Cosplay & Talent


Is it talent?

I’m quite lucky. I have a really cool job in real life. Ever since I dropped out of college (oops, did I forget to blog about this? maybe I will later), I’ve realized how much I love my job and how much I love my coworkers. I am blessed with coworkers who are creative and who embrace cosplay. Often they ask me:

Fred, why do you work here? you’re so talented… you should be in costume design, behind stage or designing costumes for people.

I know this is flattery but ever since I was young, I never liked being told I was talented. Maybe because I had drill-sergent piano teacher, she thought me that most talented people are useless; it’s the hard working ones who make it and get what they want. So when someone tells me “You’re so talented”… I know they mean well, but in the back of my head, I’m yelling “IT’S NOT TALENT, IT’S HARD WORK! ” It makes sense tho, right?

And I know most people are thinking that cosplayers are so lazy… of course we are lazy! We procrastinate, we rather watch 200 episodes of Naruto than actually work on a Naruto cosplay but when we actually get down to work, we defeat the huns faster and better than Mulan!

So do me a favor, next time you want to highlight the work a cosplayer did – don’t say they are talented. Say they are hardworking; admire how much work must have went into their art! It’s probably the best compliment you can ever give us :3

photo by Bret DR, featuring Vickybunnyangel, Gebgeb & Mao-chan

Otakuthon 2014 – Con report

Here it is, the annual Otakuthon. This convention feels like home and has always held a special place in my heart since it was the first convention I attended back in 2006. This year, you could feel how much Otakuthon has grown has the staff and organizers clearly did not expect the high number of attendants which reflected in a linecon. Surely something we can improve on next year as well as the badge pick up process…

This year, I actually decided to stay in a hotel. Last year, I didn’t and regretted it – Janna was not a public transit friendly cosplay. Knowing my lineup this year, I roomed with Deltaree, GebGeb and Usagi-chan. We checked in on Thursday so that we could relax one night before the convention and get to the convention Friday. However, it didn’t exactly pan out that way. As we were getting ready in our Eternal Sailor Moon cosplays, Mao-chan was delayed and thus we had to wait since she had the last of our accessories. When she finally made it, we rushed out to respective shoots; GebGeb and I with ONE Photography. We all met up later at the fountain for a fun video shoot with Kevin Zhao! We shot of a lot of silly scenes and had a great time. We then shot with Mike from Eleventh Photograph until I rushed to give my panel on Cosplay and Social Media.

I hadn’t given a panel in a while so I was really nervous, furthermore my partner got held at her booth in her merchant alley… but I think it went rather well. 30 mins into my panel I was already done and I was surprised but thankfully, there were a lot of questions and discussion so we were able to use all the time that was given to us!

Saturday, our day started early as GebGeb and I were both cosplaying Drakenguard 3 alonside Mao-chan and Vickybunnyangel. We got up early to get ready since both of our costumes were not only complicated but they were also exhausting to put on XD; We met the other girls at 11:00 and started shooting as a group! It was a lot of fun to be the 4 of us, finalle united for this group. Last time, at Anime North, it had been just me and the game was newly released so it felt quite lonely… so it was great so be surrounded by my friends, in cosplay, from the same game!

At 3:00, we lined up for the dreaded masquerade green room. I don’t love green rooms. Aside from judging, which is can be pleased, the rest is a bore. Our judge was Niq (DetailedIllusionCosplay) and he was a delight to explain our cosplays to. After judging and all  your regular green room processing, we settled down for a bit before rehearsing… for 10 mins. The staff wouldn’t let us practice. Wtf, stating that if they let one group practices then they would need to let everyone practice… so we had to improvise and drill the cues in my head (so I don’t forget them…)

We were able to get on stage quite early – thanks to the comprehension and kindness of the staff, I would not have lasted hours in the green room… and from there, it was showtime.

Overall, we did a great job. I was angry with myself because my ribbon got stuck so I turned around a bit early to get it unstuck. You can’t notice it but I know and it made me really annoyed after the masquerade… After the masquerade, all I could think about was to get out of this armor and eat! I then met up with Mike Kowalek and lovely bunch of cosplayers from Toronto. I was supposed to cosplay PJs Ymir that night but my body was rejecting lenses and my wig so I changed out quickly and went out for drinks with friends and ended up partying all night and only coming back Sunday morning!

