Friday 24 June 2016

Interview with Award Winning Cosplayer Katie Cosplays

Black Cat -  Photo by Ash B Images

For my next cosplayer interview I would like to introduce you to
Katie Cosplays. I found Katie online and absolutely love her work. Katie George is an award-winning cosplayer living in Atlanta, GA. She has been cosplaying and competing since 2004 and has a BFA in Costume and Makeup Design for theatre/film from Auburn University. In 2012, Katie won the chance to represent the United States in the international World Cosplay Summit in Nagoya, Japan. In 2013, she was featured in the Emmy-winning PBS documentary Cosplay: Crafting a Secret Identity. In 2014, Katie joined the Heroes of Cosplay cast for season 1.5 on the SyFy channel. She has been a cosplay guest at several conventions around the world, leading panels on a variety of subjects related to cosplay and judging cosplay contests for craftsmanship and performance.

Katie uses cosplay as her creative outlet. Her attention to detail is insane and the fact she makes everything herself is very inspiring for any cosplayer. Her website is full of helpful information so make sure you check it out!

When Katie isn’t crafting, she works full-time on the marketing team for the corporate office of a popular national restaurant brand. Her favorite hobby outside of cosplay is karaoke, with a predilection for Disney, musicals, K-pop, J-pop, anisongs, and every once in a while, a good power ballad.
Take a read below of my interview with Katie and learn all about this award-winning cosplayer!

Photo by Affliction Photography
Photo by Fenyx Design

What do you love about cosplay?
I love being able to channel my creativity and create something from scratch that aims for accuracy to the original and pays homage to a series or design that I love.  

Are there any downsides you have come across?
Photo by Johnny H Le Photography

When it comes to cosplay, time never seems to be on my side... lol I hate that I procrastinate thanks to deadlines being my #1 motivator, which means that the week leading up to a con, I usually get no sleep and no exercise, then at the con itself, I can’t stay out late and party with everyone because my body is too exhausted! I've tried to start earlier, but again, the only thing that truly motivates me to crank is a deadline.

What is your cosplay history? What other characters have you dressed as and why?

I’ve been cosplaying since 2004, and in that time, I’ve made over a 100 costumes. If I still made as many costumes now as I did when I was in college, I’d probably be closer to 150 right about now. lol

Where do you get your cosplay inspirations from?

If I look at a character design and think “I want to make that,” then sometimes, that’s all I need. XD

I know you make your own costumes and it’s well thought of in the cosplay community for costumes to be made by the cosplayer. What are your thoughts on having commissioned costumes made?  
I think that’s awesome! Not everyone gets their jimmies from the creation process- for some, just wearing the costume to a con is the fun part, and I totally get that. The only time I would ever take issue with a commissioned vs. homemade costume is when it comes to craftsmanship-based costume contests (and most of them are because otherwise, it’s just a nerd beauty pageant without a talent portion). If you didn’t make it, why enter it in a competition?  You wouldn’t think it happens, but surprisingly, it does- I’ve both competed against and judged costumes where the entrant purchased the costume they entered. And if you made some of it, just be honest with the judges about what was constructed by you vs. someone else. No one cares about who wins costume contests except the people IN them, so there’s no glory to be found there… The only thing that upsets me more is when the judges of a costume contest also predominantly buy their costumes. I don’t care if you are a beloved cosplay guest with a great personality, if you couldn’t WIN a cosplay craftsmanship competition, you haven’t earned the right to judge it. But in ALL other circumstances RE: buying cosplay, go for it and don’t let anyone try to make you feel like less of a cosplayer for it. ;)

Ms Marvel
Photo by Martin Wong Photography
Do you have any costume tips/tricks to share?

Chalk liner, rotary cutter, clear 2”x18” ruler, sleeve curve (or a “Styling Design Ruler”), and a walking foot: these are the tools I couldn’t live without! Google them all and if you don’t have them, add them to your tools collection!

Who is your favourite comic book character?

Can I say Sailor Moon? Because she is technically a comic book character if we are including manga, and I probably would not be here doing this interview if it weren’t for her!

How do you feel about people cosplaying as characters of the opposite gender?

I feel like my feelings are irrelevant, because anyone can cosplay whatever they want if it makes them happy. ;)

I myself have felt self-conscious about dressing as certain characters due to the fact I’m short and more than curvy. A lot of characters seem to be tall and slender. Do you feel cosplayers should pick characters they look like/have the same body shape as?

I know I pick characters where I feel like I can pull them off physically (aka, because I’m tall and lean, I avoid characters that are overly curvy or short and youthful-looking), but I certainly wouldn’t want to encourage others to do the same. Sometimes, I wish I didn’t feel so compelled to only cosplay characters built like me because damn it, I like a lot of tiny/average-height characters, but it’s this bad hang-up I have. I’m still working on that…

How do you feel about character adaptations of a costume rather than making a carbon copy of what’s in print/film etc?

