Cosplay has been one of the most iconic approach in expressing one’s love for a certain anime, manga or game character for the past few years.
To express ones enthusiasm in a particular hobby isn’t new to the many of us. One can express their love for a title or genre by purchasing their products etc. but nothing beats Cosplay in terms of expressing ones love for their chosen show or character.
Cosplay can be defined in various ways. Some say it is an act of dressing up as your favorite character, temporarily discarding your own individuality and taking their persona and making it yours. The ability to be in-character and personify it whole-heartedly or the art of transforming fantasy into reality. Different personalities, individualities, timelines and gestures to name a few are all but a small fraction as to what defines cosplay and the beauty of it. In a nutshell, that is the “Art of Cosplay”
But those concepts and aspects seem to have been long forgotten by many. At the moment, many of the current cosplayers believe that in order for one to cosplay they would need money, fame and be daring to the point that they start showing more skin than garment in order to show that they can cosplay. Even the concept of getting the costume right and be-in-character is now lost. Some even think of it as modelling which is one of the biggest misconception during this era.
That said, Its high time we kindle the true spirit of Cosplay. Its going to be a very hard endeavor but it is possible one step at a time. To kick-start things, interviews will be posted about certain cosplayers who are not only the best at what they do, but are cosplayers who know the craft itself by heart. With the articles, I do hope that readers would understand that cosplay isn’t just about donning that costume and strutting around for there is more than what meets the eye in cosplay.
As one cosplay magazine stated, Cosplay is not about modelling nor has it been entirely like such but its to express, to express ones love for that anime / manga / game character by giving life to it. Its like a kid saying to his mom “Mommy, its the Power Ranger that I saw last night on TV!”
For the very first issue of “Kindle”, we took a moment and chance upon an interview with one cosplayer who not only is regarded highly for her craftsmanship but same goes for her portrayal of the characters she loves. She is none other than Maridah.
How did you got into this hobby and why?
I started cosplaying in high school. I had been a fan of anime for several years and was in a preforming arts school for theater, already making costumes. I wanted to attend a local convention and thought it would be fun to make costumes for myself and a few of my friends to wear to it.
What was your first cosplay, why did you choose that character to cosplay and what event did you debut with it?
My first cosplay was of Relena from Gundam Wing. I was a fan of the show at the time. I wore it to A-kon, which was the big local convention in my city.
Where does your inspiration come from? Do you have any favorite artists., a cosplayer you look up to or favorite fellow cosplayers? How do they inspire you?
My inspiration comes from the shows themselves and the characters. I get motivated by enjoying a show and wanting to express that through making a costume based on it. I know a lot of cosplayers, and call a number of them friends, but I can’t say that I look up to anyone specifically. Certainly I respect a number of them and really love to see other people’s work at conventions, but it’s the shows and games themselves that inspire me to cosplay.
What would be your favorite cosplay up until now?
Probably my Lina Inverse. Saber is a close second but I’d have to pick my Lina because even though it didn’t receive as much attention, I had so much fun wearing it and people’s reactions to it were awesome. The cape really did it for me. I have to say, costumes with capes just make you feel cool even if you look silly.
What can you tell about the cosplay community in your country?
It has grown immensely, and it’s ever-evolving. It takes all kinds, too, from the very young with no experience to professionals in costuming who create over the top outfits. You can find people from pretty much every walk of life out there cosplaying in America.
Majority of the photos in your cosplay portfolio seems to consist mainly of private cosplay photoshoots. How do you think a cosplayer’s relation with the photographer influence the outcome of a photoshoot?
While it might look that way, nearly all of my cosplay photos have been shot at conventions and events, either in the hotels or areas adjacent to the convention. The real art to it is making a location near or at a convention look like it’s not, and comes down to the photographer’s abilities and sometimes some planning. It’s helpful to be friends with a few photographers so that you can meet up for photos, but I’ve had amazing pictures taken by some photographers I had just met. I think relationships are less important than being willing to shoot with anyone at a convention who asks if you have time. You never know what kind of great things can come out of that, and that’s how I’ve met some very talented people.
