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.
About April Gloria
April is a cosplayer based out of Wichita, Kansas. Growing up in New Jersey, April expressed a love for everything creative ever since she picked up her first crayon. This love for art and creativity eventually inspired her to start making costumes based on her favorite characters from video games and other media. She has worked hard over the past six years to turn her passion into a full-time career. Since then, April has appeared at various comic conventions and video game expos across the United States and strives to inspire others to construct their own costumes and bring a spirit of positivity to the community.
How did you first get into cosplay?
I first heard the term back in 2008 but I did not put together a costume until 2013. I always liked dressing up for Halloween so I was excited when I realized you could wear costumes all year long! I put together an Elizabeth costume from Bioshock Infinite for my first con. I had so much fun that I decided to continue the hobby.
Do you cosplay just for fun or have you been able to make this your career focus?
My career is cosplay-focused but I still have fun creating costumes. I went full-time creator in 2017 and it’s been a wild ride, but worth it at this point!
Do you prefer to make your cosplays from scratch? Buy or commission them? Both?
It all depends on the costume, what I have time for, and what I have the energy for. I’ve created costumes from scratch, bought costumes friends created, bought from cosplay companies, and put costumes together from items I’ve found online or at thrift stores. I feel the most proud of costumes I make myself, but I still have fun wearing all of them.
How much time do you spend making each of your cosplays?
It depends on the costume but it can take anywhere from 1-8 months. I don’t work on each costume for 8 hours per day so it can be tricky to track so maybe 50-300 hours would be a better estimate. I do know that they all take twice as long as I think they will, or more!
What is your favorite cosplay you have done so far?
Probably Bastila Shan, from the Star Wars video game Knights of the Old Republic. That costume took a lot of engineering to get all of the leather pieces to sit right and work well with each other. It was an amazing learning experience, and I’m really proud of how it turned out.
What has been your most memorable experience (good or bad) as a cosplayer?
I feel like a collective good memorable experience is getting to meet so many likeminded people over the years. Some of my closest friends nowadays are people I initially met over the internet, which is pretty amazing.
I try not to dwell on bad experiences but a collective bad experience would just be internet negativity in general. Somehow it’s 2020 and people still haven’t learned to just keep scrolling if they don’t like something. But I prefer to focus on all of the good because if I didn’t, I’d literally go crazy.
How do you feel about group cosplays?
They can be a lot of fun! There’s not much that’s better than sharing the love of a character or source material with friends. However, my friend group and I had to learn, over the years, that we didn’t need to be in a group to have fun together at a con. We all have different interests and cosplay styles, and we can have a great time hanging out in individual costumes too.
What cosplays are you currently working on or plan to finish this year?
I’m working on a few at the moment: Keyleth from the Critical Role comic Vox Machina Origins, Sadie Adler from the video game Red Dead Redemption 2, and later on I’d like to start Vex from Skyrim.
What issues do you see as being the most divisive in the cosplay community and how do you feel about it?
Blackface/raceface, or coloring one’s skin to look like the skin tone of another human race, is something that has been an issue in the cosplay community, and there are many people in and out of the actual community on both sides arguing for or against it. My stance is just…don’t do it. Do not change your makeup to look like another human race. It’s literally so easy to just not do it. People will argue “what about alien species or red-skinned fantasy characters?” –they aren’t a real human race so those are perfectly fine. People of color have had to endure so much in regards to their skin color over years and years so it’s disrespectful to treat it as a costume accessory you can just wash off at the end of the day. There’s more I could say on this but that’s the general idea.
What types of characters or genres inspire your cosplay the most?
I really enjoy cosplaying women from fantasy genres with medieval or Viking-esque elements. I have, as of this interview, created nine costumes from the Elder Scrolls universe alone. I have always loved learning about the Middle Ages, and Lord of the Rings was my favorite series growing up, so I think those things helped form my interests when it came to cosplay as well.
What is your favorite part (researching, shopping for supplies, sewing, photoshoots, attending cons, etc.) of your cosplay process?
Researching and getting photos done is up there but my favorite is painting and weathering. I don’t use an airbrush as of yet so spray paint and hand-painting are what I usually do. It’s relaxing, and I get to take my time to make each piece look exactly how I want it to. Plus a good paint job can cover up some technical mistakes so that’s nice too.
What are your best resources for cosplay materials?
I get stuff from all over. Joann Fabrics, Arda or Pose Wigs, Yaya Han, SKS Props, Angelus Leather paints, Plaid paints, and Tandy Leather are all great. For my “found pieces” I like checking places like Goodwill or Poshmark to find secondhand items. It’s better for the planet and I like that I get to give someone’s old piece of clothing new life.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome as a cosplayer?
I was very shy and quiet growing up, and while I’ve learned that is not a bad thing– I still have some shyness and I’m never the most boisterous person in the room– I learned how to be open, but also composed and professional in public settings. I’ve learned how to talk to a room full of people, meet strangers, hold small-talk conversations, among other things.
Have you learned any life lessons during your time as a cosplayer and what are they?
Attention from the public is fleeting. Don’t chase “fame” or you’ll always be disappointed. I had to learn to balance doing what I thought would “do well” or what people wanted from me, with what I wanted to do, even if it meant not going viral, or making as much money. If my mental health suffers too much, it might not be worth doing.
What is your golden cosplay rule that you would share with new cosplayers?
I feel like there are a few things that I’d like new cosplayers to keep in mind when they start:
- Be kind to your fellow cosplayers. We can all tell when someone is on a high horse, and it won’t get you very far in the long run. Developing good relationships with other cosplayers and making friends is so much more rewarding than stepping on others to reach whatever you think the “top” is.
