I’m Sarah Jayne, I’m 24 and originally from Bristol. I studied Physics at uni and now I work in research. I’ve been cosplaying a little over a year, but I’ve always loved fancy dress and made loads of effort with costumes. Mostly I’m into Marvel comics but next year I’m planning to branch out into some anime and Disney characters too.
Q) What was your first experience of seeing cosplay in the gaming community?
I first became aware of cosplay when I was about 16 and into manga, anime and Japanese culture in general. I didn’t really have much of an opinion on it back then and I had no idea that it spread beyond Japan as a hobby. I became more aware of the Western cosplay scene after going to London Film and Comic Con last year.
Q) What was it about cosplay that got you interested in it?
I had planned to go to LFCC as Black Widow, but didn’t take it very seriously – my costume was pretty much a leather corset and leather leggings with my red hair. However, I lost a fair amount of weight since buying it so it was all too big. I ended up going as Misty from Pokemon as I’d had the costume lying around from a party. When I got there I found a guy dressed as the Winter Soldier (Black Widow’s boyfriend at the time) and was gutted that I didn’t have a Black Widow to photograph with him. After that I started to take cosplay more seriously.
Q) What was your first cosplay outfit and why did you choose that particular character?
My first proper cosplay was Black Widow, pretty much just because she was dating Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier and he is my favourite comic book character. It didn’t cross my mind to actually cosplay as him at the time, but that came later…
Q) You have cosplayed in a photoshoot as Black Widow in the snow. How much importance do you think is needed when it comes to thinking about the setting and times for certain photos?
Photoshoots are my weak area – I haven’t really got the hang of posing for pictures yet so I haven’t set up any real shoots. The Black Widow photos were actually just shot in my garden. It was pretty much an opportunistic thing. If you’re going to do a real shoot, then I do think it’s important to consider your setting. Aussie cosplayer Eve Beauregard is a fantastic example of this, her abseiling Lara Croft pictures are some of the best I’ve seen.
Q) What’s been the hardest cosplay character and costume to produce?
The costume that has given me the most grief so far is my Female Winter Soldier. I spent a long time on the design process because I didn’t know what direction to take it in. Should it be accurate? Should it be sexy? Should I use a catsuit because that’s pretty much the standard for female Marvel characters? There was a lot to consider and I’m still not happy with my current version. I also made about three versions of his bionic arm, which was a nightmare as I sewed it all by hand – I really need a sewing machine! I want to upgrade the arm in the near future, maybe with craft foam or something.
Q) Have you had a personal favourite character that you have cosplayed as and if so, what made it so?
I probably had most fun as Black Widow, the costume was really comfortable and she has a signature pose which makes convention photography a lot easier!
Q) How long does it take you to design and create the majority of your character pieces on average? Has there been any Exceedingly long creations?
I’d say probably six months, but it’s hard to put a number on it as I have a bad habit of continually upgrading pieces over a long period of time. I’m working on an X-23 costume at the moment and have about three crops tops and five pairs of leggings/trousers. Some outfits can be collected in a day or two of shopping – Lara Croft is an example. Then making accessories like necklaces and holsters takes a couple of weeks. I haven’t attempted anything too complex yet, I’m sure that people who sew everything from scratch invest a lot more time in to it!
Q) There must be a financial investment when it comes to some of these outfits, have any been fairly extravagant?
Again, the constant upgrades make it hard to say but I tend to budget about £200 per costume.
Q) What have been the reactions to you and cosplayers in general that you have seen from public both at conventions and elsewhere in public?
In conventions, I’ve only ever had positive reactions. I got some weird looks on the Underground on the way though! I think the general public still consider it to be a bit weird – as easy as it is to spin cosplay as artistic, it still breaks down to running around in a superhero costume, and that’s not really everyone’s idea of fun!
Q) Cosplay seems to have taken off more in the past few years, do you have any thoughts as to why this might be?
I think the whole ‘geek’ thing has gotten a lot more popular. The Marvel and Batman movies probably helped a lot, along with shows like The Big Bang Theory. There seems to be a lot more acceptance of sci fi and fantasy. You can say you love the new Star Trek movie and no one will judge you for it. I guess this all has led to a greater popularity of cosplay as well. That and the internet. I got more involved in cosplay after joining the UKC cosplay page on Facebook, and there a plenty of pages on Reddit helping spread awareness.
Q) There seems to be far more female cosplayers around compared to males. Are there any reasons for this do you think considering in recent months there has been a lot of talk about the majority of games having male character leads and a supposed lack of strong female lead character? Surely with more male characters you would expect to see more male cosplayers?
I think there actually are plenty of male cosplayers, I think they just don’t get photographed as much! They also don’t seem to self-promote as much, in my experience. Facebook is full of cosplay pages made by female cosplayers, but I haven’t seen a lot of male equivalents.
Q) Do you have any words of advice for anyone wanting to get into cosplay or wanting to step up a gear in regards to their outfits and the characters they want to portray.
My number one tip would be: learn to work with wigs. A good wig can make a mediocre costume look a lot more professional, and a bad wig can totally destroy an otherwise great one. I’m being a massive hypocrite here as I totally butchered the only one I have, but it’s a learning curve for all of us…