It is with pleasure that I got to interview Gamrgeek Cosplay this week for the Let's Talk Cosplay segment! She's such a sweetheart, and I was glad to see she was willing to be interviewed.
What do you like to do outside of cosplaying?
Outside of cosplaying I enjoy watching hockey with my Mom, fishing, painting my van, playing video games, working on models, and LARPing (Live Action Role Playing).
Which do you like: comics, manga/anime, movies/tv shows, video games, or books?
YES! lol I enjoy them all!
Any favorites in those categories?
Hmm... This is a tough one. For comics I would have to say webcomic Girl Genius is definitely one of my favorites. For comic books it's a toss up between Hell Boy/B.P.R.D. by Mike Mignola, Neil Gaman's Sandman comics, and Lady Death comics. There are a lot of anime that I like. Trigun, Gantz, Soul Eater, Hetalia... My tastes are all over the place! Favorite movies would be the Friday the 13th series, Silent Hill movies, and Jurassic Park series. TV shows are almost as random as the anime, though tends to stay more toward the dark/supernatural/scifi. I like Once Upon A Time, Grimm, Gotham, Supernatural, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Babylon 5... The list goes on! Video games I like are the Assassin's Creed series, Silent Hill series,Skylanders, and Batman Arkham series. Books... Now there's a topic I could go on about. I'd have to say my favorites areRaptor Red (Robert T. Bakker), Jurassic Park and Lost World (Michael Chrichton), The Black Jewels trilogy (Anne Bishop), andThe Talisman (Stephen King).
Cosplayers are often inspired by other cosplayers and their work. Do you have any sort of “favorite cosplayers” out there that inspire you?
Not one in particular. Every time I go to a convention I find someone who inspires me to do more. From a cosplayer in a wheel chair, to a child in a little home made outfit, to the guy that spent four months making the super detailed, highly accurate suit of armor. I get inspiration from everyone where ever I go.
How exactly did you start your journey into the cosplay world? How long have you been cosplaying?
The way this got started oddly enough was in college. I was at Michigan State back in 2001 and needed a costume for something. Digging through my closet, I was able to throw together a Duo Maxwell outfit. From that point on I decided to make, or at least piece together, all my costumes. I've been at it off and on for 14 years now.
What currently is your favorite cosplay you have made?
Currently I'd have to say it's my Mad Hatter Undertaker. Many people recognize me as a Mad Hatter of some sort when I wear it. Between the goofiness that comes with being a Mad Hatter and the cookies I give out with the costume, it's always a lot of fun to wear.
Do you have that one cosplay that’s the bane of your existence? If so, which one is it?
I did a Steampunk Hexadecimal from ReBoot. Between the corset and body suit it was a pain to get on and wear. Not to mention small parts that kept falling off because of the material used in the bodysuit. I plan to remake her one day with better materials.
Is there some specific process you have to choose what character you’ll cosplay?
Not really. I just see a character I like and add it to my list of inspiration. A list that continues to grow faster than I can create.
When you make a cosplay, how long does it normally take for the entire thing to be completed?
It depends on the complexity of the cosplay. So far it can take me anywhere from 4 hours to 4 weeks of work.
Everyone’s process of making a cosplay is different. Can you describe your process for us?
1. Find character inspiration. If it's something not found in art of any form (such as a character from a book), I make note of all descriptions used - Is the character tall or short? What color hair/skin/eyes? Hair style? Any identifying marks/features? How are the clothes described? What is the personality like? This last one is actually important as anyone can wear a costume, but knowing the personality helps to actually bring the character to life.
2. Break the cosplay down into the most basic "form" possible before any details are added. If possible, I draw out the character in this simplified form. Outfit, accessories, even hair style. This helps to figure out what patterns to use, how to build any props/armor, and also helps with sizing.
3. Research on the internet to see if anyone else has done the same character. This helps with getting ideas on what materials to use, ideas on how to put things together, even gives a bar to work toward. For many characters you can get a wide range of ideas from super simple to super complex. This works out really well if you have questions on how someone put certain things together to get a particular look. Sometimes there aren't any other cosplayers for that particular character. In that case, I ask the cosplay community about it. From Cosplay.com to Facebook and DeviantArt, there are plenty of places to ask how people would put things together. Asking for help is okay!
4. Put it together! Once I have all my pieces and parts, I start putting them together. This is the biggest time consuming part.
In the case of making your own cosplay, what sort of tips do you have?
Take breaks often. It's easy to get caught up in making something cool and that's totally yours. Working on it for long periods of time can burn you out quickly though.
Start as early as possible. If you know you want Character X for ConAwesome!, don't wait until the week before to start working on it. If you do, you won't have time for breaks, you'll burn yourself out, not to mention make mistakes, that will nag you the entire convention. Give yourself enough time so that if you do make a mistake, it can be corrected before the convention.
Measure twice, cut once. An old sewing notion that is very true in everything. If you're unsure something will be big enough, always err on the side of caution and cut the piece out a little bigger than you measured. It's easier to take away than to try and add to it later.
Test frequently. It sounds odd, but testing to make sure something fits and won't fall apart is essential. It also helps to figure out how something will attach and where.
Do you use wigs when cosplaying? Is there a specific reason why?
Sometimes. My hair is a natural dark blonde and short, so if a character has anything other than that, I have to use a wig to pull the character off.
How do you approach wigs when styling?
With extreme caution. lol Wigs can be a beast when styling, so patience is a virtue. Make sure you research what products work for the type of wig you have. Don't use a curling iron on a wig that's not heat resistant for example.
Often times cosplayers use makeup to accentuate their cosplay. Do you use makeup in cosplay, and if so, why?
I do. It's hard looking like a walking corpse, opposite gender, or a blue skinned elf without a bit of makeup.
Some cosplayers find makeup a daunting task, so do you have any tips for them and makeup?
Practice putting it on many times before you're planning on wearing it. That way you know how to do it, how much to use (less is more! Don't cake it on.), and especially, how long it takes so you're not rushing to get it on. Also, the cheap stuff is nice if you're not planning on wearing the character long or if you're testing out layers and color combos, but when it comes to all day convention wear, don't go cheap. It sweats/rubs off way to easy, doesn't seal right, and becomes a mess to deal with. I recommend using Mehron or Ben Nye make up products. They stay on better, last longer, and come off fairly easy at the end of the day.
For cosplayers, there’s always one aspect of getting on a costume they love. What is it for you?
Getting in to character. It's not just about the costume. While I'm getting dressed, getting my make up and my wig on, I'm going over what the character would say and do. This brings the character to life, making it more than just a person wearing a costume.
Any dream cosplays you’d like to do?
I have a couple. The high priest skeksis, skekZok, from Dark Crystal is one. Another is Big Sister from Bioshock.
What about cosplays you know you’ll never do? Why are they something you’ll never do?
Some cosplays I won't be able to do because I don't have the space, time, equipment, or money in order to make them happen.
There’s a lot of conventions of all different sorts to go to, so which ones do you like to attend?
I like to attend any I can. Comic, anime, steampunk, horror. As long as I have the money and time off, I'll attend them all!
Is there a dream con you want to go to? If so, which one is it?
The big three - Dragon*Con, NY Comicon, and San Diego Comicon.
Finally, any inspirational words for those just starting to get into cosplay?
Be proud of yourself. Don't let anyone ever tell you your costume is cheap, poorly made, your make up is bad, or anything of that nature. We all start somewhere. Be proud of what you've done and where you've come.