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

Well, my first real brush with a convention was AWA 5. I got my friends to go with me, and I did up my hair like Miaka of Fushigi Yuugi. When we got there, there were tons of people in costumes! I had felt all cute and original going there with my hairstyle, but quickly felt outdone by the cute Sailor Moon cosplayers! (lol) So the next year was spent planning a costume for AWA 6. We looked constantly at cosplayers online, which back then, were few in numbers. It seemed everyone was doing Sailor Moon, Ranma, or Final Fantasy back then, so my friends and I choose the cute characters of Fancia. It’s pretty unknown even to this day, but we chose those characters mainly because they were rare (and cute!). We spent so much time hand sewing them. It’s funny when I look back at it, because now I could do that costume in a day. Hehe! AWA 6 ended up being a blast, and I was addicted to the whole cosplay experience that weekend! Crazy anime fans running around acting dorky, dressed as characters? Who could not get addicted?!

 

Were you surprised by how involved you became as time passed?

Even though I got hooked to cosplay instantly, I honestly never thought I’d be doing it for so long. It was just something really fun to do at the moment back when I started, and now it plays a huge role in my life. There have been low and high times where I lose interest a little bit, but in the end I always run into a series or character that I HAVE to cosplay! (Most recently, my “must cosplay from!!” series was Ouran High School Host Club!) It’s rather funny though, because when I was in 6th grade, my nanny used to say I’d outgrow the whole anime thing once I grew up a bit. Oh if she could see me now!

Do you have any background in crafts or sewing?

You could say I have a background in “crafts,” but it’s really just being artistic. I’m an Illustrator, and I work with a vast number of different media, but I have never really been interested in the 3-D world of art. Sculpture, textures, and stuff like sewing were just not my thing! Sure, like many others, I made Barbie clothes and such, but never got really interested until cosplay. My friends and I basically taught ourselves how to sew. It was pretty easy to learn the basics, and to this day I still have a lot more to learn. It’s a great hobby for someone to pick up, and I recommend classes or books for those who want to further their talents! Having an artistic background, though, I think has helped me in my cosplay. Heck, when it came time to paint the designs for Justina Born and Gin Ichimaru, it was a cinch! But then other areas have been a challenge for me, such as props. My hands are just horrible at building 3-D things! ;D

Cosplaying with friends obviously multiplies the fun. How has having a “partner in crime” helped you?

I honestly think the reason I got so involved and obsessed with cosplay is because of Noki, my “crime” buddy! =3 She keeps me going. There have been many times I have gotten frustrated over costumes and have just wanted to rip them up. Then there are the times we have “sewing parties” the week before a convention, and I get lazy watching TV or surfing the internet. Noki is my drill instructor and whips me back into place! ^_^ We’ve had a few of our friends occasionally cosplay with us as well, and I just love cosplaying as a group! There’s just something about goofing off with your best friends in costumes that is so addictive. There have been a few times I’ve been in costume by myself, and it feels very lonely. When I’m cosplaying with a group, we get to have fun doing different poses together and having the characters we are cosplaying interact in silly ways. For instance: the time the poor residents of Ohio had to witness two blood-soaked maniacs (Sasuke and Naruto) running down the street, waving at the cars! Sorry Ohio. =)

Which costume in your collection has been the most fun to wear so far?

I have favorites like Justina Born, but cursed Sasuke and the Heartless were a blast. They were so fun because most of the characters I choose are cutesy, and they were the total opposite! A lot of people enjoy cosplaying because they get to act like someone else for a day. I’m a happy-go-lucky person, and I love to laugh, so these characters were a stark contrast to my personality. I got to look mean and be evil for once. I also got to scare little kids! (I actually felt bad about it because I made a little girl cry once! It was so sad!) It’s rather ironic that these two were the most fun to wear because they both were so uncomfortable!

Are cosplay and your career path best buddies or arch nemeses?

I think it’s a little bit of both. I say that because there are a lot of benefits and skills I obtain through cosplay, but at the same time cosplay takes me away from my life’s love: drawing. I adore cosplay and would love to do it for the rest of my life, but I get so caught up in it at times that I neglect my art and/or schoolwork. To better my future as an illustrator, I need to focus more to build up my skills and my portfolio. I think as I graduate and enter the work force, I might slow down cosplaying a bit so I can put more focus on art. On the other hand, I think cosplay helps me at the same time because it keeps my creative juices flowing. Also, I’ve met many contacts through cosplay, and the overall experience has made me more of an extroverted person. This will help when it comes time for me to promote myself for a job or when I need to go in for an interview!

Budgeting colay can often be a challenge so how do you decide how much to allot for various costume components? (for example: X dollars for wig, Y dollars for shoes, Z dollars for fabric, etc.)

It’s funny that you ask this because I am probably the worst person to answer this question. I am very irresponsible with my money! I have a bad habit of just making a list of the supplies I need and just grabbing it all. Then when I get to the register and check out, I cry over the total as I swipe my credit card. >_< lol Honestly, I hardly ever set a budget, but I do try and cut corners. I’m on the JoAnn's mailing list, so whenever I get coupons, I always try and use them. I’ll buy cloth for a costume I won’t be working on for another month or two just to save money. I think it’s good, though, for people to try to set budgets! Set a goal price and at least try to stay in that range. Even though I don’t really plan my budget, I normally focus my spending on quality fabric and wigs. A bad wig or cheap cloth can sometimes ruin a costume, no matter how great you are at sewing! Sadly when it comes to quality, you get what you pay for usually, so things tend to get expensive. On occasion, I sell a few retired wigs or anime collectibles to get some extra costume cash. I need to start budgeting more often though. =O

How do you break down the process of creating an outfit to go from the initial, “Wow! I love that design!” to the final presentation?

