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About 1337Mando Cosplay
Hello! My name is 1337Mando. By day, I’m a cosplayer in the Greater Seattle Area. By night (but also by day), I’m also a single mom and graphic designer. When I don’t have my hands full from kids, crafting or work, I can be found either on World of Warcraft or binging Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
How did you first get into cosplay?
I’ve been interested in costuming ever since I saw the Titanic! The detailing put into each character was just so intriguing to me. However, I didn’t find out that cosplay was even a thing until my fourth year in college when I roomed with a cosplayer. I wanted so badly to be a part of the community and just quietly observed the amazing craftmanship for a couple years. It was Kamui’s How To books that finally inspired me to teach myself to sew and craft so that I could finally bring my favorite characters to life!
Do you cosplay just for fun or do you see it as a stepping stone to a future career?
Of course, I would absolutely love for cosplay to somehow become a future career! But truthfully, that’s not my ultimate goal. For me, cosplay is about the joy of craftsmanship and about building the community up. It’s about finding other fans who love and connect with the same characters as me, and about making people smile when they see your work. It’s about using each build as a resource to learn how to better my craft and seeing my kids’ eyes light up when they see me as their #1 hero.
Do you prefer to make your cosplays from scratch, buy or commission them or a hybrid?
I love building my own cosplays, but I also know that can become a little stressful for me at times. So I like to offset those builds with what I call “no stress cosplays,” which are usually casual characters that can be built with clothes I have laying around that need small modifications. That way, I can feel the elation of finishing a cosplay in the middle of a more difficult build.
How much time do you spend making each of your cosplays?
That depends on the cosplay itself. My Team Skull Grunt only took 4 hours, but my Delphox Gijinka armor took a month to complete. I’m also a single mom of two, which means I only have a couple hours a night to work on builds. Things tend to take a bit longer for me. 🙂
What is your favorite cosplay you done so far?
Blake Belladonna may always be my favorite cosplay! She was my first completed cosplay and I love the reactions I get from other RWBY fans. Plus, her weapon, Gambol Shroud, makes me feel like a total badass to wield!
What has been your most memorable experience (good or bad) as a cosplayer?
When I wore my Delphox Gijinka armor at PAX, there was a little girl peering at me from behind her dad’s leg. She was maybe 3-years old and she looked like she wanted to say “hi” but was a little too scared by my red contacts. So I knelt down, showed her that my contacts weren’t real and her attitude toward me completely changed! She was excited and awestruck to have talked to a Pokémon. I will always remember her sweet smile and curiosity!
How do you feel about group cosplays?
I love group cosplays! It can be a little tough to get a group together who wants to do the same thing. My cosplay group may or may not have a spreadsheet containing our favorite fandoms and cosplay ideas to see where we all match for group cosplays. Okay… we totally have a spreadsheet. And our group cosplays have always been a lot of fun! Even if we have to go through several ideas before finally landing on one we all want to do.
What cosplays are you currently working on or plan to finish this year?
I will soon be finishing my Aqua from Kingdom Hearts for Emerald City Comicon. After that, my biggest priority is my own version of Tyrande Whisperwind from Warcraft. She has been my favorite fantasy character since high school, and I cannot wait to do my own interpretation of her!
What issues do you see being the most divisive in the cosplay community and how do you feel about it?
The biggest issue I see coming up in communities is cosplayers who fear that their body type doesn’t align with the original characters. But I have also seen the community banding together to lift each other up when they’re feeling insecure. I’ve seen others dispersing negativity and offering to meet up at a con to be supportive. Negative reactions don’t usually last too long in the communities I’ve been a part of, and that not only gives me a sense of pride, but it lowers my own personal anxiety as well.
What types of characters or genres inspire your cosplay the most?
Anime and video games stand out the most for me! Textures and detailing are open to interpretation, and I love the scaling of elements. Weapon sizes can be so ridiculous, but I think that leads to interesting solutions on bringing them into reality.
What is your favorite part (researching, shopping for supplies, sewing, photo shoots, attending cons, etc.) of your cosplay process?
Sewing!! Sewing is so relaxing for me. I think it’s the hum of the machine, or maybe it’s finally creating something tangible after the researching and sketching phases. But something about it just relieves so much stress for me.
What are your best resources for cosplay materials?
I live in JoAnn’s! But I also love to order niche items from artists on Etsy. I love supporting the crafting community as much as I can. Arda Wigs is my favorite place for wigs since they take customer feedback seriously to improve their products. CosplaySupplies.com is where I get my foam and worbla.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome as a cosplayer?
Social anxiety was something that I allowed to hold me back from cosplaying for a long time. I still battle panic attacks and claustrophobia with large crowds but I honestly think that cosplay helps with that! Not only does cosplay allow for putting on the persona of your character, but it also instantly connects you with other people in the fandom. So while I’d be incredibly anxious around a large group of people I don’t know, cosplay helps me realize that I’m surrounded by friends.
Have you learned any life lessons during your time as a cosplayer and what are they?
Patience! I always thought I was a patient person until I started working with Worbla. But there is definitely a huge difference between taking your time with things and rushing them. It always shows in the end. I’ve learned how to take breaks from things, instead of pushing through frustrations; how to put efforts into details, instead of forcing them to work how I want.
What is your golden cosplay rule that you would share with new cosplayers?
Enjoy what you do, no matter what! If that means buying your cosplay from someone else, then do that. If that means casual cosplays, then do that. If that means intricate detailing that takes a long time or even full cosplays made of duct tape, then do that! Cosplay in whatever way makes you happy. Don’t worry about what anyone will think. The only thing that matters is that you enjoy what you do.
How do you feel the cosplay community has changed over time?
One thing that kept me from cosplaying for a while was the old elitist attitude toward anyone who bought their cosplays. I had been told flat out that cosplayers only respected those who made their costumes. I don’t see this attitude in the community anymore, at least not in my circles. All I see nowadays are supportive people lifting each other up to enjoy cosplay however they wish!
If money and time were not a factor, what is your number one over-ambitious cosplay you want to do?
I would love to create a Yrel (World of Warcraft) cosplay someday! She would need backward knees, full armor, LEDs, horns, and so many other elements. Someday, I will finally get around to creating her, but my skills aren’t yet up to snuff. Nor is my bank account.
Do you set a budget for each cosplay?
I don’t set budgets, but I do keep track of how much I spend on things. This can also make some of my cosplays take longer because I tend to space out my costs. I also collect items on sale that I think I could use for future cosplays, which can help with costs.
What does cosplay mean to you?
For me, it’s bringing your favorite characters to life. It’s putting thought into who they would be in the world of reality, and doing them justice in my designs.
Is there anything that would make you stop cosplaying?
I think a negative community would be the only thing that would make me stop cosplaying. I love connecting with other cosplayers, designers, and crafters. But I think if that was gone if people stopped connecting, stopped sharing ideas and support, that it just wouldn’t be the same.
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