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 famous members of the cosplay universe.
About Sarah Spectre
Sarah Spectre is an east coast based cosplayer that has been creating and photographing cosplay content since 2010. You can find her work on Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter under the handle @sarahspectre.
My sister and I were attending a Distant Worlds concert back in 2010 (insane to think it’s been a whole decade since I started doing this!) and we thought: “Hey, why don’t we make/wear Final Fantasy costumes!” So my first costume was a silly little Moogle dress and wings. I’ve been hooked ever since!
Do you cosplay just for fun or do you see it as a stepping stone to a future career?
Definitely just a hobby. I am so impressed by cosplayers who compete or make a full-time income doing cosplay. But for me, it’s just about getting to act like my favorite characters for the day with friends!
Do you prefer to make your cosplays from scratch, buy or commission them or a hybrid?
I enjoy making small props and costume pieces, but I’ve never done a really big build. I am very fortunate to have incredibly talented artists in my life and it’s fun getting to collaborate with them on cosplay projects.
How much time do you spend making each of your cosplays?
Depends! I LOVE doing closet cosplays and throwing together quick costumes (as you can tell from my Instagram feed) but if its something for a con, I usually plan at least a month in advance — gathering materials, testing them out (LOTS of trial and error), etc.
What is your favorite cosplay you have done so far?
Every time I do an AMA I get asked this, and it’s always SO HARD! I usually change my answer too because I feel like with each costume I’ve improved or loved the experience more. I suppose if I would have to pick, I’d say the different iterations I’ve done of Harley Quinn. She is just SO much fun to cosplay. Carefree and wild! I always have a blast being Harley at cons.
What has been your most memorable experience (good or bad) as a cosplayer?
I used to live outside of NYC, and I often went into the city for movie premiers — sometimes in costume! in 2013, my boyfriend and I went to The Wolverine premiere, and we knew there was a slight chance we’d get to see Hugh since he was attending. He came out and said a few words on stage, and afterwords stepped down into the audience to meet fans. When he walked up to me (I was a Wolverine costume I made) he said “Wow — Wolverina!! This costume is great!” and proceeded to ask me all kinds of questions about MY life…it was surreal. It was so kind of him to take the time to chat with a fan and with so much genuine enthusiasm and love for the character. Def one of my best cosplay moments!
How do you feel about group cosplays?
I love them SO MUCH!!! I think the cosplay community gets a bad rep sometimes, and people don’t talk much about how you can create life long friendships through this little hobby. I have met some of my best friends doing group cosplays. It makes it less about “me me me” and more about a fun experience with people who are all super passionate about the same fandom.
What cosplays are you currently working on or plan to finish this year?
One that I have wanted to do since I started 10 years ago: Banjo from Banjo Kazooie — I just finished making my Jiggy! It’s one of my all-time favorite games, and with Banjo coming back for Super Smash Bros, I think the timing couldn’t be better. My sister (who I played countless hours of the game with as a child) is going to be Kazooie! I expect to get very tired carrying her around on my back (piggyback style) at cons this year lol.
What issues do you see as being the most divisive in the cosplay community and how do you feel about it?
I think many cosplayers have become a little too obsessed with follower count and comparing themselves to one another. Competition is awesome, but when it bleeds into how cosplayers treat each other it definitely makes the community feel more cutthroat. Whether you buy your costume, commission someone else, or hand make the tiniest details from scratch — you are valid, REGARDLESS of your follower count. At the end of the day, the number of followers you have is just a number. The memories you make cosplaying and creating is what counts and what will last.
What types of characters or genres inspire your cosplay the most?
I primarily cosplay video game and comic book characters, but I’m really drawn to strong female protagonists. Lara Croft, Claire Redfield, Captain Marvel, Supergirl. All some of my childhood (and adulthood) idols! I feel empowered putting on those costumes and bringing those characters to life.
What is your favorite part (researching, shopping for supplies, sewing, photoshoots, attending cons, etc.) of your cosplay process?
Forgive me if I sound vain, but if I’m being honest — being in a photoshoot is my favorite part. When I was a kid, I was picked on a lot for the things I loved. Pokemon, Sailor Moon, video games, etc.. I literally have a memory in 6th grade of kids laughing in my face at my Pokemon cards. I went and ate my lunch in the bathroom alone because I was so ashamed. All these years later, to be asked to step in front of a camera wearing a Sylveon costume I made, and feeling fully myself — not ashamed or embarrassed by who I am — it’s such a beautiful feeling. I hope cosplay can do that for everyone. It really makes you feel like a star for the day, which for so many of us, is what we dreamed of as kids.
What are your best resources for cosplay materials?
For materials: I think people REALLY overlook Amazon. The amount of quality foam, tools, wigs, and costume pieces I have purchased through Amazon is INSANE. The prices are great, and in many cases, you can still support the chains or product lines you love because they have Amazon stores!
What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome as a cosplayer?
Developing a thick skin and taking criticism with grace. As I mentioned earlier, I was picked on a lot as a kid. When my cosplay page started to grow, along with that came little bits of negativity here and there. Someone telling me I didn’t have the right body type to cosplay a certain character or making a rude comment. It always makes me think “how can you be this cruel, especially to someone you don’t even know?” And then I remember that it’s the safety of hiding behind the keyboard that makes people so bold with their words. I am still learning and growing when it comes to letting these kinds of things go. People don’t realize that those comments sit with you, even when you think what you are saying is so small and forgettable. Cosplayers don’t forget. They spend hours, sometimes days working on the costumes you’re criticizing and it takes serious bravery to put yourself out there at cons or on the internet and say “this is me”. I don’t know if this kind of trolling will ever change, so I’m still working on becoming a stronger person and not letting it get to me.
