ISSUU Live Magazine: December 2014 Issue

posted in: Milestones | 0

I recently had the opportunity to engage in an interview about my costuming, replications and inspiration relating to cosplay. Below is a transcript of the questions and answers from the published issue available here. The original publication can be found here.

Please enjoy!

1. Tell us about about yourself, where you’re from and how you got into cosplay.

I first started cosplaying in my own home, since I didn’t live particularly close to any conventions and didn’t stop to think anyone else would be interested in this. My very first cosplay costume would have been when I was 9; I put together a super simple Misty cosplay to wear to school for Halloween. I was very nervous! But it was enough fun that a couple years later I wanted to make more, and eventually attended my first convention in Vancouver, BC.

Publicly, I started cosplaying once I moved to Vancouver. It has always been a social thing for me, and being geographically closer to more costumers made the hobby more fun. I studied a variety of visual and performance arts, so for me personally cosplay has been another outlet for creative design and construction. I never really learned how to sew, honestly. I taught myself through trial and error, and often my friends and I would share tips and tricks to better ourselves.


2. You have a good following on facebook! how do you interact with your fans on FB and other social media sites? Any tips for other cosplayers?

I never really anticipated having people trying to have conversations with me! For as long as I can remember I drew a lot of fanart and posted it on deviantART in hopes of striking up conversations, so I never really imagined that I would be in that position.

The comments and support are really flattering, and I hear a lot of questions that I myself had 10 years ago. I found myself answering the same question, or variations of a question over and over, that eventually I decided to start documenting my process and writing up my methods. I don’t really want to name it a “How to,” or “Tutorial,” since they’re usually myself working on a costume and not an example piece, and I often end up leaving out some steps because of that. I still write them in the hopes that maybe someone will find some answers there, since I won’t always have the time to answer them personally.

For anyone who’s interested in cosplay and maybe isn’t sure how to start, there’s no real right or wrong way to do it. I started off making paper clothes as a child, using Heat ‘n’ Bond as a crutch for sewing in my teenage years, and heating craft foam over my stove for armor to eventually lining my garments and 3D printing some of my more complex props and accessories. Contrary to popular belief, mistakes are the fastest way to learn and gain experience, so don’t be afraid of messing up! I make mistakes all the time, it’s just something to apply to the next project.


3. Do you look up to any particular cosplayers?

Haha, it’s actually a funny story! There were several cosplayers I followed closely when I was younger, and I’ll admit I had a crush on a good handful.. Not in a hopeful way, but in a sort of, “Wow, these people are so beautiful!” sense of things. A couple off the top of my head are SushiMonster, Akusesu and PikminLink. I remember being so in awe of their photos, and it’s weird to say I’ve met and befriended quite a few of the costumers I looked up to in my younger days.

Maybe “look up to,” is a weird way to put it. I prefer to think of them as people I draw inspiration from. Seeing them progress with their own skills and really push their ideas further and further gets me wanting to push myself and my talents that I’ve gained with each costume and prop. I think that artists are symbiotic to each other, which is in part to why I like to share what I do.


4. Who is your favourite character to cosplay and why?

There is nothing I love more than swords and capes. Or maybe just big weapons. Stony demeanor, agile and deadly. Maybe I’m not very good at it, but I love playing those types!

If there had to be only one character I could cosplay, it would be Lightning Farron. I really enjoyed her fighting style, and her costumes have all been very unique and fun to make, as well as to wear! Perhaps I’m biased because of the memories I made with friends while wearing her, but she’s definitely my #1.


5. Do you make all your own costumes/props? If so how long does it take?

There are very few costumes I don’t make on my own, usually due to groups or time. As I stated before, I tend to do write ups of all my costumes (if I have sufficient photos!) so if it’s missing, there’s a chance didn’t make it. I tend to write a disclaimer of where it came from if that’s the case.

That being said, I mostly sew. While I can also make props, whether or not I do it myself or commission them often depends on the time frame. Other times there are props or accessories that I commission just for the sake of supporting other artists in the community. I think it’s very important to do that, as artists are all different calibers of different skill sets.

Some of my costumes have taken several months on and off, maybe around my job, maybe because I’m being social. Typically a costume would take me ~1 month of collective time. On the other hand, there are some costumes I’ve made in less than a week, and others, less than a day. It really depends on how complex the project is, and how much of it is something I’m familiar with.

Props depend on two things: scale, and complexity. The Buster Sword for Lightning took about a week, from tracking down materials and cutting things out, to priming, painting, and testing. Weiss’ Myrtenaster, which was 3D printed, required a lot of patience to model, print, and clean up; it boiled down to about a month.

I like to think I’ve definitely improved my speed from when I started, but there’s always room for improvement!


6. Do you attend many cons?

Living in the North West, there were a good handful of conventions to pick and choose from. I frequented the larger Vancouver cons, like Anime Revolution and FanExpo, as well as a few in Seattle, like SakuraCon and PAX Prime. These cons weren’t too hard to get to as I could bus down across the border, and share a hotel room with friends.

Once I started working full time I was able to afford plane tickets further south to California, where I attended Anime Los Angeles and Fanime. I’ve also been to several other cons around the US, including New York Comic Con and PAX East! It’s very interesting seeing the different atmospheres not only of different oriented-conventions, but also based on their geography.

SakuraCon and PAX Prime take place in the same convention center, but the costumes you bring and the, I guess, “pacing” of the con, is very different. PAX feels more professional and speedy, with lots of lines going nowhere fast and industry developers trying to promote their games. SakuraCon is much more relaxed in comparison, focusing on both new and retro anime series, while game series are also welcomed.

Then you take something like PAX East and weigh it against PAX Prime. Just the change in attendees based on East to West changes the mood, the percentage of cosplay, and the food! Every event has its own pros and cons for sure, seeing them for yourself is just part of the experience.


7. Finally where can our readers go to find out more about you..

I tend to be fairly active on Twitter and Facebook, while my website acts as a manifesto of photos, write ups and artwork. I try to cross post when I can, so hopefully you’ll find what you’re looking for!

Liked it? Take a second to support Sheena Duquette on Patreon!