Illustrated self-portrait of Dina El-Aziz

Dina El-Aziz

Costume Designer & Character Designer

Dina El-Aziz is a British-Egyptian Costume and Character Designer, currently residing in New York. A graduate of the Design for Stage and Film MFA programme at NYU Tisch School for the Arts, Dina has worked on productions for both the Tisch acting department and Tisch’s own Second Avenue Dance Company. Most recently she designed three productions for The Actors Theater of Louisville’s 43rd Annual Humana Festival.

Previous productions include: I Thought I Would Die But I Didn’t, How To Defend Yourself, The Corpse Washer, We’ve Come To Believe, The Russian and The Jew, and Dead Are My People. Her film productions include short films Roommates, Jihadi Street, Shift, Prisoners of War, Lucy Baron, and The Loneliest.

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    Come Dine With Me

    I go through phases where I am obsessed with the show Come Dine With Me. I think it’s a treasure trove of interesting (and very real characters). There was one episode that had individuals who were so completely different from each other and I was so inspired to sketch them as cartoons. I started with this fella who had such an interesting silhouette.

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    French Alteration

    There’s a joke that we have as costume designers – whenever an actor is consistently giving us a hard time about a costume, insisting we fix/alter it when there is seemingly nothing wrong with it, we pretend to have done it and tell them we fixed it with a “French Alteration” so we won’t have to go into detail. I made this after I graduated from NYU, about a year into working. There are so many funny stories and shenanigans you deal with as a costume designer that I thought I would make a comic about it and call it “French Alteration” but I never followed through. If I pick it back up again I would probably rename it so I don’t give the secret away!

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    Jihan Shaarawi 2012

    When I participated in URTA interviews in NYC for grad programmes in costume design I had an interview with Lindsey Davis from Kansas University or somewhere of the sort. He rocked up with his bald head, little turtle shell glasses, and an entourage of two assistants and asked me if I knew who he was, and I said I did not. (I guess he was supposedly a well known designer). He seemed interested in me applying to his programme but had a self-esteem crushing way of showing it. He looked at my portfolio and told me I was afraid of darks, needed to study figure drawing, and if I were one of the three people accepted into his programme I would be at the bottom, and proceeded to tell me I would never progress unless I worked with him. I went back home to Cairo feeling very discouraged, but was accepted into NYU not long after. I then decided to create a black and white series of sketches to explore “darks” and continue to work on my drawing skills as sort of a fuck-you to him. At first it started with images of women from advertisements, but then I asked friends to send me their pictures and I would draw them for free – this was my favourite because Jihan sent me such a dynamic pose. Three years later when I graduated from NYU I saw the very same Lindsey Davis looking at my portfolio once again during “Design Meeting” (which was a graduation portfolio event for our school). He was there once again with his entourage and his turtle shell glasses, but he had grown out his hair and facial hair so I did not immediately recognise him. He had been reasonably flamboyant three years earlier, but now he was very reserved. I walked up to him and asked if he had remembered interviewing with me at URTAs and he vaguely recalled meeting me. I had not been super confident at the time but I managed to say, “well, as you can see it worked out well for me.” He meekly smiled and walked away. I guess I’ve been doing alright without him.