Tell us about your first cosplay experience. Who, what, when, where, and how did it go?
It was A-Kon 12, and my aunt had been wanting me to come to a convention for a long time. She told me people dressed up as their favorite anime characters, and I thought that was so cool. I just had to dress up too! Two days before the convention, my mom and I threw together a Mimi (Digimon season two) costume. We sewed two different shirts together, found a white skirt, made boot covers, and got pink hair paint for my hair (never again). At the convention, I put on the costume, and we went downstairs to head over to the cosplay lineup -- yeah that’s right, first con, first cosplay, one in the same. On the way down there, I ran into Jace cosplaying as Myotismon, who was all but excited to see another Digimon character and insisted on taking pictures with me. To a first time cosplayer with a thrown together costume, it really meant a lot to me. She made me want to cosplay again and make a better costume, and to this day, I still look up to Jace. Later on at cosplay, I walked my baby cousin Niki across the stage which completed my first cosplay experience.
What’s your reaction when you see other people at a convention wearing the same costume as you?
I’m excited to see people cosplaying their favorite characters, and I think it’s cool that we both like the same ones. I’m always eager to learn how they constructed certain parts of their costumes or what kind of fabrics they used just as they’re eager to know about how I made mine. I especially love seeing first time cosplayers doing the same character because I like to tell them how much I love their costume and give them words of encouragement and any kind of tips they want.
Your poses for your cosplays are pretty convincing. Do you have any tips to share about getting into character and not looking stiff or awkward in pictures?
Relax, this is just for fun and, you should have fun doing it. The more fun you’re having, the more into character you can get. Even if the character is emo, you can still have a good time. Also, practice in front of the mirror, either at the convention in your hotel room or at home. Get comfortable, and see what angles your costume looks best. Keep in mind things your character might do; action shots are always fun.
With an increasing number of costumes comes a growing number of wigs. How do you keep them nice so that you can either wear them again or sell them?
What I do is take all the wigs that I have heavily styled and keep them on foam heads in the top of my closet. For the wigs that have flexible styles, i.e. pigtails, I have them hanging on hooks along the top of my closet so nothing bumps against them or they get accidentally knocked off. For the most part, the wigs I have that are long and straight are kept tucked in hair nets and zip-top bags placed in a drawer. When I need to use a wig, I usually take it out a couple days before I need to wear it so I can comb it out with wig conditioner and let it air out on a foam head. When at a convention, I try to go back up to my room after a while, take the wig off and brush it gently.
What was your most embarrassing cosplay moment? And your best one?
I hardly get embarrassed because I’ve learned to laugh at myself. But if I had to think of one moment that made me blush, it’s one that coincides with one of my best moments. At Oni-con last year our group, decided to do the Reboot characters. So many people were excited to see Reboot, something we all loved as kids and had never seen anyone cosplay. I had so much fun just walking around with my group laughing at our Enzo who kept saying, “Little Matrix,” in his funny, girly voice. I especially loved performing our skit that even cracked us up. It was such an exciting and memorable moment when we won best of show. Later that night, when I was trying to get the green body paint off, I couldn’t reach my back to scrub the paint off it. So I had to walk out in front of everyone in my room to ask someone to scrub my back which caused everyone in the room to break out ROFLOL! My dear, sweet friend, Courtney, volunteered to scrub my back. Thank you, Courtney! <3
How do you get back on track when your plans, whether for cosplay or life in general, get derailed?
I pray for patience and wisdom, I ask my friends and family for advice, and they’re always willing to help me out or comfort me when I need them, especially my boyfriend, Jordan. Though he may not be into cosplay, he knows how much I love it and is always there to lend a hand and give me encouragement. Sometimes, I don’t think the costumes would have turned out as well if he hadn’t helped me. God has blessed me with a good family and wonderful friends; they really help keep me on track!
Working with spandex or other stretch material can be a challenge. What are your suggestions for conquering the stretch fabrics?
I love working with spandex fabric. It’s so forgiving, and it doesn’t fray like crazy. Getting patterns that are made for stretchy material will help so your outfit won’t end up too big or too small. Kwik Sew has a wonderful body suit pattern. Zig zag stitches work really well where the fabric needs to stretch the most, especially inseams.
Which costume so far has been the most fun to make and wear?
This question is not fair because I love all of my costumes and they’re so fun to make. I love my Team Rocket costume because people are like, “Oh my god, it’s Team Rocket.” I love my Pretty Cure costume because people think it’s so cute, but if I had to pick one, it would be the costume that led me to my best friend, Ayn. That would be Phoenix. When I was planning on making it, I was researching on Cosplay Lab for other people who had made the same costume to see how they had done theirs, and I came across someone who was doing Dark Phoenix for A-kon, the same con I had mine planned for. We decided to meet up on Sunday and had a blast because people were like, “OMG it’s both of them.” We kept in touch, and now we’re a cosplay duo.
photo courtesy of SkyPirate
What’s a construction technique that you haven’t tried yet that you’d like to use on a project? (i.e. fiberglass, woodworking, embroidery, etc.)
Definitely fiberglass is something I’d love to try, along with vacuum forming. Something I’ve always wanted to do is a hard suit from Bubblegum Crisis.
What do your family and friends think of your cosplay hobby?
They think it’s strange that a grown woman dresses up as cartoon characters. But they see how much I love it and how many good friends I have made through it and how it’s made me more independent. They’ve come to accept it and even compliment me on how good of a job they think I’m doing.
photo courtesy of SkyPirate
Does cosplay figure prominently in your career plans?
I love what I do for a living. I’m a floral designer and cosplay has helped me with understanding color combination and textures. But it will most likely just stay a hobby of mine.
If you were given $1,000 to make a costume, what would most of the money go towards, and what fantastic thing would the costume do?
Most of the money would likely go towards nice fabrics, not something outrageous like Armani, but quality fabric, a nice leather or satin. And the costume would be completely accurate down to a nicely styled wig. The most important thing for the costume to do would be to look nice on the cosplayer and make them feel like they were the actual character.
photo courtesy of SkyPirate
Here’s your space for additional comments or the dispelling of rumors.
Most people think I have to win at Cosplay, that I don’t like contests that aren’t judged, but the truth of it is, I love competition -- that anxiousness and excitement that comes with waiting in line, that drive to do your best because there are judges out there. Winning is nice but it’s not everything; the experience is what counts.
see more of AlexandraKeel's costumes here
AlexandraKeel, Your passion for cosplay shows through in your wide range of costumes. Variety keeps things lively and can help us avoid getting into a rut. We hope your flair and positive attitude will encourage others as they build their costumes and enjoy cosplay. We'll look forward to your continuing to grace the con scene and the Lab with your favorite characters.