We would like to introduce Kirsty Johnson. A keen cosplayer whose interests include Anime and japanese culture. We managed to get some time to have a chat about what got here into cosplaying, her thoughts on some of the recent comments regarding particular character and styles of cosplaying as well as what motivates and interests Kirsty. We all hope you enjoy.
When was your first experience of cosplay?
My first experience, hmm.. looking back to quite a while ago. I always enjoyed playing dress up, made my own custom clothing and messed around with makeup. I would literally just get bored and decide to start plastering my face and body in what ever I could find. Obviously the costumes didn’t really look anything spectacular but I had fun making and wearing them. Later I found out about these Comic conventions in America, to me they seemed like a place where people like me could just dress up and have fun (and not be classed as too old for that type of stuff) I began on my internet journey watching hours of convention video footage and admiring people work, especially when I saw people cosplaying characters from my favorite anime series. They all looked fantastic. I wanted to be like them and express what I love.
What made you decide that it was something that you wanted to get involved in and did you intend for it to go as far as it has for you?
Other than the obvious point of wanting to re-create/ be your favorite character for the day and escape the boring reality or normal life. One of the main aspects which made me want to get involved was that the cosplayers look like they have so much fun whilst looking amazing doing so. It’s also a way to find people who share the same interests in gaming and anime ect. Slightly drifting aside but I came from a background of doing glamour modelling work, I enjoyed doing it but on a personal level I felt that glamour wasn’t really portraying me, this led to a lots of people mis-judging my character, with cosplay I can express myself much more. The pre glamour work has helped me get so far.
How do you pick out which characters you want to create?
I will usually be watching anime or playing a game and the characters will stand out to me. They are usually characters I can relate myself to or somebody who I instantly like for their comedy or attitude. It doesn’t matter to me if the character is female, male or animal. I will find a way of displaying that character one way or another.
Does outfit, body style, overall perception of the character and attitude affect your decisions when deciding which character to take on?
I have to actually like the character overall as said before, if they look awesome then that’s an added bonus when creating the costume. Something I found which is a let down is there are characters I really admire for their attitude but don’t necessarily have a distinctive costume or are very well-known. This leads to a lot of people not knowing of them so I try to aim at portraying characters which people will know and also appreciate. But saying this I wouldn’t cosplay somebody just because they’re popular and nothing else.
What have been the reactions you have had from some of your creations?
The main reaction from my existing fans is “who are you suppose to be?” or “that’s hot” this is because most of my fan base was gained from my glamour days and most of them don’t understand the whole cosplay thing just yet. I am very impressed when I do get the odd nerdy type knowing their stuff though. I often enter online cosplay competitions and that is where the real cosplay fans come out. I get mixed reaction. A lot of the people don’t agree with my ‘interpretations” but a lot like seeing something done differently. I also get quite a few negatives on my actual appearance and just the way I look in general. I have never had any surgery or done anything to change myself so this isn’t really something that can be helped. I have found that there is a much tougher and judgmental audience to please in cosplay than in modelling even though the community is supposed to be all about “anyone can cosplay” and “cosplaying is for fun”.
I think it’s fair to say that some of your creations have an overt sexual appeal to them. Is this something you are aware of when taking on a character and what are your thought processes behind it? do you exsenuate it or keep strictly to what the original character is?
I will say that I am a major fan of giving a character a personal flair. If I saw a whole bunch of cosplayers lined up cosplaying the same character the ones who have thought outside of the box and tweaked it would stand out the most to me. Making an exact copy is boring and unoriginal as that has more than likely already been done over and over again. I do like to give my characters a girly flair as that reflects me and my personality. When I cosplay as male characters I prefer to re-create them as a sexy femme version rather than a crossplay. I do admire cosplayers who can pull of cosplaying the opposite sexes as its very difficult especially if you have a curvy body.
Do you have anything to say on the comments about some female cosplayers moving more towards the ‘sexy’ look and further away from the actual original character?
I see a lot of negative and really horrible comments on female cosplayers more sexier photos all the time. Anybody is allowed to do as they please and wear what ever they like, it shouldn’t matter to other people as long as the cosplayer themselves like it. We all have a freedom to do what we like and we are all human with feelings. Lets take Jessica Nigri for example as we all know of her, she is very successful and she gets constantly dragged down for doing nothing other than doing as she pleases. I see no crime in that?. From experience I have found it’s the female audience who spread the hate on other females and are usually very quick to judge on appearance without knowing much of the cosplayer as a person. This phrase comes to mind on this subject “ When was the last time you saw a hater doing better than you was?”
With some characters cosplay outfits showing a lot of flesh, there have been comments that certain cosplayers are bordering on the glamour model aspect rather than cosplay. Is this an issue for you personally? Is it something you have ever thought about when picking characters and outfits and does it bother you or empower you that some people think this?
With characters who show a lot of flesh, I believe its down to the cosplayers confidence levels whether they should do it or not. For me I don’t mind the skimpy outfits for shoots but for such as attending a convention in it, is a bit too much for me (as of yet), as im not as confident in front of many people as my photos make me look. I find a lot of characters are greatly sexualized already for example the original Lara Croft, Juliet Starling, most fighting game characters (Ivy, Cammy, Christie Monteiro) I believe to pull these characters off accurately you would need the glamour model look and crazy assets, so in this case the two worlds go nicely hand in hand. Yet, no matter how perfectly you mirror a character with a tiny costume, there will still be people saying how wrong it is. Like said before if I like the character enough I will try to re-make it regardless of their skimpy outfits ect.
Have you ever had any extreme reactions from onlookers and fans for you creations both good and bad?
At the moment the reactions I get arn’t anything extreme enough that I can’t handle. The negatives are just usually “She is fake”, “Shes made a slutty costume and put in no effort”, ”Attention whore” To me the comments seem to just be petty and childish so not really a worry. if anything it makes me happy that somebody has taken their time to look and comment regardless of how much they don’t like it. I have good reactions too from people I have inspired and helped as i’m always there to help people out.
How important is venue and setting when it comes to having both yourself and your cosplay creation photographed?
I really like the venue to fit with my creations, If a suitable area is unavailable I prefer plain backgrounds or outdoors.
How much input do you have with regards to the poses and composition of the photographs?
All shoots I have undertaken I have been in control of my poses, I trust the photographer to get the awesome and flattering angles.
Whats been your favourite experience during your cosplaying time?
My favorite experience gained whilst I have been cosplaying is the confidence and networking. It’s encouraged me to open my own twitch and youtube channel to help develop my public speaking. It has also helped me make many new connections with great people.
What have you got planned in the future?
I wish to aim higher and to gain a larger fan-base so I can share and offer support with all my fans. I plan to attend many UK conventions and depending on how it goes for me, I wish to one day attend America.
How much interaction do you have with your fans and followers of your cosplaying creations?
I try to connect with as many people as I can. It’s like a challenge “ I will reply to them all!” Afterall it’s the fan base which makes the cosplayer who they are, without the support of the fans there wouldn’t be much left.
Twitch gaming channel: http://www.twitch.tv/kirstyjohnson
Photographer is R.Mills at: https://www.facebook.com/PhotographyByKirstyAndRobert?fref=ts