Name: Ashlynne Dae
City: Huntington Beach
What was your first Cosplay Experience?
My first true cosplay experience was the first time I dressed up as a Harry Potter character for a midnight screening. I had loved the series when I was younger and rediscovered it just before the last movie came out. Bellatrix Lestrange was my favorite villain so I chose to dress up as her. It was a total closet cosplay, I just used garments from my wardrobe and a black leather corset I had made in a class. I teased my hair and drew on a Dark Mark and headed to the premier. I had never been to a midnight screening as an adult, and I was blown away by the other folks in costumes. We all hung out and took pictures, had spell fights and conversed about Harry Potter before the movie started. I met so many wonderful people that night, everyone was so nice and complimented my outfit, and I was definitely hooked after that.
I have been cosplaying casually since 2008, but I really started getting into it and making my own costumes in March of 2013, where I wore my first version of Lady Loki for the first time. I later remade that costume for Comikaze that year, and that is what I consider to be my first “conniversary” as a “real” cosplayer. (Please note that I don’t think there is such a thing as a real or fake cosplayer or any of that nonsense, if you cosplay you’re a cosplayer, I just use that term to denote my own personal experiences and shift from closet cosplays to designing and building cosplays. There is no right or wrong way to cosplay, wear whatever you want and feel comfortable in).
What does “cosplay” mean to you?
Cosplay to me, means designing and creating a costume based on an established character or concept, whether exactly true to the original design, or inspired by the subject. Personally I prefer to try to create my cosplays to stay as true to the original cannon versions of them that exist, but I have seen so many beautiful cosplays that used a character as inspiration and add unique twists to make them special. Cosplay is a very personal term, and it means something different to everyone. In my opinion, there is no right or wrong way to cosplay. Cosplay is about having fun and being a part of a fandom that you love.
To date, my favorite cosplay is Elsa from Frozen. I had been working on it for almost a year, and when I was finally able to wear it, I was met with such a huge positive response. The children at the convention I debuted it at loved it, and I was mobbed by dozens of people wanting to get their pictures taken with Elsa. I even get to wear it to kid’s parties and charity events! It was worth the huge amount of time and effort I put in to create it, and I definitely love the reactions from the kids, and parents! Even though it is a tad uncomfortable and kind of a pain to travel in due to the train, corset and shoes, it has been the most rewarding of all my cosplays because of the positive reaction of the people who see it and also enjoy Frozen.
Do you plan on making a career out of cosplay?
The only career I would consider in the cosplay world is making commissioned costumes and wigs for other cosplayers. I don’t believe selling prints or things like that is particularly lucrative enough for anyone to make a career of it, really just a way to offset some of the costs of creating new cosplays, which I haven’t done it and don’t know if I will do. Really, this is just a hobby for me, and even though I occasionally take on work, I don’t think I would make this my primary career. I think cosplay might lose all its fun to me if I did.
I always have trouble with these questions haha. There are so many cosplays that I am dying to create, but due to lack of funds, time and all that, I cannot ever see myself being able to do them, at least not the way I envision them. Right now I’m torn between two, one I could conceivably finish in the near future, and the other is under the “probably never going to happen” category. The first is Rapunzel from Tangled. Now, I have most of the materials for her dress, but it’s the hair that is the problem. I want to do both her long 70ft loose hair and her braided hair. But here’s the kicker: I want them both to glow. And not just switch on, but to start from the scalp and gradient the glow all the way down to the end. That’s a lot of lighting I don’t know how to do, and a lot of hair. But I may just make a braided wig that doesn’t glow just so I can have her. It still wouldn’t be perfect to me though haha. The second one, the one that will probably never happen ever, is Mystique from the X-Men movies. I’ve always thought she was beautiful and have always wanted to get to be her for a day. But there’s a lot of prosthetics, and a lot of makeup, and those things cost a lot of time and money. But a girl can dream right?
What advice would you offer others trying to break into Cosplay?
My first bit of advice is have fun, no matter what. Some things will go wrong with your costume at some point, I can speak from experience, but take away what you can and do your best to have fun. My second bit of advice is invest in a good sewing machine and look into taking a sewing class at a local community college. Some of them have public classes they teach at night that you don’t have to enroll in the school to take. I have been sewing for ten years and it honestly helps a lot to know what you’re doing when you’re trying to create something odd or confusing. If you would rather purchase or commission your costumes, do not pay the full price up front unless it’s in hand and finished. If someone is making you something, and they aren’t well established in the community, make payments. This will protect you and the costumier. My last bit of advice is do what YOU feel comfortable doing, and don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t. If you can dream it you can do it, and do it how you want. It’s no body’s body but your own so don’t let anyone make you feel bad for covering it up or showing it off. Love yourself, love others, and don’t take this too seriously. This is one of the most amazing and fun hobby cultures to be a part of, let’s keep it that way.