Welcome to the first entry into GAMMA.CON’s Canberra Cosplayer Spotlight, a weekly look into the lives and experiences of members of the Canberran Cosplay Community.
To start us off on our journey we sat down with prominent community member Annalise ‘Scarlet Moth’ Fredricks to find out where she started and what she loves about Cosplay!
You can see more of Annalise at her Cosplay Page Scarlet Moth Cosplay
GAMMA.CON: Hello Annalise, thanks for speaking to us on the first ever Canberra Cosplay Spotlight!
Annalise: It’s an absolute honour!
G: First up, your ‘Cosplay Name’ and the name of your Facebook page is ‘Scarlet Moth’ can you give us a little back story on the meaning of this?
A: Scarlet Moth is a name derived from my favourite colour (red) and my connection to moths. That part is a little complicated: a friend of mine wrote a Young Adult novel which I had the privilege of illustrating. In this novel moths were a symbol of change and hope, which really resonated with me as this was during a time when I was going through a lot of self discovery. From then on I took on the moth as my own symbol.
Oh and moths also love fabric, so I consider it apt.
G: Cosplay is becoming such a popular pass time these days, when did you first get the itch to try cosplaying and what was it that inspired you?
A: I have been cosplaying since 2013, so about two and a half years now, though I had wanted to cosplay for a lot longer, since my first time seeing cosplay back in high school. At that time I didn’t really sew but I was interested in fashion and clothing design.
It was when I was about 15 or 16 that I discovered anime and it was at that time that I also found cosplay. I remember being awestruck by the likeness to the character and some of the intricate costumes. It wasn’t until I got into the web comic ‘Homestuck’ that I actually made an effort to create a costume of one of my favourite characters. From there it became a journey of challenging myself to make ever more complicated costumes and to keep teaching myself new techniques.
G: You mentioned your first costume was from the web comic ‘Homestuck’?
A: Yea, it was Kanaya Maryam! One year after I first cosplayed her originally I went back and remade the costume. It really gave me perspective on how far I had come since my first costume.
G: So you make your costumes by hand, do you have any specialities or preferred materials?
A: I specialise in sewing and textile work. When looking at getting into cosplay I taught myself a lot of sewing skills and techniques. I learnt from books, videos and tutorials and also from my Mum! Now I am undertaking a Bachelor of Visual Arts, for which my major is Textiles.
Cosplay helped me discover my love for creating costumes and bringing these characters to life. I also think that I have a certain skill for detailing and decorating my costumes. I often like to embellish and embroider my outfits by hand!
G: Sounds like, apart from starting you on a career path you really love making costumes! Do you have a favourite part of the whole costume making process?
A: My favourite part? I have a few favourite parts; I love the sewing process and bringing the garment into existence from a bolt of fabric. Even more than that I love decorating my work – it’s a lot more relaxing than the sewing parts that’s for sure!
Though I am still learning, I have also found myself enjoying making armour pieces out of foam and worbla.
Oh, and the fabric shopping is always fun!
G: So you’ve been doing it a while now with a few costumes under you belt, how do you feel your last costume now compares with your first?
A: My first costume relied a lot on modifying pre-existing garments to look like what my character wore. To be fair, Kanaya has a relatively simple costume.
Now I sew all of my garments from scratch, often creating my own patterns. I feel like my costumes are a lot more complex too, I don’t think past me would ever dream of making an outfit like Saber’s!
G: Have you ever had a cosplay malfunction?
A: What is cosplay without malfunctions? I’ve had armour pieces fall off my shoes, I’ve put wigs on back-to-front, sometimes I’ve forgotten main parts of my cosplay back at home or the hotel and had to run back to get them. I don’t think you can call yourself a Cosplayer until you’ve had at least one malfunction!
G: Now that you have been making various costumes for a few years, what has been the most difficult thing and what has been the most fun thing to bring to life?
A: The most difficult…..I feel would either be my God Tier Kanaya because of the immense scale of her wings and trying to figure out a way to get them to stand properly or Leona from League of Legends which was my first large scale armoured cosplay.
The most fun would either be Sera from Dragon Age: Inquisition (I was able to play around with so many different materials and techniques for this unique character) or Princess Serenity from Sailor Moon for which I went all out with my decorating and embroidery.
G: We obviously just started a new year and a full calendar of cosplay events and convention lay before us, what costumes do you have in mind to do this year?
A: I am starting off 2016 by working on several big costume projects, notably Saber from Fate/Stay Nigh, Sona from League of Legends, Rosalina from Super Mario Galaxy and Ahsoka Tano from Star Wars Rebels.
G: Obviously costumes take a lot of hard work to produce and then there are the experiences you get attending events and photo shoots with friends. Is there any one of your costumes you are particularly connected to?
A: It would have to be Kanaya, Blake from RWBY and Merrill from Dragon Age.
Kanaya was my first cosplay and I kept striving to improve her by adding new things to both her normal and her “Got Tier” outfit.
Blake was the cosplay which really helped to gain attention for my page, due to the popularity of the show; it would not be the type of outfit I normally go for.
As for Merrill, she is a character whom I love dearly and who I had wanted to cosplay for a very long time. These outfits feel special in different ways, though I like to think I have a connection to all my outfits.
G: So Blake wasn’t an outfit you’d normally go for? What makes you choose a certain character to go for then?
A: Character. As much as I love elaborate costume or one which will stand out, if I don’t like the character or have any sort of connection with them I’m less likely to want to cosplay them. Though I will say I am thankful for some characters having multiple outfits, as I am definitely drawn to some designs over others.
G: So you feel special connections to the characters you have played so far?
A: I wont cosplay a character if I don’t like that character, that said I often find myself liking a character even more after I have cosplayed them. I’d say that was definitely the case for Blake as I was coerced into cosplaying her to complete a RWBY group; after having cosplayed her I felt a respect and love for her.
G: What do you consider the ultimate achievement as a Cosplayer?
A: For me it would be recognition for my work. That can be as small as someone saying that they like my cosplay to something bigger like winning an award or having my efforts recognised by a popular source.
The most incredible experience I had was a PAX Aus 2014; Riot Games, the studio behind League of Legends had a booth there and many of their main developers were attending. Riot Ezreal, the mind behind some of their most iconic characters saw my costume (Koi Nami) and told me he was blown away and that it was the best costume he had seen that day. I will never forget that.
G: So all up, what is your favourite part of being a Cosplayer?
A: I love being able to put my costume on and feel like I have stepped out of fantasy and into real life. I feel far more confident in my outfits than I do in my casual clothing. I feel more like myself.
There is also being able to meet new people, talking about the things you both love, telling someone how you made your outfit and of course the incredible humbling experience of someone recognising your character or wanting a photo. It makes all the time, money and effort (and sometimes tears) worth it.
G: What is it like cosplaying in Canberra?
A: Canberra has a smaller number of cosplayers than in larger cities such as Sydney or Melbourne, but I think we have a larger “community”, so to speak. Everyone knows, or knows of, everyone else. We are much closer knit and we’re always looking out for one another.
G: Finally, what has been the most rewarding thing to come out of your time as a Cosplayer?
A: Through cosplay I have learned so much and met so many wonderful people. Because of cosplay I am in the process of completing a fulfilling university degree and have found my passion for art extends to more than just pen and paper.
I believe that cosplay has also shaped me as a person and I am much happier and more outgoing because of it.
G: Annalise, you have been a fantastic first Cosplay Spotlight, thank you so much for your time.
A: Not a problem at all!