Cosplayer of the Week: Aretsaya Cosplay

One of the ‘friends of Food and Cosplay’ (aka one of our personal friends) has always left me in awe at the incredible calibre of her cosplay while she also juggles a crazy difficult job. I sit and watch her cosplay progress on her page as she hand embroiders costumes, gets beautiful photos and is also really nice! I both love and dislike cosplayers like Aretsaya Cosplay, it’s not fair that they’re nice, talented and beautiful!

Age: 32

Location: Southampton, UK

What is your favourite food? Anchovies, capers… Anything savoury, mostly Italian think, pasta, I like food.

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Photo by Valentin Offner – Phoographe

You’ve recently done a rapunzel that you hand embroidered most of the patterns onto, how long did that take you and how often did you want to rage quit? (although I’m glad you didn’t)

Well, it isn’t even finish yet! Actually all the patterning on the costume is hand embroidered and yes I am completely mad but it was important to me for it to be embroidered, partly because that is how it is in the animation. One of the hardest parts was actually drawing the pattern repeat out for the front panel – but it works and repeats perfectly! So far the whole costume has taken around 300 hours with 200 of just embroidery, I think there’s at least another 100 hours left just in the skirt. I never wanted to rage quit. I have always loved embroidery starting with cross stitch when I was tiny; I find it very therapeutic and just sit in front of the TV with my needle and thread. There’s such a wide variety of techniques to learn and try. I’m really inspired by Michele Carragher’s work on Game of Thrones and would love to try and create something even vaguely like her designs. I guess I need another few hundred hours and then some!

You’ve cosplayed some popular kid’s characters, have you got any cute stories of meeting children in costume?

So many!! I love complying kids characters so much – partly cause I’m such a child myself, but also because I just love the way kids react. One of the cutest things happened at a charity event in Southampton. I clocked a girl about the same time she saw me, carrying a Rapunzel plush. Turns out she had just been bought the toy in the DisneyStore as it was her seventh birthday. She was completely adorable and so excited. We had a good little chat and some photos. I just think it was lovely that she got to meet her favourite princess on her birthday, hopefully I did it all justice!

Photo by Gallagher Phootgraphy
Photo by Gallagher Photography

What has been your most daring costume to wear?

Definitely Phoenix Five Emma Frost! I love Emma and she was one of my first cosplays and I love the AvX story. I had always wanted to make Emma’s Phoenix outfit but didn’t really feel confident enough. Getting more into the cosplay community certainly helped with confidence and I just felt “I’ll do whatever I want!” Despite all the cut outs I made the leotard a bit bigger around the crotch and didn’t actually feel that exposed as I wore a dance body stocking underneath the leotard. I recommended dance underwear to everyone!! There aren’t the lines and seams of normal tights and the only areas of me that are exposed in that costume are the boob window and arms – it also makes your skin look all smooth and nice for photos. I do find the ‘sexier’ characters harder to portray though – I much prefer being goofy cute rather than sexy cute!

I know you in person and know you have a massively busy job, how do you juggle your job and cosplay at the same time?

I used to get stressed that I didn’t have lots of brand new cosplays every convention – but that is just not possible! I find cosplay and crafting great for relaxation (particularly embroidery!) so it actually compliments work well. I have resigned myself to the fact that I can’t spend all my time costuming and I don’t need to. Some people have found work and careers through cosplay, not just as professional cosplayers, but modelling, costuming and prop making which is amazing but I have an awesome job/career and I don’t need to worry about having lots of new costumes and taking lots of photos, it is just a hobby. It’s easy to have that insight when you aren’t surrounded by metres of organza and stress though! Oh and I have been known to embroider on my lunch break.

Photo by Gallagher Photography
Photo by Gallagher Photography

What has been the most tricky technique you have had to master so far?

I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered anything as I think there is always room to improve! The thing I am working on at the moment is wigs. I can sew, embroider, did some worbla work and made a prop – all of which can improve but I’ve at least tried. When it came to Rapunzel I knew I’d have to do A LOT of work on the wig. My wig history is basically blonde character = any blonde wig, attempt to cut wig, “wow you can sew in more wefts,” attempt to style wig with hair straighteners (cries inside at her ruined wig), discover spiking glue, discover lace fronts, buy a thousands lace fronts (exaggeration) and then decide to make a horrendously huge braid. Since then I’ve been thinking more about getting the hair right and when I cosplayed Hannah Montana (yup I am that cool) recently I actually coloured in the roots and really liked the effect. I’m going to make a Merida wig next and have a few different colours of hair to try and make it look a little more realistic for the character. I used to be really terrified of wigs so it’s strange that now I am concentrating so much on them!

What advice would you give to new cosplayers?

Give it a go and google!!! I think when starting out it’s important to do a character you really REALLY love not just for the costume. I’d cosplayed a bit before Astrid but I think I got recognition for that costume because the love I had for the character came out when I was portraying her. Once you have the character make a plan – buy, make, collect pieces, commission etc. I prefer to make my costumes but that’s because I’ve been a crafter/artist all my life and the creative process gives me as much joy as wearing the costume! Use google, ask more experienced cosplayers – there is a wealth of information out there. Some people buy costumes and of course that’s awesome too – as long as everyone is having fun and enjoying themselves that is the most important thing.

Photo by Gallagher Photography
Photo by Gallagher Photography
Photo and edit by Kim Trimble - Photography
Photo and edit by Kim Trimble – Photography
Photo by Robert John Parker - Photography
Photo by Robert John Parker – Photography
Photo by Photography by Ian B
Photo by Photography by Ian B
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About Anna

The resident comic nerd and mistress of Spandex (or so the others say). I have been cosplaying since 2010 while trying to squeeze in numerous adventures where I can. I have a published works such as a fantasy novel and a superhero comic.