A very active cosplayer, and an involved organizer. What is cosplay for her and what does she do with the contents of the bag when she puts on the outfit? Find out for yourself!
Whoever has not had a chance to meet a friend on the street, let him throw a stone first! Sometimes such a situation can be even offensive to someone, but there are groups for whom it would be a real compliment. Talking to a girl at the entrance to the convention grounds, I never imagined that I had someone in front of me whom I had seen many times before. When I was enlightened, I couldn’t help but take advantage of this fact and this is how the following interview with another representative of the cosplay art was created.
Before you – Dead!
The Last Tavern: At the beginning, I couldn’t ask any other question than the beginning. How did your adventure with cosplay begin?
Dead: That’s a very good question. My adventure with cosplay began relatively recently, about 4-5 years ago. Earlier, for some time, I happened to play computer games, Larpy or RPG, and so I “grew” into the environment, but I have never heard of cosplay. One day, a group of friends from Częstochowa organized a fantasy-themed party in our “nerdy” restaurant. I decided to make an outfit inspired by my character from Wowa – Draenei Mage. A reworked dress, polystyrene corners, body painting with a blue poster … and stuff. At the party itself, I heard several times from my friends: “great cosplay, Dead!” and after returning home, I found out if they insulted me with this “cosplay” or not and what it is all about. That’s how I came across the wonderful Shappi and Issabell costumes on the internet. I’ve done some costumes before, but more for LARP or Halloween, which are less demanding and much forgiving. When I saw what the girls do, I decided that I want to do that too, because it’s a great thing and it will allow me to “live” artistically and technically. And then it was over!
OT: Many artists struggle with the problem of stage fright before performing live. Does this apply to you too? How do you deal with it?
M: Oh, absolutely. There is stage fright, not only before going on stage, but also before the jury’s round. How am I doing? Perhaps I will give you a short story first. – Masquerade 2015 – my first big cosplay contest. Lots of people, in beautiful costumes and all. I know that I do not grow up to their heels, because I am just starting. It’s terribly hot and stuffy, my makeup is running down. I know that there will be a lot of audience and for this… screens. I am a bit down, stage fright, and in general somehow I do not feel well. I am sitting in front of the cosplay dressing room. And then SHE comes in. She comes up to me and says, “Hello, I’m Zula, I’m the organizer of the Masquerade. Don’t worry, don’t be stressed. You have a great costume, you made it to the finals, be proud of yourself. You are super!” – and at that moment all the stress and bad thoughts went away. So far I am a little touched by this memory.
And that’s what makes me manage and gives me strength – “I managed to make the whole outfit, prepare the show, why should I not do it now, at the end?”
OT: When choosing a character, do you mainly look at their appearance, sympathy for them or do you have a different selection key?
M: It can be different. When I don’t know the character, and I like its appearance and design, I try to familiarize myself with the series it comes from. I read, watch and play. I am often guided by similarity, and if I am not similar, I try to reflect the similarity with make-up, makeup, but also with facial expressions. It also happens that I have a nice idea for a scene and I wonder what character would fit her.
OT: How much time do you spend trying to turn an idea into an outfit ready to be presented on stage?
M: It really depends on the complexity of the outfit. Anyway, I always try to do my best and reproduce every detail as best as possible. For me, these are months of everyday work on an outfit. For example, Syanna – here I made every element from scratch, myself – embroidery, wig weaving, forms for armor elements or hand-sewn leather belts, shoes and a jacket. Tedious and time-consuming work, but I am proud of the results.
OT: Cosplay is not only about photos and performances, but also a lot of interaction with fans. These are usually pleasant moments, but sometimes there are people who see a second, not very pleasant bottom in the costumes. Do you experience such situations and how do you deal with them?