Have you learned any life lessons during your time as a cosplayer and what are they?
Failure is ok and part of the process. I can’t tell you how many costume “fails” I’ve had over the years. Whether it was having to start over from scratch on a costume, or showing up at a con and realizing I forgot an entire piece of the costume at home. You will make stupid mistakes like this, and it’ll feel like the end of the world at the time. But it is most certainly not, and you’ll laugh about it later!
What is your golden cosplay rule that you would share with new cosplayers?
Harkening back to what I mentioned earlier: don’t let your follower count get you down. Stop obsessing over “the algorithm”. Not everything needs to be a side hustle. It’s ok to just do what you love and if people follow you back then cool! But let’s also try to lift each other up. Support your fellow cosplayers! Give the content creators you follow some love every day, and I promise you, eventually others will show you the same gratitude. Ok, that was more than one golden rule, but I think it’s all connected, right? 🙂
How do you feel the cosplay community has changed over time?
I don’t want to sound totally negative, so I do want to say that the other side of the double-edged sword that is social media and cosplay is that it’s easier than EVER to connect with fellow fans! When I started 10 years ago, sure — there were message boards. But now, on pretty much every platform, you can find a cosplay subgroup to connect with. That has made our community so much stronger, and I think brought people together that would not have been able to connect 10 years ago. I think there is also a much wider age range participating in cosplay now, which is great. Some of my favorite content creators are 32 and others 18. I love that it brings people together from all walks of life.
If money and time were not a factor, what is your number one over-ambitious cosplay you want to do?
Without question: Wonder Woman 1984’s golden eagle armor. I get chills just thinking about how amazing that costume design is. I adore Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and I hope to one day do at least one of the costumes from her films!
Do you set a budget for each cosplay?
Oh boy, if I’m being honest I am terrible at this. Let’s just say I start out with a number in mind but it never turns out that way lol.
What does cosplay mean to you?
Bringing the characters you love to life. Cosplay is about creating, modeling, or photographing something you have a passion for, and sharing that joy with others.
How do you see the cosplay community 10 years from now?
That is a tough question. I would say that one really unique thing about the cosplay community is their ability to adapt to (and almost take over) new platforms. TikTok is a great example. There are some SERIOUSLY incredible cosplayers making super creative content on that platform. So I could see cosplayers evolving the way they connect to audiences alongside however social media platforms evolve over the next 10 years. Whatever the next big thing is, I can promise you, cosplayers will be on it!
What is your favorite con to attend?
Katsucon. And not just because I get to see lots of friends I only see once a year there, and the fact that the venue is INCREDIBLE for photoshoots, but it is a fantastic opportunity to just sit back and watch some of the best cosplayers and photographers in our community at work. I am always blown away by the level of craftsmanship I see there.
Is there another cosplayer who inspires you or is your role model?
Aw geez, another hard question! I have a few! First, I would say Meagan Marie. She has done so much in bringing the Tomb Raider community together, and her career/cosplays are both truly awe-inspiring. I’ve admired her work for years, and I hope to have as positive of an impact on the cosplay community as her one day. Next: Jedimanda. I had the pleasure of working with her last year on an episode of Cosplayers Getting Coffee we did together, and her positive energy was straight up radiant. Her craftsmanship and realness are what I strive for on the daily. Lastly: my older sister, who I started this all with Sophie’s Cosplay! She is so stupidly talented. Every chance I get to do a duo cosplay with her is such a gift, and I just really look up to her as both a cosplayer and my big sis.
Do you consider yourself an inspiration to other cosplayers?
I think I’m a very flawed person so I don’t like putting myself on a pedestal like that. However, I am really touched when someone messages me and says that something I posted helped them in some way. Over the past year, I’ve tried really hard to share a filter-free side of myself, so people can get to know the real me (flaws, struggles and all). When someone says “thank you for saying that, it makes me feel like I can do _____” it means more to me than they’ll ever know! That is the kind of positive impact I want to have on the community.
What advice would you give someone about meeting cosplayers and taking their pictures? How do you like to be approached?
Please, for the love of all things that are holy, just be kind and friendly like you would to any stranger you meet on the street! As so many others have said before: it’s really crucial to make sure you ask for permission before taking a photo. Just a simple “Hi, may I take your photo?” is so important. And if you love their costume or the fandom they are cosplaying, let them know! I love chatting with people about the characters I’m cosplaying and (unless I’m in a hurry somewhere) always prefer that we get the chance to talk! Just snapping a photo and running off forever is kind of sad and feels more like a transaction than a shared love of fandom.
What is one thing you wish your fans knew about you?
I read every comment or message, good or bad. I may not respond to every single one because sometimes it can be overwhelming, but I do see you and I appreciate the love and support! It means so much to me when someone takes time out of their day to say something nice about one of my cosplays or to stop and say hi at a con.
Is there anything that would make you stop cosplaying?
I honestly don’t know! I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Will I still be cosplaying when I’m 40? I think it’s silly to try and guess when I will stop, but I hope I never do! Even when I’m an old grandma, I hope I’m going to cons and having a good time with my friends and family.
You can follow and view more of Sarah Spectre here:
- Dave Yang
- S1 Price Lightworks
- Insomniac’s Dream Productions
- Frame Drop Photography
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