SigmaRue is a college graduate with way too many interests and not enough time or money to excel at all of them. Sound familiar? It’s what every talented cosplayer deals with but no matter how much time has passed, she always comes strong with extraordinary cosplay. We sit down and talk about everything from her hiatus from cosplay, to her creative process. Read below for the full interview…
Taking a break from cosplay with a seven year gap, did that give you a fresh perspective on the hobby or do you feel it was wasted time you could have spent improving your craft?
SigmaRue: I was so young and cut off from that community that I never really considered pursuing it further. Now, looking back, I wish I had taken more of an interest in it so I could have more experience under my belt. I didn’t understand it then, so I can’t say my perspective was “refreshed” in any way. I just see it as lost time. I’d cry over it, but what’s done is done. All I can do now is keep working on these cosplays and continue to learn.
Comic Con was crazy this year! Tell us about your time spent there. What experiences you had and what costumes you unveiled!
SigmaRue: This year, my big reveal was my classic Jill Valentine cosplay from Resident Evil. I also made a few changes to my twi’lek, but they were fairly subtle. Jill was my “fun” cosplay. It was comfortable, had lots of a pockets, and best of all, I finally matched my boyfriend’s classic Chris Redfield cosplay. It’s hard to see the entire show when you’re dressed as a recognizable character as it seems people want to stop you every few yards for photos. Even if people have no idea who you are or where your character is from, they’re compelled to take a picture because it’s Comic Con and that’s all part of the show. We managed to see a couple of panels and drool over Resident Evil 6′s trailer for a bit, but it was mainly a hunt for Adventure Time swag. On Friday, while in Star Wars cosplay, we did come across Seth Green in the middle of a signing. I’m a huge Robot Chicken fan, so I was elated when he called my group over for a photo. He was even gracious enough to sign the inside of Sean’s stormtrooper helmet. It’s the recognition of the creators and fans that adds the icing to the Comic Con cake. In this case, the creator also happened to be a fan. I think that counts for double points.
How long does it take you to prepare for Comic Con and what goes into your preparations for a cosplay event?
SigmaRue: I tend to wear the same thing each Comic Con I go to, with the exception of my twi’lek, which evolves a little bit before every SDCC, which also happens to be the only con I wear it to. This Comic Con involved the most preparation as I was sewing my Jill gear and Twi’lek additions up until the last minute.
As far as other cons go, they’re definitely more work-intensive, but my time spent on the show floor is more relaxed than Comic Con. For example, I used to attend Sakura-con fairly regularly and that was a con I always tried to make new costumes for. My Selphie and Yukari cosplays were both created specifically for Sakura-con and I continue to find excuses to wear them. My other large project this year was for Anime Expo, which was a Uranus and Neptune duo with my friend Denise Kuan, who exercised fantastic patience as she taught me how to essentially draft a dress pattern from scratch. That was my first AX and it blew my mind into tiny cosplay confetti pieces. I poured hours into that dress and the payoff was incredibly gratifying. I will say that having Anime Expo and Comic Con so close to each other this year caused a bit of panic. It seemed like right after Anime Expo, I was immediately thrust into pre-SDCC mode. I never really caught my breath. Pile that on top of a full-time job and you have a fairly stressful summer on your hands.
Cosplay is definitely a trial and error. Many people have difficulty with molding, paste, and materials such as spandex. How do you overcome a creative roadblock.
SigmaRue: Creative road blocks suck and, unfortunately, they’re a necessary part of the learning process. I always have backup plans prepared; you never know when the worst case scenario will turn into a reality. The most important thing to remember is that you’ve got to keep your cool, no matter how disasterful it may seem. You won’t think clearly if you panic and more often than not, the solution is simple. Or it might just be tedious. For instance, when I was applying the stencil to my Jill Valentine shirt, I accidentally left one of the sides unsealed and a huge glob of permanent ink bled through. Aside from that stain, the stencil looked good and I really, really wanted to save the shirt. Rather than panic, I ran to the sink, googled a few stain removal tips, and set to work with some rubbing alcohol. This is where the cosplay golden rule comes into play: never give up.
At first, my efforts seemed in vain. After about ten or fifteen minutes, I noticed that I had rubbed almost all of the ink out and that the color was returning to normal. Another fifteen minutes and it was completely gone. There was a bit of discoloration left over, but the belt of my harness covered it completely. As far as creative problems go, I try to incorporate new materials into my thought process when my current one isn’t working. When I started working on my sentry interface, I chose paperclay for the first round. I ended up hating the weight and texture of it, so I moved onto craft foam and found it did exactly what I wanted, despite my initial prejudice against the material. I try new things, expect the worst, and celebrate when I’m wrong. While I haven’t really embarked on any really technically difficult cosplays, I try to use a new technique with every project I take on.
Most of your costumes revolve around video game characters. What is it about the cyber world that attracts you moreso than anime?
SigmaRue: I just had a great discussion about this the other day. I prefer cosplaying as video game characters because I feel I identify with them more. I interact with them in their world or, in some cases, I embody them. With anime and movies, I’m a witness. I’m a bystander who has no say in what transpires. I’m just along for the ride. There’s a lack of attachment between characters I watch, but a much greater desire to portray a character I’ve experienced. With the exception of a few retro animes, I intend to maintain a predominantly video game-oriented cosplay closet.
