B-Shira is a gorgeous and talented cosplayer from a country we don’t feature enough here in the corner. Mexico! As we continue to bring you interviews with cosplayers from around the globe we land on a Japanese culture obsessed lady who has been into cosplay for the last five years. As you can tell from her pictures, her work is absolutely stunning. I had a chance to sit down and chat with her and we speak about a variety of issues and topics. Read below for the full interview…
Where did you interest in Cosplay and Japanese culture start?
B-Shira: I think maybe when I was watching a kind of “cartoons” on broadcast TV, when I was a child. The colors and the drawing style was very particular; I was so young and I didn’t know that their origin was Japanese, but I was being able to recognize them from other animation styles. However, was until high-school that I realized these drawings are part of a special animation category known as “anime”. The school had a kind of “club” where, after classes, friends got together to spend time, to lend each other dvd’s of new series, to play video games on each other houses on weekends, etc. My interest become stronger at this stage, you see. After time, I began to learn Japanese language, and taked courses for 8 semesters at College; I began a big research about the art and history of Japan, too. This beautiful country of samurais and geishas, had enthralled me from at early age and it continues until now and forever, I think.
As a visual artist, what kind of advantages does that give you as a cosplayer?
B-Shira: People have asked me this question several times, in the past. Maybe they think that Visual Arts Mayor would be helpful to cosplaying due to the possible techniques you can learn. I do not think of that like an advantage, but as an obstacle, because after receiving a visual education, it is very difficult to be satisfied with your own work. For example, aesthetically speaking, you always think that your work may be better or sometimes you think about ideas and things that are really impossible to do. It takes a lot of time doing details that you know must be in there, but nobody will notice. It’s like an obsession, like a sculptor would be finishing his or her greatest work or something like that. Now, it becomes increasingly difficult to make every new project reality, because you are not only interested in the development of the suit, but how to achieve the best environments in which the character could be developed if it was real. To get locations, to do extra props, especially because you are more interested in photography now, and worried about the things that you can to offer the world, or the cosplayer community. Besides, you are interested in how this phenomenon affects society from a different point of view that has no place in today’s art, etc.
How healthy is the cosplay community in Mexico? Do you find you have to travel to the States to attend the majority of conventions or exhibits?
B-Shira: I think when I read this question at first time, I thought it would probably be the most difficult to answer [laughs]. In Mexico (I will not deny that here are “problems” sometimes), we are like a big family and there is a stronger bond between us. For example, the country is so big everyone expects the annual convention on February, because it’s a good opportunity to see friends who live in North or South or in the center of the country. Also, sometimes you can travel to other states either as judge, either as a spectator or just as a competitor in a contest, but certainly this special February convention is the most anticipated.
I know you were a bit reluctant to open up a Facebook page and gain fans based on your cosplay. Does the attention side of cosplaying still make you feel a bit uncomfortable?
B-Shira: I can’t avoid finding this question a little hilarious. It sounds like everyone can be weak facing fame or something like that, no? [Laughs] In summary, I would say that I’m always the same person. I like to know people as friends, thinking of having “fans” sounds silly to me, and I learned it from a Brazilian cosplayer who I admired so much. When I finally met this person I said to him “OMG I’m your super fan”, and he surprised me by saying “Fan?? Oh no no no! You are not my ‘fan’, you are my friend.” That’s a memory that I will never forget.
I just did not want to open a Facebook account at the beginning. Then, I had to open a profile like a “normal person” but it was inevitable that people will start to tag me in photos of cosplay, so it was out of control. Now, and although at first I was reluctant to accept it, I find it really comfortable to manage a Facebook fanpage account, where I can publish anything concerning with the hobby and show the audience my work, and all being apart from my “normal and ordinary person profile”, in which I only write nonsense with my friends [laughs hard]!
In the past you didn’t take cosplay as serious as you have in the last year or so. What changes in your costumes and mindset have you made to make sure you step up to the next level?
B-Shira: The really big change is due to finally graduating last year, and now I have a life again! So now, I can spend a little more time to plan my projects.
What are some of your favorite anime?
B-Shira: As being an important part of my childhood and memories, I would say “Tenku no Escaflowne” will always have a special place in my heart. As being the first manga I read, “X-1999″ by Clamp. I choose these two as my “classicals” and more recent series would be: One Piece, Death Note and so many others. The series’ that I like the most are reflected onto my cosplay.
Could you offer up some advice or insight on the type of wigs you select and choose? For me personally, they are one of the stand-out aspects of your costumes.
B-Shira: Oh yeah, well…I try to choose the color more attached or closest to the character’s hair color, or when none exists, sometimes the wigs can be dyed with certain types of markers or can be modified using many other ways. Personally, to style the wig is my favorite part of the process. I like for them to look like a bit more natural, so I don’t like to let the long hair strands as the wig comes after purchase, because it covers the eyes and looks bad. Sometimes I use a barber-blade for cutting the fiber of the wig because scissors are not always the best option.
As a Mexican you don’t limit youself to cosplaying characters of your race. For example, does cosplaying someone like Sakura from Naruto present any aethetic challenges? Or that isn’t a problem for you?
B-Shira: If people limited themselves to do cosplay only of their own race, then just Asians could do cosplay? . _. or not even that? I do not really believe in something like this, for me it works this way: If you like the character, do not mind what is your complexion, weight and even if your sex! If you like it, do it. The fact is that you’re making a personal “tribute” to the character, to the creator and to the work itself. But from there, depends on each person how far you want to take this activity, since everything is valid. For me, the real aesthetic challenge would be to achieve a good photograph, one that not only show me “modeling” a nice dress, but a photograph that can transmit more.
In addition, do you have any advice for any cosplayers out there trying to step their game up?
B-Shira: If I can dare I would say…Do things that you really like and take your time to do it. Nobody demands you to make 1000 new costumes per year or have 8000 new photos. Have joy with your friends. It is all for fun!
Where can we expect to see you throughout the remainder of the year? Any big conventions coming up?
B-Shira: I have planned to make new photo-practices on locations, to repeat some failed photo-sets and at least to do one or two “standby” projects…and in the remainder of the year…I will continue working on the section of cosplay tutorials in the mexican magazine “DOON!! Mangazine”. If we have luck, maybe this year a friend and I will trying to enter the selective WCS of Mexico, I hope…
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