Raffi is a cosplayer from Hungary who has been cosplaying since 2009. Her unique talents and striking beauty make her a woman I HAD to feature. Read below for the full interview…
You have very ecclectic costume choices. A common theme I see in your choices are women that have something to prove. Many of these characters portray strongfemale empowerment. Is this an important element in choosing a costume, or do you approach it from an aesthetic point of view strictly?
I always choose from series that I got attracted to and from those characters that stands close to my heart [in both] personality and looks. It just happens to be the strong female type which I feel comfortable to portray. I can find a different part of me in every characters that I’ve cosplayed so far (and planning to do), even if most of them are the strong and serious type (like Lightning, Leeloo, Ms. Marvel), I do see something else in them which touches me, and gets it easier to “became one” with the character. I’m also a big sister, which makes me protective and more serious; that’s why I give the look of a strong female. Even though I’m not that strict and scary! I love to have fun, laugh a lot and meet with new people!
Entering your fourth year as a cosplayer, what is the biggest challenge you have overcome thus far?
I believe my first completely handmade cosplay challenged me the most. When I started on making my Lightning (Final Fantasy XIII) outfit I didn’t even knew how to thread a needle. I borrowed a sewing machine from my grandmother and started to practice. I learnt how to sew while I made the costume itself. Even if it wasn’t perfect I gave myself ‘A’ for effort and started to look up techniques and tutorials to expand my knowledge for my upcoming projects. I’m still not a professional tailor, but when I finish a part of my costumes, I always feel proud of myself that I could manage to do it without any help. The other thing that is challenging me is to improve both in costume making and getting into the character. These two are a critical part, and if you don’t have the balance between them it will ruin your mood and the whole costume that you worked on hard, might turn into the most hatred memory.
As of late, coupled with contests and facebook exposure, you have gotten lots of attention recently. How do you view social media as a way to catapult yourself into gaining more exposure in this hobby?
Social media is a great advantage to fellow cosplayers! It might be hard to believe, but I easily get shy and unconfident about myself and after receiving my first whirl of comments, it almost made me forget about the fact that I had such negative thinking. I’m glad that I also made my mind to create a cosplay fan page on facebook! First I was aware to share my works on my private facebook, since I have a lot of acquaintances who might not tolerate it (since cosplaying is only getting accepted lately around my country) and I did not want to get into any situation where I need to explain why I’m dressed up as a schoolgirl. After the launching of my fanpage, it got much more interest than I hoped for! It made me realize that there are people around there who are interested in my work, and this fact still keeps me going on and on.
The most important thing for me to share my experience for those who are just getting into this hobby! This is a great way to connect and actually teach each other new techniques. I also think that it depends on every person to decide how important it is to be known and/or acknowledged only by the social media.
In turn, have you been the target of negativity? How, as a strong female, do you deal with this? Any advice?
Personally, I try to avoid negativity, but unfortunately it happens to everyone, who is getting some attention and appreciation. There are always be someone who will be jealous of the things you’ve reached and I’m not talking about cosplaying only…Sad but true it’s everywhere, and it only depends on us how we handle it! My advice is if you got haters, try to ignore them…if you fight back in their style, you’ll only make yourself look stupid.
I’m not sure if we have featured anyone from Hungary in the Corner. Tell us a bit about the land and if the cosplay community is strong there or not.
With the greatest pleasure! Even though Hungary is a small country, we have a lot to be proud of! We are getting stronger in cosplaying as well!
Cosplay is quite a new thing in Hungary, since the first cosplay contest were held back in 2005. In the last 2-3 years, many Hungarian cosplayers got into the middle of the world wide attention through social media sites. We are also taking part in the EuroCosplay championship for three years now, and we got 4th place! Basically we built up a great community in seven years, and as the newest generations growing older, and new faces showing up, they’re forging the community stronger and more colorful. I’ve just missed a convention in October, and after I saw some pictures my jaw dropped! There were awesome costumes, both among the contestants and among the visitors. They even improved a lot since the last convention! I recommend everyone who is interested in visiting one of our conventions to come and have a lot of fun!
You mention two sides of the spectrum: Someone like CottonCandy Princess could be ‘just for fun’, but what would a ‘serious’ costume permit and how would you tackle it? Do you incorporate a character that would be a challenge? Or just someone that would make a good photoshoot?
For me the difference between ’serious’ and ’just for fun’ cosplay is that I focus more on the first one with my time and while the other is a plan for less busier times. It doesn’t mean that I do not give the same amount of effort to an ’easier’ cosplay like CottonCandy Princess (who I felt in love for the first sight) than on a more detailed one, but if I do not have time to finish it for a convention, I do not panic and keep it for a photoshoot. From the next year I’m planning to follow a new line in choosing my cosplay, with different themes and characters than before, also focusing to fulfil my ’old’ dream costumes that I’ve never had the opportunity or the ability to make. This will be my priority in cosplaying, meanwhile I’ll try make other characters too, which I’m getting to know. The main reason is that I learnt to use new materials and techniques in the past year, so I feel like I can get myself to a higher level.
I think I say this to every girl I interview, but it’s true…you are incredibly beautiful! In terms of fitness and looks, does cosplay play a part in your health, in order to pull off certain costumes?
First of all, thank you for the compliment! I know that even if I’m ’blessed’ with the eat-as-much-as-I-want-and-not-gaining-a-single-pound body type, I have to work out to live a healthy life. I used to work out 2-3 times a week. I do not do this particularly for cosplay, but when I have an upcoming outfit which showing some skin or portraying a strong female character, I focus and work out to those muscles and parts. Working out is a great thing which comes handy, if you are a cosplayer!
Last month you stated you have some personal problems. I wanted to ask how cosplay related to your life and how you balance out your real life, and your hobby. How were you able to overcome and stay focused?
The balance between personal life and cosplaying is kinda sensitive…at least for me. I have a busy job, and school as well, so I have less time for working on my new projects, keep my sites updated for people who are interested in my works and live my life at the same time.
Even though cosplay is a great way to relax! It keeps me motivated and inspired, because when you achieve a goal – it can rather be the moment when you finish a small detail on a costume or finally get the pictures from your latest photoshoot with your most challenging work – it gives you a huge confidence boost, which helps you get over the hard parts both in private life and hobby.
I don’t know much about the actual crafting of costumes so I wanted some insight on Wonderflex. Tell us a bit about it and how it helped your Lightening cosplay take form.
Wonderflex might be a common material around other parts of the world, but it only reached the middle European region lately. It opened up a great spectrum for me in cosplaying. Wonderflex is a thermoplastic, which means it can be shaped by hand or over a mold while hot. Once it cools down it hardens and keeps the shape. It can be re-heated and reshaped as many times as necessary which is the greatest thing about this material! It is really easy to work with, I personally use a simple hairdryer to heat it, and shape it only with my hands and some common tools found around the house, like spoons! You can cut it out with scissors and it also sticks to itself, so you don’t need to use messy or hazardous additives.
Lastly, any advice out there for budding cosplayers?
Dare to improve and always have fun!!! Never forget that this is your hobby, which should be a relaxing and positive thing! Many cosplayers turns from friends to foes because of jealousy (I’ve got through this situation and I do not wish it for anyone!).
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