Like most of us, Mass Effect 3 ending came as a shock. For you, it was more of a journey ended. With the Mass Effect Anime coming out in a few months and the “Leviathan” DLC can we expect more Mass Effect cosplay from you in the future?
SigmaRue: Mass Effect was definitely a journey for me and I’m not quite ready to say goodbye. I already have a couple of projects in the works that are ME-related, but I don’t have much to show yet. I’d offer you some hints, but it’d give me away so fast. You’ll just have to stay tuned.
Take us through the creative process with your Yukari cosplay from Persona 3.
SigmaRue: Yukari was a fun cosplay, albeit simple. Hell, I love simple. It’s a great opportunity to focus on the basics. I set out first finding fabric for her sweater. I struggled with my search for the right texture, since Yukari’s sweater is sort of an odd hybrid between a knit and something with weird panels. I ended up grabbing a fine ribbed knit from a local fabric warehouse that felt great and sewed well, but didn’t quite have the exaggerated knit I was looking for, and that’s something I’m trying to replace years later. It was more of a compromise than anything. I modified an existing sweater pattern to make that work and later lined it when I realized how thin and sheer that knit was. It was obviously meant for… babies or something, I have no idea. About halfway through my sweater, my friend Kevlyn decided to join me in a P3P group, so we teamed up to make the skirts. Again, I grabbed an existing pattern and cranked out the pleated skirt over a weekend. The arm band was something of a bear, as we couldn’t find any decal paper that would get the SEES logo right. So I did a terrible, terrible thing. I drew the details on with sharpie. I printed out the design on regular white paper and layed it over the arm band. I then pressed points into the paper with a fine-tipped sharpie so that ink would bleed through. What I had in the end was a rather intricate-looking fabric version of connect the dots, which I filled in. I regret nothing. I bought a bit of white vinyl and a buckle for Yukari’s choker and put that together fairly quickly. The seams are actually drawn on with sharper, the buckle was painted gold, and the whole thing stays on with velcro. Kevlyn and I butchered a few big strips of fabric for the bows. The shoes were an amazing Value Village find and everything else was found at Macys and JC Pennys (the collared shirt and socks). My first wig was from Taobao, but I eventually replaced it with something much fuller. It’s a ton of fun to wear and is one of my more comfortable cosplays. I consider Persona 3 to be a bit of a niche game, so whenever someone recognizes me, I go through a little fit of joy.
What are some of your favorite anime. Witholding Sailor Moon of course ?
SigmaRue: I do love me some Sailor Moon, but it’s not actually my favorite. I’m a huge fan of Macross Plus, Trigun, Gundam Wing, Ergo Proxy, Evangelion, Gurren Lagann, Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, Bubblegum Crisis 2040, and… Oh God, I watched so much anime in high school and I’ve since forgotten it. Netflix. Netflix is the reason I had terrible grades. Pretear is a thing. I used to call it “PRAY-tear” with my friends and then we’d laugh about it like idiots. I’m a child of Toonami. That should sum up my anime interests pretty well.
If you could pick one of the three most satisfying points of cosplaying, which is most important to you; Seeing your work being acknowledged, making props and armor, or hanging out with people that have similar interests?
SigmaRue: I value all three aspects the same, actually. I’d rather have one fan stop me in a hall and tell me how much they love my cosplay or how accurate they think it is than stand in front of a wall of cameras. I love it when a fan can appreciate the work, though I feel like it takes a fellow cosplayer to really understand just what exactly goes into this process. They get it. They’ve been there, and their appreciation really means a lot. The construction portion is so rewarding and even the roadblocks can be looked back upon fondly, but I make cosplays so I can wear them around like-minded people. Those are often the same people who inspire me to be better, to push myself, and to tackle projects I’d normally shy away from. It’s cyclical. Make the cosplay. Wear it to cons. Have a blast. Get the feedback. Go home. Make more cosplay, but be better at it. Repeat as needed.
Lastly, as a woman who juggles so many different ventures, any advice for a cosplay who needs help with time management?
SigmaRue: Don’t underestimate the power of the force value of a list or written schedule. In college, I literally had my days penciled down to the minute. Like “FROM 4:30 TO 4:48: NAP”. Block out your time and come to grips the fact that you’re not going to get to do all the things you want to do. Prioritize. I love video games, but the month before Comic Con was a game-less period for me – it was the only way to get these cosplays done. You’ve got to make some sacrifices if you want to attain balance. Otherwise, one of your hobbies/responsibilities will suffer. You also need to know what’s worth sacrificing. I’ve always valued my personal relationships and I know it can be so tempting just to cloister yourself in order to meet the deadline, but remember: you’ll have to deal with these people when your work is done. What sort of aftermath do you want to deal with? Also, sleep. Please, sleep. For the sake of your craft and the people around you, try to get enough sleep to be functional and not act like a fiery sleepyrage monster. Know your limits and when to call it a night, even if you have a million and ten things to do. Also, when in doubt, eat a banana. And have fun! If it’s no longer fun, that means it’s time to re-evaluate.
Want to stay up to date on all her costume works and news? Her twitter is the best place! Make sure to add her:
In addition, the cop car and Star Wars photos were taken by Eurobeat Kasumi Photography:
High Command Podcast: