Tell us all about your first cosplay experience. When, where,
Well, back when I first started going to cons, I thought costumes
were neat, but couldn't really make one on my own. So at AWA '97,
a fellow friend/coworker of mine had a skit idea and was looking
for someone to be a male Ranma. It took some convincing, but she
finally got me into the costume she provided and I found myself
in the line for cosplay, never having seen one before in my life.
Honestly, we were terrible, the best line being me shouting that
I was a man... but I won a judges award because of some martial
arts I performed on stage so I thought it was really cool, and
the experience was very different. I liked meeting new people
and looking at all sorts of costumes. From that point, I decided
that I wanted to make my own costumes and compete some more.
How important is it that your costumes look exactly like the
character you're portraying?
It is VERY important. I do give myself some leeway when it comes
to wig styling (I can't do that well, nor do I cosplay characters
with complex hair anyways), but the costume and accessories are
what I spend the most time planning and making. I have a minor
background in art through school, so I'm good with proportions
and copying designs from 2D to 3D. Sometimes things don't come
out as accurate as I'd like, but I am usually very happy with
the results. As to why I feel the need for accuracy, it's a matter
of my own competitive nature and wanting to make a costume that
does justice to the character. If I'm going to make such-and-such
character, I'm going to do the best job I can so that people look
at it and say, "Wow! That's great!" I love it when people
recognize the characters and compliment the costumes. I get a
real kick out of seeing the ways people react, and not just to
my own costumes.
How much time and money do you budget for a new costume?
Well, I've had to slow down quite a bit over the past few years
due to limited finances. Since I compete only once a year now,
I don't make many expensive costumes. Instead, I'll toss together
an occasional hall costume for comfort. Those I don't really plan
for any specific con, so they just get done when they get done.
Also, I try to spend less than $100 on any hall costume (including
the wig). But for my competition costumes, I'll scrounge anywhere
between $200-300 to put it together since I prefer to save the
complex costumes for competition, like my recent Go Nagai robots
(Aphrodite A and Boss Borot). If I'm going to compete, I want
to go all out and be tough competition, especially now that many
cosplayers are becoming quite skilled and challenging to go up
What benefits of cosplay are there that you would explain to
the parents of a new fan?
Well, there's the friendly attention of con-goers who want to
take pictures. You can meet lots of new and interesting people
just by wearing a costume. Then throw cosplay in as the perfect
outlet for creativity. Take any skill you learned in art classes
from grade school and up, and you can apply it somewhere! And
you can also learn lots of new things by talking with other cosplayers,
getting tips and advice. Although it can suck up money, I think
it's better spent creating something with love and dedication
than a lot of other things young teens/teenagers could be doing
Are there any differences between an SF ( sci-fi ) costumer
and an anime cosplayer?
Considering that my actual experience outside of anime cons is
rather limited, I can't say anything definite. But from the cons
I have attended, I've noticed interesting things. For one, anime
cosplayers are MUCH younger, so you will see a lot more daring
costumes. Hand in hand with the age is the budget for the costumes.
At the sci-fi/fantasy events I've attended, the costumers are
generally middle class and can afford to put more money towards
their favored hobby than the average anime cosplayer. So the costumes
can be very complex and ornate. But the biggest difference that
I've noticed is creativity. Most anime cosplayers are dressing
as actual characters from a show, game, etc. There are very few
cosplayers in anime fandom that do complex, original costumes.
And that's something that is all over the sci-fi/fantasy events.
Personally, I like both aspects. It's great to show my affinity
for a character by dressing as him/her, but it's also an intriguing
challenge to make a costume out of an original idea. That's something
I'd like to do some day.
Where do you find inspiration in life?
Wow... kinda hard for me to nail that down, actually. Well, my
family is a big part of my life. I chose to live near my parents,
because they've always been very supportive and loving. And then
there's my two roommates, Rob and Duane. Although our relationships
are very odd, I wouldn't be the way I am without their presence
in my life right now. Rob's been the impetus for a lot of my costumes
the past few years and Duane, well, he's always there when I need
him. And together, they keep me grounded.
How has your involvement with cosplay changed since the beginning?
Well, I went from competition, to judging occasionally, to assisting
staff at Neko-con and finally to running a few cosplays at two
local Virginia conventions (Anime Mid-Atlantic, Anime USA). I've
found that over the years, the best way to see the changes I want
in place at competitions, is to make those changes myself. I was
very fortunate to be the first coordinator at AMA, because it
allows me to lay out the groundwork for the type of competition
I would enjoy myself. Each year brings new changes, so it's a
constant growing process, but I've found it very challenging and
hard to do. If you haven't noticed by now, I LIKE challenges...
Anyway, my biggest interest in how cosplay competitions are run
is in the judges' panel. Most conventions run their cosplay events
differently and the awards often reflect the attitude of the con.
Since I think craftsmanship is key to any costume event, I put
an equal (if not more) emphasis on craftsmanship judging and awards.
What predictions would you make about the future of anime and
cosplay in America?
Hmm... I think things will be continue on their currently obvious
path. I predict the average fan's age will continue to drop since
more and more young teens are getting into conventions and anime
in general... I think we'll see less and less Sailor Moon costumes
as more recently aired shows on Toonami take precedence in teen
fandom. Honestly, I have no idea... *shakes head*
Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
Oh, I don't know. In Virginia, doing something. I'd like to continue
staffing at my favorite cons and making a few costumes. I'd really
like to expand into more sci-fi events, just to try something
different, but we'll just see where life takes me next. I think
Rob still want me to learn to ride a motorcycle! :)
Tikki's profile here
What things about cosplay would you like to see changed?
Personally, I'd like to see a streamlined system of some sort
for skill divisions in place at any given competition. The ICG
(International Costumers Guild) has set guidelines many years
ago, but most anime conventions still leave their cosplay competitions
open to all ranges of skill, which leaves the newbies against
experienced veterans. I find this unfair and see that it can really
dishearten anyone just getting into the hobby ("You mean
I have to compete against THAT?!") I'd also like to see the
point system that utilizes entertainment genres (such as drama
or comedy) as actual categories to be dumped and squashed. They
are biased towards the genre listed, cutting out any competitor
that has something different planned for the audience to watch.
That's been a pet peeve of mine for years.
Any rumors to dispel?
Other than the occasional "She's a b**ch!" I don't
think there's anything to dispute. All I can say to the random
negative comments that make their way back to me is to please
keep in mind just how busy I get at cons. And well, it takes me
a while to warm up to new folks sometimes... *shrugs*
Tikki, I remember the first time I saw you in
costume was at Anime Express a couple years ago. I had never seen a
costume with built-in missiles and I was impressed with your enthusiasm.
Competition is one thing, but clearly you have a passion for cosplay
that is contagious and it has been my pleasure seeing your work come
to life. Good luck in all you do!
Garry aka Prof