Costume designer, storyteller, educator, artist - the list of occupations and passions that make up the life of Ayodhya Ouditt is impressive - and growing.
Caribbijou had the privilege of virtually meeting and interviewing Ayodhya recently, as he played a crucial role in our latest design campaign. More specifically, Ayodhya was the chief visionary and costume designer behind Caribbijou’s set of Carnival-inspired costumes, made for the occasion of the photoshoot and aforementioned marketing campaign.
We have included some of the conversation between Ayodhya and one of our marketing directors, Mitchell Ringness, below for you to enjoy:
Mitchell: So first off I’d like to thank you Ayodhya for taking the time to join us today, we’re really looking forward to learning all about the in’s and out’s for putting together the incredible costume work that you do. Could you possibly start by giving us a short summary of the process, and what difficulties you faced for making these costumes? Who helped you, what materials you used, etc?
Ayodhya: Yes of course, so I took it to these guys who are professional mask makers. They did phenomenal work in terms of fabricating the costumes, making all the different parts. We went and we found all the materials ourselves, they measured everyone’s proportions, etc., it was a very long prototyping process.
Mitchell: How long roughly did it take from beginning to end?
Ayodhya: It took a couple months because everybody was doing this outside of their existing day jobs. I had this stuff designed pretty early on. I had the drawings done pretty quickly. That maybe took a couple of weeks, as it was three costumes that Caribbijou wanted. They did everything from wire bending to measuring models to creating different pieces. It's a lot of really intricate work because my designs were very intricate. But it did take a long time. No matter how much time you budget for it. There's so many different roadblocks and things to work out. And like I’ve mentioned, this is something that people are doing outside of their primary work. That was a challenge because they live like, at the other end of the island. and then we also had to measure everything to make sure that money and materials were spent properly. Everyone was constantly informed.
Mitchell: It seems like for a very good reason. Like I said, everything did turn out so great. And I think the costumes are absolutely what set it apart. I've been checking out your Instagram lately, I just have to say you're an incredible artist. The drawings here, going all the way back, are unique. There's so much detail, so much emphasis on the main characters figure, whether it's a human or some kind of deity or other sort of character. I would love to learn more about that background as well, because it seems that you're a multimedia specialist here, working with paints, pencils, and much more.
Ayodhya: Thank you. I have been fortunate enough to work on many different types of projects that require different media. So sometimes it's kind of like somebody wants me to do a mural, other times someone wants me to do concepts for illustrations, or for a nominated series. That's actually something I'm working on right now. Stage them, help them develop their characters. Sometimes it will be animation. I've done some very loose animation in the past. So I've had the opportunity to do lots of different types of books in many different media from that. And even in carnival. I've done the illustrations, the concepts, but for really, really huge costumes. We have these really big costumes called Kings and Queens. If you look up Carnival King and if you just google Carnival King or Carnival Queen, you'll see what it looks like. So I hired a couple of people to do the concept for one of those and I actually won. So that was really cool. Other work I’ve been doing has been looking a lot more like deities or concepts or maybe like a game or a final fantasy or avatar or something like that. That's kind of my passion. And the personal work that you see up there (on my Instagram) is all from one project that I've been building for, like, two decades. So I'm trying to finish that right now, but within the next to say, five years, I want to be able to actually publish it. So that's something epic that I'm doing.
Mitchell: That actually leads into my next question. It sounds like it’s been a journey of you finding your style and working on these passion projects. Is the work with the deities probably one of your favorite topics or themes then that you get excited to work with?
Ayodhya: Yeah so anything to do with mythology, contemporary mythology, and fantasy. That's just something that immediately gets my attention so any client that kind of taps into that, it's going to be a project that I enjoy.
Mitchell: Where then do you get a lot of your inspiration for that work?
Ayodhya: I say it comes from everywhere. But I grew up reading mythology. And then carnival itself is its own mythology because we have carnival. People think of carnival, all the hot women and the bikinis with lots of beads and feathers like Mardi Gras. But there's a lot of mythology that goes into it because we have different characters traditionally that people would perform in carnival, and so the costumes are really based around that. So mythology is all around us. I mean, like when children go to the movies now, they obsess with heroes. But there's also contemporary mythology all around us. I'm just really interested in the way that those kinds of stories and archetypes continue to be relevant to us.
Mitchell: Right! Very amazing. I was just thinking here it seems like you have a lot of opportunities or paths that you could pursue based on your experiences and passion for creation. Where do you see your future? Do you see yourself going down the same path for a while of being kind of multimedia creator? Or do you see yourself maybe making more of a niche or, like, trying to get into something new? Or where do you see your future in the next couple of years?
Ayodhya: I think right now I'm really trying to focus on expanding, but I'm actually also an art teacher. Right now I'm trying to expand that online as well. So teaching, creating art courses so that I can have more of a kind of a global impact here. So I'm trying to set up a channel, and half my course is available online. So that's one thing, but then in terms of this type of work, whatever project is fascinating and also sustainable is something that I would happily do. And my hope is to be able to just have projects like Caribbijou, and at the scale of that. It was a very good project and it was well funded. We had a good budget, we were able to work with the deadline, it was planned long, long in advance. So it was really a great client. As long as I can get projects like that, whether it's in costume design or whether it's something else, that's really what I want to do. Right after Caribbijou actually, I was approached by another group to do some costumes for some dancers for a theater. So that's very exciting.
Mitchell: Freedom is really just what you're searching for then, and being able to try different things, not let a budget hamper the creativity, and-
Ayodhya: You said the magic word - freedom. Absolutely.
Mitchell: Do you have any words of advice for anybody that wants to follow the creative path? I know there are a lot of routes to take, but I think your personal experience here is very interesting and I think a lot of people could look at your work and resonate with it. I think that makes it very special.
Ayodhya: Thank you. I think if you really want to pursue a creative profession and you also want to be successful in that area - I don't even consider myself really successful yet, I'm still building my career - but if you want to be successful, you have to both understand what really makes you special and what you can do better than anyone else. And then you've got to train. But you will also have to pay attention to everything that's happening. What are the industries? Where are people most likely to be interested in your work, or your skill set, and how you use the tools that exist? I do a lot of my work digitally now. There's all of this stuff with AI art that's going on, and that's never going to go away. So we have to adapt, right? You just have to adapt and keep finding ways to utilize the tools around you to maximize your own creativity.
Mitchell: Wonderfully and beautifully said. Yeah that AI stuff is pretty crazy, though, huh?
Ayodhya: I'm excited to try it because I'm going to feed it in ways that it will produce maybe an under-painting or generalist image or something. And you can use it to sample your own work. So I can just feed it my work and just do sketches in my own style and then I redirect how it works. It's not going away anytime soon and it's going to be a part of the whole industry now. All industries, really.
Mitchell: Well I’m glad that you're adapting, and that you're going to be using it to your advantage. I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day to talk a little bit about yourself, and I am so glad we could share the wisdom from a creative mind that’s been on the grind for nearly two decades now. We greatly appreciate all your hard work and dedication to your craft, and we here at Caribbijou look forward to continue watching your journey. Thank you Ayodhya, take care.
The production team consisted of Sam Mollineau and Lari Richardson — who did the wire-bending, sewing of the fabric pieces, structure, assembly, and decoration — as well as Basil Dickson who did the amazing airbrushing work.
The photos themselves were the work of Jordan Lum Hung, fashion photographer and creative director.