive as well. But career wise funding for films makes a direct impact on the budget for costumes. (labor, quality, quantity & process)

What research do you do?

I research a lot of art, cultures, movements, religions, occupations, fabrics and almost anything that can inspire a costume. I don’t do it all at once, but I keep morgues of different topics. Research is one of the biggest parts of Costume Design. Films are made about almost anything you can imagine, so as a costume designer you have to constantly educate yourself about numerous random things.

What superpower would you have and why?

My superpower would be teleporting. It would just make life and my career so much easier.

Name something you love, and why.

I love meeting new people that have different professions/lifestyles than mine. It’s so cool to hear them talk about their career, dreams and goals. It’s so refreshing to hear about different paths. Another great way to learn.

Name something you don’t love, and why.

I don’t love strict routines. It makes me feel like a trapped robot, like I’m just existing.

What is your dream project?

One of my dream projects is to costume design a world tour with an iconic artist.

Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.

I would love to be brought up in the same light as Musical Band-Q.U.E.E.N., Costume Designer-Sharen Davis,

and Costume Concept Artist- Phil Boutté.



What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

The best advice that I was given is to always look people in the eye, because if I don't they’ll think I’m hiding something or feel intimidated.

What's something you couldn't do without?

I can’t do without music. I love music man. It helps my mind get in different zones and brings endless energy .

Professionally, what’s your goal?

My goal is to create/be a part of something that is timeless, lives beyond me and impacts the lives of others. To build a legacy and have multiple incomes using skills that I’ve learned through my journey.


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