Origin Story of The Costumer’s Manifesto Website:

  • 1989?: The Costumer’s Manifesto started as a crazy idea that I had, when while visiting relatives, I first saw a computerized kiosk in San Francisco that had a searchable database of information and pictures for tourists to the City.  I saw it and was convinced that the format (hyperlinking), would be the ultimate way to store and search for costume information.  At the time however, this state of the art database could only hold 300 low resolution images, and I knew nothing about computers, so:
  • 1990-1995: I did as every other academic/costumer did and wrote articles and planned a print book in my future.  I even wrote several chapters while on leave from The University of Alaska Fairbanks (living as a Hippy Artist-Costumer in Russia during 1994-95, hence the “Manifesto” title).
  • July 4th 1996: at the Marin County Fair (while again visiting relatives) I saw there was another computer display, with a new gadget: The Internet.  I knew that this nutty idea of putting everything in my brain and costume library into a hyperlinked whole was now possible.
  • 1996-1997: Upon returning home to my place in Fairbanks, Alaska the following August, I promptly bought a computer and started writing the original version of The Costumer’s Manifesto website using Microsoft FrontPage. At first I recycled both published and unpublished articles I had written from my work before.  In the first year, I wrote (or mainly filled with pictures) a page a day (quantity, not quality) to build up the (then) largest costume focused site on the WWW.
  • 1997-2000: I added better quality pages, but at a slower pace, creating as much costume educational content as possible.  It got so big and expensive to host I added various bits of ad stream revenue to support it.  I documented all the shows I designed for UAF online through the site, and posted thousands of class photos made with my nifty new digital camera that directly made low resolution photos onto floppy disk!
  • 2001: I added the first College level (and credit) costume class The History of Fashion and Dress taught through UAF, but open to all.
  • 2002: I tried (but failed) to figure out how to put a decent Costume Design & Construction class online, thus creating a large number of online costume tutorials with which to teach my face-to face classes.
  • 2005: I had to substantially reduce my site building pace to a crawl when diagnosed with cancer in 2005.  FrontPage by this time was no longer supported or updated by Microsoft or anyone else, and my efforts to continue the site started to hit a wall.
  • 2006: I was offered the chance by a publisher to instead write a conventional print book, and spent most of 1996 working on converting the website back into a thing for print form, as well as making new content for the print book.  This deal fell through when the publisher realized how much color printing would be involved in the project.
  • 2007: Recovered from the cancer, I quit UAF to look after my dying Mom, and my Dad. I moved back to my birthplace, the SF Bay Area, and tried to find a part time job to pay my bills while doing so.
  • 2008: Got a job at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, CA, first costume designing, then also teaching costume & makeup, while making a beta version of the “Book” project with which to teach my students.
  • 2009-2016: In the intervening years, I hired several sets of people to turn the web site into a Wiki so I might set it free as open source, but alas all they could do was drain my wallet and mess up the Wikisource formatting, which was simply too hard for them to work with. They never could make it so anyone but them, or me, could edit or add to it, and a ton of my money was spent trying to convert it, while ad revenue dwindled and eventually stopped completely.  I occasionally added to the incredibly cumbersome Wiki site, even putting in a big section in December-January 2017, but the futility of the site I’ve got in that format made me give up on the wiki altogether.
  • 2017: Tried teaching myself WordPress, to make my TaraMaginnis.com portfolio site.  This worked well, and now I feel confident enough with it that I plan to reconvert the now abandoned Wiki into a WordPress site at this place.  I also will be putting up a bunch of new stuff that has been waiting in the pipe for a genuinely working site to post to.

— Tara Maginnis “TheCostumer”