Word of the Nerd and Living for the Moments are pleased to present to you one of our most popular features, Cosplayer Spotlight. We feature new and talented cosplayers from the cosplay community. Be sure to check back every week to catch some up and coming new cosplay talent or get a look at some well established and already famous members from the world of cosplay.
Hey there! I’m Rachel from Columbus, Ohio! My cosplay handle is Flaming Goddess (aka my silly old GaiaOnline alias that has stuck with me because I can’t think of a better name for myself), and I’ve been cosplaying for the past 7 years. I’m currently a student in my final year of college studying to be an opera singer. I tend to stick around the Midwest convention scene, but I’ve been branching out to the East Coast in the past couple years. I love cosplaying, but my number one favorite hobby is singing. I also play piano and watch too much Netflix in my spare time.
How did you first get into cosplay? When I was in 8th grade, my best friend attended a local anime convention and had tons of fun, so I started researching other conventions in the area. I found Ohayocon, and we started making plans to attend the convention later that year. We were very into Naruto at the time (so original, I know), so the both of us decided to put together costumes from the series. My favorite character was Sakura Haruno, so with the help of my mom, we sewed her Shippuden outfit and I wore it to my first con. I had an absolute blast, and from then on I was hooked. I’ve attended almost 40 conventions since 2008.
How much time do you spend making your costumes? Simultaneously too much and too little time. I am a horrible procrastinator, so I don’t usually start on projects until I’m getting down to the wire, which leads to panic and sometimes unfinished things, but in the small period of time I have to work, I devote all of my spare time to getting my things done, which can also lead to me letting more important things fall to the wayside. Some costumes have taken a month, while others were completed in a span of a couple hours. It all just depends on the complexity of what I’m making.
What’s your favorite cosplay you’ve done so far? Definitely Mami. Mami has an incredibly special place in my heart because I identify with her the most out of any character I’ve ever cosplayed, and the memories I’ve made with the people I’ve cosplayed from Madoka with are so dear to me. The costume also was a turning point for me, because I had to amp up my sewing game as well as learn a whole bunch of different prop making techniques.
Do you usually get positive reactions from fans? I would say so. The word “fan” is really a strange one, especially within the realm of cosplay. The people who follow my stuff on Facebook are pretty supportive, although sometimes there are those who follow my page because of how I look and my perceived sex appeal and only comment on that, and it’s incredibly frustrating and disheartening. People can say I’m a hypocrite for cosplaying characters with cleavage or skin showing and then getting upset by the attention it gets, but I only cosplay characters I care about enough to spend way too much money in order to look like them. I shouldn’t have to worry about whether cosplaying a certain character is going to cause people to comment lewd things on my pictures, because humans should have enough self control not to post comments that they wouldn’t feel comfortable uttering in front of their mother or grandmother.
What’s the next costume or event you’re preparing for? Technically Ohayocon, which I’m fixing up Sailor Mars for to re-wear with my lovely Inner Senshi group, but my next big convention is Katsucon, for which I’m making Muse Sona from League of Legends and I’m really excited about it.
What characters inspire you the most? I always find myself really attached to the characters who feel like they have to get better to deserve their friends. My friends growing up were (and still are) incredibly talented individuals, and for a long time I felt like I was nowhere near as great as they were and I needed to push myself to succeed. I’ve grown up somewhat since then and realize my self-worth is way more than I was giving myself credit for back then, but I still connect to those kind of characters. Sakura Haruno and Wakaba Shinohara are some of my absolute favorite characters for that reason.
What is your primary area of inspiration for your cosplay? Comics, anime, games or other? Anime mostly. The majority of the series I cosplay from are from a variety of different animes, and on top of that I am absolutely abysmal at most video games outside of a select few. The world of comics is one I’ve been slowly trying to get into, but with the wealth of different titles and how long some series are, it’s rather intimidating. I just kind of pick and choose depending on what interests me, and I usually find certain characters I’m particularly drawn towards, and it’s all downhill from there.
What are your best resources for cosplay materials? THE INTERNET. Obviously that’s a rather large resource, but there is SO MUCH to be learned from other people in terms of cosplay. There are numerous blogs on Tumblr with great information on everything from how to start sewing to making armor with leather, as well as countless YouTube videos, tutorials, and essentially everything under the sun. USE THY GOOGLEFU!
What’s one piece of advice you’d give new cosplayers? Start small. I had huge dreams of the costumes I would make when I first started cosplaying, but I knew my skills weren’t up for the task. If you start small, you save yourself from future disappointment and regret when you can’t make something turn out the way you want to. Also, you’ll be so proud of what you can accomplish, even if it’s not the most fancy thing in the world. In my opinion, cosplay has a big learning curve, and it takes lots of effort and mistakes in order to get better. There are still costumes I want to make that I am not ready for, but I know one of these days I’ll be ready, and that’s okay!
What’s your golden rule of cosplay? Realism over exact accuracy. Although there are probably people who disagree with me, I am partial to more realistic interpretations of characters than cartoon-y looking versions. Some people can pull this off very well, but in my experience I have not had a good time with trying to make certain aspects of my cosplays look impractical, so I choose to lean towards realism.
What does your budget run per costume? I try very very hard not to think about it (which is awful, but I’m still in college and can be slightly irresponsible with my money… right???). My most expensive costume was probably Mami or Yoko because of the extra prop budgets I had to include, but most of my stuff runs between $20-200 depending on what I have to buy. Wigs are almost always the biggest money suckers, with shoes and fabric following close behind.
Is there anything that would make you stop cosplaying? I’m personally planning on scaling back cosplaying when I go to graduate school in (hopefully) a year and a half, since real life obligations are, at the end of the day, way more important than cosplay. On top of that, I doubt I’ll have much expendable income to use for costumes once I graduate, so essentially me being forced into adulthood is going to make me stop. I wish it weren’t the case, and maybe I’ll be lucky and be able to still go to a few cons and make costumes, but right now I doubt it.
If money and time were no issue, what’s your number one over ambitious cosplay? Oh gosh, probably a female version of Protoman based on The Protomen’s dystopian Megaman universe. Megaman is one of the few video games I’m not abysmal at, and The Protomen are one of my all-time favorite bands and I love their reimagination of the classic game. Protoma’am would require vacuum-forming and a whole bunch of other ridiculous techniques I have no idea how to do, plus the time and money it would take to make everything I’d want would be immense.
Why do you cosplay? I cosplay because I love transforming into a different person. My passion in life is performing, so cosplay is kind of extension of that. Putting on a wig, false eyelashes, make-up, and an impractical outfit then wearing it to a convention with friends is so much fun for me. The cosplay community is the other main reason I cosplay. Although we all have our moments, the community by and large is a wonderful and supportive group, and I have met so many amazing individuals through this hobby who I feel honored to call my friends.
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