We interview a fellow cosplay blogger and photographer, Cosplay In America. As the name suggests, based in America, he’s also published cosplay books. We chat to Ejen of Cosplay In America about his time in Cosplay.
How do you explain cosplay to friends/family member who don’t know this hobby?
Usually if the person isn’t familiar with cosplay, I go with the ol’ “It’s like Halloween” line. If they ask more detail, I’ll usually open to discussing the when, where or how about cosplays. Usually saying Halloween is enough to get the idea across. People are familiar enough with Halloween where folks dress up in costumes at parties or go trick or treating.
What got you into the cosplay community/What do you like about it?
I’ve been into anime and comic books since I was a kid but it really wasn’t until Anime Expo 2008 that I saw cosplay with my own eyes. I was familiar enough with it previously thanks to the internet. I think I’m attracted to people who create their own version of their world.I like to see how people apply their own personality into cosplays – meaning they tweak it to their own comfort level.
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Kai’sa was rather last minute decision for my #AnimeNYC lineup, as I believe the #LeagueofLegends dropped that #KDA Music video about a week or two prior? So it was right on time for con crunch but I just really loved her design and the music video was so cool-in instantly knew she’s the one I would love to cosplay! (especially with those floaty gun things). I think I started seeing a lot of #Akali cosplays a few days later (which by the way-how are people doing these cosplays so fast?!) but that’s also what motivated me to do her look as I haven’t seen any #Kaisa cosplays around that time. I just couldn’t wait and thought it would be fun to try to have her done just in time for the convention. . My friend wanted to do a shoot so we tried to find a rather cleared area, only to find another cosplayer there dressed as Akali (@Fiona_Nova). I personally was a little struck as I followed her work for some time and was a bit shy to approach. And only a few minutes later we both noticed each other as well as another approaching cosplayer – an #Ahri (@Loulouliuuu). We all did a bit of a double take and were like “we all gotta do a shoot together, right now!”. . To me that was kinda funny and ironic: to be at the same place, at the same time, cosplaying from the same group but do this completely unplanned! And we were asked to do the dance but none of us knew it completely so there is that (I’ll be prepared next time!). At the end of the day: cosplay and an amazing music video brought us together! . —- @NikiMuffin . Akali: @Fiona_Nova Ahri: @Loulouliuuu Kaisa: @NikiMuffin . Photo : @Remcreate
Where did the name “Cosplay in America” come from?
Cosplay in America as a name came about as an easy way to describe the book. It was about Cosplay and it was about cosplayers in America. The online social media presence of Cosplay in America is different from the books as I am not necessarily the photographer of the images on social media and the cosplayers may not be American. I know a few folks were confused when I highlighted cosplayers from different countries. I usually say the Instagram was started to promote the book and in a way, took on a life of its own.
Something interesting about your social media, that you posts come with a story/mini interview. How did that come about?
Honestly, I was tired of just seeing photos from cosplay spotlight sites and I would sometimes wonder who was the cosplayer, how did they decided on that character, what interactions was their most exciting at a convention. I did interviews for a few cosplayers in my second book so I posted those. Then I figured I could ask other cosplayers I found online questions as well. I started doing stories in 2017 but it wasn’t until 2018 when it was 99% stories.
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. @beebunscosplay : One particular con-goer was fan girling about our cosplays and was telling us how amazing we looked, so I gave her a rose and leaned in as we were walking away to whisper, “Have a waaaahnderful day.” Her screams of delight made it a pretty memorable con for me. . @blacksunshine_art : I kept actual cloves of garlic on me to hand out to other people as a joke since Wario has such an affiliation with the ingredient. More people ate raw garlic than I expected. . @beebunscosplay : My best friend Black Sunshine and I have been talking about doing the Biker Waluigi/Wario pair for forever. She was actually the one to put together Wario years ago but we redid and revamped the designs. It seemed like the natural decision seeing as we’re basically the embodiment of these two on a daily basis! . There was a lot of repurposing of thrifted items for this cosplay, but the most fun was making the vests and genie shoes. We’ve made punk vests before, but the shoes were a first. Couch foam, sculpting, lots of shoe goo, and you have yourself a perfectly diabolical shoe fit for an evil twin! . @blacksunshine_art : Cosplay lets me shed my social awkwardness, and become the confident person I want to be inside. Even if that person is an evil Mario brother that reeks of garlic. @beebunscosplay : For anyone nervous about getting into cosplaying or developing a new crafting skill: there ain’t nothing to it but to do it! Everyone has to start somewhere, and cosplay is meant to be about having fun. Whatever your best effort is will always be good enough! . Photo @cosp.li . #Wario#Walugi#SuperMario#cosplay#wariocosplay#walugicosplay#Nintendo#bikerwario#bikerwalugi
What do you look for before approaching a cosplayer for your page?
Honestly I’m not sure. I’m kinda of all over the board. I like to think that what you see on my page would reflect what you would see at a convention. A bit of everything. If you look through my page you’ll see what I mean.
You’ve mentioned your cosplay books earlier. What inspired you to produce these books and will there be more?
Well, the first book originally came about from attending Anime Expo in 2008. Remember at this time social media was pretty young so before the internet you would spread information through type and photos – which meant a physical media. I was a photographer and figured a cosplay book was a great way to introduce cosplay to the masses. If I did Cosplay in America in 2018, I don’t think there would be books.
I am working on a third book, sort of a throwback to the first book by approaching those in the first book and re-photographing them a decade later along with their stories of how cosplay impacted their lives in that decade. I figured this would be a nice way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first book and end the series by going reconnecting with the original cosplayers from the first book.
The third book is slated to be on Kickstarter in early 2019 and if succeeds, will have books available by end of 2019.
What changes have you seen over the years in the cosplay community?
I love how the concept of cosplay has shifted. Before there was a more “hey, that’s anime, you can’t have that at this comic con” to all are welcomed. The other shift has been from for accuracy purpose to now for how you are comfortable representing your fandom. For example, if you choose to change the cosplay to reflect your standards and there’s enough to informed the viewer to which character you are cosplaying, by all means feel free ! A decade ago folks would cry for accuracy. Now it is up to each individual cosplayers to decide how to tailor the costume to their preference.
What has been a memorable event or moment you’ve experience?
Hmmmm, just the ability to travel the world and witness the impact of cosplay in their communities. Really what it is is listening to people’s stories of how cosplay has affected them and those surrounding them. To see someone joyfully living in the moment, without a care in the world, brings us back to when we were children.
Is there an event you’d love to visit?
Honestly I have a huge bucket list of conventions within the US and internationally that I would love to see. Figured I’ll spend the rest of my life at conventions !
To follow Cosplay In America on social media on these links.