UMass Boston

Faculty & Staff Directory

Rafael Jaen

Title: Department Chairman

Phone: 617.287.5640


Department: Performing Arts

Areas of Expertise

Costume Design, Costume Construction, Makeup/Hair Design, Design-Tech Portfolios, Photoshop Rendering Techniques 


MA, Theater Education, Emerson College
BFA, Design Technology, New York University

Additional Information

Rafael Jaen is a practicing costume designer, professor and author with more than 30 years of experience. Jaen’s costume design and manufacturing work includes theatre, TV and film. He has received multiple accolades and award nominations, including the prestigious Elliot Norton award and the Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) award. His design and manufacturing work has been seen at the Boston Midsummer Opera, the Lyric Stage Company of Boston, Company One (with the Huntington Theatre Company), Beau Jest Moving Theatre, Bowdoin College, Emerson College, the Charlestown Working Theatre, the Tennessee Williams Provincetown Festival, WGBH, and Disney and Broadway productions.

Professor Jaen has been an active member of the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT), the United Scenic Artist (USA/IATSE) 829, the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP), and the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) since 1995. He served USITT as The Costume Commission's Chair of Portfolio Reviews, Vice-Commissioner for Student Initiatives, and Vice-Commissioner for Diversity, Inclusivity, and Community, from 1997 to 2015. He also served as a member of USITT's Publications Committee from 2012 to 2018, and at the Board of Directors from 2016 to 2018. In 2019 he was elected USITT's Vice-President for Communications, and in 2020 he was elected USITT Fellow by his peers. Additionally, at KCACTF, he served as Regional Design, Technology, and Management (DTM) Region1 Vice-Chair and Chair from 2009 to 2014, the National DTM Chair from 2015 to 2017, the USITT-KCACTF Communications Liaison from 2011 to 2017, and as Interim National KCACTF Vice-Co-Chair in 2020.

Before joining the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Boston, Jaen taught at Emerson College, MA, from 1990 to 2013. In addition to teaching numerous workshops at prestigious colleges and conferences in the USA, he has taught Professional Development Workshops (PDW) and a Summer Costume Symposium on costume rendering with Photoshop for USITT.

Professor Jaen is the recipient of a 2021 Commonwealth of Massachusetts Citation for Outstanding Performance for his service to UMass Boston. He was awarded the University of Massachusetts' 2017 Manning Prize for Teaching Excellence, the 2016 Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award from Salem State University, and the 2013 Kennedy Center Golden Medallion for Excellence in Theater Education (Region 1). Additionally, he completed work on a Joseph P. Healey Research Grant in 2015 entitled "Secession, Entrepreneurship and Haute Couture in the USA During the Civil War Years." The research includes a look at Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, a former slave who became the White House dressmaker during the Lincoln administration. In 2015 the Executive Committee of the A. A. Bakhrushin Theatre Museum in Moscow, Russia, selected his design work for display during their annual exhibit entitled "Costume Design at the Turn of the Century, 1990-2015." Additionally, he made The Boston Globe's "Most Stylish Bostonians" list in 2014. 

He is the author of SHOWCASE, 2nd Edition (Golden Pen 2012 nomination) by Focal Press, Digital Costume Design and Collaboration: Applications in Academia, Theatre, and Film, by FOCAL Press/Routledge, and he contributed to two chapters in the book Fashioning Horror: Dressing to Kill on Screen and in Literature by Bloomsbury. He has also contributed articles for Sightlines and the Technical Design & Technology (TD&T) journals. He is currently working as main editor of the Backstage Series produced by a FOCAL Press/Routledge and USITT partnership. The first title of these series, Theater Artisans and Their Craft, was published in the Fall 2019. The next title, Off Headset, will be available Fall 2021.