I think that’s just fine! I’ve done both, and it definitely takes creativity to adapt a costume and make it  your own, so if that’s more fun to you than trying to do a perfect recreation, definitely go for FUN!

Photo by Benny Lee Photography
I understand you have been to visit the UK last year. How did you find your trip to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London?

It was AMAZING. What a trip. I loved all the insider knowledge I learned about the film franchise when I thought I already knew everything (I started reading Harry Potter when the second book had just come out in ENGLAND… I didn’t even have an Americanized edition, so I was totally confused as to why Ron’s mom knitted Harry a dress—in the US, a jumper is called a “sweater,” and to us, a jumper is a little girl’s sleeveless dress that pulls on over her head). I also love how the studio kept so much of the film around, knowing instinctively that it would have a lasting legacy for years to come. That’s so awesome. It really shows the power of passionate nerds on the industry.   

What else did you get up to on your trip over here?

I stayed with my friend Laura Sindall (we bonded during World Cosplay Summit 2012) and she showed us the sights of London. It was incredible- so much history, so clean, so safe, and the city as a whole is just so polite… It reminded me of the South! If I could live anywhere in the world, it would be London. I’ll take the rain, I don’t care. It’s worth it. *_*

What is the best and worst piece of cosplay advice you’ve received?

Best advice I’ve ever received: start a cosplay Facebook page. Worst advice I’ve ever received: start a cosplay Facebook page. Haha! I really dislike Facebook + cosplay because I feel like it changed the game in a way that didn’t make it a more positive experience for me. I invested way too much emotionally in the numbers game, and wondering if my worth as a cosplayer was reflected in it, when finally I decided one day that I was over it, and I walked away from caring. I don’t update by FB page much anymore, but when I do, I couldn’t care less if I get 2 views or 2,000 views. I’m just over it… and much happier for it!

What has been one of the coolest things to come from cosplaying?

Without a doubt, the opportunities I’ve had to travel have been pretty neat. As a kid growing up, my family never travelled more than a state away (and I can name those states on one hand), so getting to go to California at age 17 to attend Anime Expo, then Japan in 2012, Mexico in 2013 and 2014, and Europe in 2015, I never would have dreamed that I’d be so well-travelled today all thanks to this silly hobby.

Injustice WW
Photo by Mineral Blu Photography
What other cosplayers do you admire?

These days, I can’t shut up about J. Hart… He is absolutely a GIFT to cosplay, and I know I’m not alone in thinking that because he gets more interaction on his page from a close-up photo of ruffles than a sexy photo of ample cleavage on a cosplay vixen. I’ve never seen anything like it! His fanbase is so organic and so REAL (I know because Facebook will tell you how many of your friends like a post, and I’ll always see his posts after 50+ of my FB friends have already liked it haha). I also love finding new cosplayers on Instagram who post lots of progress shots, because I find that very inspiring. Nothing quite makes me want to craft like seeing other 
people crafting who are just crushing it.

What’s the geekiest thing you own?

Probably the geekiest thing I own is a closet full of strategically-picked basics and accessories that I bought JUST so I could put together an outfit for #Nerdvember that channels some character or series. Like this mustard yellow turtleneck I bought just so I could do a Naru-inpsired look: Have I ever worn that mustard top outside of the one time I pulled this outfit together? NOPE!

What about the geekiest thing you would like to own?

I wish I had a figure of every character I’ve ever cosplayed. I used to try to collect this, but around costume #50, it became too expensive of a habit to keep up (plus, I often cosplay things that don’t get turned into figures, so my collection would never be complete… Alas!).

Granado Espada Wizard Le Blanc
Photo by Benny Lee Photography
For people wanting to get into cosplay, what advice would you give them?

The best advice I can give is to find someone who knows how to sew (and ideally, likes spending a lot of time with you, like a relative or close friend) and have them teach you everything they know. Purchase a simple pattern during a 99-cent sale and have them start you with that. That’s how I learned- my mother. Most every woman from around her generation understands the basic concepts of sewing but I was particularly fortunate in that my grandmother was a master seamstress, so my mom knows a bit more than the average woman who doesn’t sew for a living. If you are not so fortunate, and do not know anyone who can sew or has time to teach you, then save up the money for a sewing class or two at Jo-Ann’s. It’ll be worth it in the long run and save you a lot of time and frustration. After that, go to the internet. Pick costumes that are relatively easy to start, then with each completed costume, pick another that’s slightly more difficult. Research sewing & crafting techniques from the internet- you’d be AMAZED at what you can find! Learn your fabrics, learn your patterns (and how to take them in), learn your stitches, and learn what looks good on your body. It takes time, patience, and money. Sometimes lots of it. Make sure you know that before starting a costume!
nd it still applies):

What are you most looking forward to for the rest of the year?

I’m most looking forward to planning a big vacation that DOESN’T revolve around a convention or cosplay for late 2016 or 2017! It will be my first, if you can believe it!!

Korra - Photo by Mineral Blu Photography
I would like to thank Katie with her time for this interview. Stay tuned for many more interviews coming soon!


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