I’m going to be honest with you, readers, I tried to count how many costumes this week’s featured cosplayer has made…but I gave up at 250. Imari Yumiki is a truly impressive figure in the cosplay community – a prolific costumer who has attended various conventions as an industry booth model, cosplay judge and, of course, AS A FAN! She is also very passionate about offering her skills and experiences as a resource to fellow cosplayers – you can check out her YouTube tutorials and tips here. Imari Yumiki is also one of the most skilled crossplayers we have featured on The Cosplay Corner…we’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for this talented cosplay chameleon at the upcoming Anime Los Angeles 2013!
First off, please tell us a little about yourself, how long you’ve been cosplaying, and what inspired you to start the hobby!
Imari: I’ve cosplayed more than 10+ years now. I was very young when I taught myself sewing and I was a big fan of videogames / anime / manga when I was a child. I remember watching one of my favorite shows when I was small and wondered how I could buy that outfit to wear in real life… then finding out that I can’t because it doesn’t exist! I ended up being crafty and made my dream outfits come true by learning how to sew. My passion for cosplay continued to increase over the years as I learned more, saw cosplay photos online and how everyone recreated characters they loved by bringing them to life. I continued this look on cosplay till this day to bring out my favorite series/characters to life in portrayal and crafts. Its fun and I don’t really see myself stopping anytime soon!
You have a really even mix of both male and female characters…and I have to say that your male crossplays are EXTREMELY convincing! What are some tips and tricks that you use to transform yourself from a very pretty girl into a convincing man?
Imari: Over the years I have practiced more and more on using make up to accentuate the features on my face to look more toward the characters I cosplay as. When you concentrate on how the character would look on real life, it’s like using your own face as a canvas for a painting. You will be able to learn what parts of your face you can highlight and what to define for it to stand out in photos as well in person. However, the Number 1 most important thing for male crossplaying is learning to portray the feel of the character’s emotion and body language. No matter how well you do your make up if you don’t bring out the character through your emotions and feeling as if you are them in pictures, it won’t be as convincing. When you love a character, you should be able to bring out the best portrayal of their attitude in the moments needed.
You also have a YouTube channel where you post videos about makeup tips and other cosplay advice. Why is it important to you to be a resource for other cosplayers and share your experiences?
Imari: Everyone who enjoys cosplay or any hobby they are deeply in love with should be able to share their experiences with others. Some people ask for advice and I use my experiences to show others how I would approach toward cosplaying certain characters. If they can learn something from it, I am grateful, if not its fine too. Sharing is something positive that bonds a community together and is also a learning experience. So being able to help and learn from each other means a lot to me. I am glad I can share in a visual way like YouTube to those who has asked me questions before on how I would approach to look like certain characters.
You’ve also previously worked as an industry booth model at a variety of conventions. How did you come across these opportunities? How does the experience of working in a more professional capacity at a booth differ from cosplaying at a convention as a regular attendee?
Imari: I honestly have to say that being able to help promote different series that I’ve enjoyed is an honorable experience for me. I am grateful for the industries who have had me at their booth whether through ACParadise.com or not. It’s every fans dream to be out there to talk to other fans about certain new anime or videogames they love. I have never viewed it as being a professional or any different from other fans because you are just celebrating and sharing your love at a different end of the community.
Similarly, ‘booth babes’ frequently receive a lot of criticism for just being hot girls who know nothing about the character they are playing. As an accomplished cosplayer, how do you feel about this perspective?
Imari: Booth babes are most of the time not fans of the product and are only paid models who bring in consumers. This usually causes a lot of debate and negativity in promotions. I have never liked the idea of people promoting something they have no clue about. It’s like they don’t really care for what fans actually like. I don’t personally have a problem with people who see “booth babe” as work however because everyone views promotions and sales from fans at a different level. ACParadise.com’s approach to promotions are different from those however because they bring a chance to connect real fans to the anime/videogames industry. Cosplayers are able to have a chance to sign up and volunteer to help promote a series they love. ACParadise.com also provides variety in events at the convention for fans to get involved such as scavenger hunts/trivia challenges and even recreating some scenes from the actual animes at the convention. It’s not just about getting more sales only, it’s about giving the fans an enjoyable experience for something they already love. Booth babes and cosplayers promotions are completely different things with two different approaches so I wouldn’t really compare them at all. In the end it’s up to the industry on who they use to promote their products.
As cosplay continues to increase in popularity, many veteran cosplayers often comment that it is becoming increasingly competitive. What are your thoughts on competition and cosplay? Is generating attention for your costumes something you concern yourself with, or are you more focused on simply enjoying the hobby?
Imari: I’m one of the least competitive people you will ever meet in the community. I didn’t go into this hobby for competition nor am I competing now. I’ve made cosplays through the years based on the love I have for characters, series and artists. When I love something, I’ll make it and I would never make costumes of something I don’t like or have no clue what it is. The only challenges I see are just improving my own skills that I am not so good with when making costumes. I know there are people who are competitive in anything they do, so it’s understandable if they don’t view that I do things for fun realisticly. I personally don’t care for appealing for attention, hence my obscure choices in a lot of costumes of mines and my balance of male/female cosplay for my own amusement. I just like being able to share with my friends and people I meet with common interests and fun topics. It’s all a learning experience to me that I have fun with. Nothing more and nothing less.
Do you have any advice on how to take less complex costumes and transform them into something amazing? Is it a particularly good wig, the make-up, or the photography?
Imari: The most important thing in cosplay for me is character portrayal. Regardless on how complicated your costumes are, your love for the character will show when you put your heart to it. I’ve made complicated costumes to very simple outfits but I love them equally because I just wanted to bring the character to life. Having good wigs, make up, photography are all just bonuses to what was given to you in the first place. And that’s your body and face. It’ll show when you really are passionate about something and I strongly believe there is nothing that carves “you” out better than your own self.
Good photography is a very important component of showcasing your costume. What are some elements that you look for in a good cosplay photo?
Imari: I’m not particular that picky with how photos come out because I learned to pose to different cameras. It’s important to learn not to be camera shy and you can adjust yourself to make sure you show your best sides as you imagine how the photo would turn out. It’s like imagining yourself on the photographer side, when you imagine small things like that it helps. Also be relaxed and confident, photos will come out the way you want when you don’t worry about it too much.
What are your thoughts on the use of photoshop in cosplay photos?
Imari: Using photoshop to adjust lighting and edit small things such as wig mistakes is totally OK with me. I do that all the time. I don’t like over photoshopping; like blurring and making your face look non-human. Let your makeup and lighting be your best friend, especially during photoshoots. You have the time to adjust to every picture taken.
Finally, what are some of your upcoming conventions and costumes? If someone recognizes you at a convention, how would they go about striking up a conversation with you?
Imari: I have a long list of costumes I want to make [laughs], but some upcoming costumes will be from Fairy Tail and Magi. I will also be making some more old school series costumes from videogames and sometimes I am spontaneous with what I feel like making so I can’t really list a concrete list at the moment! Upcoming conventions events for me will be Animeicon in Monterey, CA in December. After that I will be going to Anime LA and Katsucon most of my upcoming conventions are listed on my ACParadise.com.
If you see me at the next event, just come up and say hi, I may not be able to hold up a long conversation if I am working but I don’t mind chatting up with others for just a little bit! Just excuse me for being a little shy and quiet if I run out of things to say!
Want to stay up to date on all her costumes and appearances? Follow her cookie crumb trail below: