Today I would like to introduce you to an outstanding artist in their field. Representing part of the Costumery gallery, *yayacosplay takes some time to talk to us! She creates amazing cosplay costumes and accessories and sets them in scene perfectly, but let's let her speak for herself.
Hello! Could you please tell us a bit about yourself?
*yayacosplay : Hi everyone! My name is Yaya and currently reside in Atlanta, GA. I was born in China and raised in Germany and China, though I've been living in the States for about a decade now. I started crafting costumes 11 years ago, after attending an anime convention in 1999. Seeing some people portraying some favorite characters of mine really opened my eyes to the world of Cosplay. I didn't know how to sew back then but a friend kindly showed me how to use a sewing machine and read a pattern. Armed with the most basic sewing knowledge, I made my first costume and was completely hooked afterward! I am completely self-taught, and everything I know today is from experimenting with materials and techniques, and lots and lots of research and practice.
These days, I work as a Designer, Costume Maker and Cosplay Entertainer. What is a Cosplay Entertainer, you ask? Well, I get to dress up as characters from a variety of fandom and travel to conventions all over the US and Internationally to help out in programming and entertainment events! What used to be a passionate hobby, crafting costumes, became a lifestyle and a career, and now I spend most of my time designing and making outfits/accessories and doing photoshoots! Aside from booking commercial modeling jobs and convention appearances, I do costume design work for full costume creations for production companies, and I've developed my line of hand made cosplay accessories which I sell at conventions and in my Online Store: [link]
Could you explain your creative process to us?
*yayacosplay : nspiration can come from absolutely anywhere, be it a book, a song, a piece of artwork, fashion, history... When I feel inspired, I sketch a lot, exploring different ways to express whatever image is stuck in my mind. I sometimes get inspired by a color or color combo and want to make a costume based on that. I also do a lot of research online to find other similar images or ideas to incorporate, or in the case of making something culturally or historically specific, I will learn whatever I can on that era or culture.
when I have a pretty good idea of what I want to achieve, I spend a lot of time and money collecting materials, from choosing fabrics to buying beads, wigs, shoes, etc. Just finding materials can take up a lot of time and be challenging, depending on your project. But once I have everything including my tools and notions, the crafting process is magical. I love losing myself in a costume, and watch all the pieces come together.
I try to challenge myself with each costume project and usually will either perfect a technique, develop a better way of doing the same thing, or learn something entirely new. I don't like to get stagnant in my work, and don't usually duplicate a costume unless it's for a customer.
Where do you work and what materials do you use?
*yayacosplay : I am lucky to have two work rooms, since I spilled out from one lol. The first room is costume and materials storage, the second holds more materials, tools, and notions, and my work tables. I also keep a desktop in the room in case I have to pull up reference images, do research or go online to buy more materials. I have all sorts of crafting materials and tools at my disposal, including a molding and casting station in my basement. But then again, I've had a decade to accumulate knowledge and materials. When it comes to sewing, I keep plenty of muslin around to make patterns and mock-ups, and I stock up on notions like thread in all colors (I hate running out in the middle of a project!), snaps, buckles, hooks/eyes, grommets etc. I also stock up on trim and ribbons on Sales, as well as lining fabric. I love eBay for wigs, shoes, and other random werid parts. rainbowfeatherco.com is great for all my feather needs. spandexworld.com has a large selection of stretchy fabrics, and electriqueboutique.com is good for costume and cosplay shoes.
Do you have any tips for beginners?
*yayacosplay : For general tips regarding crafting costumes, I definitely believe in first of all choosing a character or a look/theme that you love. If you feel a bond toward the character or look/theme, you will put more effort into making your costume look the best it can. Of course a character that resembles your look helps tremendously, but I don't see it as a requirement. It's fun sometimes to cosplay someone entirely different than you, and use different tricks to create a resemblance. I can not stress enough how important research is. These days you can find step-by-step tutorials and books on any crafting technique online. Spend the time to look for them, and read them thoroughly. It's also important to gauge your skill level and choose projects that suit your level. You want to go for designs that will stimulate your skills but not feel impossible to create. Remember that with each costume you will learn something and that there is always time to make a super elaborate costume later down the road when you have acquired the skills needed. Try to be patient and build a foundation for your craftsmanship. It's better to make a simple costume with perfectly straight and finished seams than slap together something complicated that looks rushed up close.
What's your biggest aspiration regarding your artisan crafts work?
*yayacosplay : First and foremost, I want to continue designing and creating artisan crafts, from jewelry to garment pieces to one of a kind costume pieces. I'll always work on personal projects when time permits, and challenge myself to better at my skills. As for professional aspirations, there are certainly some, from expanding my line of costume accessories to working with certain companies to writing a book. I am still traveling all over the place for conventions and events so hopefully I'll see some of you on location sometime.
Which work in your gallery are you most proud of and why?
*yayacosplay : It's hard to choose one, but I'm going to talk about my Carmilla costume, from the anime "Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust".
It's a recreation of a character, which I think sometimes is a lot more challenging than designing your own costume. If you only make outfits that you design, inadvertendly you will add seams and components that you already know how to craft and your projects will end up looking very alike - boring even. By making a costume designed by someone else, you may have to make parts that are completely foreign to you. I honestly think some of these Japanese and Korean game and anime character designs don't fully understand how garments fall and lay, and they draw pieces and outfits that seem to defy gravity and impossible to recreate. So as the costume maker, you have to think outside the box and find a way to make that design come to live. I definitely tried my best when it came to Carmilla. The design is stunning but very avant garde, and I made the costume by breaking it down into many pieces and tackling each piece as a project in itself. Working with Madonna velvet was a challenge in itself but mainly I spent my time drafting patterns and templates, and ensuring the fit of the outfit. I wrote up a more in depth construction note on my website.
I entered the Yume Cosplay Cup contest at New York Anime Fest 2009 with this costume, alongside my friend Anna, who made a Charlotte costume from the same anime. We performed a skit together and won the Grand prize which was a paid trip to Tokyo in March 2010! It was an amazing and rewarding experience to make this costume and I definitely learned a lot.
Check out more of my costumes on my DA or my website www.yayahan.com.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us! I hope you go on creating amazing artwork for all of us to enjoy.