Whether it’s on the stage or on-screen, Spencer Keane’s costume-designing abilities can be described as out of this world.
The Irvine Valley College grad is plying his costuming creativity on the new space-centered Apple TV show, ‘For All Mankind,’ as a self-proclaimed “Spacesuit Technician.”
“That’s the cool job title,” admits Keane. “We’re technically labeled as specialty costumers."
Before getting his bite of the Apple, the Laser-focused grad perfected his costuming abilities in IVC’s Design, Model Making, and Prototyping program, where he studied specialty skills like 3D printing, 3D design, laser cutting, and more. For Keane, leveling up to a prestige-TV costuming career felt like the most natural thing in the world.
“My job for that TV show was like a weird culmination of all the things that I have learned over my job, Irvine Valley College, going to college, and then just hobbies,” Keane reflects on the origins of the Apple TV gig.
Keane’s role on the show, created by Battlestar Galactica’s Roland D. Moore, includes managing and maintaining the spacesuits used on the intergalactic set. Whether he’s fitting actors, modifying helmets and fabric, taking measurements, painting models, or 3D-designing new parts, Keane credits his wealth of experience at IVC for his immediate industry success.
“Part of what got me hired or set me apart from people was my weird combination of being familiar with TV and film stuff already,” notes Keane.
Before joining the DMP program, Keane earned his BA in Screenwriting and was working for a high school performing arts program when he started dipping his toes into 3D printing techniques. When the theater he worked in began integrating 3D printing and laser cutters, Keane’s interest was piqued. Fortunately for the curious costumer, the program’s instructor was happy to share her expertise.
“We made masks for when we did The Lion King, and we made a bunch of puppet heads and random stuff with that technology that only [the teacher] knew how to use,” explains Keane. “It was a lot for her to be doing for us.
“So, I was like, ‘Okay, let me learn how this stuff works, so I can just do it on my own." With his goal in mind, Keane buckled down. He began researching and employing 3D printing techniques on his own, using his growing knowledge to help streamline the costuming process at the theater. The game would change once again when the performing arts supervisor informed him about the DMP program at Irvine Valley College.
Now connected to IVC’s broad network of resources and support, Keane began mastering high-tech skills to support his burgeoning career. “I was basically using IVC as a way to learn new skills that I would be applying to that work,” he says.
As a student at IVC, Keane worked with high-tech printing equipment, received hands-on training, and made a point of exhausting every resource available in laying a foundation for a costuming career. Today, he goes to work with the confidence and skills to make mechanical and aesthetic costume corrections on the fly – and much like the fictitious cosmonauts on his TV show, he’s seeing his career take off.
While IVC instructor Brett McKim is proud of his student, he’s not surprised. From day one, he says, Keane’s stage-practiced design and prototyping knowledge stood out.
“I have students in each class that show some experience and passion,” notes McKim. “Spencer arrived with skills that come with very few students.”
Beyond hands-on proficiency, McKim recognized a unique drive within his student – a passion for the material that the instructor feels is essential to cultivating a creative career.
“The desire for humans to create is unstoppable. Students who want to succeed in DMP and have a career in Model Making or Prototype Development have a passion to create and a passion to learn,” says McKim. “These students never stop thinking of how things are made and creating. It is not unusual to have a person in Model Making go home and create more, even after a long day at work where they are creating.”
This describes Keane to a tee. The costumer’s creative spirit shines bright in both his work and everyday life. True to McKim’s anecdote, Keane’s hobbies include building models and miniatures, as well as constructing medieval armor and combat gear with his friends.
“I never thought I would be a specialty costumer. That’s never what I set out to do,” says the grateful grad. “I have a degree in screenwriting, so that was what I always wanted to do.
“All these streams have converged into this one very niche thing.”
Already, Keane’s expertise is taking his career to new heights. As he awaits word on whether he’ll be called back for a second season of ‘For All Mankind,’ he says his ultimate career goal is just continuing to create.
“That’s the dream job,” declares Keane. “To just make cool stuff that people get to see on TV shows or movies.”
Learn more about IVC’s Design, Model Making, and Prototyping program »