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.
Hi, I’m Rhiley, or Chimichangachan, or Chimi, or just plain annoying. I’m about 54 years old give or take a few decades. As a computer animation graduate, I work as a professional 3D modeler in advertising. By day I sit at a computer and model things. By night I…sit at a computer…and model things. I also do cosplay sometimes.
How did you first get into cosplay?
The year was 2008. I was in middle school, people still had flip phones, vampires were relevant, and the Bush administration was about to get the boot. I was just then starting to gain an interest in Kingdom Hearts, several years late as is typical for my key interests. However, as I was researching more into the game I kept coming across cosplayers which at that point was a foreign subject to me. I was only familiar with dressing up on Halloween and had a vague idea of what Comic-Con was. It was a downward spiral after that once I realized you could have an excuse to dress up outside of October. It started with Kingdom Hearts cosplays then went to Hetalia and then I just slowly developed a “low-key” obsession with it.
Do you cosplay just for fun or do you see it as a stepping stone to a future career?
I do it for fun, but I also recognize all the skills it’s helped me develop that have enriched my everyday life. Multiple things have improved for me from crafting/problem solving to social skills (barely but kinda, ya know?). I really don’t want to look for a career in cosplay as I have a job in 3D modeling that’s going very well for me right now. I also hesitate to pursue costuming as a job since I’d like it to remain one of the few hobbies I do for fun.
Do you prefer to make your cosplays from scratch, buy or commission them or a hybrid?
I like to guilt myself into making everything from scratch. Surprisingly, the way I do things, I find it’s more expensive to buy or commission. I’m consistently desperate to keep the cost of my hobbies down so I can spend more on what really matters like Taco Bell. Between my own very weird measurements that make sewing and purchasing clothing difficult and my pride for creating things from scratch, I’d rather just make everything myself and suffer through it.
How much time do you spend making each of your cosplays?
I spend about 2 to 4 months on each cosplay. It depends on how last minute I’ve decided to make something before a convention. However, if it starts to go over the 4-month mark I quickly begin to lose interest in it and risk not completing the project.
What is your favorite cosplay you have done so far?
I think any of my multiple Widowmaker cosplays. They’re not super uncomfortable costumes and I feel like THOT royalty in spandex suits. Normally I don’t feel terribly sexy or attractive, but something about the heels, lycra, and butt length ponytail awakens a horrible hubris in me. While dressed as Widowmaker I’m living my best life, and then I get to crash back down once the makeup comes off.
What has been your most memorable experience (good or bad) as a cosplayer?
I ripped my pants nearly in half at a convention once, and everyone heard it. That sucked, and I can still hear the seam tearing echo through my nightmares sometimes. Someone told me the sounds still reverberates in the rafters of the convention center to this day.
The best experience ever was meeting my sweet, handsome boy fiance, Simon (@bostoncreemcosplays). I was in Overwatch cosplay, he was in Overwatch cosplay. He took off his 76 mask and it was like when the hot girl takes off her motorcycle helmet in movies and swishes her hair around, but this time it was a dude, and he was Canadian and HANDSOME. Now he’s my bestie and I owe it all to cosplay and con-going that I ever even met him.
How do you feel about group cosplays?
More trouble than they’re worth. I used to want to have a handful of friends I could cosplay with, in a big matching group, but I really don’t like crowded get together’s at conventions. It’s fun for photoshoots and meetups but once I’ve finished that I’m like “OK – I’m gonna go sit down and eat pretzels. You guys have fun.” It’s hard getting people to cooperate for one big project. Definitely not impossible but my lack of trust in people, as well as crippling social anxiety, reaffirm to me that I’m better off doing couple cosplays with my fiance. That way we can sit and eat pretzels together.
What cosplays are you currently working on or plan to finish this year?
I’ve had all the fabric and material to make a Fallout vault suit for nearly two years now, but every time I’m about to start, something tells me it’s more fun to just play the game than sew. One day, goddammit, one day I’ll finish it.
What types of characters or genres inspire your cosplay the most?
I find I’m very drawn to video game characters. It could be my own desire to do game art as a hobby, but I have a real appreciation for character design in games. Things like Overwatch, League of Legends, and Bloodborne are some of my favorite games for their costume design.
What is your favorite part (researching, shopping for supplies, sewing, photoshoots, attending cons, etc.) of your cosplay process?
I really like wig styling when it comes to the creation process. My favorite part overall, though, is the morning before a con or a photoshoot when I get to put everything on and do the full transformation. It’s usually the moment when all the blood, sweat, and broken needles of the past several months have finally rewarded me with something.
What are your best resources for cosplay materials?
