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 Izabel Cortez
Hi! I’m Izabel Cortez. I am a Filipina cosplayer that moved to the USA, specifically Ohio, last August 2018. I started cosplaying in the Philippines in 2009, with a simple “closet” cosplay and from then on has grown my skills by joining various competitions in Manila. Most of the skills I have acquired were self-taught and I have learned through research and guidance from other cosplayers/crafters.
In addition to my cosplay activities, I am also a figure/toy collector and a certified cat lover. I have a cat named Garfield (you may find him on Facebook and Instagam) who I brought from the Philippines and occasionally cosplays with me. In my spare time, I love to bake and cook Filipino dishes for my family who I also make costumes for and sometimes cosplays with me. I also make other projects aside from costumes like personal outfits, home decors, and anything else I can think of.
How did you first get into cosplay?
I started cosplaying 2009 when I saw an ad for a cosplay event in a mall back in the Philippines. I’ve always been into anime and stuff and I like dressing up and when I saw that ad I said to myself I’d try it. I did try it and it was super fun and here we are.
Do you cosplay just for fun or do you see it as a stepping stone to a future career?
Cosplay is mostly a hobby for me because I really love creating things. I’ve always looked at it as a creative outlet and whatever perks it gives me are just blessings from it. I’ve never considered myself famous but I am truly grateful for all the support and appreciation I get from people who see my work. It would be cool to turn it into a career doing something you love the most but I am still not confident about it.
Do you prefer to make your cosplays from scratch, buy or commission them or a hybrid?
I do all of these. Ideally, I prefer to make them from scratch most of the time because there are joy and pride in it. But sometimes, I also buy other pieces and modify them to further enhance them. I’ve also commissioned pieces that I know will be hard for me to make. It just really depends on what it’s for I guess and everybody can do any of each.
How much time do you spend making each of your cosplays?
A LOT. It depends on how simple or complicated a costume is. Sometimes, I can finish in two days sometimes a week and sometimes a month or more. It just depends on how much time, money and material I have at the moment the idea kicks in. Lol.
What is your favorite cosplay you have done so far?
Hmmm. Tough question because I love them all. But so far my favorite is my Harley Quinn (Suicide Squad) cosplay because that really got me far. I made that a year before the movie came out so I was really proud of that and almost made everything myself. At the moment, I also love my Pennywise costume because it’s just so fluffy and girly even if it’s supposed to be scary. The costume is just too cute to be scared of. Lol.
What has been your most memorable experience (good or bad) as a cosplayer?
I always love whenever I see kid’s faces light up when they see me as the character. And even adults. It’s just heartwarming and it makes me feel proud of myself and knows I did good in making the costume because they instantly recognize who it is. Like this one time when I was Jasmine for a photoshoot in a park and the kids ran to me and held my hand and talked to me. It is just so sweet. Bad experiences are those when people didn’t treat me right because I was a cosplayer and they don’t take me seriously as a professional artist/performer.
How do you feel about group cosplays?
I love them. I had a group with my closest friends back in the Philippines and its always fun to plan and make group cosplays or even collaborate with others for it. It’s just so good to look at when you’re all lined up as a complete group and you feel badass about it. Although one disadvantage of doing group cosplays is that sometimes some people in the group don’t have much commitment or passion for the project and that just drags the whole thing.
What cosplays are you currently working on or plan to finish this year?
I have all these cosplans that get bumped off because of impulsive ideas that suddenly jolt my brain. LOL. I am currently working on a gender-bent Joker based on the latest movie by Joaquin Phoenix, Bo Peep is on the list, Mary Marvel, Imelda (Coco) and there’s a whole lot more. GHAAAA ~
What issues do you see as being the most divisive in the cosplay community and how do you feel about it?
There’s elitism, racism, body negativity among others. It’s too stressful and very disheartening. Some people have quit cosplay because of all the drama and its very unhealthy emotionally and mentally. I personally experienced this and it is just saddening. Cosplay should be about fun and people should learn to accept and respect each other.
What types of characters or genres inspire your cosplay the most?
Mostly western characters from comics like superheroes, figures, etc. Sometimes, I also do anime if I really like the character and if it fits my personality. I’m not a horror fanatic but I do like villain/horror characters because their designs are always fascinating and they’re always easier to portray.
What is your favorite part (researching, shopping for supplies, sewing, photoshoots, attending cons, etc.) of your cosplay process?