Sunday morning… I was hangover and barely got any sleep. I ALMOST cancelled my Miki Hoshii cosplay but I was too bummed by the idea so I got a bit of rest and some coffee in me and prayed to the cosplay gods! I made it to the shoot and seeing my group looking so beautiful, I got all the energy I needed for the day!

We shot with Mike Kowalek and than Michaelle Charette. Then, we few of our girls had to leave for the award ceremony… not feeling confident about my performance the day before, I decided not to go and stay with the group. We shot a music video with Kevin Zhao instead!

Than, when we were done filming, I got wind that Vicky, Mao and I won something! An honourable mention for craftmanship — which is really cool because I didn’t expect to win anything. Overall, my hangover Sunday turned out to be the best hangover I’ve ever had haha. Of course, I was really tired and I called it a day at 4pm without really saying goodbye to anyone and went home ;)

Otakuthon had very few downs… but mostly lots of ups! I got to work with photographers I love and admire, cosplay from my all time favourite series, cosplay with friends and just overall had a lot of fun. Cons are supposed to be about fun and fun is something I had a lot of fun that week end! :D

oh I almost forgot.

Sailor Twerk.

Drakenguard Zero Sword – Construction Notes


It’s no secret that at Otakuthon, I was part of a great Drakenguard 3 group. My friend Geraldine (Gebgeb Cosplay), who was cosplaying Zero, had her work cut out for her: not only was she cosplaying Zero, she was also part of our Eternal Sailor Moon… as Eternal Sailor Moon. In July, it was clear that time was running and that she was likely not going to be able to make the sword so I decided to make it for her. I wanted our Zero to have a sword… and I like making things! I had all the materials on hand so why not, right? That’s the spirit of cosplay group!


I first printed out a template that we of the sword and discussed with Papaberry how we could realistically do this in wood. Since Geraldine is quite short, we decided that the finished sword should not be longer than 100cm : 70cm for the blade, 30 cm for the handle. My father cut out the blade and out of spare wood we had. The handle was cut out of my Janna staff (sorry Janna lovers!) . We had a bit of am unspoken rule my family – all the wood cutting is done by my father. It’s fine by me since he’s enjoying helping me with cosplay prop making lately!

Once he was done assembling the blade to the handle, I got to work! I initilally thought I wanted to sculpt the round handle out of expanding foam… big mistake. After fighting  with it for 3 days… I realized it was simply not the right material for want I wanted to it and I ripped it all apart to replace it with EVA foam. For the detailing on the blade, I used good ol’ craft foam and plastic pearls.

Once the blade was painted, I had the idea to had blood to it. In the game, whenever Zero is in battle, she is always covered in blood. Obviously, we were not about to cover Geraldine and her brand new cosplay in fake blood but I thought it would be cool to make her sword stand out!

and it was a lot of fun 8D

The last thing I did was applied worbla details: the pommel, the vine strips on the handle and the cross. The flowers were made Géraldine: some are in craft foam and some are in fabric! We added the matching velvet ribbon at the same time too :)

Looking back, I’m satisfied with how this sword turned out! There definitely things I would love to improve… like the pommel – I’m not happy how it turned out >> and the handle… in some reference it’s white and in some others it’s black! Oh, the ever changing references game~ But overall, I think we were able to make a pretty cool prop… in like… no time!

And then, we had a Drakenguard 3 group <3

Images by Novii photograhy

Cosplay by Shmuberry, Gebgeb, Mao-chan & Vickybunnyangel Cosplay

Three Construction Notes (Ver. 1)

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Three, from the video-game Drakenguard 3, is my most ambitious cosplay. The idea of cosplaying this came from Mao-chan, last year. She is a BIG FAN of the series for a long time. When the new game was announced and the character design was slowly revealed, she started lookling into forming a group. I jumped on the occasion: it looked complicated and I wanted a challenge!

The dress itself is rather simple. I completed this with the help of my mother in a week-end; my sewing machine was in repair so we sewed at her place in Sutton. We used a prom dress pattern. The black corsage is made out of black peau de soie I bought in Toronto and the lilac damask pattern fabric was actually custom design with the help of my friend Eru. If you would like to buy this fabric for your own Three cosplay, I’ve made it available  on Spoonflower (you’re welcome! :D)

The challenging part of this cosplay was the ARMOUR. OH MY GOD.

I am quite confident in my armour making skills but making a full leg armor that doesn’t hinder movement *too much* is challenging. The knee cover were easy to make but were a challenge to attach to my legs. Having worn the costume once, I want to revisit those again.