Oh jeez, well I can give plenty of free advertisement to dozens of stores I frequent for cosplay, but I’ll list some of my favorites…
Fabric: Joann’s is my usual go-to. However, I highly recommend looking for a discount fabric outlet near yourself. I used to live near one in El Paso and I live near another one in Metro Detroit. They’re FANTASTIC places to go if you need cheap chiffon, taffeta, silk, etc. They also have them on rolls with more than 8 yards of fabric on them if you need the extra length. Dozens of colors as well.
Foam: I know it’s not great, but I actually use a lot of cheap craft foam from Hobby Lobby for most of my armor builds. It takes to the Dremel like absolute crap, but it’s still good for a multitude of projects. If you need to do some more heavy-duty foam-smithing I’d recommend TNT Cosplay Supplies. They ship within the USA so I get my orders very quickly and they give you a complimentary silver marker to write on the foam with.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome as a cosplayer?
Just being nicer to myself overall. I have unreasonably high standards for myself about everything, but cosplay especially. I’ve had plenty of cry sessions when a garment I spent weeks sewing isn’t sitting right when I try it on. I’ve had sleepless nights about stuff I’d have to do that I assumed were out of my skill level or capabilities. It physically hurts me when part of my cosplay is not perfect, and unfortunately perfect is unattainable so I hurt a lot. Usually in the lower lumbar part of my back. Maybe that’s just old age catching up to me actually.
What is your golden cosplay rule that you would share with new cosplayers?
I’ve got two:
The quality of your cosplay, self, or talent is not equal to your follower count or likes on social media. The most unlikable cosplayers I’ve met have always been obsessed with their social media presence and social climbing. If you feel that you’re not getting the recognition your cosplays deserve just understand that there are hundreds of factors that affect how a post travels on any platform and how many people see it. Strive to better yourself, not inflate your numbers.
Also, food and rent and overall life expenses > cosplay. If getting fabric is going to make you 50$ short on month’s rent, it is NOT worth it. Do not let your hobby destroy your financial situation. I know first hand it can be expensive, but selling your freshly extracted wisdom teeth to disgusting fanboys (yes I’ve seen someone do this) in order to make money for cosplay is over the line of acceptable behavior.
How do you feel the cosplay community has changed over time?
For better or worse it’s become a lot more commercialized. More people know about it, and it’s easier to get a hold of supplies like thermal plastic than it was in the 2000s. I do think there’s a concerning amount of people obsessed with trying to make it big in the cosplay scene and lose the meaning of “for fun” in the process.
If money and time were not a factor, what is your number one over-ambitious cosplay you want to do?
I want to do Krampus from the 2015 movie. Something about that slack-jawed old man with goat legs makes me happy. I could hand out candy canes from my big sleeves and hobble around in my true hunchback state.
Do you set a budget for each cosplay?
I don’t set specific limits on how much I’ll spend for cosplays, but there is a certain point where I start to feel the ache of my wallet. The average I spend is about $150 to $300 max per costume, and that price is spread out over a couple of months. I don’t drop all the money at once, it’s a gradual accumulation of all the stuff I need throughout the entire project. I’m also COUPON QUEEN at most hobby retail stores so that saves me big bucks there alone.
What does cosplay mean to you?
It means having a creative outlet for myself that allows me to socialize and interact with people with similar interests. It also means having an excuse to try and learn new things.
What is your favorite con to attend?
Holiday Matsuri in Florida is definitely one of my favorites. Though, I’ll admit it’s because it gives me a reason to go to Disney World and to visit Orlando which I miss dearly. The con itself isn’t that special, but I really like the venue it’s held in so I try to go whenever I can.
What advice would you give someone about meeting cosplayers and taking their pictures? How do you like to be approached?
I’m pretty lax about people approaching me at cons, personally. I’m horribly awkward, but I try my best to hold a conversation. I’d say to be polite and ask first before taking any photos. Especially if you want to take more than just a typical body shot. Some cosplayers aren’t going to be comfortable with up-close headshots out of nowhere or being asked to move to the other side of a con hall for a better background.
There’s also a saying I used to see in ye olden days which was “butt on the floor, pictures no more” just meaning if a cosplayer is sitting down somewhere they’re most likely not interested in having pictures taken.
Is there anything that would make you stop cosplaying?
I don’t think anything will make me stop entirely. I’m really good at taking breaks when I need to save money or focus on other things. I took almost 3 full years off when I went to college because the last thing I needed was something like that distracting me or making money even tighter. I’ll have the occasional hiatus but I always come back eventually.
You can follow and view more of Chimichangachan here
Check out our other cosplay features here
If you are a cosplayer and would like to be featured, please fill out our submission form
We are looking for new writers! If you are interested in joining the Word of the Nerd team, click here to fill out an application