Interview with Cosplayer Bradley Vandervis

While Bradley Vandervis, a full time as an audio visual technician, does not cosplay professionally, he has experience cosplaying at major gaming events and cosplaying with those who have begun transitioning the pursuit into something more.

What is your approach to costume design, materials sourcing, and production?

I start by looking at what characters I like this is based off of things like personality, design, my attachment to the fandom, the approximate difficulty to make, time, money, and for me personally how popular the character is I don’t like cosplaying characters that lots of people have cosplayed.

With regard to materials, I try to stick to cheap and what I know like cardboard, resin fiberglass, EVA foam, PVC and plastics. To build the actual costume I look around online to see what other methods people have used. I then see if any of those methods are within my capabilities and if any of those methods can be applied to my costume.

I try to stick to what I know because when using new methods you WILL lose/mess up the first attempt just because you don’t know how the material will act to certain shapes or other products. patterning out the armor or fabric is probably the biggest part of the production process once you get the shape down you have a good base to work with and harden or detail however you want, and their are many ways each has its own pros and cons and varying material the bets thing you can do is find a blog or go to cosplay.com forums which are incredibly helpful and can give you a variety of ways to approach a problem and have multiple different methods cataloged there in detail.

I use cardboard for my base layer then apply resin on top of it to harden and then sand smooth then paint thats general how I make most my armor lately I’ve been using EVA foam but with a similar process of patterning cutting resin, sanding then painting. this costume was made from acrylic bought at home depot that was heated with a torch then bent to the correct shape, and the waste piece is painted eva foam and fabric glued together. their are a variety of you tube videos and blogs that go to extensive detail on how to do these processes just google the material and look around.

I also have a long history of working around the house, on cars, on quads, building and repairing things so I grew up to be very handy so tools and crafting is something I’ve been doing for a while just recently have I applied those skills to cosplaying at conventions.

Do you typically cosplay solo or with a group?

I have meet a bunch of people through cosplaying league, so I guess you can say I cosplay in a group.

What are your top resources as a cosplayer?

My top resources as a cosplayer are the internet and friends. I also have a lot of experience working with my hands and working with tools and around the house growing up so having to build something isn’t foreign to me as Ive been doing it for a while I’m just applying what I know from elsewhere to cosplay.

What do you spend most of your time doing as a cosplayer? Do you primarily spend time chatting with fellow cosplayers, attending big cons and tournaments, attending smaller events, doing private or group photoshoots, creating costumes and props, or doing something else entirely?

I spend most my time at conventions both big and small wandering the convention halls meeting other cosplayers and fans and talking to them. I have no intention of competing any time soon and I have my first photo shoot outside of a convention with my friend from capture photography we were throwing some ideas around and came up with a really cool idea we’d like to try so this winter we are going to have a photo shoot. I love using cosplay as a way to meet people of the similar fandom and talking to the different people i meet at conventions.

We’re learning that many cosplayers are starting to ‘go pro,’ just like serious competitive gamers. Do you know of any cosplayers who also make and sell costumes, sell prints, have sponsors, or make paid appearances?

I know of one cosplayer that makes a living off of costuming and selling prints and making paid appearances it is Missyeru. I know her personally. Another cosplay friend that just started selling prints but I do not know what their income from that is like I do know they work a real job on top of whatever they make from the selling of prints.

For the topic of “going pro” as a cosplayer I am going to be honest and say that it is an incredibly niche’ profession, that already has many talented and well known cosplayers already occupying what little jobs their are in the field. to go pro I do know that it requires a large amount of self promotion because what you’re potential employer is buying is not only you’re costuming skills but the fan base you have behind you. I do know people that don’t cosplay professionally but that they use cosplay as a means to build a portfolio for prop making or sewing or just networking in the field to gain some notice before moving into a different full time profession. I’ve heard of some cospalyers getting a lot of notice by cosplaying a video game or TV show then through cosplaying coming into contact with employees in that company then making a good impression and getting a job from there. its also a great way to show theaters or TV companies that you can build props or dresses and like I said, I think its a great way to expand your portfolio.

I do not make any money from cosplaying I do it strictly for the fun of it and making costumes is a hobby/challenge of mine that I really like, because I like build things. I cosplay league of legends because I love the game and think the designs are awesome and I’ve made a lot of cool friends from it.