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.
Hiya! My name is Christina, but everyone usually knows me as KissySensei! I’m an east coast based cosplayer that’s been in the game for four years. When I’m not or sobbing over anime or pouring countless hours into a video game, you can usually find me burning myself with hot glue, covered in dremel dust or rage-quitting a frustrating piece of armor that just isn’t bending to my will! I’m a crafter, avid nerd and dog lover who loves to dress up and eat junk food 🙂
How did you first get into cosplay?
Well, I’ve always been a long-time nerd and lover of all things anime and video games. Cosplay was something I was aware of but don’t know much about. It was something I’d seen at various conventions but didn’t think too much of. It wasn’t until the summer of 2015 that I decided to take the leap into cosplay with my friends by cosplaying Attack on Titan to our local comic con in Philly! Ever since then, I’ve been in love and addicted to this incredible art form!
Do you cosplay just for fun or do you see it as a stepping stone to a future career?
I used to think that I was going to cosplay as a job and use it to create a career out of it but recently, I’ve realized that cosplay is a fun hobby for me. I’m studying to be a nurse with the ultimate intent of becoming a midwife so I’ve had that plan set in stone for a very long time now. Cosplay won’t change that. But cosplay is a VERY big and enjoyable part of my life so I’m going to keep at it and have as much fun as I can before my “big girl” life comes knocking!
Do you prefer to make your cosplays from scratch, buy or commission them or a hybrid?
I do a healthy hybrid of the two! I have almost no sewing skills whatsoever (although I’m learning!) so I usually buy or commission the cloth pieces to all of my costumes. My forté usually lies in prop and weapon making. I adore making armor and swords but I’ve also made some small handheld props like knives, kunai, and compact mirrors. Sometimes, I’ll purchase a costume and change certain parts of it to be more to my liking, whether that’s recreating the armor it comes with or altering a shirt length!
How much time do you spend making each of your cosplays?
Oh boy, I can easily spend anywhere up to three to four months making my cosplays! You see, my problem is and always has been procrastination. If I’ve got a costume due by February 2019, you can bet I’ll most likely start it by December 2018, haha! But mostly, it depends on the complexity of the costume. For example, my Edward Elric costume is a complex costume because I had to order that costume, get it altered when it came in, make the automail arm, purchase and style the wig and make the spear. That costume recently took me close to a month to complete.
What is your favorite cosplay you done so far?
This is always a tough question because just like children, it’s hard to pick a favorite! If I absolutely HAD to, I think it would still end up being a tie between Edward Elric and Kenshin Himura. A close third would probably be Aqua!! It comes down to what is comfortable for me, at the end of the day. If it’s a pain to wear for long periods of time, it most likely won’t amongst my favorites.
What has been your most memorable experience (good or bad) as a cosplayer?
When I first started cosplaying Edward Elric, I remember attending a local convention that was rather small. I attended it alone and had every intention of just meeting people and enjoying the scene. This was when I had the very first version of my automail and no spear (I remake my automail annually so right now, I’m on version four, lol)! I ended up somehow joining the cosplay contest and met Riddle Cosplay through it, who gushed over the construction of my automail and how amazing she thought it was. As if I wasn’t already over the moon, I ended up winning my first ever cosplay contest! It’s one of my favorite memories because I think that was the point where I really started to love this hobby wholeheartedly.
How do you feel about group cosplays?
Oh, I absolutely love them! A majority of my cosplays are involved in groups! Sombra, Ochako, Rin Tohsaka, and Lucina were all part of the groups I did with my friends. I love the camaraderie I feel when I’m cosplaying as part of a group. I feel like I’m rolling in with a reliable and amazing squad that looks good and feels good. It’s just so cool to see that at any convention, let alone be a part of it.
What cosplays are you currently working on or plan to finish this year?
I am starting Ochako Uraraka’s Hero Uniform for a November debut, first and foremost. I’m going to be working on Rise of the Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft as well as Rin Tohsaka from Fate and BSAA Jill Valentine from Resident Evil!! Most of those will be handmade entirely from scratch for the first time so I’m very nervous about them but also excited! It’s going to be a lot of work but I’m up for the challenge.
What issues do you see as being the most divisive in the cosplay community and how do you feel about it?
