Cosplayer of the week – Mona Kai

 Mona blog image 4Mona has been cosplaying for nearly 6 years and is most recognized for her Moka Akashiya (Rosario+Vampire), Saeko (H.O.T.D), Isane Kotetsu and Sode no Shirayuki (Bleach) cosplays. I caught up with the lovely Mona on all things cosplay and conventions!

When you’re not cosplaying or at a convention what can we find you doing?

Well, you can either find me doing photo shoots for other cosplayers or wandering round looking for cosplay panels on things like sewing or generally anything where I can get tips from to pick up any new skills- it’s worth it!!

Do you make the pieces from scratch or do you commission your costumes? 

I make my cosplays myself (except my Isane Kotetsu cosplay where I commissioned for the basic uniform as I tried and couldn’t get the garments to look right). I am always trying to learn new ways of making things. Plus with making my own cosplay’s I know that it will fit me seeing I am 6ft with rather odd measurements for a tall person haha!

What are the biggest challenges involved in making these?mona blog image 7

Well the biggest challenge I have is that I don’t have a dress making mannequin so personally, I find doing tailoring really difficult. (I think a mannequin will be my Christmas present to myself hopefully). Other than that the other challenges I face while making my cosplays are that I am still learning so every now and then I will stress out because it doesn’t fit first time so I will have to take it off and do some darting or some other alterations.

What inspires you to choose your next cosplay?

Well generally I would be watching or reading something either old or new to me and I would have a brainwave at making a costume… for example I was watching Once upon a Time (can’t get enough of it!) and after the first season it strikes me that I adore every outfit The Evil Queen wears… so very me with all the amazing fabrics and corsets, so that is how I come across cosplay idea’s I tend to picture myself in the outfits.

What new cosplays can we expect to see from you in the future?

Ah well I have already mentioned one, The Evil Queen from Once upon a Time, but you can also expect to see Galadriel from Lord of the Rings at Ayacon this year and I am working on plans to do Yuuko Ichihara from xxxHolic, Chiana from Farscape and finally Sally from The Nightmare before Christmas.

With nearly 6 years’ experience in cosplay, what changes have you seen in the cosplay community over the years you have been participating?

I think the main change has been the quality of costumes I have noticed that there are far many more people with really jaw dropping costumes out there! I think cosplay has become a bit more available to people either through the likes of cosplay selling sites or the amount of amazing tutorials online of which people pick up tips from.

mona blog image 1What made you want to take cosplaying as a ‘hobby’ to a more professional level? How do you intend to pursue this?

I have always wanted to pursue my dream of being a model but was never confident enough but after seeing the work of professional cosplayers it’s made me really want to step up my game and get more into my cosplaying. I fully intend to go to more events and get more photo shoots booked. I recently started up Palemoon Cosplay so you can keep up to date with all my cosplay progress and the event’s I go to. Once I have some more photo shoots done I can start producing prints and so forth.

Do you hope to one day make cosplay a full time career?

I would so love to do cosplay full time and go to conventions all round the world. That would be a dream come true, seriously!!

What advice would you give beginner cosplayers looking to take their cosplay career to a professional level?

The only advice I would have to give is that you shouldn’t look upon cosplay as some sort of competition of who has the better costume, cosplay is an art form of how much passion you put into the planning, the making and the wearing of your costumes. Don’t ever let anyone put you down over your art! You are never too tall/short, skinny/big to cosplay anyone… If you want to do a cosplay do it don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

What’s the best part at being in cosplay at a convention? mona blog image 6

When you have worked so hard on a costume and you finally get to wear it then someone will come running up and ask if I am so and so from such and such then will ask to have a photo with me… that makes me happy.

Do you find being in cosplay gives you more confidence at conventions and other related events?

Yes…so much so! I am very shy and withdraw in social situations outside the convention scene and I am a little awkward if I am honest, but when I am at a convention or other related events there is something about it that give me a boost of confidence, it’s almost like being someone different because in normal day to day life I could never do the things I would do at a convention, hanging out in large group makes me very nervous outside conventions etc. So yes, I find that I gain confidence at conventions and other related events.

mona blog image 8Do you ever get fed up of people asking to take your photo at events? (Any tips for attendees when taking/approaching a photo of a cosplayer?)

No not at all…In fact I love it, I tend to research my characters most known poses for when people ask me for photos, as for tips I do tend to have people firstly asking if they can take a photo of me then I am prepared for posing or what not, and then there are one or two photographers who ask for a different pose so that they have a range of photo’s which I think is a brill idea!

Have you ever experienced a time at convention (or online), where attendees have overstepped the mark and acted inappropriately?

Luckily, I have never encountered this problem myself, although saying that, at one London expo I had some Lolita’s approach me asking if I was a Lolita as they were filming a documentary and when I declined and explained I was cosplaying instead they then turned quite snappy and told me I was too tall to be a Lolita anyway, but I stayed polite and just remained friendly. I don’t really understand why that happened but that is as close as I have got to having any problems with attendees.

What advice would you give to others who have or may experience this?

My advice is just to stay polite and calm, then if that doesn’t work, walk away and find a member of staff and make them aware of the person causing trouble as they may confront another attendee.

Mona blog image 5Some people are concerned about the growing increases of ‘cosplay bullying’. Have you ever personally experienced this? What advice would you give to those who have?

Again luckily I haven’t come across any ‘cosplay bullying’ myself, I have had the odd person telling me I am either too tall or haven’t got the correct figure for certain cosplays but it never came across as bullying I hope to think it was only creative criticism. I am aware that it is out there and incase anyone comes across it in person or online you have to tell someone otherwise they will just go ahead and bully others.

What advice would you give a first time cosplayer con-goer?

Main advice for a first timer is that you should have fun! Without fun it’s not really cosPLAY?! So yes have fun go enjoy the events. Plus I find talking to people at events really good as they are mainly people like me, and I have met my closest friends from randomly talking to them at conventions!!

Thank you Mona for this great interview and being my first cosplayer of the week! You can check out all of Mona’s cosplays on her page Palemoon Cosplay

Would you like to be featured as cosplayer of the week? Drop me a message subject line cosplayer of the week.