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Tell us how you got started in cosplay.

It all started with an anime called Sailor Moon. XD When it was on Cartoon Network, I used to rush home at 4:30 every day just so I wouldn’t miss a second. I even went as far as taping the show on a regular basis just in case. It was intense! My best friend, Masami, got me into the whole anime/cosplay world. She came to me one day saying, “Hey! There is a convention in Atlanta! We should go!” So we did. My first convention was AWA 5. There were tons of Sailor Moon cosplayers, but at that point, I had never heard of cosplay before. After seeing all the awesome people dressed up from different anime, we decided to cosplay the next year as Sailor Moon. Of course that never happened. Our first cosplay was Gensho Sugiyama’s “Kitty Kitty Fancia,” and no one knew who we were! We wanted to make costumes that no one had ever done before so I guess we succeeded. After making that first costume, I became addicted to cosplay!

Where does your inspiration come from to choose the characters you cosplay?

It really isn’t about the anime or manga I like; most of the time it’s about me going, “Hey! That’s a neat outfit!” My friends and I spend a lot of time looking at different art, game art, screen shots, what other people like – that kind of stuff. And once in awhile, we’ll come across a game or anime that has awesome costumes. Half the time, I realize that when I choose the outfit, I’m not even very familiar with the original incarnation of the outfit. I also like to try to challenge myself a little. I’ve done this and that, but when I find something really complex that I like, I really start buckling down and try to finish the costume. Sometimes, however, this “buckle down” time comes about an hour before my flight leaves…

What is your favorite costume you've made so far? Share some construction techniques and snafus regarding that outfit.

My favorite costume has to be my Bouncy Wild Heartless. Our first Heartless, the soldier, got such rave reviews that we took it upon ourselves to do another group of Kingdom Hearts’ baddies. The helmet is by far my favorite aspect because of its simplistic construction. Simply take a balloon and sculpt-a-mod, and ta-da! –There is your own personal helmet. Of course, it being my favorite aspect of my favorite costume, there has to be a tragic story behind it. As some of you may know, this tragic event happened on our way home from Otakon 2004. Con goers know the dangers of driving after a weekend con – you know, not sleeping for 48 hours plus, so how about driving from DC back to Atlanta, Georgia on no sleep? Well, to make a long story short, our car was flipped… multiple times I was told, and my poor, poor helmet was crushed. As was Masami’s car. Oh yea – we survived.

I guess it's a good thing you weren't wearing that 'helmet' at the time. Thank God that you survived. I notice you've been commissioned to make costumes for other people. Tell us about those experiences. How much do you charge?

All the costumes I have commissioned are for friends or family. Most of the time, I do it because I want someone else to dress up with me. I am afraid of cosplaying without a friend! I never charge extra for my costumes just as long as they buy the cloth and don’t destroy the costume. o.o; I hear my brothers’ Heartless costumes are shoved in the back of their closets! XD

What would you like to learn from Hyung-Tae Kim - character designer for the War of Genesis series?

The first thing I notice about his art is how complex it is! As an artist, I’m totally blown away by his creative designs. His work is always so original and fun and wonderful to look at. As a cosplayer, the first thing I want to know is, “How much body glue would I need to wear one of these?”

You wore your War of Genesis outfit to prom. How did it go?

Many people know of the Duct Tape Prom Dress competition. My boyfriend and I decided to make our duct tape costumes from designs inspired by War of Genesis for our Senior Prom. As part of the competition, we were placed on the company’s website for voting. We contacted a local news crew who came to our actual prom and filmed us coming down the stairs in our outfits! A funny side note: when I started going to college in Minneapolis, a lot of people recognized me from the duct tape prom dress special on TV. They aired our segment on a Minneapolis TV news show when it was originally just for local Wisconsin news!

How important is accuracy in the costumes you make and do you ever take any creative license?

Every artist takes their own creative license on things – however minute that license maybe. As a cosplayer, of course I want to be as true to the original material as I can be, and why not? The reason I wanted to do the costume was because I loved the original. However, I do like having a little piece of “me” in the costume. So if you look hard enough, you might find my little “twist.” ^_^

What kind of work will you be doing 10 years from now?

I will hopefully be illustrating for a publishing company. Right now, I am working on a children’s book about this crazy squirrel named Butternut. It really isn’t suited for children however…

A children's book that isn't suited for children? I won't touch that one... Tell us how cosplay has contributed to your personal growth?

I use cosplay as a means to keep in touch with my friends down south. After I had to move to the cold north, I was afraid of losing them, but thanks to free flight benefits and the constant need to keep up with their short attention span for costumes, I am able to come down as much as possible as well as follow them across the country from convention to convention.

As for personal growth, I notice now that I have come out of my shell. Back in the day, I was afraid to talk to people, but now I am much more outgoing, and that is always a good thing =)

Do you think the person you marry will be a cosplayer?

Haha, if I force him to! >=D

Any rumors to dispel?

I don’t really have any rumors to dispel. XD I am just a poor, harmless, college student hiding out in her dorm, doing homework like a good girl... and getting side tracked by costumes. >_> And now for a shamless plug! will be up soon! (I hope!)

View more of Noki's Cosplay Lab profile here.

Noki, I totally relate to how you got started with cosplay. I too was smitten by the Sailor Moon virus. Of course, my intent was to bring balance to the cosplay scene as one of the baddest baddies of the lot, but I think I was blinded by all the satin skirts. Your costumes are great and I think you've got a great attitude about cosplaying. Making your friends and family cosplay with you is completely permissable. I know it works for me. Best of luck with school and your future endeavors.

Garry aka Prof.

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