CosplayMix Vol. 1 Interview
Tell us a little about how cosplay influences your life and what represents in it.
Cosplay has sneaked into my life from a hobby to a career motivator. I started cosplaying over 8 years ago as something fun and creative to do in my spare time. I have always been an artistic person and loved how much creative freedom cosplay can give. It's not only sewing but also sculpting, wig-work, props, makeup, photography etc. Over the years I have invested more and more time (and money) into cosplay, learned new skills, challenged myself to making different types of outfits, and to this day have made over 70 costumes. Aside from going to conventions to cosplay, I also am involved in a venture making cosplay accessories which are then sold at various conventions around the US. So you can say that my life is definitely heavily influenced by cosplay, and I am making it a career.
How does it feel to be recognized as a professional cosplayer?
I feel humbled and appreciative. I used to have a salary desk job and did not enjoy it, so to be able to make my hobby my everyday work is very lucky and wonderful. I get to travel a lot and meet new friends as well as spend time with far away ones, and I am creatively stimulated all the time. Of course there are drawbacks, such as jet lag and never having enough free-time, but I would rather stay busy than be bored. :)
How did you adquire the skills and the tecniques necessary to make cosplays?
I am completely self-taught, aside from a friend showing me how to use a sewing machine once. I never sewed a stitch before I started cosplaying, but I really wanted to learn so I just went for it and made a costume, learning along the way. Sewing came pretty easy to me, but it took some years for me to feel comfortable enough to make my own patterns. I also had a fondness for styling and cutting wigs from the beginning, but learned how to do makeup, make props, and wings down the road. I still have a lot I want to learn so in the next couple of years you'll see hopefully some long-laid cosplay plans come to fluition from me lol.
Which is the recipe to make a successfull cosplay?
Set a goal and do your best to achive it. Your goal could be anything from super accuracy, perfect likeness to a character, making a great prop, making a great wig etc. Figure out what the most challenging part of a costume is and focus on it.
You should always check all your seams and make sure your costume looks clean and finished from the outside, and if you can, on the inside as well. Probably the most important factor in making a costume is to never take shortcuts or get lazy. Follow the instructions of your pattern, line your dress if it needs a lining, iron open all your seams, topstitch what seams need to be stitched, use a wig if the costume calls for one, get the right footwear, do your makeup... A successful cosplay looks complete and like the design. Your audience should be able to recognize you instantly and see the character before they see you in a costume.
How do you choose the cosplays that better fit you?
I used to choose cosplays solely based on what characters I loved, but over the years I have enjoyed craftsmanship of cosplays so much than now I look for a great character as well as a great design. I like challenging myself and try new techniques so I may choose a costume that incorporates those things.
For general tips, I definitely believe in choosing a character that you love. If you feel a bond toward the character, you will put more effort into making your costume look the best it can. Of course a character that resembles your look helps tredendously, but I don't see it as a requirement. It's fun sometimes to cosplay someone entirely different than you, and use different tricks to create a resemblance.
It's important to gauge your skill level and choose cosplays that suit it. You want to go for designs that will stimulate your skills but not feel impossible to recreate. Remember that with each costume you will learn something and that there is always time to make a super elaborate costume later down the road when you have acquired the skills needed. Try to be patient and build a foundation for your craftsmanship. It's better to make a simple costume with perfectly straight and finished seams than slap together something complicated that looks rushed upclose.
How do you choose materials?
I feel them. Instead of going by labels, I check my reference and go around the fabric store to feel the bolts of fabrics. You should be able to get a general idea of what materials you need from the reference pictures - how the fabric flows, draps, falls. For wigs, you always want to look for a skin-top wig, and one with nice silky fibers. For armor, you can find various tutorials online. Shoes can be bought online as well, I like www.electriqueboutique.com which carries all kinds of heels and types of shoes and boots.
What is your creative process?
For costume building I actually like working on two or three costumes at once. I don't know why, and I don't think it's a creative process suitable for everyone, but for me it gives me the freedom to make what I want or have materials for already while waiting on other things to come in. I make a list of everything that I need to buy and need to do and cross out whatever gets accomplished. Between two costumes I can work on one if I get frustrated with the other, so I switch back and forth and keep busy until my creativity strikes and I knock something out. I also usually don't get really into the groove until the evening where I'll work through the night. I read that many artists feel that way and do their best work at night.
Your wings are amazing, could you share some tips with other cosplayers? What do you think about cosplay in latinamerica?
Wings are delicate props, so build them with a stable base and harness. A backpack style harness can be the most comfortable. The shapes and styles of the wings can be anything you like, and I suggest drawing out what you want before starting on them so you have a clear referece of what you are making. Remeber that feathers are organic so they could potentionally deteriorate/eaten by moths. Also, a lot of cats like feathers so keep your pets away from them lol. Store them in a flat sealed box indoors. I like making my wings foldable so you can easily transport them, even on airplanes. The bigger the wings, the more important it is to make them foldable.
I have been very lucky and got to visit Mexico multiple times and Brazil once, where I met many fantastic cosplayers and everyone has been so sweet. The cosplay level in latin america is very strong and getting better each year! I really love seeing costumes in Mexico and Brazil, and it is interesting to witness the difference in characters cosplayed in these countries compared to the US. The fandoms are different, what's popular in the US is not always wellknown in latin america, and vice versa. I also really like how cosplayers are treated in latin america, the community in general supports cosplay and conventions have lots of cosplay events and even multiple contests. In the US cosplay is to an extend still a sub-community that isn't very recognized by the general anime fandom.But as Japanimation gets more popular and mainstream, cosplay is being acknowledges more as well so I hope to see better and bigger costumes from everyone in the future!