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Tell us about your first cosplay experience. Who, what, where, when, and how did it go?

It was back in 2001 when a local magazine announced a big-scale anime/comic event with cosplay competition in Malaysia. Feeling excited about the event, I was kind of coerced by Pin to make an Asellus costume from Saga Frontier since I was a big fan of Asellus. But it was disappointing because the cosplay competition was cancelled due to low response from the public. Nevertheless, I got my first costume – Asellus from Saga Frontier – tailored that time.
My first cosplay appearance in public was when I discovered the existence of an event, “MAC 2001,” organized by Miyuki Animation Club. I registered for an artist booth and dressed up in my Asellus costume which was incomplete. I was more of an artist than a cosplayer that time, so I mainly stayed in my own booth drawing because I was still new to the Singapore circle and too hesitant about interacting with other people. But I did take photos with other cosplayers and was really surprised to know that there were also lots of anime/manga fans out there like me. It wasn’t the most enjoyable event that I've attended, but it does bring back memories.

Cosplay seems to be gaining in popularity in Singapore just like in many other countries. Are people more accepting of the concept now, or do they still give cosplayers a lot of odd stares?

I would say that the public is able to accept it more now compared to few years back. Major ACG clubs like Miyuki Animation Club and the Singapore Cosplay Club have been working hard these years to publicize cosplay in mass media, the public has a better understanding of cosplay, and more fans have joined in for the fun. But of course, there are always some Singaporeans whose traditional mindsets still cannot accept it, especially the older generation.
While you walk in the streets in costume in Singapore, people would still stare at you, since not many people wear costumes outside. But at least most of them are quite positive about it; some even asked to take photographs together.

Which costume was the first one that you were really happy and proud of how it turned out? (Not the first costume you ever made, but maybe after you gained some skill...)

That’d be DJ Erika from Beatmania IIDX. It was not the first costume I made, but I’m really happy with how it turned out because it was completed within a short period of time, and I managed to sew it out on my own without any guidance. Add that to the fact that I had never learned sewing before, and everyone was saying PVC wasn't easy to sew, but I still managed to sew the costume from PVC with drafting the pattern on my own.

You've amassed quite a lot of wigs by now if you've kept all of them. Where's your favorite place to buy, and how do you like to style your wigs?

Thanks to my partner in crime, Xrystal, I get to buy wigs from different places and learn more about wig quality and grades. Taiwan JingBo wigs have above-average quality, and the price is affordable. As for wig styling, I always keep this in mind –  do or die. Usually, when I style a wig, it’s meant to be specific for that character only and can’t be reused for other characters. For cutting or trimming, I get my wig styled in the salon, but when it comes to some abnormal styles, I have to do it myself. Hair pins, gel and hair spray are good friends for wig styling. =)

   
   

In general, is it fairly easy to find everything you need to make your costumes? It must be helpful to have Arab Street nearby.

Yes, that’s one thing I really like about Singapore – it’s convenient. Usually, as long as you have in mind what material you are looking for, it's not that difficult to find them in Singapore. Most of the textile shops and craft shops are in the city area, so I can usually do all my shipping within a single day if I've planned my route well. Of course, I’ll have to resort to DIY for some rare fabrics or materials that can’t be found.

When you go to events, do you like to compete in the costume contest, or would you rather just wear your costumes around the convention?

I’d rather choose not to join competitions usually, unless the prize is really attractive. lol Walking around freely in costume is definitely less stressful, and we won’t have to bother about competition timings. Most of the time, I’ll be having my own photo shoots outside of the event hall. It's also partly because I know most of the event organizers, and it doesn’t feel fair if I join in the competitions since I was part of the organizing committee or a helper sometimes.

   

What's one thing that would improve the anime/cosplay events in Singapore?

Currently, the events in Singapore focus too much in cosplay itself so I’d rather see more artist booths because I’m more into doujinshi production from before I got crazy into cosplay. It would be good if anime Seiyuus or well-known mangaka/artists were invited to the events. This is something sad because Singapore events are lacking other anime elements.

Does cosplay go well with your career path? Do you wish it did/didn't?

I’m working as a 2D artist in a local game company, not something really related to cosplay. Before I stepped into cosplay, I was more active in the online artist community and local doujin circle, thus being a game character designer or illustrator was always my goal. Somehow, I've started to be pickier about costume details or character designs of my own work and can’t help thinking about what kind of material and wigs would suit this kind of design. lol

When you see a character with a costume that you like, what aspect of it causes you to want to cosplay that character?

Just a costume itself is not enough to drive me into the madness of doing the costume – it would probably just go into my lower-priority list? Basically, I’ll go into an in-depth study of the character, such as background, stories and settings of the series, and also see if I’m attracted to the characteristics and personality of the character. Also, if the series or character is overdone by others, I’ll usually choose to do something else which is non-mainstream during events.

 

What's your favorite part of making costumes? (sewing, making patterns, shopping for supplies, styling wig, etc.?)

I enjoy materials shopping where I get to come across new things every time I look for different materials. And during the time I spend together with my buddies to hunt for things and work together for the props and costumes, I feel like we're working as a team and enjoy the time together.

It's great to have nice photos of our workmanship. What are some of your suggestions to set up and take good pictures?

Scout out suitable locations. Lighting is very important when it comes to photo taking. Choose the correct timing and weather for taking photos. Always take more photos because eventually, you get to sift something good out from the bad. If you have a friend with SLR camera, try to get them to take high quality photos for you. For more in-depth photos, always plan ahead and arrange with the photographers about your theme. I think communication between the cosplayer and the photographer is very important.

     
 

Here's your space for additional comments and the dispelling of rumors.

I’m not a very talkative person, and I’m not the outgoing type either so I don’t usually go around taking the initiative to talk to others, so some people might think that I’m being arrogant. I don’t mind meeting new friends, but you may need more patience with me since most of the time, I’m slow in replying to email or IM. Treat me with sincerity, and I’ll do the same. =)

See more of SF Sakana's costumes.

SF Sakana, your craftsmanship and your striking photos have garnered attention from Asian fans, and web presence makes it easy to find an even larger audience. As cosplay continues its march around the globe, you're helping to spread the fun in an ever-expanding radius around tiny Singapore. Thanks for taking the time to share with us, and best of luck with your artwork and your cosplay.

~Mrs. Tomoe

     

 

 
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