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Elle Derpstra is a 22 year old cosplayer from Charlotte, North Carolina. She works as a registered nurse and is a member of both The FanDames Initiative and Excelsior League. In her free time she is brushing her rabbit, wrestling her dog, or having a passionate affair with her pillow, blankets, and sleep mask.
Derpstra is discontent that her pupils are different sizes. She is a genetic mutation but instead of wicked superpowers, all she got were mismatched pupils. Most loyal companion: Her chiweenie puppy, Lucy.
How did you first get into cosplay?
When I was still in middle school my nerdy godmother saw a spark of creativity in me and said: “Do you want to go somewhere fun with us?” She dressed me up as The Pretty Fucking Princess from The Devil’s Panties and I got to meet the artist at Sakura Con. After that, I was entranced with the art of costuming. Fast forward a few years to my senior year of high school, I decided to adventure into a convention on my own, where I met the Fandames Initiative and became a member. I have now been costuming for 4 years and have been to several North and South Carolina conventions, it’s such a great experience.
Do you cosplay just for fun or do you see it as a stepping stone to a future career?
No career here! I am a registered nurse by day, and I don’t see ever giving that up for sewing. This is simply my hobby, my release from the stress of the real world.
Do you prefer to make your cosplays from scratch, buy or commission them or a hybrid?
I sew almost all my cosplays from scratch, my only real ‘closet cosplay’ is my Goofy Movie costume that I wear with Snarky Puppy Cosplay on lazy Sundays.
How much time do you spend making each of your cosplays?
It really depends on what’s going on in my life, I put together my Magic Armor link in only 2 weeks between classes, but I spent 6+ months slowly working on Sakizou Relm when I was busy with nursing school.
What is your favorite cosplay you done so far?
My favorite cosplay so far is my Mad Moxxi. It was the first cosplay I ever won an award for and I accidentally ran myself through with a giant pair of sewing scissors while making it, I still have the scar! I had miniature painted megaphones in my tip jar and people were throwing random amounts of money at me in order to get one of my mini megaphones. I spent all my gains on booze.
What has been your most memorable experience (good or bad) as a cosplayer?
My most memorable and crazy experience was when I was a guest panelist for a panel that was supposed to be centered around discussing alcohol and cosplay/convention life, but the audience completely took over, set up a mini bar, and turned the entire panel room into a club in 10 minutes flat. We were so shocked, none of us knew what to do. We did get free drinks though.
How do you feel about group cosplays?
I almost always do group cosplays. I work often with Snarky Puppy Cosplay on duo cosplays as we are on the same skill level and live about 30 minutes from each other. The Fandames are always putting together groups that I try to be a part of. I often like to be side/minor characters that people don’t recognize unless I am beside the main character.
What cosplays are you currently working on or plan to finish this year?
Right now I have a million projects going on at once. I just finished buying all the pieces for Neith to wear at Hi-Rez Expo in January. I’m working on Sophitia from Soul Calibur, Princess White Rose from Saga, and Future Gwen from Ben 10.
What issues do you see being the most divisive in the cosplay community and how do you feel about it?
Right now a huge issue I see in the community is the use of blackface and it’s real life implications affecting it’s use in the cosplay scene. I don’t feel like I am really entitled to an opinion on the matter, being a white cosplayer, I feel that we should be listening to the often unheard POC cosplayers that ARE raising their voice about the matter. It’s their culture, not mine.
What types of characters or genres inspire your cosplay the most?
I cosplay almost exclusively from video games and Disney, but I do sometimes venture into animes that I watched when I was younger. I have done at least three Zelda costumes and don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.
What is your favorite part (researching, shopping for supplies, sewing, photo shoots, attending cons, etc.) of your cosplay process?
My favorite part of the process is walking through the fabric store with only a cartoon drawing in my hand and slowly picking out the pieces that are going to bring this costume to the real world. It’s such a magical process and I really get in the zone.
What are your best resources for cosplay materials?
My best resource used to be Hancock Fabrics. Insert me crying internally here. I now spend a lot more time at the Joann’s, but the closest one is 45 minutes away from me. The Hancocks was 5 minutes away. I also spend a lot of time in Michaels and Hobby Lobby now.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome as a cosplayer?
The biggest obstacle I have had to overcome is my confidence in my body. I have rather weird proportions which most people say they would be proud of at first glance, but I know what my stomach really looks like under all this, and I don’t like it. I am exercising and eating right, it’s just a slow process to undo my dangerous ways in college.
Have you learned any life lessons during your time as a cosplayer and what are they?
The biggest life lessons I have learned have come from the other girls I look up to in the costuming community. I am obsessed with Chiki Cosplay’s (notice me senpai) way of living and aspire to be her. She is a badass and stands her ground, but is also very welcoming to everyone around her and loves her friends with a fiery passion. I used to be both naive, and an asshole, and I have learned you cannot be too much of either of these in this community.
What is your golden cosplay rule that you would share with new cosplayers?
Do not ask if they bought or made their costume.
How do you feel the cosplay community has changed over time?
I have only been in it steadily for four years, in that time the only difference I have seen in that people take a lot fewer pictures of others and ask for a lot more pictures of themselves. I don’t see anything wrong with it, either way, it’s understandable to want pictures of your art.
If money and time were not a factor, what is your number one over ambitious cosplay you want to do?
Everything cast aside, Elle’s Dream Cosplay involves a rideable Chocobo.
Do you set a budget for each cosplay?
I usually don’t go over $100. I’m good at scooping up deals, couponing, and finding discount fabric and resources for my costumes. Sakizou Relm was made entirely out of curtains.
What does cosplay mean to you?
Cosplay to me is a form of expression. We are all artists who could have chose painting, sculpting, singing, dancing, and we brought it all here. We are showing the world something that is locked away inside.
Is there anything that would make you stop cosplaying?
I suppose if I lost both my arms and legs in a horrific accident or was blinded by super acid, I would probably stop sewing for a bit until I figured out how to do it with my new robot legs. One of my favorite cosplayers is a Full Metal Alchemist cosplayers with an actual metal leg and he is the most legit person I have ever seen.
You can follow and view more of Derpstra here
- Mikki Marvel
- MK Kitten
- Washu Otaku Photography
- WackedKid 47 Photography
- Chiki Cosplay Photography
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