- Don’t undersell yourself. It’ll be tempting to accept offers to work for free, but if you do…it undercuts those of us who need to make money to earn a living. There are exceptions to every rule, and there are times when you’ll need to negotiate, but paying for a plane ticket and hotel in exchange for the con to call you a “guest”? It’s not worth it.
How do you feel the cosplay community has changed over time?
I’ve only been in the community for 6, almost 7 years but it has changed quite a bit since 2013. The amount of accessible cosplay materials has exploded, and it’s so nice to go to Joann and see cosplay foam and fabrics on the shelves. There are also so many tutorials these days! Cosplayers are even creating books with valuable information for creating costumes. With that, also comes a higher bar. I feel like it’s harder and harder to get noticed on the internet since so many people are doing cosplay now and people, even beginners, are creating more intricate costumes than ever. However, the fact that it’s almost mainstream is really great in my opinion. The more the merrier! It goes back to avoiding the “fame-seeking” mindset. If you go into it trying to become famous or go viral, you’ll have a bad time. It’s more fun to just make stuff and enjoy others’ excitement around stuff they make.
If money and time were not a factor, what is your number one over-ambitious cosplay you want to do?
I don’t know if I really have one at this point that I would actually consider making. A full Samus Aran armor would be cool. It’s something that I think about in a “that would be nice” but I don’t think I’ll actually make it. A more attainable costume would be Nightingale armor from Skyrim. That would be a hard build but I think it’s attainable.
Do you set a budget for each cosplay?
I have a monthly income on my Patreon website, so I set a monthly budget, rather than a per-project budget. I have a separate business bank account so I can track my spending there.
What does cosplay mean to you?
Cosplay means a lot of different things. It’s a creative outlet, a way to work with my hands and create something tangible I can be proud of. It’s a way for me to show love for my favorite fandoms. And it’s a way I can hopefully show people that they can create, too.
How do you see the cosplay community 10 years from now?
Wow, that’s hard to imagine. It’s changed so much even within the last 7 years, so I can’t even begin to fathom what it’ll be 10 years from now. It could keep getting bigger and bigger, with more people doing it, more high tech machines and materials, more insanely detailed costumes….or the mainstream popularity could die down and those of us who earn our income from it will have to find different jobs. I will be 42 by then, which is weird to think about….so I’ll probably be doing some evaluating anyway, to see if it’s something I want to continue doing as a career.
What is your favorite con to attend? Right now I’d have to say C2E2. I’ve gone almost every year since starting cosplay and I always look forward to it! However, I am trying out some new cons this year so maybe I’ll find a new favorite!
Is there another cosplayer who inspires you or is your role model?
SO MANY! I really can’t choose just one. I see so many hard-working, creative people in this community so I admire different things from different people. Work ethic, skill with sewing, painting, and foam…people who run a really efficient business…there are so many admirable people in this community.
Do you consider yourself an inspiration to other cosplayers?
I feel like I can’t say that for sure, but I do hope that I can inspire someone to start cosplay, or to do anything creative!
What advice would you give someone about meeting cosplayers and taking their pictures? How do you like to be approached?
- Always always ask! If we are standing on the con floor, we will usually say yes. Do not do a drive-by or paparazzi-style photo…it’s disrespectful and if you ask, we can pose for you and you’ll get a better photo! Taking photos of cosplayers eating or demanding they stand up and pose when they’re resting is also quite rude. Cosplayers are people too, and sometimes we want to just sit at a table in the food court to recharge. Find us on the floor when we are re-energized and you’ll get a better photo!
- NEVER take a photo of down someone’s shirt or up someone’s skirt. Don’t touch anyone’s body, slide your hand around their waist or grab at their costume. It’s harassment and could potentially damage the costume. I will usually direct someone’s arm to go around my shoulder if they try to touch my waist, or verbalize that request if they don’t get the hint.
- Don’t be offended if a cosplayer can’t stop for a photo. Sometimes we have to get to a photoshoot appointment or panel and can’t stop for everyone even if we wanted to, or we’d never get there. I will tell them to find me later on the floor or tell them to come to the panel. Some people will still get mad, but you can’t please everyone.
I personally like people asking (if they are able to speak/speak English, of course) in a polite manner. “Hi, could I get a photo of you?”..It’s a great starting point! It’s best if you already have your phone/camera ready to take the photo, in case we have limited time. If I’m in a dealer hall I will always ask the person if we can step to the side, out of the way. I dislike blocking booths/walkways so be aware of that when asking. All in all, if you are polite and considerate then you’re all good!
What is one thing you wish your fans knew about you?
I wish people who follow my work would remind themselves that I am a human being just like everyone else. It sounds cliche, but cosplayers have feelings, we get hurt by insults, we struggle with our mental wellbeing, but we also get really happy when someone tells us how much they appreciate us, and we’re eager to share our love of creating with others. Being someone who makes things and posts about it on the internet doesn’t automatically make us not human anymore. It’s obviously not always as doom-and-gloom, but please remember that we are imperfect people too!
Is there anything that would make you stop cosplaying?
I’m not entirely sure. I have always loved creating, so I’ll probably always make things to some degree even if I decide to stop trying to make a living doing it. I always joke that I’ll be 90 years old and cosplaying one of the old lady street beggars in Skyrim. So who knows. I am definitely a person who likes to plan ahead, but with cosplay, I really have to take it one year at a time.
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