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 Lightning Caelum Cosplay
My name is Devon, and I’m an 18 year old Chicago based cosplayer in the US. I’ve been cosplaying for about 6 years now, and I’m majoring in Game Animation.
How did you first get into cosplay?
I first got into cosplay when I was very young. My Halloween costumes consisted of characters like Kagome from My Inuyasha and Dawn from Pokémon back in elementary school. Eventually, around 8th grade, I learned about conventions and cosplay, and that was the beginning of an expensive hobby. My first cosplay was a Ciel Phantomhive cosplay purchased on eBay, but now I build my own armor.
Do you cosplay just for fun or do you see it as a stepping stone to a future career?
Cosplay has always been fun for me, but as of recently, I started taking commissions to help pay for college. Above all else, cosplay is a way for me to meet new friends and create art inspired by my favorite series.
Do you prefer to make your cosplays from scratch, buy or commission them or a hybrid?
As a beginner I typically purchased mine, but now I make them from scratch. A few are modified thrift store items. Buying clothes to modify can save a lot of time and money.
How much time do you spend making each of your cosplays?
The amount of time depends on the cosplay. If I’m doing a sewing project I can typically finish within two weeks, but armor can take months. The more you practice building cosplay, the faster you become.
What is your favorite cosplay you done so far?
I think my favorite cosplay so far was a tie between Saber from the Type Moon games and Lightning’s Dragoon Garb from Final Fantasy Lightning Returns. Both cosplays were challenging because of sewing and armor building.
What has been your most memorable experience (good or bad) as a cosplayer?
As a cosplayer, my most memorable experiences are when the creators of an anime or video game get excited when you dress up as their characters. For example, I dressed up as Saber before Fate/Grand Order came out and the Aniplex USA booth fangirled and posted a picture of me on Instagram and Facebook when the game was released.
How do you feel about group cosplays?
Group cosplays are hard to put together and can be extremely fun. It looks especially good when all of the cosplays are of the same quality level, but as long as you’re having fun you’re doing it right.
What cosplays are you currently working on or plan to finish this year?
As of the moment, I’m currently building Aranea from Final Fantasy XV, a samurai and cyber jumpsuit version of Lighting from Final Fantasy XIII, and Tamamo No Mae from Fate/Extella.
What issues do you see being the most divisive in the cosplay community and how do you feel about it?
I feel as though most people get caught up on race and “sexy” cosplay. Some cosplayers feel bitter towards people who use sex appeal as part of their costume for attention, while others appreciate it. The other major issue dividing the community is when cosplayers tan for a character because it is offensive for some.
What types of characters or genres inspire your cosplay the most?
For me, I love strong female characters who defy the odds and show strength in a male dominated world. It’s inspiring to me because the technology field is predominantly male, and these characters inspire me to push societal norms and apply for a job in a “male” field.
What is your favorite part (researching, shopping for supplies, sewing, photo shoots, attending cons, etc.) of your cosplay process?
I LOVE attending cons after the cosplay is finished and seeing the reactions of people. It makes me so happy to see people fangirling over the cosplay because it’s similar to the character. I also enjoy seeing the photos afterward.
What are your best resources for cosplay materials?
Joann’s Fabric, Michael’s craft store, Hobby Lobby for metallic paint, Kamui Cosplay tutorials are helpful too.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome as a cosplayer?
The biggest obstacle I’ve had to face is high expectations. I’ve set extremely high expectations for myself and from others, so I pressure myself to always be better than the last cosplay. This can be a hurtful obstacle because I easily get demoralized if something doesn’t come out how I planned. To be a good cosplayer, you have to keep going and finish the cosplay because it’s always worth it.
Have you learned any life lessons during your time as a cosplayer and what are they?
I’ve learned not to waste time on people who don’t deserve it, and not to take things people say too seriously. I had a falling out with a friend which resulted in him spreading many lies about me. As a convention cosplayer, you learn to develop a thick skin to drama and criticism that isn’t deserved.
What is your golden cosplay rule that you would share with new cosplayers?
It doesn’t matter how much money or effort you put into a cosplay. As long as you’re having fun and not offending anyone purposefully, you’re doing it right.
How do you feel the cosplay community has changed over time?
I feel as though the creation of Patreon has changed the community a lot. New cosplayers see that “sexy” cosplayers get far more attention than talented craftsmen most of the time, so they attempt to emulate them. I feel as though this has changed the purpose of cosplay from “having fun and making friends” to “whatever makes me popular and the most money”.
If money and time were not a factor, what is your number one over ambitious cosplay you want to do?
I would love to do a Dragoon from Final Fantasy, like Kain or FFXIV, or possibly a suit of armor with legit metal, like FFXIII-2 style.
Do you set a budget for each cosplay?
I try to keep my budget under $100, not including a wig, but sometimes I go over and under. Setting a budget is extremely important because there are more important things in life that require saving money, such as rent or emergency hospital fees.
What does cosplay mean to you?
Cosplay is a way for us to create art in a way that honors the original character and artist while also allowing us to make friends.
Is there anything that would make you stop cosplaying?
I would stop cosplaying if I didn’t have any friends to cosplay with or my budget didn’t have enough room for cosplay.
You can follow and view more of Lightning Caelum Cosplay here
- Danielle Christina Photography
- Bia imagery
- Smashed Lens Photography
- PND-noodle Z
- Kenzy Kaleel
- Saber and Morrison- Blaq sheep Photography
Check out our other cosplay features here
If you are a cosplayer and would like to be featured, please fill out our submission form