Cosplayer of the week – Tabitha Lyons Interview

tabitha lyons i 1This week I inteviewed the talented Tabitha Lyons, queen of dragons and master of props. Tabitha reveals her cosplay and convention plans for the summer, what it is like to judge contests and the pressures that come with being recognised in the cosplay scene…

tabitha lyons 1Originally you were a larper, how did you enter the wonderful world of cosplay?

I officially started cosplay in May 2012 though I have been dressing up since I was a little girl (larped since I was 8). I run a prop company with my dad called Artyfakes, we created a Skyrim inspired weapon range – and as soon as the photos hit the net, everyone was throwing around the word cosplay. I’d never heard of it before so I had to check it out!

Do you have a preference?

I honestly love both hobbies! I wouldn’t have one if it wasn’t for the other. Though I would lean more toward cosplay, not because it’s new and fresh to me but because it made me feel okay to be a geek!

What is your favourite cosplay so far?

I could not choose. Whatever costume I am making at the time is my favourite! I love all of them!!

tabitha lyons 5What do you find the biggest challenge when making your cosplays?

Personally my biggest challenge is time, it’s hard to find any for my own cosplays as my job is 24/7 and I will always put customers first. I can’t believe I have only made one new cosplay this year and it was a bottle cap bikini! SHOCKING!

You mentioned you work as part of Artyfakes, a prop making company, what does a typical day involve?

Starting work at 8am answering emails and doing paper work, as soon as that’s done MAKE MAKE MAKE! I usually finish at around 8pm unless we have an urgent order.

You have accomplished many out of this world cosplay projects – including a 14ft foot dragon! Can you reveal any more forthcoming projects this year?

That was a team project with other sculptors, I’m not sure what you’ll see from me this year, all I can say is I always try to improve!

tabitha lyons 3 making

What would you say to those who think you are just the ‘face of Artyfakes’?

What’s wrong with being just the face? I know the work I do; I don’t care if other people don’t believe it. What people seem to forget is that Artyfakes is a business. Marketing is a big part of any company, and let’s face it my dad doesn’t want to see his picture everywhere and I’m sure there are many who don’t want to see it…don’t tell him I said that…

What advice would you give others who may experience cosplay ‘bullying’ or criticism online?

If you put yourself out there trolls will attack, even if you don’t deserve it. A thick skin can be good, I know mine has got thicker…

The best thing is not to feed the trolls. Don’t respond, just ban and delete.

tabitha lyons 10You have mentioned before in previous interviews, that you were a bit of a secret geek (which we have all been a bit guilty of at times), what in essence made you come out of the closet and proclaim your geekiness to the world?

Cosplay definitely got me out of the closet. The more I attended conventions and met new people I realized how many people enjoyed my fandoms – it wasn’t just me! My confidence is slowly growing and now I don’t care if people think I’m a nerd. Geek and proud.

This is a very busy summer as you are guesting at LAGC, LFCC and Hyper Japan, can you reveal what you have instore for us and what you will be cosplaying as?

This summer, Bro Con, are also flying me out to Ireland, so I’ll be at a con every weekend in July! I am super excited as I have never been before. Fingers crossed I will have a few more new cosplays in store but they are all top secret! I’m also really happy to be a judge for the ECG UK Preliminaries. I haven’t attended Hyper Japan before. and I can’t wait to see the standard of the costumes, as one of my jobs at Artyfakes is quality control. Every completed item goes through me, if I don’t give it the Artyfakes stamp of approval then it won’t be shipped to the customer. I’m expecting the same amount or even better from the contestants. P.S. I will be cosplaying as Juliet Starling- Lollipop Chainsaw for the whole wekeend at London Anime Gaming Con!

tabitha lyons 7You recently got to mingle with USA cosplayers Yaya Han and Riddle, what was this like?

Amazing, it was nice to talk about different materials as they have different names in our countries. LSCC put on a great show and it was lovely to see they cared about the cosplay scene. Fingers crossed we will see them again soon!

What was it like judging a competition like LSCC, which had a big, even life changing prize?

I was really nervous before hand, as usually I’m the competitor but once I sat in the chair I realized I was panicking for no reason. It was nice that my LARP/ Performing Arts history also played a big role in being a judge, I remembered that cosplay competitions are not just about the costume.

tabitha lyons 2You have a huge social media following and are widely recognised within the cosplay community, Did you ever expect this to happen?

No I didn’t, and it upsets me that people think I’ve bought likes. I work extremely hard and I would never do that. Words cannot describe how much everyone of those people mean to me, the community support me when I’m feeling like WHY DO I EVEN COSPLAY!

Many cosplayers dream of being a role model (or as Yaya says an ambassador of cosplay) through having a significant social media reach/influence and/or working professionally in props, but is there any disadvantages to this?

Like everything it has it’s up and downs, you become an easy target. As long as I can help the cosplay community and it doesn’t stop me from doing what I love it’s worth it.

tabitha lyons 8Those who follow you on Facebook would have seen you had been involved with something called “Ecdysiast”, can you tell me more about this?

My friend Josh, some of you might know him for his Nigri cosplay, and Lauren attend Cambridge University and asked me to star as the lead for their final project before they graduated. They are super talented and amazing Cosplayers so I trusted them, and was really grateful for the opportunity! Unfortunately they have not realised it yet but it should be on DVD or YouTube soon…

Thanks you Tabitha for a great and honest interview! I look forward to seeing you at future cons this Summer!

Photo Credits: Main black and white Image: Tascha Dearing Art Black Cat by Jon Fisher Photography, Kyra by Magic Bean Studios and Pepper Potts – Paul Beard Photography, all other images copywright of Artyfakes.