Our CotM Loves Anime, maybe you will know her. GES proudly presents…
Shay: When did you start cosplaying? What got you into cosplay?
A: I started cosplaying in 2008. Otaku Magazine did a road trip event in Cape Town and I, being a long-time fan of anime and so also of cosplay, decided to give it a shot. I’ve done sewing projects with my mom since childhood, so I convinced her to make me a Saber cosplay (from Fate Stay Night). After that for a long time I mostly did closet cosplays for costume parties and such, but with the cosplay community in SA becoming more active I’ve become addicted to making proper cosplays!
Shay: What projects are you currently busy with? What costumes do you have planned for the year?
A: I’m currently working on my costume for Free Comic Book Day, as well as a bigger project I’ve organised – a Team Fortress group cosplay. Doing the Engineer for that, as well as making the Medic for my boyfriend and cosplay partner, Darren. Later in the year I hope to do a revamped Saber cosplay along with Darren as Kiritsugu (from Fate Zero), as well as Red from Transistor and some Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Shay: What are your favourite fabrics and other materials to use when creating a costume?
A: Fabrics that don’t wrinkle too much! Love those! I’m actually not very knowledgeable about fabrics, so I usually just go with whatever looks and feels right… even though that sometimes leads to things not working out well at all >_< I also love working with Craft Foam and have started experimenting with thicker foams and clay.
Shay: What are the pros and cons of cosplaying, from your perspective?
A: Yeah, I could write a book about this! Pros are definitely that it broadens your creative talents and tests your ingenuity. I love the challenges I face when making something new, and I’ve become obsessed with learning new skills and studying tutorials for everything and anything I might ever need to know. It’s also a hobby that really brings people together. When you’re dressed funny and a stranger is dressed funny… suddenly you find you can hang out like you’re old friends. I don’t know how this works, but it does and I love it.
Cons… Cosplay is a thief of time and money! I always try to be more efficient and thrifty, but it is so much harder than it seems. The online cosplay scene is also a strange and sometimes nasty thing. From competitiveness to popularity issues to the whole issue of ‘sexy female cosplays’… it really is exhausting in the end. You need to be super thick skinned to not let some of the stuff you encounter online bother you.
Shay: How do you feel about the SA cosplay community? How do you think it will grow in the coming years?
A: I’m super positive about the local community! There are new people joining our ranks every day, and I love that everyone is very accepting and encouraging towards each other. With that kind of attitude cosplay in SA will only continue to grow and be an awesome thing to be part of. I hope that we do continue like this and don’t suffer from the competitive division there seems to be in many overseas communities.
Shay: What advice would you give to new cosplayers, especially those from South Africa?
A: Before you jump head first into a cosplay, sit down and really think about what it will require. List all the parts your cosplay will have and think about how you plan on tackling each and every part. This will really pay off in the end, believe me.
Another thing I often preach is to not pick a complicated character as your first cosplay, unless you plan on buying it or having someone else make it for you, or genuinely have mad skills already. My first cosplays were complicated, but my mom made them. The first ones I made on my own were either very simple, or just made up of clothes I already owned! Start simple and it will really help build your confidence and list of usable skills.
Shay: How do you choose which characters to cosplay as?
A: Mmm, I suppose I don’t have very strict criteria for picking a character, but usually I must feel a serious passion, for whatever reason, about a character to enjoy doing them. I loved the look of Esther Blanchett even though she wasn’t my favourite character in Trinity Blood. I loved Merrill as a character even though I wasn’t necessarily mad about what she looked like. So each character is different, but they must have that something special to inspire me. I have done cosplays of characters I don’t have any strong feelings for, and unfortunately those are costumes I end up not enjoying very much.
Shay: You put a lot of effort into detail, for example with your beautiful Esther (Trinity Blood) cosplay. How long, on average, does it take you to make an entire costume? Which processes do you enjoy most and which do you dislike?
A: He He, I do love me some detailed cosplays, but time spent on each cosplay varies a lot! It took me and Darren a year (on and off, but still!) to make our Dragon Age costumes. Yet it only took one dedicated month to do our Diablo 3 costumes. I prefer to spend a lot of time on costumes though. I love being able to experiment with different methods of creating props and armour and accessories and whatnot and I’m happiest when I can try out a new trick I learned online! Sewing is fun too, but I guess that’s my least favourite part since it gets a bit boring.
Shay: Do you take on the character’s personality when you cosplay? Do you think this is important?
A:No, I rarely do that, but I do try my best to appear ‘in character’ for photo-shoots. With regards to personality I might act more graceful when I cosplay a lady-like character, or more cute when it’s a Moe character, but that’s about it for me. I wouldn’t be able to say if it’s important or not. It is a choice that’s up to the cosplayer, same as the choice between buying or making your costume. Neither is right or wrong, in the end it’s all about having fun!
Shay: Along with the clothing, make-up, contact lenses and wigs compliment or often complete the costume. What advice can you give our readers regarding this?
A:If you’re short on time or cash you must prioritise the different aspects of your costume. What would be more or less critical if it were absent from your cosplay? The costume itself is obviously most important. After that (for me anyway, for others it might be different) comes hair/wig, make-up, props and then contacts. Contacts are least important to me because they are only really visible in person – in photos you can usually Photoshop your eye-colour! So if you run out of time or money or whatever, you can always skip some of these things, nobody will blame you if your costume isn’t 100%. But! If you do have the funds and the time, there is really no reason not to go all out with getting all of the above perfect!
Gaming Entertainment Solutions would like to thank Elza for taking her time to share her thoughts with us.