ART OF GRAPHIX: Design creativity at the soul of Junkanoo

JUNKANOO ain't no jokey ting! For I love all the distinctive commonality it possesses. The spirit and soul of Junkanoo encompasses every imaginable aspect of craftsmanship.

While Junkanoo'a origins remain the subject of long and passionate debates, what can be agreed is that after centuries of practice, today's cultural extravaganzas are among the world's most entertaining street celebrations.

Without taking anything away from the overall fun and cultural moments, the time, planning and discipline provide the foundation for Junkanoo's great vision and talent.

Costume designs are not randomly chosen from a specialised signature or theme rack. Nor does the field only involve a bed of colorful paper. Junkanoo costumes are made from cardboard, crepe paper, aluminum rods, tie wire, contact cement and lots of glue. Notably, in Junkanoo's early days, slaves in the Bahamas made their costumes from any material they could find, such as shrubs, leaves, stones, bottles and paper.

From the sidelines the job may seem easy. However, a costume designer must ensure the outcome complements the overall theme, which may require added research. This means that, as a Junkanoo designer, you will work to ensure costume choices enhance the overall sensitivity of the scenes involved to maintain uniformity and consistency.

As with most jobs involving entertainment or the arts, there are some key abilities all costume designers must have in order to keep the creative juices flowing.

Drawing/Design: As a costume designer, sketching designs prior to creating the costumes is paramount. This process will often go through several revisions prior to completing the initial sketches.

Research: Research includes reviewing themes and required materials pertinent to the finished production.

Likewise, the costume designer has to consider performers' movements and their agility. This is an important process to avoid costumes becoming too tight-fitting. Flexibility is key.

Apart from these principles, staying on budget and on schedule also plays a vital part in a costume designer's role.

Outside of the parade, group presentations and cash prizes for best music, costume and other awards, Junkanoo can be stressful as all participants work under pressure to meet deadlines.

I am warned that there is a level of noble self-sacrifice, communication and patience required to stay in this game.

Despite all odds, this unifying platform provides Bahamians with an outlet that fosters a spirit of creativity and talent. Granted, it comes with a heavy cost, but there is a palpable sense of pride and exceptional "thought processing" that is ingrained into ech individual's costume.

If your hunger for design exposes a vision of emotion and discipline, then working with others to enhance Junkanoo might be the most exciting pitch you will ever find in business. Junkanoo ain't no jokey ting!

Remarkably, the essence of the costumes represents a larger significance that goes beyond bright colours and music. It is no secret that deep in the heart and soul of Junkanoo, maintaining 'power, strength and competitiveness' remains the mission of all groups. Until we meet again, fill your life with memories as opposed to regrets. Enjoy life and stay on top of your game. Happy New Year.

NB: The columnist welcomes feedback at deedee21bastian@gmail.com

ABOUT THE COLUMNIST: Deidre Marie Bastian is a professionally-trained graphic designer/marketing co-ordinator with qualifications of M.Sc., B.Sc., A.Sc. She has trained at institutions such as: Miami Lakes Technical Centre, Success Training College, College of the Bahamas, Nova South Eastern University, Learning Tree International, Langevine International and Synergy Bahamas.


John 4 years, 5 months ago

This article again begs the question: If Junkanoo is all, (ALL) that is is said to be, research, development, planning, design, creativity, constuction, performance and whatever, man hours that are unmentionable and cannot be compensated for, why is it still being showed so much despise and disrespect..Why is it being forced into a box?. More like casting pearls before swines...? "In the King James Version of the Bible the text reads: Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast. ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them. under their feet, and turn again and rend you. Matthew 7:6 -"> Not those that attend and appreciate Junkanoo, mind you, or even watch it on tv or somehow otherwise contribute to its existence and its continuation but those who are trying to force-fit it or even do away with it.


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