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Once my patterns were completed, I assembled everything using worbla and foam. For the leg armor, I insisted on hiding the seams, inspired by Coregeek. Using wood filler, I covered the seam and sanded it down before  covering the whole thing with black gesso, sanded again, then applied wood glue — before more sanding. Once I was satisfied with the smoothness, I applied half beads and covered them with one last layers of wood glue. Three’s armor is covered in rivets so I used fake pearls stickers that I found at Dollorama.

I chose to paint the whole armor using spray paint to avoid brush strokes and painted the silver details with a small brush. I tried adding some dark grey shadows on some parts of the armour but it barely made a difference… haha black armours are so flat!!

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In the end, I’m very happy with the way this costume turned out for Anime North. I’m definitely going to redo my whole straps system tho: by the end of the day, some of my armor where falling out (but that’s my fault, I was out of D-rings so I experimented… didn’t work out so well XD). Also one thing I learned: black armour… don’t do in the sun.

Anime North is a convention where most people hang outside… heck I didn’t even have a badge this year. It was incredibly hot and some part of my armour ended up heating up and somewhat melting! ahhh! This is worbla we are talking about so I can reheat it and give it the shape I want but it was quite surprising! I definitely plan on staying inside at Otakuthon… it’s not like I can really walk a lot in this armour anyway ^^”

In any case! I have quite a bit of work before Otakuthon! On top of reworking Three, I working on completing both Eternal Sailor Venus, Miki Hoshii Luxury costume and maybe one secret cosplay~ Wish me luck!

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Anime North 2014 convention report

 

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It’s that time of the year! Anime North!

Truth be told, if you had asked me last year, I would have told you that I was done with Anime North, that I was never coming back. To be honest, I had a bad time last year and it was unfair to leave my last impression of a convention based on personal events. Slowly, during the year, friends started talking me into coming and managed to convince Mao-chan and I to come pretty much to the last minute!

Then it was time to decide what to wear; I don’t think a lot of cosplayers write about their thought process when choosing their cosplay line up but here goes. I didn’t want to wear Bulma so close to Katsucon since I had already got so many pictures of that cosplay. Daenerys was out of the question: long dress in a parking lot? hahahahaha no. There was Tiki and my friends were doing a FE:A group but I knew conflict would arise if I wore that so even after remaking my wig, I was back to the drawing board, with less than a month to Anime North.

I had been slowly working on Three from Drakenguard 3 since November so I decided to pick up the pace and attempt to finish a beta version of that cosplay: Mao-chan, Vickybunnyangel, MeltingMirror and I will be debuting our group at Otakuthon so this is a great time to test run all that crazy armour! For the other days, I opted for Ymir from Attack on Titan and Ai Shindou from Beyond the Boundary as a back up.

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With all that ready, Mao-chan, her boyfriend and I left on friday for Toronto. When we got to our hotel, I changed as fast as I could into my Ymir cosplay: luckily I has been practicing putting on those stupid straps so getting ready only took about 30-45 mins… as opposed to the usual 3 hours XD We met with friends and eventually got separated, as it tends to happen a lot during conventions. I shot with X110291 and we then headed to Kitsurie and Yume‘s room where they were shooting with Ray Lum. I ended up assisting them with the shoot until midnight. When I got to my room, Mao-chan and I worked on her Nui wig and finally headed to bed.
Saturday was a long day! It took us a while to get ready but we somehow made it to be convention around 12:00 and met our friends! Again, we got separated quickly, Mao-chan both had shoots all over the place XD I ended up shooting with White Specs Photography, Eleventh Photograph, X110291 and Don Dolce Photography. I would mention with whom I hung out during the whole day but honestly… it’s all a blur now haha I did help Eddie while he was shooting Coshalfnaked and somehow ended up in a pimp shot and then in a “romantic shot” with Grey… I can hear the heart shatters already… In any case, I got a horrible sunburn that day (my skin is peeling as I’m writing D: ) so around 6:30 I was done! I headed back to my hotel, showered and headed to Deltaree’s hotel for a shoot with Lillychiyo – 綸利治陽 with out lovely  Ray Lum. We had a lot of fun… I think we have a lot more derp shots than good shots XD

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Finally, on Sunday… I was in no cosplay mood. My whole buddy hurt and my hair looked like shit from being in a wig cap all week-end so I pulled a “Sachie cosplay”. 10/10 would do it again haha. I had fun walking around, taking pictures of beautiful cosplayers (having only a portray lens on my camera… derp) and buying A BAG OF ALPACAS HAHAHAHA. It was a nice day to relax, catch up with the friends I hadn’t seen during the convention yet.

