Word of the Nerd is 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 day 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.
About YSK Cosplay
I’m Ye Sun, a 19-year-old South Korean cosplayer based on the US East Coast. When I’m not studying video game design in college, I’m working on cosplay or thinking about my next one. Catch me at Katsucon every year!
How did you first get into cosplay?
When I was a kid I was really into the Pokemon franchise, and I was also one of those kids who spent way too many hours per day on the internet. I was browsing through Pokemon-related things on Google Images one day and my father looked over my shoulder. Surprisingly, he knew about cosplay and he told me a little bit about it, but I still didn’t really get it. Later during that year during the holiday season, he surprised me with tickets for my first anime convention, Katsucon 2009, and we went together. There I saw just dozens upon dozens of cosplayers from so many different franchises, it completely blew my mind at how creative everyone was and how much fun they were having. So from then on, I decided to make it a lasting hobby of mine.
Do you cosplay just for fun or do you see it as a stepping stone to a future career?
I see it as both! It’s fun to make friends through cosplay. It’s fun to make fandom jokes that nobody usually gets and feel good when everyone knows what you’re talking about for once. It’s fun to blow people’s minds when they meet a Real Life version of their favorite character. But you also learn a lot from cosplaying as well. You learn how to research, problem solve, budget, craft, network…which are all very helpful real-world skills to have. Even if cosplaying isn’t exactly a career choice, those skills can certainly be very useful in other situations.
Do you prefer to make your cosplays from scratch, buy or commission them or a hybrid?
I tend to either modify existing clothing to fit a character or just make from scratch. If a character’s outfit isn’t too complex, I’ll typically go to a thrift store or something to get a base clothing article (a belt, a shirt, pants, socks, a hoodie, etc.) and then change it in whatever way I need to (fabric painting, armoring, shorting sleeves, etc.). However, if it’s really something you wouldn’t see in your everyday life (typical of fantasy and science fiction games and anime), then I often find myself having to make a trip to the local fabric store.
How much time do you spend making each of your cosplays?
While some cosplays have taken just a few hours and others have taken several months, I’d say most take me around a month to complete. Most time is spent researching, budgeting, and creating checklists and diagrams. Or waiting for things to come in the mail or paint to dry. I’m the kind of person who likes to sit down and get everything done as soon as possible, so it doesn’t take too long for me.
What is your favorite cosplay you done so far?
I’m really proud of my Mettaton EX and King Mettaton cosplays from the 2015 video game Undertale. I’m very proud of the makeup I do for that cosplay, which is one of my favorite parts of any cosplay. I feel very confident in myself when I wear that cosplay, and that makes wearing it even more fun. Even though wearing 5-inch stiletto-heeled boots all day is a killer on the feet, it kinda makes me feel confident in my physical endurance too, haha.
What has been your most memorable experience (good or bad) as a cosplayer?
Recently I’ve been able to work together with my college dorm-mates on doing a Team Skull (from Pokemon Sun and Moon) cosplay group. In the past, they’ve been pretty reluctant to cosplay but this time they’re all very eager and excited to get together and run around celebrating a franchise they all love. It really makes me very happy that I’m able to share my hobby with them like this!
How do you feel about group cosplays?
I admire others who manage to pull it off; it seems very stressful. That kind of thing takes a lot of coordination on everyone’s time and money. Several times I’ve seen cosplay groups disbanded due to internal social drama and it’s rather disheartening. But when everyone’s equally into it and giving it their all, it’s quite an impressive thing.
What cosplays are you currently working on or plan to finish this year?
Right now I’m working with my college dorm-mates on finishing all of our Team Skull cosplays, which is going to take some time. In addition to making several Team Skull Grunt uniforms, I have to work on full outfits for the characters Guzma, Plumeria, and Gladion, so it’s quite a bit of work. Later this year I plan on starting Kageyama Shigeo “Mob” from Mob Psycho 100 and/or Adam Taurus from RWBY.
What issues do you see being the most divisive in the cosplay community and how do you feel about it?
