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 Tuesday and Thursday to catch some up and coming new cosplay talent or get a look at some well established and famous members of the cosplay universe.
My cosplay name is AMHCosplays, and I live in Southeast Michigan although I’m a New York City-born Jersey Girl. I am a columnist and contributing writer for EG Media; my husband and I own a martial arts and yoga studio and a small heritage poultry farm. I am a USA Triathlon certified official, and I also volunteer for our county park system. I am a competitive triathlete (Team USA 2018!) and runner and I love to travel and explore new places… so this year’s been awful for all of that! I love Disney, anime, science fiction, fantasy…and cheese.
How did you first get into cosplay?
I’m a Halloween baby. It’s in my blood! Cosplaying is just a year-round extension.
Do you cosplay just for fun or do you see it as a stepping stone to a future career?
For myself, it’s for fun. I wouldn’t say no to being invited to be a guest at a con, but my enjoyment comes from creating or assembling cosplays and bringing the characters to life.
Do you prefer to make your cosplays from scratch, buy or commission them, or a hybrid?
Hybrid! I love the challenge of making my own, but some characters’ outfits are simply easier to buy vs the time, effort, and cost to make the same thing (for example, any blue jeans and top cosplay). I have commissioned one, a She-Hulk uniform I knew I’d never find that’s beyond my sewing skill.
How much time do you spend making each of your cosplays?
It depends on the cosplay. It took me two days to make Pacifica Northwest’s dress. It took me three weeks to make Salem’s cloak.
What is your favorite cosplay you have done so far?
My favorite character to cosplay is Bulma Briefs from Dragon Ball. I think I’m up to 30 versions of her. I’m proudest of my Salem cosplay… it took a lot of effort to make her and I think she turned out terrific.
What has been your most memorable experience as a cosplayer?
My most memorable was when Samantha Ireland (voice actor from RWBY) ran up to me at the Grand Rapids Comic-Con and asked to take my picture (I was cosplaying Salem, her character’s enemy). I’ve had many wonderful experiences interacting with voice actors.
How do you feel about group cosplays?
Two of my favorite cosplay photos were from group cosplays. If all the group members are of the same mindset as you then group cosplays can be lots of fun!
What cosplays are you currently working on or plan to finish this year?
LOL! I am actively (aka all over the kitchen table along with my sewing machine) working on three more versions of Bulma Briefs, a formal Jigglypuff, a Battle Jigglypuff, a Dr. Isley, a Nihao Ranma, and Pacifica Northwest as well as Hermione’s robes and a new mask for Spider-Woman. Fabric/trim has been purchased to make alternate-universe Candace from Phineas and Ferb, two more Bulmas, She-Hulk’s purple and white leotard, a Team GO Rocket grunt, a Blackest-Night Wonder Woman, and an alternate-universe My Hero Academy character. I have two Dragon Ball cosplays just waiting for me to style their wigs. I am also upgrading my Team Rocket Jessie, my Goth Ariel, my Koga, and my Afro Bulma. And I’m waiting for the character reference sheets for Volume 7/8 Salem to be released to see about tackling that gown. And I have ideas for Halloween, too, plus patterns for about 10 more cosplays (Young Salem, the Evil Queen, Polgara the Sorceress, and of course more Bulmas). 😊
What issues do you see as being the most divisive in the cosplay community and how do you feel about it?
Ageism is a HUGE issue. For reasons I simply don’t understand, older cosplayers are ignored or even insulted and rebuked, especially at cons. I have seen — witnessed — amazing cosplayers just left standing to the side at group meet-ups. Older cosplayers have literally told me dozens of times that they felt like quitting because of the poor reception for a cosplay they put their heart into making. It doesn’t help that many con photographers ignore older cosplayers and focus on the teens/20s girls in micro outfits and wigs. One con photographer actually told my husband — a pro photographer — that he only takes pictures of pretty young girls. It’s because of this attitude that I, with my husband’s moral and technical support, launched Cosplay Over 40 in June 2019. One year later, we’re approaching 3,000 IG m followers and have created a community that embraces and showcases the older, often overlooked cosplayer.
What types of characters or genres inspire your cosplay the most?