Over the years, I have come into contact with quite a few issues within the cosplay community. It’s important to stress that no community is perfect and there’s will be stressors everywhere. It’s important to align yourself with the right crowd and con scene. Anyway, I think one of the biggest issues is definitely the one involving the beauty standards of a cosplayer. Everyone has this pressure on them to look EXACTLY like the character they’re cosplaying. They have to be the right height, the right body type, the right skin tone, etc. It’s honestly exhausting and so unhealthy because no one in the world looks like a drawn anime character, no matter what anyone else thinks. To try and reach such standards isn’t right and the fact that a lot of people in the cosplay community care so much about that is very unsettling. Cosplay is about having fun and I’ve always been a strong advocate for people cosplaying whatever they want however they want! It doesn’t matter how much they weigh or what color their skin is! If you’re comfortable in it and you love it, go for it! This elitism has got to stop.
What types of characters or genres inspire your cosplay the most?
I definitely fall more into cosplaying characters that are strong-willed, stubborn, sometimes hot-headed and confident. A majority of my characters end up being main characters in the anime and video games they come from but I only cosplay characters that I truly resonate and connect with. It’s hard for me to cosplay a character I don’t know very well because it then becomes difficult to emulate them properly. I always go for the ones that make me feel that spark in my chest whenever I don their costume. It’s much more enriching that way, at least to me!
What is your favorite part (researching, shopping for supplies, sewing, photo shoots, attending cons, etc.) of your cosplay process?
I love researching the characters, for sure! I will spend HOURS collecting reference pictures of what I’m creating, studying the character’s facial expressions and mannerisms and then practicing them in mirrors (when I’m alone, mostly, lol). I just love learning everything I can about the character I’m attempting to cosplay because it creates that bond and connection to that character that is so important to me. It also helps me to better understand their body movements so that when I pose at conventions, it’s much more convincing and portrays that character the way I want them to be portrayed.
What are your best resources for cosplay materials?
I have quite a few “tried-and-true” places that I gather materials from. These places have always been reliable and they’ve always provided me with high-quality materials that really draw my costumes together. First, Jo-Ann’s is an absolutely amazing place to gather materials for sewing and accessory work. They always have sales and I’m always getting crazy coupons sent to me that make it so much easier for me to create costumes. Second, Michael’s and/or Hobby Lobby are great places to buy craft foam and other little pieces for cosplay props and armor. I’ve been buying stuff here for years and they always send me coupons to use as well. Next, Home Depot/Lowe’s is great for buying spray paint, gesso, priming spray, sealant and tools for the construction process of big weapon builds like staves or axes. Their prices are usually reasonable and there’s just so much to choose from! Lastly, I have three set places I always go for wigs and three places I always go for contact lenses. For wigs, I trust Kasoucosplay, Epiccosplay, and Purple Plum! Their wigs are high quality, heat resistant and styled almost to the point where I barely need to do any styling by the time it gets to me. For contact lenses, I usually go with Uniqso, Pinkyparadise or Honeycolor! Their prices are pretty fair, they have nice sales from time to time and the vibrancy of their lenses is always so beautiful. Can’t go wrong!
What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome as a cosplayer?
Cosplay has become an outlet for me and it has also become a way for me to try and work on my confidence. My self-esteem and confidence have always been big issues for me, even before I got into cosplay. Once I started cosplaying, it became an escape for me. I didn’t have to focus on me or my body or the imperfections that I thought I had. For a few hours, I could leave that behind and be someone else, act like another person whom I admired and adored. I could be a brave battle warrior or a snarky mage or a confident alchemist. I didn’t have to be me. But after I realized it was an escape, I started coming to terms with my self-confidence issues and then cosplay became a way for me to practice feeling amazing as me in a costume, not as me trying to escape who I am and become someone else. Overcoming that obstacle of loving me for who I am has been a doozy and is still a work in progress! It’s definitely gotten a lot better over time.
Have you learned any life lessons during your time as a cosplayer and what are they?
I have certainly learned quite a few! This community is filled so so many people that are absolutely amazing and inspirational and so helpful! It, unfortunately, is also filled with people who are unsavory, belligerent and just downright mean-spirited. I have seen and been a victim of a fair share of bullying in the community and I’ve had to learn the hard way that not everyone isn’t going to like you or respect you and that is okay. Being knocked down has a way of showing you who your real friends are and how nice people can be when you really need them. I learned to stick with the people that are kindest to you and don’t waste time on people who are only bringing you down. It isn’t worth it!
What is your golden cosplay rule that you would share with new cosplayers?
My golden rule would be to just jump in and go for it! Cosplay can be a daunting experience when you look at it from the outside. I mean, we must all look like weirdos when we gather at our conventions and our panels in costumes that are usually pretty wild and involved! People on the outside must’ve thought that we’re crazy so imagining trying to convince someone to essentially join the dark side? It can be pretty challenging to take that first step into this incredible world. If you’re scared, I totally get it but trust me when I tell you that is worth it! It’s fun, enlightening, wild and crazy! I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
How do you feel the cosplay community has changed over time?