What keeps you going in cosplay (friends, fans, challenge in each costume, experience)
The shows and my love for them keep me motivated. If I’m feeling burnt out, all I really have to do is pop in a DVD or browse safebooru and I’m feeling excited to cosplay again.
How much time do you usually invest in creating a costume?
Usually under $100. There is a lot of misconceptions about cosplay being expensive and the more money you put into it, the better you do. It’s not really true. Sure, you can buy $25 a yard fabric to make your costume out of, but you don’t have to. I use to spend more on costumes, but over the years I’ve learned where to buy my materials, wigs and shoes so that I don’t have to spend too much. Most of my fabric comes from fabric warehouses, and runs $2-6 dollars a yard. I buy a lot of wigs and shoes from ebay. If you know where to look, you can work from a small budget and still make good things. A lot of quality comes from construction rather than material.
Do you create your own costumes or do you receive any help?
I create my own stuff (and have in the past been ‘that friend’ who made things for the group since I was the only one who could sew LOL) I have a section of my apartment just for sewing and use my porch for my power tools, etc. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind help in the future on learning new skills like fiberglassing or 3D printing, though! I’ve been teaching myself how to do most of everything up until now~
Which or what would be the most difficult costume you’ve made until now and how did you do it? What was the most difficult part?
Probably my Saber. Not because any one part of it was tough, but because it was all new things I had to teach myself to do in order to make it. It was pattern drafting not only for the dress parts, something I was familiar with, but also for armor. I had never used sintra before, so working with it was a challenge at first. I struggled with how to cut it out. I’m very picky about certain things, and I wanted to have a clean edge on my sintra pieces. It took a lot of trial and error, and eventually I realized I needed to use a scroll saw if I wanted clean cuts. After that point, I bought a dremel to clean parts up further. Assembling it and having to look decent was also a challenge to me since I’d never made armor on that scale before. The chest armor was the biggest hurdle, and it was also the first thing I replaced when remaking it the second time. I also had never styled a wig into a bun before, but just sat down and did it with decent results. Excalibur was the largest prop I had made. Despite all these things, most of the real challenge was in making the move to try new things and finding time to work on it all.
Can you tell us something about how you choose the fabric for your costumes? Are there certain criteria for matching a certain type of fabric with a certain costume? If there is one, what is your preferred fabric and/or material to work with?
I try to color match first, but also to keep my materials similar for any one given costume. If I make it out of poplin, I choose mostly poplins. If it’s stretch satin, I’m choosing satins of the same sheen. I don’t mix materials unless the costume specifically looks like it’s made out of different things, or logically it could be. I don’t have just one fabric I always use, but I do like using poplins and stretch satins since they come in many colors and don’t wrinkle so terribly.
What do you do with the costumes from previous cosplays? Do you keep them? Do you recycle them for future cosplays?
I keep them. It’s caused some problems for me since I no longer really have room for them all so eventually I might start giving them away or selling a few to other cosplayers.
The first i’ve ever seen of your works was Saber from Fate Stay Night, a costume that I think you’re well known for. Why did you decide to make that costume and what sort of reactions did people get when they saw you?
At the beginning of 2009 I hadn’t been watching any new anime for a while, was pretty sure I was done cosplaying, and had really fallen off the face of the earth if you ask my friends about it. I hadn’t seen a show that got me excited to cosplay in quite a while until watching Fate/Stay Night. Saber’s character really grabbed me like few characters have and I wanted to cosplay her. It was a month and a half before Fanime, the con that I would eventually debut the costume at, and that really isn’t a lot of time to decide to take on a a project like that. I became (insanely) determined to make it and somehow did, though I missed a lot of sleep in order to do so. Because I had been in an anime void for a while I wasn’t really aware of the scale of the FSN fandom, nor prepared for the reaction to the costume. I still remember leaving the hotel in it, feeling nervous and a bit like the C3PO in it since it’s pretty strange to walk in. I stepped out into the lobby and immediately it was like something changed. The reaction to it at the convention was strong. So many photos. I had people following me… It was crazy. I know now that Saber is catnip to some people but at the time I had no idea. It was overwhelming.