Truth be told, I was sad to leave on Sunday. I arrived Friday with have no expectations for this convention and ended up not wanting to leave. Anime North might be parking con but it’s also a lot of fun and a lot of friends so you will see me again next year <3

 

X110291

 

Spoiled community

Hey everyone! I’m back from Anime North and wow! I had so much fun! I will most definitely do a report later on but for now, I feel the need to rant on something totally not related to Anime North.

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of people asking for money for things related to cosplay or convention activities. The latest example on my feed is a photographer who takes pictures for free who is currently having camera issues. The camera needs repair which will be costly and is now reminding people of the pictures he took of them for years and pleading to have donations in “exchange for the sentimental value they hold for the pictures”

What a load of bullshit.

Bro, if you want money for your art, you ask before you snap. Otherwise, don’t come asking for some when shit hits the fan. Call me cold hearted but this is a thing call life: shit happens. I got my own life here and I’m not about to bail you out for something so superficial.

Two months ago, my dear sewing machine broke down. One thing you did not see me do is go on my social media and plead for donations to get it repaired. Or remind photographers how my cosplay helped them get traffic on their pages or how popular some of their pictures got because of me so they should help me out. Nope. We brought my sewing machine to a repair shop (really far to my place btw), patiently waited for all the parts to be in and got it repaired. It was really expensive but I didn’t cry to anyone for money.

I was raised in a way that if you need something, you work for it. I come from a family where people have made their own successes by working hard, not by getting hand outs. Yeah, life sucks sometimes but you work at it. If you can’t afford your hobby then you need to revisit your life choices, grow the fuck up and stop asking people for cash.

So for the love of God, stop asking for hand outs. You want money? Work for it, sell prints, show us what you are worth and not just “I’m cute / useful to the community, please gimme 20$”

Because I’m hot and I would totally need 5000$.

jk.

but not really.

Update

hey everyone~ it’s been a while~

I’m in the middle of finals and wow… I just want it to end! I’ve never been good at exams so I’m glad most of my course have evaluations that require me to write research studies and essays… so the exams aren’t worth too much. Still, it’s very stressful since my memory is just so bad now.  sigh

ANYWAY. It seems I will be going to Anime North this year! Mao-chan convinced me and I gave in :) it would be a shame to let a bad memory of AN make me not go back. Besides, I really want to see all my Toronto friends and after all these finals, I really need a con to get ready for!

I’ve also got news that my Taobao order is on its way! My agent, Cici from Taobaospree.com was kind enough to send me preview pictures of my order! I’m really looking forward to receiving everything!!




Both the boots and the jacket were custom made and look wonderful from the photos. Of course, I’ll do a review once I get everything.

It’s the first time I buy a cosplay and I didn’t expect myself to be this excited over it. I have to admit I have been quite judgemental of cosplays that were not “handmade” in the past but I’ve totally changed my mind about that, not only because I’m purchasing one now but also over the years, I’ve met a lot of cosplayers. Everyone has their reasons to craft or to buy things. I bought these AoT items because I couldn’t be bothered to make a jacket, belt system and boots. Simple as that.

I’m lazy. lol

I’m still looking forward to crafting my other cosplayers for AN and making a 3D manoeuvre gear~

White Hair

I’ve been through a lot of hair change lately. Getting rid of my pink hair in august left me with platinum, beige hair. It was nice but it wasn’t great. For a while, I tried to keep it the “less yellow” possible by using Lush’s Daddy-O but the shampoo only tones moderately.

In November, I started working on my Daenery cosplay and I decided to use my own hair (also because I didn’t want to but a front-lace wig just yet). The need to whiten my hair was real!

I use 3 products; Clairo Shimmer Lights  Shampoo, Conditionner and Fanci-full Rinse #42 Silver Lining. The first two are very strong purple toning shampoo that took my hair from a light yellow to white in one use. Leave it on too long, and your hair will turn slightly lilac (this is what a lot of people use to get their hair to lilac). I like the use the Silver Lining rinse to had some silver tones, sometimes just go full on gray. It’s not permanent and washes after a few days but it’s a fun colour.

I’m thinking of changing it up soon tho~

Daenerys Targaryen: Qarth dress

photo by Martin Wong

Katsucon was a dream and I have never been this happy with a cosplay before. I started planning this dress in November; I actually dreamed about it and the next day, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I had been watching Game of Thrones but I hadn’t seen The Ghost of Harrenhal yet (I watch series VERY slowly…) so I started looking at reference pictures… I simply couldn’t get this damn dress out of my head!

