Foayasha might seem like a season professional at cosplay, but this is actually her second year at the hobby! By day she is just a regular Graphic Designer. Though, by night, donning elaborate costumes and vibrant wigs, she prowls the evening streets, seeking to destroy evil and keep her city safe. Or… I she just likes to cosplay – she is…Foayasha! This super nice cosplayer gave us an incredible interview with too many details to cover in this intro. Just read below!
Hi-Five for being in Texas! How easy is it to make a name for yourself here? Being near top cons in Houston and A-Kon in Dallas must bring upon some nice opportunities, right?
Foa: Hi-Five, Go Texas! Everything in Texas is bigger it seems, and yes, it does lend itself to gaining in popularity in the local cosplay scene. First of all I have close access to some great photographers and photoshoot locations just living in this part of the US. With some lovely parks and arboretums, architecture, scenery, and even some beaches if I want to travel to the coast, it just seems like there are plenty of places to get interesting shots of my cosplay, which is extremely important when trying to promote yourself.
Additionally, like you said, there seems to be a convention going on every other weekend (at least it feels like that), or a local cosplayer meetup of some sort. I find myself dressing for cosplay, to meet with a group, at least once or twice a month. In the past I was doing photoshoots every other week! Being in Houston has helped me get into cosplay, make connections with cosplayers and photographers, and further my interest in the hobby. I’ve lived in several different areas all over the country, and from what I’ve seen, it tends to be much easier to find support from the cosplay community locally when living in a big city like Houston. As for making a name for myself, I’m still working on that, and I think that my ability to attend so many cosplay/anime/gaming related events really does help. I’ve heard “Oh, I saw you at ‘X’ con” so many times, and that really is such a great feeling.
How is your Maka cosplay coming along? What are some of the most intricate parts of the costume and how are you approaching the process from a creative standpoint?
Foa: My Maka cosplay is finished, and let me tell you, it is probably my favorite cosplay so far. While it isn’t the most difficult cosplay I’ve worn or had a hand in making, it is definitely the closest to my heart. I’ve been very excited to wear Maka since the idea was planted in my head. I love the character, and this outfit was just really cool. Then of course, that scythe is delicious. I couldn’t wait to start making it. I had a few initial things in mind, but living in Texas makes wearing cosplay somewhat difficult; it’s just so HOT! Did I really want to wear a big trench coat, tights, a somewhat difficult-to-arrange wig, and boots? Not really. So I had a few different things to consider.
I made the jacket and undershirt separately, which is different than what I’ve noticed most cosplayers do for this particular outfit. So if I got too hot, it was easy to take the jacket off, and still wear a completed cosplay. I decided I didn’t want to wear a wig, so I *gasp* cut and bleached my hair for this cosplay. So yes, that is my real hair. It made the costume so much more fun and comfortable. And I felt a bit more legitimate for some reason; I’m not sure why.
Lastly, I think the part of my cosplay everyone loved the most was probably my Soul Eater Deathscythe. It was a huge hit, and turned out pretty well considering the time put into the design and construction. All of my patterns and templates that need to be pre-planned, I work out in Adobe Illustrator first, and then print them out. Afterwards, almost everything else is from feeling. I just work on the design, and road blocks I encounter, as I go along. I find most of my most brilliant cosplay solutions come to me while I’m driving or in the shower, lol. The biggest problem with the design of the scythe was that I would need to disassemble it for traveling, as I planned this cosplay for a convention in Ohio. I constructed it using several layers of Sintra, and a bit of body filler.
What are some tips you implement to make sure the fabric is comfortable and sized right?
Foa: Oh no, I don’t have a great answer for this, can I call a friend? Lol, my skills with sewing aren’t as great as I’d like them to be, since I only recently started tailoring my own cosplay. So I don’t have many great tips to give of my own, but what advice I do have is this: Use what resources you have available to help you learn. I reach out to the cosplay community using Coscom, DA and Reddit Sewing, etc, as well as my personal cosplay friends. I also have my mother to bounce ideas off of. When I go shopping, I do ask the personnel who are around to help me pick good fabric for what I’ll be doing, and research the different types of fabric available and how they will hold up when I begin sewing. Some fabrics are more difficult to sew, and may require a different presser foot or machine needle. Also, I take into account the feel and weight of the fabric, the sheen and how it looks when being photographed, and also how easy it is to drape or how it feels when laid across my arm. That might sound weird,but I lay fabric along my arm and consider how it feels.
Ultimately it boils down to experience, and if I don’t have it, I reach out to those who do. After that point, I rely on trial and error. I don’t purchase a large bolt of fabric if I don’t know how well it will work for my project. And when it comes to pattern and fit, if I am designing or working with a complicated pattern, I will normally run the design first with cheap muslin. I use a dress form made of duct tape because at this point I haven’t invested in a real dress form. This was a cheap and efficient way to start testing out my patterns, and relieves a lot of stress for me on fit as I begin working on a new garment.
There have been some arguments that lesser-quality cosplayers have been gaining recognition by recruiting top-notch cosplayer photographers. With that said, do you feel as the years go forward that craftsmanship in the cosplay world may take a dive?
Foa: I think it is also important to note that it isn’t just a simple cosplay with good photography which is being featured and garnering loads of attention. In most of these cases, two more factors come into play: one, the characters being portrayed are already popular (Vocaliod comes to mind); and two, the models are well…models. They are already beautiful, and they are going to take gorgeous photos.
Do I think that these cosplay models, with their beautiful images, are going to ruin the craftsmanship portion of cosplay and force it to decline? Absolutely not. Our hobby is very multifaceted, with a slew of different personalities who want to join in: the role players, those who would rather purchase cosplay, those who would rather commission a cosplay, those who enjoy creating their own cosplay, or those who want to break the mold and always do something new and amazing – the list just keeps going.