Anime and comic books are by far the most represented in my cosplays. I did my first literature cosplays — Hermione Granger and Pippi Longstocking — and my first video-game cosplay — Monokuma from Danganronpa — this year.
What is your favorite part (researching, shopping for supplies, sewing, photoshoots, attending cons, etc.) of your cosplay process?
I think it’s the realization that I can actually put a cosplay together! It energizes me to get the ball rolling. I also love going to cons and seeing people’s reactions to my cosplays.
What are your best resources for cosplay materials?
JoAnn Fabrics and Arda Wigs. I’d set up camp at both places if I could.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome as a cosplayer?
My own demon: body image. I am an anorexic. My anorexia is under control now — it was dangerously active as a teen — but it’s an incurable condition. It can only be controlled. And there are times I’ll look in the mirror and go, there is NO WAY you can pull off that character with that body!! Yesterday, for instance, I was finishing my Boozy Space Travel Bulma Cosplay. In the manga/anime, her top is cropped short, just a couple of inches below her bust. I cropped mine to cover my belly button. Sigh. I still have a long way to go with self-acceptance, apparently. On the flip side, it’s been a royal pain in the rear to strap down my chest when I cosplay male characters! I had someone comment this week “Sorry, but you are very too heavy.” How rude!
Have you learned any life lessons during your time as a cosplayer and what are they?
Be accepting of everyone. Cosplay isn’t just for the young, the thin, the physically fit. It’s for all ages, genders, races, ethnicities, sizes, you name it. The way I interpret a character is not going to be the way someone else interprets that character, and that’s okay.
What is your golden cosplay rule that you would share with new cosplayers?
Remember that, when it all boils down, we are just a bunch of dorks having fun dressing up as fictional characters. Have fun and don’t get too serious!
How do you feel the cosplay community has changed over time?
Cosplays are getting far more intricate, especially with 3D printers becoming more commonplace. Online shopping has also made creating cosplays far easier. The community itself is also far more diverse than it was when I started cosplaying. And that’s great!
If money and time were not a factor, what is your number one over-ambitious cosplay you want to do?
Lauralanthalassa from the Dragonlance books. She’s an Elven maiden, so you have the combination of silks and leathers… plus she becomes a General in the army on the good guys’ side, so she has amazing armor.
Do you set a budget for each cosplay?
What does cosplay mean to you?
Self-expression, an homage to a character I love, and fun.
How do you see the cosplay community 10 years from now?
More diverse and more accepting of each other. I am hopeful that people won’t be embarrassed to say they are cosplayers.
What is your favorite con to attend?
That’s a tough one. There are four that I really love! If I have to choose one… I’d have to say Dokidokon. It bills itself as the con with heart, and that’s it exactly! The staff and volunteers are all so courteous and helpful, and accepting; there are amazing panels, including the one that taught me to sew (thanks, @kira-elric!); the contests are fun; the cosplayers and other attendees are friendly; there’s a fabulous assortment of vendors; and a fantastic arcade where I apparently spent two hours playing Q-Bert. But Youmacon…it has such amazing, dramatic settings and fantastic group meet-ups!
Is there another cosplayer who inspires you or is your role model?
Alana Owlet. She is amazingly talented but also very down to earth and always willing to help other cosplayers with ideas and suggestions.
Do you consider yourself an inspiration to other cosplayers?
I’ve been told by cosplayers that I spur them. I frankly am always surprised by this. I’m just a gal who likes to dress up and create costumes. If others look up to me, I must be doing something right… and I truly appreciate them for this.
What advice would you give someone about meeting cosplayers and taking their pictures? How do you like to be approached?
Don’t be afraid to approach someone if you really like their cosplay or the character they are portraying. Be polite — don’t interrupt — and tell them that! “I love your cosplay! Would it be okay if I took your picture?” Politeness, sincerity, these always win.
What is one thing you wish your fans knew about you?
I’m happily married. 😄😄😄 I get lots of propositions, and I take them in the spirit they are offered, but no one is going to sway me to go out with them … or beyond!
Is there anything that would make you stop cosplaying?
If something dire were to happen to my family, my attention would go fully to that. Cosplay can wait.
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