I love shopping for supplies coz I get to feel and imagine the output in my mind even if sometimes it comes out not how I imagined it. It turns out better than I expected actually. Lol. I also love sewing and photoshoots and attending cons where you get to meet people and interact with them.
What are your best resources for cosplay materials?
Back in the Philippines, I usually go to Divisoria. It’s a huge marketplace where you can find everything. Since moving to Ohio, I mostly get supplies from Jo-Anns or Amazon and depending on what material I need there are other stores like Hobby Lobby or even Lowe’s.
What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome as a cosplayer?
Budget. LOL. It’s hard when you don’t have enough funds to buy things you need or even try out things you want to try. If money’s not a problem, I’d be whipping out a lot of cosplays. Haha. I used to complain I don’t have enough time before but it changed now. I have time but no funds. Sad life. Joking aside, there’s also time. Time can also be challenging because it’s just not all about cosplay. You still need to function as an adult and do house chores like walking the cat outside so there’s that. Time and money will always be a cosplayer’s hurdle afaik.
Have you learned any life lessons during your time as a cosplayer and what are they?
To always do things wholeheartedly and love it. To always give and do your best but don’t be too hard on yourself either when things don’t go right. Every mistake and failure is a life lesson that teaches you how to do it the next time. And always be kind to people.
What is your golden cosplay rule that you would share with new cosplayers?
Be humble. Always. And have fun, be nice to people and do things in a professional manner esp if you’re hired for it. I always believe in karma so however, you treat people will always come back to you in another form or way.
How do you feel the cosplay community has changed over time?
It has grown a lot and gone mainstream. I remember it was just small back in 2009. Everybody knew almost everyone. Now, when I attend cons (when I was back in the Philippines), I barely see people I know because there are so many new faces.
If money and time were not a factor, what is your number one over-ambitious cosplay you want to do?
I would like to make a gigantic accurate Alien Queen in stilts. I’m sure there’s more but this is the only I can think of at the moment. uWu
Do you set a budget for each cosplay?
Nope. I should but I don’t like limiting the possibilities of making things better. There’s also trial and error so you can’t really set a budget especially if you are learning along the way.
What does cosplay mean to you?
It is my creative outlet and stress reliever (except when I can’t figure out how to do things. Lol). It’s a way to share my talents with the world and give inspiration that you can do things as long as you decide to go for it. Cosplay is one way of expressing myself and it makes me come out of my shell for a day as I become a character I love.
How do you see the cosplay community 10 years from now?
It’ll grow even bigger by then as there are more people getting into it already including celebrities. There are also a lot of Halloween stores making quality costumes nowadays so it’s very easy to go into cosplay.
What is your favorite con to attend?
I haven’t attended any Major con here in the U.S yet but I would like to be able to go to SDCC, DragonCon, NYCC, etc.
Is there another cosplayer who inspires you or is your role model?
I can name a few cosplayers who have inspired me in this hobby: 1. Jin Joson – she was the very first cosplayer I saw on the internet and truly inspired me to go into the hobby because of her accurate cosplay of Naruto back in 2009. 2. Alodia Gosiengfiao – she truly helped make the cosplay community grow as a hobby in the Philippines. 3. Jessica Nigri – I don’t know her personally but I follow her on Twitter and I think she’s just funny and cool to be friends with and she always seems to be encouraging and appreciating others much. There’s a whole lot more I stalk in IG and Facebook that just keeps me want to be better and do more.
Do you consider yourself an inspiration to other cosplayers?
Maybe. I hope so!
What advice would you give someone about meeting cosplayers and taking their pictures? How do you like to be approached?
Just ask nicely. And be polite about it. If they say No, it is best to respect them. They may be shy or is doing something important at the moment. Unsolicited critiques that tend to degrade is not also good.
What is one thing you wish your fans knew about you?
I just look mean but I’m very introverted and shy in public until I get comfortable with you then I become weird. Lol. But for people who see me, just approach me because sometimes I don’t really see that clearly (Blurry vision without my glasses) so just say hi.
Is there anything that would make you stop cosplaying?
I am not sure. I probably would still be cosplaying even if I’m old and as long as I can sew I’m sure I won’t stop.
You can follow and view more of Izabel Cortez here
- Ysabel Pellobello
- Clarah How / Clarah Photography
- Heather Moore / Munchkin Photos
- Steve Dow / SnS Fine Art Photography
- Rain Zandueta / DMRZ Photography
- Drew Odvina / Sleek Photography
- Erving Go
- Drew Livingston / Livingston Stills Photography
- Bob Coyle Photography
- Luigi Ojeda / L.O Photography
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