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Cosplay in Focus - Supanova Interview

How long have you been cosplaying for?

I made my very first cosplay with the help of my Mum way back in 2005: It was a Card Captor Sakura costume full of pink satin and ruffles that we put together within a week. My high school Japanese teacher was promoting Animania, which was coming to Brisbane and I realised there was somewhere for me to dress up and embrace my love of anime with other people. I’ve been a nerd for just about forever; video games are my jam (up to the point where I studied Games and Interactive Media at the Queensland University of Technology) and I have a solid love of anime and manga, but I never seem to have enough time to read and watch them.

During 2008-2011 there was a bit of a convention dry spell due to health reasons and I only got back into the swing of cosplay at Brisbane Supanova, 2011 with my classic Sona costume from League of Legends.

Mostly I just lurk at conventions to catch up with friends and drool over pretty costumes but this past year has seen me taking the whole thing a lot more seriously, having opened an online store on ZaphyCosplay.com, taking prop commissions and selling 3D prints I’ve made.

What inspires you to cosplay?

I love making impossible things. Cosplay allows me to have a creative outlet where I can experiment and learn new techniques, puzzle out problems and get to showcase my love of the subject I’m creating. I tend to gravitate towards characters I’m passionate about and feel that I can try to represent well (but sometimes I’ll make something just because it’s cool looking)!

Secondly, I’ve made some of the most incredible frien

ds through cosplay and shared amazing experiences with them. Knowing I’ve got a group of like-minded friends that will be there to help me when there’s work to be done, are always ready to cheer each other up especially when the end of a project seems so impossibly far away and will be willing to pull constant all-nighters to help each other out is the best. Being able to share with your friends makes this hobby and attending conventions together the best!

How did this build go for you?

DJ Sona was a bit of a nightmare. Each stage of the build seemed to hit a new challenge that had to be overcome. This project was a big collaboration between my friends and we were all extremely proud of the result!

Starting in late September 2015, DJ Sona’s bodysuit was initially based on Yaya Han’s bodysuit pattern which I assembled, drew the new seams and panels I needed to match DJ Sona and cut it up for my new pattern. Initially her suit was made entirely from black and 4-way white stretch vinyl (which was absolutely the most disgusting thing I’ve ever sewn with), completed early October and put to the side while I picked up some commission projects. Taking it out of storage in early March 2016 I discovered that the fabric dye from the black vinyl had transferred dirty marks onto the white vinyl and the suit was very frustratingly remade, substituting in white spandex which caused a whole host of issues with the fit of the suit.

The visor was a bubble scooter visor that was purchased on eBay, as I didn’t have access to a vacuum former which was the initial plan to shape it myself. This buy turned out to be surprisingly perfect as it gave the helmet the super reflective surface I was after.

I modelled and 3D printed the earbud pieces and covered them in Worbla for DJ Sona’s helmet and had intended to attach them to a white store bought scooter helmet, but when it arrived and I tested everything, I looked like a bobble head doll with an oversized head. This lead to me building my own more slim fitted helmet out of EVA foam, Worbla and an ungodly amount of filler putty and sanding as the base for everything to be bolted into.

The hands-down coolest part of costume – the LED visor screen powered by an Arduino that sits inside one of my earbuds – was assembled and programmed by my friends Jamie (from Carson Cosplay) and John (Arduino and coding wizards respectively). It would have taken me probably half a year at the very least to write the code and safely put together my version, so I’m very grateful to my talented friends for helping me make this 110% more awesome! Originally I was using a battery powered light-up equaliser sticker stuck inside the visors (which was absolutely the dodgiest thing ever) to replicate the effect of Sona’s Kinetic design.

I released a teaser video online of my helmet lights switching effects that was viewed over 53,000 times and shared over 360 times on Facebook alone and suddenly this became the most hyped costume that I’d ever built and the anxiety kicked in that we might not be able to deliver on the result.

DJ Sona’s prop was built in a week and is a part of the costume I will absolutely be revising in the future! The speaker and turntable deck weighs about 15kg as it is built from EVA foam, MDF, LED strip lights, an ungodly amount of clear acrylic and Worbla’s Finest Art and the whole prop was not at all planned well. My helmet LEDs plugged into the prop so the lighting colour changes on the earbuds were synchronised with those of my prop turntable.

Many sleepless nights were had during the week leading up to the convention with the help of several friends enlisted to fill and sand, help with the painting and full assembly of the prop (thank you Cameron, Courtney and Cat for being incredible support throughout the build and also on the day of the convention). When we got up on stage in the full costume and I started my performance we were all teary eyed that we had actually done it (I’m very grateful that no one could see my eyes under the visor)!

Got any plans for your next build?

I have several costumes on my list that I’d like to work on this year! Currently, I’m in the middle of a fan-made design from League of Legends based on Loiza’s Chinese New Year Irelia artwork, and have plans to make a Blood Moon skin group with my friends (again from League of Legends). Wizard from Diablo 3, Maiev Shadowsong from Warcraft 3 and Mercy from Overwatch have also been sitting on my dream list since forever and I think 2016 is the year to tackle at least one of them! I’m excited to improve my sewing ability and getting a chance to level up my moulding and resin-casting skills. There are already some commission projects on my books and pieces of my next costumes strewn about my house and I haven’t even finished cleaning up from DJ Sona!

All images by Magic Missile Studios and Pixel Pop Network.


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