Costume artisan D J Gramann II is passionate about clothes, their means of construction, and their uses throughout global history. Currently, his career is a mixture of master draper/tailor at the Guthrie Theater, adjunct faculty at the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis College, and owner of Gramann Studios, a professional costume company.
A generative and collaborative maker of character with particular affinity for the avant-garde, Gramann is the go-to person when productions require interdisciplinary collaboration such as a dress that flies across stage while fireworks are projected onto the fifty-foot train, an animatronic butterfly headpiece, a translucent dancing mouse, or a goddess alight with fireflies.
As a maker, he collaborates with the designer and the performer alike. His sensitivity to color theory, the elements of design, and the principles of composition adds an undeniable strength and depth to the work. He works to expand the design concept at every phase of development as he brings the design to life. He gives service to the performer equal consideration, collaborating to ensure the performer is always supported by the costume. His costumes defy gravity while retaining the silhouette when needed, and if they retain cumbersome restriction it is by design, in support of the physical restriction of the performance.
Gramann has worked as a contributing artist to the Twin Cities' theater arts community for over two decades. Earlier in his career, he built costumes in New York City for Barbara Matera, Ldt, Carelli Costumes, EuroCo Costumes, and Jim Henson Productions. He has developed collaborative relationships with costume designers such as Trevor Bowen, Jess Goldstein, Jane Greenwood, Mathew Lefebvre, Jennifer Moeller, Paul Tazewell, and Fabio Toblini.
Helping develop the skills and abilities of the next generation of costume makers and designers has become a rewarding part of his career journey. He teaches costume technology in the Department of Theater Arts and Dance at the University of Minnesota and patternmaking in the Apparel Design Program at Minneapolis College.
Gramann strives to embrace the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) in the work that he does in the theater community. He serves on the DEIA Task Force at the Guthrie Theater and he is a board member of Mixed Blood Theater where he was drawn to serve due to their commitment to DEIA from the theater's inception in 1976. He has worked as an advocate on gender bias issues, including pay equity, related to the historical view of sewing and garment making as 'women's work.' Gramann is proud to contribute to developing the next generation of makers by working to dissolve barriers to entry in the field of costuming and by opening access to knowledge and resources for learners of all ages, genders, orientations, cultures, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Gramann holds a BFA in Costume Technology and Design from the North Carolina School of the Arts and an MA in Arts and Cultural Leadership from the University of Minnesota. He also serves the LGBTQIA+ community as a wedding officiant.