Pharaohmone is an all-genre digital recording artist and multi-talented costumer, pushing boundaries that both electrify and educate audiences. Hailing from Texas (whoop, whoop!) he uses the lone star state as a hub to focus and hone his talents and the results are nothing short of impressive. After chatting and browsing Pharaohmone’s gallery I knew I had to include this enormous talent in the Cosplay Corner. Read below for the full interview…
The first thing I noticed about you is you stated you want to push boundaries with your work, including cosplay. What are you doing specifically to achieve this?
Pharaohmone: Well, one of the things I try to do is be the test-subject. I usually pick costumes that will give me something new to try out, even if it’s just a slight nuance. As a result of this, every now and again I’ve burned or electrocuted myself for the glory of the art. After surviving my latest crafting experiment, I divulge all the secrets I’ve obtained during informative panels at conventions, using hind-sight to help people avoid running into problems of their own. This year I spent a lot of time using vacuforming techniques to create flexible, lightweight armor while keeping costs down. Normally people find this medium to be unapproachable, but through live demonstrations I’ve been trying to turn that around. Most home-vacuforming techniques require you to evenly heat plastic in an oven and then quickly drop the melting sheet onto your vacuforming table (a fancy word for a box with holes hooked up to a vacuum.) Not every cosplayer is a carpenter, and even then, not every oven is capable of heating plastics evenly. By using a heat-gun to blast individual areas of plastic with heat, I’ve been able to show convention-goers that vacuforming can be approachable AND portable. Nothing like seeing the process right before your eyes, performed with no gloves, mask or any protective eye-wear!
You seem to be the MacGuyver of prop making. What is the creative process like taking household items like towel rolls and paper plates and making props? It can’t be as easy as it seems.
Pharaohmone: One man’s potted plant is another man’s armor! I’m a big advocate for affordable cosplay, because many of the artists in the field do not have a million dollars to spend on dangerous resins and fiberglass that sits in your lungs for eight years. It can also be hard to connect with an audience during your panel if you’re telling them their costume isn’t good enough unless their notions (zippers, buttons, etc.) are hand-forged from the finest metals in the known universe. That said, I try to think outside the box, attacking costuming in the same a graphic designer would. A keyblade, for instance, is just a collection of shapes. Whenever you divide up your prop up, you’ll notice that many of the objects around your house have these same forms. While it can take a while to figure out how you’re going to attach X to Y, it can be very rewarding and you can shift your resources towards the the bells and whistles, like electrical lighting, contacts, and quality wigs.
Your Dante costume got lots of attention recently. Could you go in detail about the creative process behind that and how you wanted it to differ from other peoples’ versions?
Pharaohmone: Whenever I go about choosing a costume, I try to find a character that matches me physically while also having intriguing personality traits that I can identify with. In this case, Dante was a perfect fit. Since I had to wear this costume on stage a lot, I took some creative liberties with the design to allow for ease of movement. Also, when I finished the first draft of the outfit, I noticed it seemed too pristine for a character who is running around fighting demons in order to pay his bad debts. I took time to distress the costume, helping the outfit look battle-worn and aged. The process involved adding thin coats of paint to the outfit, and then honestly just wearing it down until it lost its luster.
What can you tell us about the Devil May Cry Live-Action coming out soon? Will this expand upon your original vision of the costume?
Pharaohmone: While this one-shot project is still in the production stages, I can say that my goal is to merge some of the grit of the new Devil May Cry franchise with everyone’s favorite white-haired demon hunter. The previews that I recently posted hopefully capture a flavor of what should be offered later on down the line. Like I said before, I love recreating scenes and adding more content to fan-favorite franchises. This has led me towards fan-film projects, costumed tutorials, and even remixes and other musical arrangements from the same source material that inspired my costume work. If nothing else, I think that fans of any take on Dante should get a smile out of the project.
What are little attentions to details that, in your opinion, can make a photoshoot or costume really ‘pop’?