The more people who partake in cosplay, the more attention we will all get. Everyone loves seeing a beautiful model dressed up as their favorite character, but I also believe those same fans love seeing an amazing cosplay tailored to the nines not missing a detail, or those creative cosplays that allow the cosplayer to try new exciting techniques. And then this takes us back to photography, and this is the sad truth: In most cases, no matter the quality of the cosplay being showcased, if the photography does not meet a certain standard, nobody will pay attention to it. If the cosplayer cannot or does not realize a quality photographer is required to really showcase their hard work, then it will never get the time in the spotlight it may deserve. This of course only comes into play on the internet or printed media (we still have those, right?), because at a convention, you can have an obviously smashing cosplay which will get recognition, but it will rarely go beyond that specific convention.
How do you choose your costumes? Are you a fan of the anime you cosplay as or do you look at it like “HEY, this costume involves a lot of sewing and it could be a challenge for me…”?
Foa: I have two answers for this! While I was part of Foxy Cosplay, I was doing a lot of characters I had never heard of before. My team would mainly pick cosplay that would work well in pairs, such as the Teresa and Clare of Claymore, or Diva and Saya from Blood+. We would just pick something that would work well in a pair and go for it. We did have a blast doing this, but a lot of the time I didn’t know who I was cosplaying until after it was decided. I would watch the show so I had some idea of who I was playing, and then we’d get to work.
Since then, I’ve started cosplaying on my own and I’ve leaned towards picking characters that I love, and those who intrigue me, such as Lan Fan. I really enjoying making little armor pieces, because that just comes easy to me. So doing an Automail cosplay seemed like a really fun route to go down. My current cosplay lineup, and cosplays from 2012, all include characters that I know and love, and I am very familiar with. I do also toss in a bit of “This is going to be really cool, and I think everyone is going to love this”.
When working with Wonderflex, do you prefer to shape by hand or over a mold while hot? What are some of your favorite crafting supplies?
Foa: With Wonderflex I would just go at it, using my bare hands most of the time and taking one for the team when it came to slight burns. I just didn’t have the dexterity I wanted working with it using gloves. I also found that it could stick to pretty much anything when heated up, so using gloves didn’t work as well for me, as I apply significant pressure when molding things. I find the material worked really well for quick on-the-spot cosplay work, and I did use it for a few projects last year as well.
However, my favorite type of material to work with is Sintra (a brand of Expanded PVC foam board). I think I’ll just call up the company and see if I can be a spokeswoman, because I talk about is so much, their sales must have gone up by now! When I work with Sintra, however, I always use gloves and I heat up the product in an oven. I usually have some sort of model that I use as well, and I create very specific templates before I begin production. There just isn’t any other way to work with it reliably. It isn’t as expensive as Wonderflex, but I hate the idea of wasting it, so I make sure it will work with something cheap first, usually craftfoam. Pretty much everything I’ve made in the past three months used Sintra in some way. If anyone is really interested to see how I work with it: I’ll be posting up a handful of tutorials on my Deviant Art very soon.
What kind of techniques with your tailoring do you wish to tackle in the future in order to improve your skill-set?
Foa: Well maybe not tailoring, like I’ve said before I am not really that experienced, so I can’t really foresee what I need to learn yet. However, I will be working with a few different resin casting products in the very near future, so I’ll be needing to learn quite a bit in that department. I’d also like to get better at working with Bondo type body-fillers. I have to work with every one of my projects by hand, without power tools, since I work in a small apartment. I can’t be sending particles of body-filler all over the place, because that would be a disaster to clean up. When working with Bondo, I would love to get a smoother finish in less amount of time, but it really does take practice.
Your Teresa cosplay was really well done, considered there is fabric, armor, and props involved. Could you walk us through the creative process on that?
Foa: Thank you very much! The Claymore cosplay was a complete collaboration between me and the peeps at GS Props. As a little backstory, this was a cosplay which we created for the US Prelims World Cosplay Summit in 2012. We had several brainstorming sessions to select the characters we’d do and then additional sessions to figure out HOW we would do it.
We selected the Claymore girls mainly because we felt it would be difficult to pull off that smooth look and feel the armor has and really get a nice finish (chrome) to the armor. If we accomplished that, we thought it would be a pretty impressive feat, and a good choice for the competition. The tailoring of the clothing was handled mainly by my friend Maria, who created two custom corsets. This was her first time making corsets as well, and it was quite impressive. The rest of the clothing was a pretty simple design, so that left the armor and the props. I remember researching this for a while, how we would get the perfect shape, and I came across Vaccumforming – it would be the perfect technique. The problem was, even though we had a shop vac, we didn’t know anything about vaccumforming. So we enlisted a little help, and figured out how to make the molds and get the machine up and running. While Maria worked on her molds for the shoulders and the backpacks, I recall spending many, many nights working on sanding the Claymore sword; it gave me nightmares!
In the end, we managed to figure out the vacuumforming, finish the swords and get everything ready, but the problem was our plan for the paint fell through. The chrome paint we bought didn’t work! So we had to do some last minute painting using a silver automotive paint. It was a real disappointment, but the final effect was still pretty impressive. Eventually we figured out a nice way to handle the backpack and shoulders so they could be worn comfortably, and attached the skirt pieces using our new friend, the rivet gun. Maria has a full write-up of the process on her deviant art which I’ll list below for those who are interested in more details about the hows and tos.
Lastly, any advice for a cosplayer?
Foa: Everyone feels nervous when they debut a new costume. Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t suit a character or that you shouldn’t cosplay because of how you look. It’s your business, not theirs, and you should do what makes you happy, not somebody else.
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