I see a lot of argument over which characters people “can” and “cannot” cosplay, depending on things such as skin color, disability, or body type. Even I’m not completely sure where my opinion falls on the topic. I think the circumstances differ on a case-by-case basis so there’s nothing I can really assert to every instance the matter is brought up. Generally, I simply try to avoid such negativity.
What types of characters or genres inspire your cosplay the most?
I tend to cosplay characters from video games rather than anime or manga, although a lot of the time there is overlap. The characters I cosplay usually have very self-confident personalities, so I’ve begun to think that I choose these characters as some kind of outlet or opportunity to be more assertive and outspoken than I usually would be.
What is your favorite part (researching, shopping for supplies, sewing, photo shoots, attending cons, etc.) of your cosplay process?
Photoshoots are definitely one of my favorites. Cosplay isn’t simply wearing a character’s clothing or makeup, but really becoming that character and embodying them, bringing them to life. Cosplay photographs can really capture and immortalize the likenesses of characters and is really a part of the cosplay process I consider just as crucial as making the outfit itself.
What are your best resources for cosplay materials?
Michael’s craft stores and Joann’s fabric stores are my go-to local resources for materials and tools. I get my wigs from Arda Wigs. Thrift stores and Amazon are good places for base clothing articles or miscellaneous items. Reference images are best obtained from screenshots, official artwork, in-game sprites, or 3D models. I’ve also learned that getting a figure of the character is a great reference too because you can see all the fine details and the entirety of the character from every angle.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome as a cosplayer?
I think cosplay has definitely made me a lot more confident in the way I see myself, getting through such issues like depression. It’s actually helped me realize that I’m transgender, which is probably something I would never have known about without cosplaying (or crossplaying, I guess).
Have you learned any life lessons during your time as a cosplayer and what are they?
I’ve learned that everyone has creative potential. Creating something isn’t bound to sewing a jacket or crafting a sword when it comes to cosplay. The hobby encompasses so many different crafts and industries, really anyone’s knowledge and skill can be of use in cosplay. Everyone has something to contribute.
What is your golden cosplay rule that you would share with new cosplayers?
Always try new things. Don’t be disheartened if something looks bad at first. Keep practicing. Cosplay is about finding new, different ways to do things. It’s about exploring and learning, so be open to new people and ideas. Do a lot of research, and stay organized. Also, you will attain hot glue burn immunity.
How do you feel the cosplay community has changed over time?
The cosplay community is changing as people gain more and more access to new information and resources. It enables new techniques and possibilities for more and more exploration of the cosplay hobby as a whole. For example, the Worbla thermoplastic is enabling people to craft and embellish their cosplays in ways previously extremely tedious. If 3D printing becomes more affordable and widespread, we may see how that changes typical crafting processes.
If money and time were not a factor, what is your number one over ambitious cosplay you want to do?
Absolutely, one-hundred-percent Hatsune Miku from VOCALOID. I’ve been in love with her character since childhood and I’ve been wanting to cosplay her nearly all my life. My goals include sound-responsive LED panels in the sleeves and somehow working optic fibers into her twin tails. Also light-up hairbands, headphones, skirt, boots, etc…it’ll take quite some time and quite some money, but I’m dead-set on cosplaying her someday.
Do you set a budget for each cosplay?
Loosely, but I do. I write up bullet-pointed checklists for my cosplays, finding the costs of each part and the materials needed. If it ends up out of my price range, I’ll either brainstorm or research alternate methods of obtaining what I need, or I’ll reconsider my plans for debuting the cosplay to allow for more time.
What does cosplay mean to you?
Cosplay is a means of celebrating and participating in a genre of international modern-day performance art in a way that welcomes participation, collaboration, and self-reflection. It’s a way to learn about oneself as well as others.
Is there anything that would make you stop cosplaying?
I’ve been discouraged from cosplaying certain characters from certain series before, but nothing’s ever made me want to permanently drop the hobby. Sometimes college work or cosplay-related social drama calls for a hiatus on practicing the craft, but I always end up doing it again at some point.
You can follow and view more of YSK Cosplay here
- Ben Johnston
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