What is your approach to costume design, materials sourcing, and production?
My typical approach once I've decided what costume I'm going to make is first to think of ways to push boundaries with it. What details and effects can I include to push this costume to it's limits? What materials are a must for this character and give the best effect? Once I get super excited or hyped up about the base idea I want to work towards, I start to think of the costume a bit like a puzzle. I start asking myself questions and researching things like how feasible is it, how do I want to go about making it, how do the pieces fit together? I usually spend a lot of time doing research and looking at material and construction choices before I even get any materials.
Once I have a pretty solid idea of how I am going to make something, I start hunting for materials. I find materials at all kinds of different places, from fabric stores, hobby stores, thrift shopping, hardware stores, etc. Once my materials are gathered, I start getting to work. Usually, I'm able to work on and make most things in our apartment, but sometimes, I have to ask friends with better spaces and tools (eg: wood shop or garage) for help.
Do you typically cosplay solo or with a group?
I usually cosplay solo or as a pair with my boyfriend, though it's always fun to meet up with people at events/conventions.
What are your top resources as a cosplayer?
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?
Most of my time is spent researching and creating the costumes. Cons and events are really fun and useful to bring out a new costume, network, and visit people I don't usually get to see. Between cons, I still use social media tools to stay in contact, chat, and discuss stuff with friends and other cosplayers, and I also set up photo shoots with photographer friends in my area.
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 have found that in recent years/months, cosplay has definitely been growing and sort of stumbling towards becoming a profession. Not many people have been able to get their cosplay to the point of being able to live off of it, but the number able to do so is growing. Depending on the cosplayer's goal, they can put their focus on different kinds of work. For instance, Volpin Props has become a master replica prop maker. Others, such as God Save the Queen Fashions focus on creating high quality commission costume work. Jessica Nigri tends to work more as a spokes-model while Yaya Han has worked really hard to create her own brand and markets herself as a cosplay ambassador. Other cosplayers may also use their work to become costume designers/prop makers for studios or films. So right now, there is no set path for cosplayers to "go pro", but people are definitely trying to figure out how to support doing what they love.