An elite expert at visually bringing wearable and other stylized imaginations to life, especially in A-list circles of the arts and entertainment industry, Suzy Zarate has been a freelance illustrator for the Costume Designers Guild in Santa Fe, New Mexico, since 2000. Prior to her current role, she honed and shared knowledge about her craft as an instructor of fashion illustration at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising at the Otis College of Art and Design starting in 1984, recalling it as a fantastic experience. Retired from teaching yet still highly active in the design profession, Ms. Zarate is open to teaching again in the coming years, about once a week, if the opportunity presents itself.
With varied Hollywood credits to her name, Ms. Zarate is particularly proud of her work on the movie “The Flintstones,” for which she drew caricatures and had fun as part of the creative process without knowing the ultimate outcome. She also enjoyed working on the production of “Batman and Robin,” calling it iconic in a television interview with the legendary fashion model, actress, and talk show host Cristina Ferrare. This interview, too, was memorable, Ms. Zarate said, because her then-small son accompanied her on the television set because she had no childcare at the time. Smitten when meeting the boy, Ms. Ferrare brought him on stage and on the air. For a future project, Ms. Zarate was recently asked to create sketches that she will begin soon or a yet-to-be-published book titled “Anchor Man.”
Being resilient, focused, driven, persistent, competitive, and believing in herself despite criticisms, Ms. Zarate says are her best professional and personal traits and keys to her success. Striving to be the best and achieving it helped her to endure difficult times. What distinguishes her in the marketplace is what she calls having a loose style yet being very accurate, citing that many designers are either one or the other. She takes pride in her ability to blend the two disciplines while retaining, for example, a subject’s sexiness, joy, or energy. Ms. Zarate also has an excellent eye for glamour. Growing up, she was encouraged by her mother, who admired her daughter’s ability to push forward with a project despite being fearful, and she was inspired by famed fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez, hoping that someday she could be as accomplished as him.
In preparation for forging her career, Ms. Zarate earned a Bachelor in history and philosophy from California State University, Fullerton, with the intention of becoming a college professor or teaching elsewhere. After starting the curriculum to pursue the educational career program, she lost interest. Yet, since she was four years old, her hobby has been drawing fashion-related sketches. After completing one fashion illustration class, her professor told her she had talent. She later landed her first job at a small, privately owned illustration school, which led to her being hired for freelance jobs in the fashion world. The new, exciting path resulted in Ms. Zarate being referred to a custom designer who was involved in making movies and being granted her first job in the film industry on the 1995 movie “To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar,” starring Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo. Her work with music industry giants, including Katy Perry and Michael Jackson, would soon follow.
Ms. Zarate is married to David Muchway, an insurance brokerage vice president, is the mother of Graham Muchway, a chef, and has three dogs. Alongside her career, she is a dedicated supporter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure Breast Cancer Foundation and has leisure interests in architecture, interior design, ceramics, and hand-coiled pottery.