I have only been cosplaying for four years now so it isn’t too long now but I’ve noticed that the cosplay community has unfortunately soured quite a bit? I just feel like there’s are a lot of elitists and judgmental people who will do anything in their power to knock a cosplayer down for any reason. I feel like there needs to hen more love and acceptance in the community because there’s a lot of hate and ridicule going around.
If money and time were not a factor, what is your number one over-ambitious cosplay you want to do?
Oh man, I’ve always wanted to do the Nightingale outfit from Skyrim! It’s such an incredibly derailed costume that essentially covers from head to toe. It’s all black but just absolutely gorgeous. It’s pricey to recreate (trust me, I’ve done my research) but I absolutely dream of cosplaying that someday!!
Do you set a budget for each cosplay?
Most of the time, yes. Cosplay can be pretty expensive if you aren’t careful so being realistic about your budget and how much you should or shouldn’t spend on a costume is important. I have bills to pay and adult responsibilities to uphold. Cosplay should never have precedence over my real-life responsibilities. Financial problems can bury a person so creating a budget and sticking to it is an important skill to have.
What does cosplay mean to you?
Cosplay is an absolutely amazing experience and gift to me. It has brought me to so many different places and introduced to some of the most incredible people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. It isn’t just an eye-opening experience that means so much to me. I get to dress up as much go all-time favorite characters which helped shape who I am! I get to pay homage to these influential icons that brought me through my childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. Cosplay means so much more to me than just donning a costume and walking around a convention center. It’s the experiences that really stand out for me, the people and the friends I’ve made throughout these last four years. Cosplay isn’t just about dress-up, it’s so much more.
How do you see the cosplay community 10 years from now?
I sure would hope that it’s improved in terms of judgmental tendencies fading away and people accepting each other just as they aren’t without trying to change everything about them all! It’s hope I have for the future so I look forward to seeing how it changes once the years to come.
What is your favorite con to attend?
Katsucon, for sure! I look forward to it every year! It always comes shortly after Christmas so I usually have Christmas money to spend on merchandise and food! I just love that it’s the beginning of the year so I always start off my year right. Katsucon is so picturesque and beautiful as well!
Is there another cosplayer who inspires you or is your role model?
I am a huge fan of Kamui Cosplay, Riddle Cosplay, and Stellachuu! But those are pretty big and well-known cosplayers so if I go for the lesser known ones, I’m inspired by Geheichou, reiyoshiduh, and alizorah, to name a few! Their work is just incredible and their attention to detail is awe-inspiring.
Do you consider yourself an inspiration to other cosplayers?
I would hope that I am because I just want people to cosplay however they want to without judgment or worrying about anything. I stand for that so strongly so if I end up inspiring people at the end of the day, then I feel like I’ve done a good job.
What advice would you give someone about meeting cosplayers and taking their pictures? How do you like to be approached?
Meeting cosplayers is always fun because you see them on social media all the time and like their pictures so seeing them in person is a whole other experience. When approaching cosplayers, I usually talk to them as I would like to be spoken to. Never shout or scream at a cosplayer, especially when their attention is elsewhere. That will scare the pants off of anyone, cosplayer or not!! I usually approach cosplayers carefully and keep a safe distance. I don’t want to invade anyone’s personal space. I sometimes tap on the shoulder if their backs are turned or I usually just call their names to see they’ve responded and carried on in a calm and polite manner from then on! Always keep it respectful, don’t touch unless given explicit permission to do so and just be a cool person!
What is one thing you wish your fans knew about you?
I wish that my fans knew that I’m incredibly approachable and very friendly! I am a gigantic nerd and I absolutely love meeting new people and sharing ideas and nerding out!
Is there anything that would make you stop cosplaying?
I think I would stop cosplaying if it all got to be too much and too toxic for me. It can be easy to lose yourself in the cosplay world. If you align yourself with the wrong people, everything can go topsy-turvy very quickly. Reputations can get torched and all your hard work can get undone in an instant. Toxicity spreads easily throughout this community so I think that would be a reason for me to stop.
You can follow and view more of KissySensei here
- Kat Lucille Photography
- Kelsey Winter
- Mike Wilczek
- Kay Inoue Photography
- Simply Frank Productions
- Joshua Astacio Photography
- Marie Newby Photography
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