For as long as I can remember, my mom had made costumes for Halloween events for her work. I always loved helping make the costumes and dressing up. I constantly created or participated in different art projects to feed my creative side; painting, photography, dance etc. I truly didn't come into know the cosplay community until 2014 after I had spent some time with a pole fitness group building up some self confidence and better body image as well as creating costumes for performances. As much as I enjoyed the group, I enjoyed creating the costumes more! A friend and I saw an ad for an upcoming comic book convention in the Tampa area. We got really excited about attending and started on our ideas and costumes. Once we got to the convention I had no idea that I was hooked!! I was so scared about what everyone was going to think of my costume or my craftsmanship or even how I looked in it.
My friend and I walked the dealers room and at first I felt like everyone was staring at me. Then I started getting compliments and recognized by children who had seen the movie of the character I was dressed up as (Linda from the Movie Rio). It was thrilling! Throughout the day I started having conversations with other individuals who were dressed up and learning about the community, the processes involved with how others created their costumes, all in all feeling warmth and acceptance from everyone we came in contact with.
Once I got home I started doing research on Facebook of some of the suggestions I had received from some of the people I had talked to. I found groups and sub-communities to interact with and learn from. Since then I have been involved with the cosplay community; learning, teaching others, and creating!
As far as what cosplay has brought to me are several things. First and foremost friendship. I have found new friends and strengthened some existing. Secondly is self confidence. Self-confidence in my work, my-self and creative process. Something that I struggled with for a long time. New learned skills! Sewing being one of them! I had never really sewed before and with the people I've met they have taught me how to sew. I have also been introduced into a cosplay community that gives back. I was reached out to by a fellow cosplayer about giving back to the community by using my cosplays. I joined the Guardians of Justice, a non for profit group that work to give back to the community and put ...smiles on the faces of those that need some positive encouragement in their lives.
What lead me to this character [Captain Amelia] ? I always have enjoyed the obscure characters, the ones that some remember but not always. I love the characters that bring nostalgia and memories or childhood. So far my character line ups have been; the Toothfairy from Rise of the Guardians, Gadget from the Rescue Rangers and Shego from Kim Possible. Captain Amelia falls right in line with my others.
I first start with my research. Watching the movie(s) or TV shows. I also search for stills on the internet, and any other images that I can compile a 360 view of the character(s). I want to ensure that I don't miss any details front, back, top and bottom! If I find others who have created the costume I try to reach out and ask them of their processes or materials. I then move to think of different materials or options to help create the costume. Such as visiting local thrift stores or Goodwills. I also visit the fabric store to look for patterns I may be able to use as well as any fabric that would be perfect for the costume. Along the way creating a list of my To-Do's to keep on track. Then I would start creating the costume, major parts of the costume first then working my way to the smaller intricate details.
Along the way I am constantly putting on the costume to adjust the size and make changes as needed. I also reach out to my friends and some of the Facebook communities for feedback and opinions to help with the process. I believe that growth comes with the guidance of others. I try to take pictures and documents of everything that I do along the way. It helps me track my progress and I post them on social media for others that may want to replicate the way I've created something. I also buy things for the costume that I cannot create myself such as make up, wigs and shoes. I test my make-up process several times depending on the level of complexity, I want to get it down to a science because on day of con I don't want to take too long and miss something. Once I feel that the costume is complete I get photos taken to document the final product. I like to continue to watch the movie/TV show to try and pick up on mannerisms the character may have or they way they walk or positioning them selves, when; resting, action, motion or any special poses.
A lot of the reaction I get at the cons is at first is "You look great....I can't remember what your from.". I smile and say its okay. The satisfaction for me is the smile and sometimes awe. For the people that do recognize my character they get excited and share with me how much they enjoyed the movie, or about their experience they had with the memories of the movie. I try to stay in character as much as possible to enhance the experience I have with others at a con, whether they be in or out of costume. One of my favorite interactions as Captain Amelia was when I was at Megacon this year, I was waiting in line for something and looked over to find that someone had dressed up as a character from the same movie. we sat there for a few moments absolutely fawning over each other and our costumes. We talked about our experiences from the day and other characters we cosplay. We sat there talking and discussing, then finally took pictures with each other. To think that we were in line not even realizing that we were standing next to each other.
I also entered Captain Amelia into the Costume contest this year at Tampa Bay Comic Con. This was my second time entering the contest at this convention. I enter to showcase my work, never really expecting to win. However I have had the opportunity to win twice in two different categories. I love engaging in the cosplay community in many different facets; community service, conventions and contests. This community is a lot of things and I love being involved in it.
- Lizology Cosplay (Sarasota, FL)