Cosplayer of the week – Black & Nobo

black nobo 5Not one, but two cosplayers this week, dynamic duo Black & Nobo. The couple share with us the challenges and joys of  group cosplays.

How did the process of teaming up happen?
Nobo: It was honestly sort of accidental. We had been dating for two years and I forced Black to cosplay with me just because it was something that I wanted to expose Black too. This was back when we didn’t even know you could even be a “cosplay icon” and have a following. We had been making all of our artwork together at this point anyway so when we decided to continue, it seemed natural to market ourselves as a cosplay team.

black nobo 2Black: Yeah it’s true. The first cosplays we did together was our Na’vi cosplays, and even though we didn’t really think about it back then we ended up choosing characters that work well in tandem. Plus we ended up working on them together too… it has always been a joint effort.

What are the benefits of group cosplays?
Nobo: As someone whose cosplayed solo and as a group, I definitely prefer working in a group. There are so many benefits I can think of;  more options for photoshoots, shared skills, shared workloads, take on bigger projects, someone to go to conventions with, take photos of eachother when a photographer isn’t available etc. It has really enhanced my cosplay experience.
Black: It’s more rewarding! It really makes for an awesome final product. When I look at photos of other group cosplays it gives me a much more immersive experience into the world where those characters live, and it’s really fun to see that. We hope to give people that feeling too.

What do you find the biggest challenge when making your cosplays?
Nobo: I’d say over any of the craft, the time and planning is the hardest. I’d definitely say we are “cheap cosplayers” in the fact that we always go for the inexpensive materials and buy them all at once in bulk. Because of this, material quality is sometimes lacking and we have to make up for it by putting more hours into the project. A lot of cosplayers bang out multiple costumes for a convention, we on the other hand like to take a few months to put together a costume.
black nobo 4Black: And despite spending months to put a costume together, it always comes down to the very last minute haha. I second what Nobo said, I definitely need to improve my time management when working on costumes. When I don’t allow myself enough time to completely finish my costume, with the details and all, it’s really disappointing. Even the toughest crafting problems aren’t as hard as meeting a deadline!

Do each of you have your own individual strengths?
Black: You know, that’s a good question. We both have pretty equal skills when it comes to making things. We’re both good sculptors, mold-makers and painters and we’re both new to sewing. I don’t think either of us have skills that drastically exceeds the other in any of those areas, really. Though I can say that Nobo has a knack for being very precise and meticulous with her work. Her Beatrice cosplay required some skin effects on both of her arms, so Nobo decided to make a sort of ‘second skin’ by hand stitching arm-length gloves out of nylon stockings. With all those tiny stitches, it really looked maddening, especially because nylon stockings rip so easily! But she pulled it off, with no rips or tears, and it looked great. I’m not as meticulous as she is, in fact I’m pretty sloppy at times. But even if I don’t make it right the first time, or if I make mistakes along the way, my strength is that I’m patient and I’ll keep working on a costume piece until it has a very fine level of finish.
Nobo: Yeah that sums it up pretty well. I rather spend a long time and get it right the first try, he rather work quicker and doing multiple tests till he gets it right.

black nobo 1Any tips for those wanting to start their own cosplay group?
Nobo: Well, just make sure you’re committed to it! Haha. It works for us because we live together and share so many things already. However, if one of us is traveling or our work schedules don’t line up, it does get in the way of cosplay plans. I can imagine it would be even harder with a group of friends living in different places. But if you are committed, I’d say its worth it!
Black: It’s a lot of fun having a partner to work with. My advice would be to reap the benefits of working with a partner, and really perceive yourself as part of a team. It won’t do you any good to try to act like an individual or make an individual identity for yourself… Take a lot of group photos, work on costumes together, pick costumes that go together, etc. And don’t be afraid to let your real friendship / relationship with your cosplay partner show through! It’s important to be authentic and real, and people will see that dynamic between you in the photos!

black nobo 3Have you ever been to the UK, in particular a UK convention?
Black: No, unfortunately we haven’t been to a convention in the UK, but we would love to! I have been to England though, I traveled there on vacation (or should I say ‘holiday’?) when I was younger. I loved London, it’s an amazing city. But I went so long ago, I think I need to plan a trip to refresh my memory.
Nobo:  We aspire to be those international convention goers. Hopefully someday when the paycheck gets bigger.

As American cosplayers do you think the TV show Heroes of Cosplay portrays cosplay culture accurately in America? What are your opinions of the show?
Nobo: Actually, funny you ask! We recently wrote an article about the show. It can be read here:
https://www.facebook.com/notes/black-nobo-cosplay/heroes-of-cosplay-from-subculture-to-pop-culture/562232453824687
But basically, we concluded that while many cosplayers hate the show, it’s not really the medias fault for “ruining” the cosplay but rather the cosplayers themselves, who aren’t stepping up to the plate and maintaining the integrity of the community prior to the shows release.
black nobo 6Black: Nobo and I think that cosplayers should welcome the mainstream attention that cosplay is getting in the media, and handle the situation with grace by providing a good example to others, showing them what cosplay is all about. This show is something new, it shows that cosplay is really starting to make its way into the public sphere. And that gives all the long-time cosplayers the responsibility of informing others about what cosplay is all about. Cosplay is great because it is an outlet for genuine self-expression – and that’s something worth sharing.

When you’re not at a convention what can we find you doing?
Black: When we were in between conventions in the past, we spent a lot of time working on a full-length animated television series that Nobo and I conceived of and began writing. The main characters for this series spawned from random banter between us, and that turned into a plot, and that turned into a script, as you can see, taking on ambitious projects isn’t something just limited to our cosplays…we can’t help it!
Nobo: Vdeo-games. Definitely lots of video games!

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