Special Interview with Clood, representative of the UK ECG Group team, she chats to us all about Japan Expo and the benefits of group cosplays!
How did you first become involved with cosplay?
I was about 12, some of my school friends in the year above me were getting excited about an anime convention and kept talking about dressing up for it. I thought it sounded pretty out there and impossible with the set of skills I had, but with some advice from my grandmother I cobbled together a cosplay and after a magical day of meeting people, being taken pictures of and seeing some of the amazing costumes people had made, the deal was totally sealed!
What is your favourite cosplay and why?Not for any reasons that it’s my most complex, or that I put a lot of time into it but Sinbad from Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic is probably my favourite. Lettie and I made it (and her costume from the same series Ja’far), the night before a convention, it having taken us so long to decide what we were doing, and I’ve gotten so much fun out of it. It’s comfortable to wear and doesn’t have annoying props to keep track of, so that’s probably a large part of it!
What inspires you to choose your next cosplay?
For me, it’s always really liking a character or series and thinking I’d suit it in some way, shape or form. I have a pretty set archetype of characters; being tall I can’t really get away with any of the cute girls or boys, so I tend to stick to the princely type of man or strong-looking women. I think it’s very rare I’d consider doing a character from a series I didn’t like, it’d take a really, really exciting costume to get me to do it.
When you’re not cosplaying or at a convention, what can we find you doing?
I’ve recently started playing League of Legends competitively, so I’m pretty likely to be training with my team, or playing other games. That aside, I’m a student so studying is a pretty big one! This also obviously translates to going out with friends an awful lot.
How did you feel when you were selected as a UK representative? Did you do anything to celebrate?
I don’t think I have any words for what I felt at the time! Lettie and I actually nearly went home before we even did our performance because we were both so exhausted and we hadn’t finished so much of our original plans we’d decided there was no point even competing. When they announced we’d been selected I was obviously totally elated, but also slightly confused I think! We went out with some friends that evening for a meal to celebrate, but for me the biggest celebration was getting to bed that night. I was pretty over the moon for several weeks afterwards, I couldn’t stop smiling!
Who are you cosplaying for Japan Expo in July?
For the finals we’ve chosen to re-wear our Lord of the Rings costumes (mine is The Witch King) since for the preliminaries they were very unfinished and they still had a lot of work left on them that we thought would be well suited to the finals. For me this comes in the form of an entirely new costume; when Frodo puts the Ring on he sees the wraiths as white and undead and we thought it’d be really cool to try and recreate that! We’ve also planned to make new costumes for both the parade and the photo shoot day on the Sunday. For these days we’ll hopefully (money permitting as there’s still a fair bit left to buy!) be doing Kouha and Koumei from Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic and Ion and Astharoshe from the novel illustrations of Trinity Blood.
What was the most challenging part of this cosplay to make?
I think that making a resin cast glowing sting (Frodo’s sword) was the hardest by far for me. Prior to this project I really hadn’t made many (if any) props at all, so it was a huge learning experience in all regards. I’d done some basic things with LEDs, but soldering the circuit and putting the setup into the resin while it was setting so that it’d still work was a logistical nightmare.
That, and doing my prosthetics for the white wraith form was also an entirely new thing for me – from doing the clay sculpt of the mask to copying it in latex, it was something I’d never done before. I’m really pleased with the result and slightly thankful it worked like I thought it would!
How are you feeling about the finals approaching in July?
It’s a bizarre mixture of excitement and nerves! I get quite bad stage fright and the Japan Expo stage is absolutely massive, so I’m just trying to not think about it, and ensure that on a costume level, everything is ready and we’re prepared, with our skit rehearsed. We just want to do our efforts proud more than anything!
What are you most looking forward to about Japan Expo?
Just being there for one is fantastic. I went there last year and it’s amazing fun. Specifically though, I’m really looking forward to meeting all the other contestants, they’re a bunch of really incredible cosplayers and people, and I count myself very lucky to be able to be able to get to know them.
How did you both become friends and what made you decide to cosplay together?
We met through cosplay; I was actually too scared to talk to Lettie at first because to me she was such an incredible cosplayer who always looked (and still looks) totally perfect. We became good friends, and I think it was after the selections the previous year when we were sitting at another friend’s house watching Lord of the Rings, we got a bit carried away with our cosplay plans and then that was it, we were decided! I’d actually always wanted to do the Witch King, it always seemed to me like a really cool thing to have in your closet.
What are the benefits of group cosplays?
Obviously spending time with your friends doing something you all love is a huge benefit, running around with a group of friends from the same faction or group in an anime for example is great fun, it’s like being in a secret club. That, and while solo shots are great, I always think that there’s something to be said for a group of people in matching uniforms pulling some group pose. It’s really cool!
You have won cosplay awards and have a strong social media following, but do you see cosplay as a professional career, or as a hobby?
I don’t think in my case I have a strong social media following at all, I’m just lucky enough to have a group of really supportive friends. Cosplay for me is 100% a hobby, I’m an engineering student, so really cosplay is quite unrelated (even if I do understand the circuit diagrams!), though it is a very welcome break from maths and science.
What advice would you give to others looking to pursue a professional career through there cosplay talents?
I can’t really offer any actual advice on the subject since it’s not something I’ve ever considered; I suppose the biggest one for me would either be to either enrole in a relevant course (say prop design), or beg your way into getting a work placement with a costume department or workshop. The best way is to learn by doing, but cosplay definitely can’t teach you everything, though it can show you the basics.
What is the best part about being in cosplay at a convention?
Meeting people without a doubt! Cosplay has given me so many amazing friends that I’ve met through doing the same series as them, or through other cosplay friends it’s unreal. There’s no better feeling than someone you don’t know coming up to you and saying they recognise the character (especially when it’s a relatively unknown series).
What changes have you seen in the cosplay community over the years you have been participating?
In essence it’s still very much the same community I think, the same people are still around. What is different is the sudden appearance of so many big competitions in the last few years; ECG, Eurocosplay, the World Cosplay Summit suddenly being accessible to the UK from last year. These have given lots of people large things to work towards which they’re all taking in their stride and really going for it. I don’t think it has ever been so much about producing impressive things and outdoing others as it is now, for better or for worse.
Clood and Tsupo will be competing in the group finals on Saturday 6 July find out how they do by following Clood via https://www.facebook.com/CloodCosplay?fref=ts and ECG Team UK https://www.facebook.com/EcgTeamUk2013?fref=ts
Would you like to represent your country? Take part in ECG 2014! the preliminaries will take place at HYPER JAPAN in London on 27th July. Download entry forms at: www.hyperjapan.co.uk