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Interview with Zin INC / The Irstress

This week we interview the duo that is Zin INC and The Irstress. They have done some stunning cosplay both as a pair and solo. We talk deeper about cosplaying as a pair.

What got you both into cosplay?

Zin: The passion for performing and making costumes

The Irstress: For longer than I can remember, I’ve been a huge fan of dressing up in costumes so it was a matter of time for me to discover cosplay as a hobby. I got on stage for the first time in 2012 and I’ve been an active cosplayer ever since. I love both the costume making and acting aspects of cosplay.

How do you explain cosplay to friends/family member who doesn’t know this hobby?

Zin: It’s Halloween every day 😀

The Irstress: Whenever I explain it, I usually tell people I make costumes, stage props, makeup, wigs, etc. and go to competitions where I perform a brief choreography or do photoshoots. Sometimes I describe it as “amateur theatre, but I make the costume and makeup as well”. I do my best to explain it as an art form, comparing it to traditional forms of art (acting, design, craftsmanship, etc.)

First things, congratulations on being the first ever Bulgarian WCS team. What were the cosplays you wore and what is it like being the first for your country?

Zin: Grell and Madam Red from Black Butler. It is a huge honour and a dream come true

The Irstress:  Thank you! For our WCS performance, we chose Grell Sutcliff and Madam Red from “Kuroshitsuji” – an anime that we both love dearly. I had wanted to cosplay Madam Red ever since I started cosplaying, so the feeling of finally wearing the red dress and costume (since I made two of her costumes) was amazing! And Zin is the best Grell I could ever wish for.

Being the first team of Bulgarian representatives was as scary as it was exciting. We were quite nervous since we didn’t have past representatives to guide us, so we basically ventured into the unknown and it took us a while to figure out how everything should be done, but that was all part of the fun.

How long did you plan the cosplays which won your representation for your country?

Zin: About 4-5 months

The Irstress: I think we got the idea a few months before the qualifications it took me personally at least a month of hard work to make the costume and chainsaw. The performance took us less than a week since we’re used to working together on stage.

So how do you decide what cosplay you do as a duo?

Zin: We both love the anime and the characters, also they have great chemistry together

The Irstress: It was a very impromptu idea. We didn’t specifically intend to qualify for WCS. I remember us casually talking about how much we love “Kuroshitsuji” as an anime and how much we’d love to cosplay some of the characters there. Then out of nowhere an idea was born: “Why don’t we cosplay Madam Red and Grell and try applying for WCS?”. And the rest is history.

Who argues the most about getting things done?

Zin: We are both Libra, so it’s balanced, but Irstress is more serious and organised

The Irstress: I guess that would be me.

We both do our best to follow a schedule. However, out of the two I’m the one who constantly stresses out about deadlines, costume details and props. I suppose I’m more in charge of getting all the small details on the costumes, makeup, etc. right, while Zin makes sure our stage performance is on point.

How do make sure you keep on track of your projects?

Zin: I try to follow a schedule

The Irstress: We make a schedule for the month and try to follow it. It doesn’t always work out as planned, but we’re good at improvising.

How tough is it being in a team cosplay? (maybe say “What do you think are the pros and cons of being a cosplay team”)

Zin: For me its actually easier to come up with a performance for a duo, and is also more enjoyable to share the passion

The Irstress: The pros are that it can be super fun (as long as you’re working with the right people) – crafting and thinking of a stage performance together is always very pleasant. Also, for me personally – I have a heavy case of stage fright, but when I’m performing with a friend on stage, I feel much more secure.

One of the main drawbacks however is that you need to take responsibility for other people apart from yourself – e.g.  if your teammates can’t finish their costumes on time or don’t attend rehearsals, the whole group might fail. In some cases, it turns out you need to work on other people’s costumes the night before the con and that can be extremely stressful.

Nevertheless, I enjoy both cosplaying alone and in a team.

What tips would you give to others who work in a duo/group?

Zin: Playoff each other strengths/weaknesses, don’t be afraid to correct each other, but don’t be demanding, have fun 🙂

The Irstress:

  1. Work with people you like – I think that’s the most important rule since at its core, cosplay is about having fun
  2. Make sure everyone is serious about the project.  – Make sure everyone will have the time to make their costumes and will be able to attend rehearsals.
  3. If anyone can’t make their costume or needs a lot of help from the other teammates, make sure this is discussed beforehand (so that you can fit it in your schedule). The last thing you’ll want is someone surprisingly telling you they can’t make it a day before the convention.
  4. Make a schedule and follow it
  5. Make sure you have at least a weak to rehearse. Usually the bigger the group, the longer time you need to make a good performance.

Money is no object, which cosplay and location you love to shoot at?

Zin: Versailles, Notre Dame, Victorian London ( i guess that the current Age is also no object haha)

The Irstress: One of the things we lack in Bulgaria cosplay-wise are photo studios with different settings. So one of the things I’d really love to try at some point is taking a bunch of my cosplays and going on a photo vacation somewhere with such a studio. I’d especially love to shoot in a Japanese classroom set. I’d also love to revisit Meiji-mura again along with a professional photographer

Cover Photo by Stefan Solakov

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