M: Sure, they do, but quite rarely. It’s like in “normal” life – I react to rudeness very bluntly and I think that it is a lesson for those who cannot keep a minimum of culture. I think people still need to be educated that the cosplayer is an ordinary person and not their favorite or hated character from the game, because what you hear / read in your direction can be really unpleasant or at least awkward. These are quite difficult topics and I keep wondering how to approach them so as not to unleash… hell.
OT: Is there a costume that was a special challenge for you and you are extremely proud of it?
M: I am proud of each of my outfits because most of the things I did for the first time. New techniques, new materials, new tools. How many cosplay techniques can combine is a great thing. However, Ciri and Syanna from The Witcher are still my favorite outfits at the moment – it combines not only a lot of techniques and various materials, which I think is cool, but most of all: it is comfortable! And a great fondness for the series, of course. Convenience above all!
OT: A lot of people, seeing the costumes rich in details and meticulously crafted, think about one thing that I am going to ask you. What do you do with documents, phone and other important things when you play as a character you’ve prepared?
M: And that’s not a very difficult question. The characters from The Witcher, i.e. Ciri and Syanna, have wallets attached to their belts, so why not use them for the purposes for which they were created? This is the convenience I mentioned earlier. With other characters – Bloodelfce from WoW, I decided to make a purse in the shape of a magic book, which is very roomy and does not catch the eye. With Tyrande from Heroes of the Storm, my helper unfortunately “suffered” and carried a casual purse behind me, because then I had not thought of doing something in the atmosphere of a character to wear things.
OT: You have performed on the stages of many conventions many times, but you also appeared on the other side, i.e. as a juror evaluating other performers. What is it like to be a juror, okay?
M: In my opinion it is not that good or that it is not good. If I were to say what I value the most in life, I would say people. Err … People who gave me a helping hand when I was struggling when I was alone. Interestingly, it is random encounters that influence our lives. The point is that when you profess certain values, even seemingly universal ones, sometimes you don’t find understanding, so to speak, that helps us grow. I was lucky to say so because I found it. And thank you life. I thank him, life is singing, life is dancing, life is love. Many people ask me the same thing, but how do you do it? Where do you get this joy from? And I answer that it is simple, it is love of life, it is it that makes me, for example, cosplay today, juror, and tomorrow … who knows why not,
Seriously, judging others in cosplay competitions is difficult because I know these people put a lot of time, work, nerves and money into their costumes and performances. Often I would like to be able to reward everyone, but you just can’t. I try to judge at competitions as fairly and objectively as possible, but sometimes, with other jurors, we face very difficult choices and trifles can determine the victory.
OT: In addition to cosplay, you are also a co-organizer of Medalikon, a convent in Częstochowa that already hosts the pages of the Last Tavern. Is it hard work to prepare such a large undertaking?
M: Work on the convention lasts all year round. Starting from finding and renting a school for a given date, to the graphic design, inviting and taking care of guests, all logistics, obtaining sponsors for prizes for competitions or the organization of competitions and attractions. There is also a lot of work that is not paid so much attention on the days of the event, because it is the “everyday” of the convention. We try to make our convention as interesting as possible for the participants, so we make every effort to organize it as best we can. I, personally, mainly take care of the medal silicone cosplay competition and as I am a cosplayer myself, I know and try to meet the expectations of the participants, I learn from the mistakes and advice of others. I hope to be able to organize a nice cosplay contest in 2020 so that everyone is happy. Seriously! I try to!
OT: Imagine you’re giving a lecture to people who want to start their adventure with cosplay. What advice would you give beginners to this wonderful art?
M: I can imagine. In January, I had the opportunity to give such a lecture at the University of Opole. I talked easily about how to start and what cosplay is all about, there were also technical details – about materials, tools, etc.
For beginners, my advice is: don’t give up when something goes wrong. Each of these “great, famous cosplayers” started out somehow, and it wasn’t all successes. We learn from failure, and our skills grow as we work. My passion turned into work, which gives me a lot of joy and I wish you the same, dear beginners: patience and joy in what you do.
The author of the photos is Stygian VI Photography