Later that month, Mao-chan and I visited Vickybunnyangel in Toronto and went fabric shopping. I found the perfect light blue silk Georgette and from there, it was decided! I was going to cosplay Daenerys!

I started putting the whole costume together during my Christmas vacation and completed it in 5 days. I first started by cutting my fabric, using Sonia’s pattern from I Do Things I Love, and then painted the gold pattern using sea sponges. I have to say, this was my favourite part, it was so relaxing and fun to do! I then tied my beautiful Silk Georgette in knots and rolled it balls, wet them and threw them in my drying machine so the fabric would crinkle! Also a lot of fun!

Once crinkled, I focused on assembling the dress together. It was particularly easy since the dress is made out of 4 large rectangles but having a new dress form sure made the whole process even easier!

Once the dress was mostly assembled, I focused on the filigrees and the belt. I had started with the filigrees first since they were required for me to assemble the dress. Of course, my focus was the Qarth belt and I chose my favourite thermoplastic: worbla! Using Kudrel’s pattern, the whole belt took about 16 hours to make :)

Finally, I attached the shoulder filigree to the dress simply by hand sewing them (I know, revolutionary!) and shopped for semi-precious stones with Deltaree and GiH5 to complete the belt.

I would have the say that my choice of pearl/stones and the belt would have to be my favourite part of this costume. All so shiny <3 In the future, I am considering getting a lace front wig; not that I wasn’t happy with how my hair turned out but I don’t know how long I can keep this white/blonde hair… and I don’t want it to dictate my ability to be the mother of dragons! As for my circle lenses, I was very satisfied with my choice of a light purple lens (Dueba Puffy 3 Tone Violet for the curious) since they looked natural but striking~

Not a very Khaleesi pose but – Barney Stinson! :D and you can somewhat see the nice semi precious stones~ Photo by Patrick Sun

And finally, here’s a lovely video by OTL Productions and MLZ Studios! I can’t believe we filmed in the snow O.O

My problem with cosplay photography

A picture I edited, that got shot down. Cosplay by Chaly and I.

I’ve been telling my friends for a while now how much I am annoyed with the current “meta” of cosplay photography. While I understand that in the past there have been a lot of abuse from cosplayers in regards of cosplay photographers, I feel that right now, cosplayers are stuck in this meta where we are stuck paying photographers for pictures we often have little to no control over.

But Shmuberry, Canadian photographers officially own the Copyright to all their photos. Yes, that is correct and they should. However, I find that cosplay photography stands out from regular photography as it is two artists coming together to create a beautiful image. A cosplay photographer is nothing without the skillful cosplayer who has perfected their costumes for hundreds of hours. Owning copyright doesn’t mean you have to be an ass about it, especially when you were hired to take the picture.

“Even if you hired me, I own the picture, ergo I can do whatever I wait with it.” “It’s mine, you can’t touch it”

This is the type of attitude a photographer shouldn’t have in this community.

I feel instead, it should be a collaboration between the two artists and not just in front of the lens but also when it comes to the editing process. How many of us have waited 6 months for pictures and when we got them we thought: “I waited for that? Let me quick fix this…” and here comes the photographers, insulted that you DARE smooth your skin or color correct a picture better than he did, because he owns the picture. We’re cosplayers, we’re anal about everything. It’s not that we don’t like the pictures, our idea of perfection is so different for everyone, you couldn’t possibly know that I want my nose liquified a certain way or my idea of a soft picture is actually a completely different tone curve or that I have a problem with the colour yellow.

It annoys me, because I can’t say anything but “ok, sorry” but I’m actually thinking “I waited 6 months for these pictures but it’s not quite the way we both envisioned. I thought I was doing you a favour since I’m sharing this under your name…” because then you’re guaranteed to sever ties with an otherwise talented individual. sigh.

It’s not like I’m incompetent or stupid with Photoshop and Lightroom. I’m not going to crop out your watermark or erase your metada (for those who even bother with that) !

In an ideal world, I would love to have my own contract where a photographer will agree to take pictures and submit the raws to me. In exchange, I edit the picture and credit the photographer for taking the pictures and myself for the editing. Think about it; less pictures to edit, no back log, no cosplayed lamenting over the wait and your style of editing. It seriously needs to be an option photographers should offer.

meh