Here at LFTN, we like to talk to all walks of life. From bloggers to authors and beyond. Today we are going to talk to someone who shows their creativity in a different way. A way in which is becoming less of a hobby and more of an art form. Yes, that’s right – cosplaying.
What is cosplay? Simply, it’s dressing up as a character from a film, book, or video game. If you’ve ever been to Comic Con, Walker Stalker Con or any sort of expo event you’ve 100% seen one and – more than likely – have been incredibly impressed by the dedication and hard work that has gone into making it awesome and most of all, believable.
But how does it work? Is it difficult to do? I mean have you seen some of the costumes?! Surely, it’s more than just dress up? That’s what Amy is talking about today in an interview with cosplayer, Emma Beard.
With years of cosplaying and making costumes under your belt, which outfit was your favourite to make?
My favourite costumes to make would defiantly be both variants of Chang’e (The Faerie of the Moon from the MOBA Smite). The Moonlight Love version had so much detail and substance to it that watching it all come together as a project was so rewarding and beautiful to watch. Also working with a dress that’s base was an actual ball gown pattern was better than I ever imagined, it was a bigger scale to anything I’d done before and it all turned out so graceful. It also gave me a chance to work with wigs as well, in all honesty the wig is more foam than hair by the end of it. My Sun’s Bride version of Chang’e was less complicated and rewarding but I enjoyed it just as much because it was a project with my fiancé. We had friends to cosplay with too as we made those costumes for Eurogamer, cosplay is best enjoyed with friends after all.
Now you have more experience making costumes, which of your earlier ones would you like to retry?
Definitely my Gaige costume (The Mechromancer from Borderlands 2). It was probably the first costume I made that people really loved. I don’t have a page or consider myself professional or anything, so when I see my costumes shared about it’s a real confidence boost. I appeared in a Sneaky Zebra music video, I was shared on GeeksAreSexy and I came second in the Insomnia costume contest, it was amazing. I’d want to remake it though mostly because there are so many customisations on Borderlands 2 that I’m sure I could make a costume that was more like my in-game loadout, and also because I’ve improved my skills since then and the costume would be more durable and look better if I did it now.
How does it make you feel when people ask to take pictures of you in costume?
Really really really good. It just makes you feel like you did a good job. Pictures at cons aren’t everything though, mostly it’s just to express how much you love the character, like a statement of “I am a fan, I love this game/film/book etc” and that open expression attracts other people with similar interests. It was the best feeling when I was walking around with my friend Taz as Nana and Popo (The Ice Climbers from Smash Bros Melee) and people would come up and ask us for pictures because we were dressed as their childhood’s favourite characters. People pass the good feeling on.
What was your proudest cosplaying moment?
I play Smite a lot, like I-don’t-even-want-to-look-into-my-hours-on-that-game a lot. I follow the pro league and all the studio on twitter and keep up with all the news. So when I finally finished my Moonlight Love Chang’e my clan encouraged me to tweet out my costume to the Hi-Rez community staff and they loved it. I was featured on their youtube cosplay program and it was the best thing to see. I didn’t ever think my costumes would be good enough to impress the people who actually created the design so it was the ultimate compliment. I also got the chance to attend the first proper UK Smite event a few months again and meet some of the Hi-Rez staff and pro player Ataraxia, they remembered me from my costume on twitter and I was incredibly flattered. I don’t think anything can really compare to that feeling for me.
If I wanted to get into cosplay, what would you say the first step would be?
It’s a simple as putting on a costume and having fun with your friends. Despite some stigma that some people have there is no shame in buying a costume to wear, it’s still cosplay, and it’s still expressing your love of the character. In terms of the creative side, crafting stuff is a matter of practice makes perfect and can even be a fun activity with your friends. When making the Borderlands costumes, my fiancé made all the props and I sewed all the fabric since we both struggled with the other. Making a costume can be expensive though, but I enjoy making things so I find it worth it.
Surely it is difficult to keep your costume in tip top condition while at a crowded Expo. Are there any tips you could give to make it more manageable?
Be careful. Most people are quite respectful about others but it doesn’t stop the fact that you are most likely going to be wearing it around a crowded convention hall. People will tread on things that are trailing on the ground, like my Chang’e skirt. I walked into so many people as Gaige due to my eyepatch blind spot. At the end of the day, people will bump into you, just due to the crowds and its up to you to be aware of how wide or awkward your costume is an act accordingly. One of the only tips I can specifically think of is make modifications to certain things to make them detachable, foldable etc, just so you are taking responsibility to minimise the chance of damage.
Why do you think there’s a social stigma on cosplay and similar hobbies? Has it ever made you reconsider doing it?
I think any social stigma at all comes from within the cosplay community now. Of course I’m not talking about absolutely everyone and you will find the majority of the cosplay community friendly and approachable. However there are a few people who have developed an elitist mind-set over something that is supposed to be enjoyable. This mind-set however has never once stopped me from enjoying cosplay, it’s done with friends and even if some people may judge you for not doing something perfectly, for not using a material they consider the best, it doesn’t affect you unless you let it. All you have to do is have fun and you are doing cosplay right.
How do you think we can change people’s negative attitudes toward cosplay?
Negative people are often happy being negative and the best thing you can do is not take any notice of them. It’s just what people think, it hurts no one.
Some people say you shouldn’t cosplay a different gender, ethnicity or body shape. What would you say to those people?
Cross play has been around for a while and I have never encountered anyone who has an issue with it, body shape and ethnicity however mostly comes down to people’s opinions and what certain people find offensive. So this is an awkward question because no matter how I answer someone is going to disagree heavily so I’ll disclaimer now that this is purely my opinion here. Weight types, I don’t see an issue with. If you like the character, cosplay them and don’t feel the need to stave yourself skinny or put on weight to do it. It’s not worth altering your actual body for the sake of just a costume. I also don’t see an issue with people wearing fat suits to cosplay people with exaggerated body types like Ellie from Borderlands 2. Ethnicity however is the most delicate one as it can be seen as racist. In my opinion again I’ll just say, if you like the character, cosplay them. If you are black and you like Mad Moxxi, go for it, you’ll look fantastic. If you are white and you like Sheva, go ahead I can see why because she’s cool as hell. The only way I can see this being an issue is when black or white facing is involved, as some people have come under fire for it understandably. It’s the costume that matters, the clothing you wear, not the skin you are in that matters.
Hypothetical: You have no money and only things from around your house. What costume do you think you could rock at this week’s Expo?
Interesting, as I don’t usually chose something to wear that only takes weeks to sew because I’m awkward like that. I have a green jacket I could sew some patches on, jeans I could muddy up and a cardboard tube I could paint to be a pipe. I think I’d go as James Sunderland from Silent Hill 2.