First, I make several sketches and try to get plenty images of the character. I sketch out every little detail and work out the actual construction during this phase (like where the zipper, if there is one, will be placed). Sketching things out also helps me envision the way I’m going to make certain parts. For instance, I did a great deal of sketching when I was deciding how to make the claws for Hsien-ko. I then create a check-off list of everything I could possibly need for that costume, from thread to the right makeup for the character. Once I’ve obtained all the materials, I just start with the core of the costume, such as the main dress and pants for Justina. The details, such as Justina’s hairballs, are worked on later. Even during the actual sewing, I’m constantly sketching little notes dealing with the construction. It’s really hard to explain any further on how I create my costumes because each costume is such a different experience. I could be blabbering all day long if I did that. >D The key is to just plan the costume out thoroughly, and think through the construction as much as you can before you ever pick up the scissors. The few times I rushed into a costume, I ended up having to go back and correct a lot of mistakes! And stay patient through it all. (That’s one thing I need to work on myself!)


photo courtesy goddesscosplay.net

photo courtesy DeathCom.net

You have some great poses in your profile. Share some tips for getting into character and making interesting photos.sp

I think the key to interesting poses is just trying to portray the character’s personality in the photos and having fun with it! It’s hard to explain how I get exactly “into character,” but I do know you have to be loose and comfortable in front of the camera. (Start out by mimicking certain poses the character is famous for!) As a beginner, I used to just stand there like a tree stump and felt very awkward in front of the camera. Now I just have fun when my picture is being taken! Another good idea is to get photos outside of the con. It’s really hard to get nice photos at an actual convention since there are limited locations/occasional bad lighting. It really helps to go find a fitting location that you would see your character in. Dramatic poses, nice lighting and such always help too! For really good photos of our Naruto costumes (and my Wired photo shoot), my friends and I headed to Stone Mountain. We ended up getting fabulous photos on top of the mountain! ^_^

When life seems to be nothing but broken needles, smeared paint, and hot glue burns, how do you get back to the bright side?

Oh how many times have I run into this situation! I am notorious for waiting till the last second to finish parts of my costumes, and something always goes wrong when I do. I try to plan ahead, but things like smeared paint and hot glue burns (ouch!!) just happen. The one thing that has kept me on the bright side each time has been my cosplay friends. They’re like my cheerleading squad, cheering on the sideline for me to finish and just pull through. In the end, it’s worth it to just suck it up and keep going. Great times are ahead, and if you can just get through this ONE moment, then you can look back and be proud of yourself. Also, remember it is just cosplay! I have spent way too many hours in the hotel room sewing and missing out on the con. Each time that happens, my con/cosplay experience is a little less fun. The time my hands were covered in hot glue burns, I just sat on the floor of the hotel room, crying due to frustration. My friends came in and saw me, then pep-talked me and got me going. That night ended up being full of dorky fun! ^_^

What suggestions do you have for creating the cartoonish elements such as the big hands of Janice (Chrono Cross) and the pants of the Disgaea concept character?

Well first off, I deal with each character and the elements of their costume differently. I end up using foam and stuffing a lot on the cartoonish elements because they really add volume. For Janice, I used stuffing for the hands to make them full and shapely. Although now that I look back at them, I think they’re rather odd and ugly (hehe!). If I were to remake them I’d like to shape the fingers differently! The hands I did back then were based on simple, self-made patterns that I didn’t put a lot of thought into. The Janice hands were a lot easier than the Heartless hands I did down the road. The Heartless hands have cardboard cutouts inside them to help form and retain their odd shape.

They were a bit difficult to perfect, but together, Noki and I got them down exactly how we wanted! For the Disgaea pants, I sewed a thin layer of foam into the pants that kept them poofy. I use this technique on a lot of costume elements, like the bow for Hsien-ko. Foam is soft enough to bend and manipulate, but hard enough to hold a particular shape. I used the foam technique again for the shoes of the Disgaea character to help them look more 3-D. I love the wonderful effects I get from foam; it’s a cosplayer’s best friend!

When you finally “retire” from cosplaying, for what would you most like to be remembered?

I’d really like people to remember me as a fun-loving girl who just happened to wear geeky costumes! Even for those who will never meet me, I hope things like this interview will help those people to know the real me. I have no idea when I will stop cosplaying though. Even when I stop obsessing over anime, there will always be movies and TV shows I’ll fall in love with! Costuming will probably always have some part in my life unless I completely change fifteen years down the road. But I highly doubt that because I’m really just a 10 year-old in a 22 year-old body, and I’ll always be that way!

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

I want to give a shout-out to all my cosplay buds! You guys make it all worth it in the end, so thanks for being the great people you all are! (You guys know who you are! *cough* LJ Flist *cough* ) I think I’ve mentioned Noki a zillon times already, so I would love to give a shout-out to Kira, Greg, Rob and Mike! You guys always keep me happy at conventions even if things concerning my cosplay don’t turn out right. =) And to cosplayers in general: Just have fun with this geeky hobby we call cosplay! Try not to take it too seriously or get frustrated over anything. Don’t worry what others say; just be yourself and rock out your costume like there’s no tomorrow!

See more of Masami's costumes.

 

Masami, your bubbling enthusiasm is contagious, proving that attitude is as important as fabric choice in this hobby. We all need to remember that 'play' is a big part of the game so that we don't get bogged down in details or gossip. Keep us hoppin' with your peppy cosplays, and best of luck in your future as an illustrator extraordinaire.

Mrs.Tomoe

 
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