Pharaohmone: Contacts and wigs are absolutely the most important piece of the costume, which is funny because they’re the sort of items you don’t actually have to make and always think about last. However, the reason they are so important is pure science: Take a look a cloud, a car, the moon, and what do you see? Faces! Humans are drawn to faces first and foremost. You can have an amazing costume, but the eyes of the person viewing it are naturally inclined to first look for your face. That said, you shouldn’t shortcut your costume just because you have the look from the shoulders-up perfect. But conversely, if you really want your photo to pop, then you should make time for proper make-up application, wig-styling, and other cosmetic touches that are right for your character. On top of getting to know your own features and what angles work best for you, be sure to be extremely well rested before any photo-shoot so it doesn’t show in your face.
You cosplay videogames a bit more than anything else. What is it about this genre that attracts you the most?
Pharaohmone: While design variation is very important, honestly I’m just a big fan. The video game industry took a while to catch up with animation in terms of capturing fantastic scenes on screen. Back in the day, you really had to squint at your NES to imagine what was going on. So as a young costumer, I was attracted to recreating scenes that I didn’t quite feel were really that well fleshed out. Over time, video games have produced the most intricate designs, and that’s probably as a result of not having to re-draw each frame by hand. This is especially true of accessories and weapons, since the characters actually have to carry around and use these items on a normal basis. I probably will to stick to video games designs for the most part, and I’m especially excited at how Western and Eastern video games companies are meeting in the middle these last few years.
How do you balance having fun in this hobby, and building a costume that is up to your standards (or others)?
Pharaohmone: Well, that’s always a fun question – and the answer is quite simple: Do this for yourself. Many costumers might find it to be important to live up to the expectations of their audience, but you have to remember Cosplay is one part costume construction, and one part performance art. At the end of the day, nothing makes me better than my convention-going peers. Maybe I took more time on one piece, or maybe I was in a better position to gather all the materials for a costume, but a first-time costumer dressed as Naruto is going to have a great time and just as much of an impact on the fans of the series.
What are some of your favorite Anime?
Pharaohmone: Oh man, that’s a list that goes on and on… Ghost in the Shell, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Paradise Kiss, Soul Eater, Full Metal Alchemist, FLCL, Final Fantasy Unlimited. Some of my other favorites, which might be rather telling, are Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokemon, Digimon, Beyblade, Hikaru no Go… See a trend?
When you first started cosplaying you didn’t really expect to venture this far into the hobby and complete so many costumes. What changed for you that decided this is something you wanted to take more seriously?
Pharaohmone: When I completed my first costume nearly a decade ago, I thought I was set for life. What more could a little boy ask for than to be the King of Games? But after a year of wearing Yugi to different conventions, I started to see there were a lot of neat characters out there. Part of the beauty of anime conventions in that era was that, prior to Youtube and other mass-media websites, everyone that was attempting to create a costume was a pioneer. Many shows were still extremely obscure, and there were very few tutorials or other resources available. Stores didn’t even carry many of the basic cosplay essentials which can now be found at local grocery stores and big-box chains. Finding a character from a show that you weren’t even sure would ever come to America, and try to – as you said — “MacGuyver” it together just provided an undeniable sense of adventure and wonder.
Lastly, as someone with years and years of cosplay under their belt, what advice do you have for other cosplayer out there that you have learned thus far?
Pharaohmone: First and foremost, remember that you’re out to have a good time. Whether you’re putting together a fan-film, getting ready for your next convention, or taking a photo-shoot in an isolated area, this art should leave you with positive feelings and a sense of accomplishment. While it can take a lot of time and resource management to perfect a costume by your next dead-line, remember that your due date is self-imposed. You don’t have to finish it this time. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t matter what other people think. Go. Have. Fun.
Want to stay up to date on all of Pharaohmone’s videos, costumes, and general news? Follow the cookie crumb trail below:
http://www.youtube.com/Pharaohmones (Includes fan-film projects, convention videos, web-series, remixes, etc.)