Hello and welcome to Andrew’s Cosplay Feature. I will feature a weekly cosplayer showing their work as well as questions about cosplaying and life in general. For my first column I introduce to you the cosplayer Sarelcon.
- Where are you from and what is the cosplay/geek culture like in your town?
I am from Columbia, SC though I did live in Greenville for a bit before I moved back to the Midlands. While we do have some geek culture in my area, the local cosplay scene is very quiet overall. We have 3-4 ‘larger’ comic/anime conventions in South Carolina. They’re still tiny compared to more popular conventions, but they’re the best way to connect with the local community here in SC. If someone is feeling like going to a big convention, we also have some larger events in neighboring states like Dragon Con and Galaxy Con Raleigh. One of the nice things about the small community is that there are a few active online/facebook groups for South Carolina cosplayers. Those groups have been a great way to connect with each other since COVID has physically isolated all of us.
- How long have you been cosplaying?
I started cosplay in August 2019. I crafted my first cosplay, went to my first convention in full cosplay, and did a cosplay contest for the first time all at once. It was absolutely amazing and I loved it! Since I started, I have made seven cosplays completely by hand and they range from armor builds to more wig-styling/sewing types of projects. I unfortunately didn’t get much experience before COVID shut down everything. Most of my cosplay career has been spent trying to figure out how to network and build a following on social media, which is already saturated with so many other amateur cosplayers like myself. It’s been a weird time to be a novice cosplayer.
- Do you like RWBY and if so how long have you been watching? How do you like Volume 8 so far?
Considering that I’ve done two RWBY cosplays, I’d say that I’m definitely a fan. I really prefer animes that are different and unique, especially when it comes to animation/art styles. When I saw the trailer for RWBY before it came out, I was hooked. I’ve watched the series since the beginning, even if I do periodically get behind on my episodes. I’ve had a hectic past couple months so I have a good bit of catching up to do on my episodes. However, from what clips I’ve seen, it looks good (like always).
- What was your most recent cosplay?
This goes perfectly with the last question since it was a RWBY cosplay. For Halloween, I transformed myself into Salem. I wanted to do something appropriately spooky for the season, but the character needed design elements that would be technically challenging to build. I like to have all of my cosplays both look good and be viable contender for a craftsmanship contest. Salem was a super fun character to wear and I had a great time doing a home photoshoot. On a side note, I actually did win 2nd place in the novice category at a craftsmanship contest with Salem.
- How many cons were you planning to go to in 2020 until 2020 decided to be 2020 and cancel everything?
I hadn’t really decided on a set number because I wasn’t sure if I could get off work for some of the cons. I had three in SC that I was planning to go to and I also wanted to go to Galaxy Con Raleigh since they had some amazing cosplay guests and a good craftsmanship competition. I only got one con in before everything went crazy. It was actually the last big public gathering that I went to in 2020, which is so weird to think about. With in-person cons out of the question, I’ve participated in about 8 different online cons and/or competitions this year. I’ve placed only twice in all of those.
- What are you planning on cosplaying next?
I am actually currently working on a massive armor build. It’s based off of a piece of artwork by the amazing Zach Fischer, who regularly does design for cosplayers. I’m working on his redesign of the barbarian class’ armor from the game Diablo III. Something about 2020 made me really feel the need to make massive armor pieces covered in spikes. That aesthetic just really speaks to me at this point in time. I like the color scheme and the fun fabrics I get to work with. Fake leather and suede are some of my favorite materials and they are everywhere on the barbarian. I’ve also gotten to experiment with sculpting. I am making myself get comfortable with EVA foam as my main material for armor. I still have so much to do, but I love the pieces I’ve finished so far.
- What was your most difficult cosplay and why?
This is a really difficult choice since I have so few cosplays and all of them had some element of difficulty. I think I’ll have to go with Xayah from League of Legends for this question. Xayah was my first time using EVA foam as my primary material, which stressed me out a lot at times. I had to experiment with a lot of different techniques like covering foam with fabric and using a wood burning iron to add textures. There were so many times where I literally had no idea what I was doing. I pushed myself to get clean craftsmanship like I had never done before and I am so proud of the results. I also accidentally gave myself second-degree burns on one hand during all of this crafting. Xayah was the character that resulted in me going to the ER for a crafting injury. That was a very valuable lesson in how to not handle hot tools.
To make everything more difficult, most of the work for Xayah was done during the pandemic. My supplies kept getting delayed or lost in the mail. My color contacts actually ended up stuck in Germany for the duration of the global lockdown and then they got lost in international shipping. Working in isolation with no deadline or real reason for finishing the project made it very hard to keep going. I sometimes thought I would never finish Xayah, but she turned out amazing and is currently my favorite cosplay.
- What advice can you give to someone that is just starting out with cosplaying?
Well first off, just jump in and get started. Don’t be like me and spend years at the edge of the community, wondering if you should try cosplay. I wish I had gotten started years ago instead of just lurking. Whatever character you decide to do, just get started and don’t second guess yourself. You don’t have to be a complete maniac like me and make your first cosplay by hand in two weeks. Start out small if that makes you more comfortable. Or, if you’re crazy, just be super extra like I am and make all the things.
My second tip would be to not cosplay just for followers or popularity. Pick characters that speak to you and don’t let it become a numbers game on social media. Buy costumes or make them yourself as long as your style of cosplaying brings you joy. Don’t feel like you are only allowed to pick certain characters based on your body type or skin color. Cosplay for you and you alone.
My third and final tip is for anyone who wants to make their own cosplays and doesn’t know where to start. The Internet is your friend. Use Google as much a college student who’s frantically writing a research paper two hours before the midnight deadline. There are a lot of very talented cosplayers who share their knowledge either for free or for a minimal cost. There’s also tons of patterns out there. It’s all just a quick Google search away. So, research and ask questions until you feel like you have a good plan for building your character. Also, reach out to more experienced cosplayers and see if they have any suggestions or learning resources.
- Who is your favorite cosplayer?
This is so hard! Do I have to pick just one? There’s so many amazing cosplayers that have inspired me and I hate to single it down to just one person. If I did have to pick just one cosplayer as my all-time favorite, I’d have to go with Kamui Cosplay.
Kamui Cosplay was one of the first cosplayers whose work I saw online waaay back in middle school. I fell in love with her crazy armor and wanted to craft like her so bad. I was broke, so obviously nothing happened back then. It took me years to find my way back to cosplay again after college. I stumbled across a Kamui Cosplay video on YouTube one day and it reignited my desire to make my own costumes. Her tutorials and books are super helpful for beginners. She’s also a never-ending source of positivity and inspiration in the international cosplay community. If you don’t know who she is, seriously go check out her social media and her website. You won’t regret it.
- Where can we find you online?
I’m working on expanding my online presence since that’s really all a cosplayer can have right now. This list will hopefully grow soon, but here’s the current places you can find me.
- Instagram: @sarelcon
- Twitter: @sarelcon
- Facebook: SEConrad Cosplay
- Ko-Fi: Sarelcon