When friends say that you resemble a certain actor, it makes for added incentive to make said costume. In this case, I also wanted something I could wear day to day, which is why I chose to make it from leather (the original was made from a flame retardant nomex type stretch material).
Tony Stark's racing uniform was one of the more simpler costumes to make. I simply needed to alter a base body pattern, with overlaying elements sewn over the leather. Plus it's a semi comfortable costume, as well as uncommonly seen at cons. Though the coolest interaction was at San Diego, when a man asked for my picture. He later told me that he was the person responsible for designing the look for the film.
To me, it was known as Halloween. Before I know conventions and costumes were a thing, I would find any excuse to wear any costume or piece of costume at any moment. My costuming grew completely independent of any sort of knowledge of the community. The first convention I went to was the first Star Wars Celebration, back in '99. I was excited to bring my Darth Maul costume, and actually thinking that I was going to be the only person there dressed "differently". Though there wasn't an enormous presence in costumes, there were still a few dozen, spread here and there
Costuming is my go to form of expression. I do many types of art, from drawing to sculpting and building. I've found that I am able to incorporate just about everything into making my costumes. And it's also a great outlet for me to branch out and learn new methods. In the 20 years that I've been making costumes, I taught myself just about everything. Sewing, leather working, sculpting, molding/casting, metal working, and have begun working in my sort of final frontier: makeup and silicone appliances. I've also realized that I have a strong desire for wood working and building large scale. So don't be surprised if I start finding ways of incorporating large props into my costumes.
I'd say that the art has taught me to be a more humble person. It's perfectly understandable for a first timer, with a sudden slew of attention, to have it go to their heads. I've been there, and I know many others have been as well. It's up to that individual to decide how they handle themselves after that. For me, I allowed it to push me into continuing and expanding my skills. My goal is not to take part in any competitions, but rather accept the praise of my peers on the convention floor.
Everyone has their own ways. But I personally feel that it is a hobby, and should not be taken too seriously. A hobby is meant to be fun and a means of escape from reality. I think that taking it too seriously leads to stress and drama. Then it is no longer a hobby.