Fate Stay Night is one of the most popular titles in the anime/manga/light novel industry not only in Japan but across the globe. It’s also one of the most recommended titles by anyone and you’ve cosplayed one of the characters quite a bit namely Saber; How has this series influenced you? Does it hold a special significance or importance.
I don’t know if I can say it has influenced me. I am who I am, and while I’m a fan, my fandoms don’t define me. It is, however, very important to me. It’s because I watched it, became a fan of it, and expressed that through making cosplay for it that a lot has happened. I’ve made a number of friends because of it. I’ve had opportunities happen because of it. I’ve grown as a person because of those friends and situations that came from that cosplay. It has changed my life and so it has significance to me as more than just a show I’m a fan of.
Your resemblance to the character Saber is uncanny to the point that your fans are at awe and very amazed. How does feel to be highly regarded as one of the best cosplayer for the said character?
It’s very hard to put to words. It’s really an honor, but it’s also very humbling. I’m happy and overwhelmed by it at the same time.
How long did it took you to create Saber’s servant costume?
The armor took a little over a month/month and a half to complete.
There have been quite a few versions of Saber ranging from the original blue motiff servant Saber, Saber Alter, Saber Lily, Saber Lion, Saber Extra etc. Do you have any plans of completing all her forms?
Not all of them, but I have quite a few under my belt at this point and do plan to make more. I’m a bit limited on space at the moment, so that keeps me from taking on any of her larger costumes right now. I just don’t have room for them.
Among the different versions of Saber, which one would be the most special to you and why?
My original costume probably means more to me since it was the first thing I made for her.
How has cosplay changed your life and who you are?
It’s changed my online life drastically, but my day to day life is pretty unaffected. Since I’ve kept cosplay a secret to everyone outside of the community, it’s sort of like living two lives. To anyone reading this, I’m Maridah. To classmates, coworkers, bosses, etc I’ve always been ‘me’. Maybe because of that, I haven’t had it change who I am as a person too much.
In your own opinion, what would be the most important challenge for a cosplayer?
Not letting anyone keep you from being who you are and enjoying yourself. There is a lot of negativity directed towards cosplayers, from outside and inside the community alike. Your boss will think it’s weird, strangers think you need to ‘grow up’, other cosplayers say your costume is bad, and otakus say you ruin a character. The challenge is to know how to filter that out and keep that enjoyment and excitement that cosplay gives you alive. It’s very possible to do, but I’ve watched just about every cosplayer I know struggle with it at some point so it’s not always easy.
Do you have any other hobbies besides cosplay? Do they help inspire you in any way in cosplay?
I do. I like to collect anime figures, BJDs, and Dollfie Dreams. The figures make great reference sometimes. I sew clothing for my dolls, which helps me improve my sewing in little ways too. I’m also an artist by degree, so I enjoy drawing, watercolor, and working digitally. I like to play around making things in 3D sometimes too. I also love setting up websites for myself and friends. I’m a micromanager, so it’s almost therapeutic to work on some of these things. Being able to draw has come in handy, as has knowing how to set up a website. Hopefully I can use what experience I have in 3D for something neat down the line too.
How long do you think you will continue with this hobby? Will you stop at some point? Did you ever or are you considering making cosplay your job/lifestyle or do you have other plans for the future?
I will stop once I feel it’s not what I want to be doing with my free time anymore. Once other hobbies become more of a passion I can see myself giving up cosplay, but so long as I like doing it, I’ll find time for it. I don’t see cosplay as a viable job option for myself, though.
What sort of advice can you give to cosplayers (especially people who are new into cosplay) in & outside your country and in general as well as your fans?
Pick a character you love and cosplay with friends. Nothing else matters and don’t let anyone try to convince you otherwise.
Any special message you want to shout-out to your supporters, friends etc?
I just want to thank the many people who have shown me support and let me know my cosplay has meant something to them. It means something to me that it would mean something to others.
Catch more of her by visiting her site: http://www.maridah.com