Tuesday 4 July 2017

Interview with UK Cosplayer Aimee Swift

Photo by James Bissett Photography 
For my next cosplayer interview I would like to introduce you to cosplayer Aimee Swift. I found Aimee online and absolutely love her work. Aimee has made a name for herself with her stunning cosplays including the new Wonder Woman cosplay. Aimee focuses on cosplay and fitness which she shares on her social media accounts. Aimee is also a member of Geek-Ta-Scale cosplay group.

I have found Aimee to be extremely friendly, open and helpful. She has given me personally help and advice and is very genuine. She is very passionate about cosplay and the fandoms that interest her and very creative with how she portrays her favourite characters.  She has brilliant costumes, trains her body for cosplay, sings… this girl can!!
Check out my interview with Aimee below!

Photography by Phoenix Libra Cosplay Photography

When did you start cosplaying?
I started cosplaying just over a year ago; last month was actually a mini anniversary. So not long in the grand scheme of things! Manchester Film and Comic Con was my first.
Photography by Cosplay Photography Pad
How did you get into cosplay?
I'd always been interested in it; I think I had a cosplay wish list before I even did. I had no friends that would really want to go to a comic con so I never had an excuse until my friend who is a writer got a press pass to one and suggested I go with her as she knew I'd always wanted to go to one. So I went, made my first cosplay and loved it.
How long have you been cosplaying for?
Just over a year :)
Which characters have you cosplayed? 
My first cosplay was Ciri from the Witcher, from that came also Yennefer from the same game, Posion Ivy, Black Canary, Wonder Woman, Lara Croft, Ms. Marvel, Ariel, Elsa, Gamora (body paint is so much fun!), Susan Storm, Emma Frost, Elena from unchartered and Willow Scott from Indianna Jones. *phew* and still more planned!
Do you have a favourite costume? 
It would be between Ciri and Wonder Woman for me. Both are incredible, strong characters and visually stunning. Ciri has been the one I've dedicated the most time too and I will probably always wear and improve her but the reaction I'm getting from children lately with the film out is melting my heart, so Wonder Woman just has the edge now. 
Do you act in costume or purely look like the character? 

Photography by Cosplay Photography Pad
I think certain characters require more of an act than others. Certainly the child friendly superheroes and princesses, I will try and walk and talk like them and act as they would with children as I love making them believe. I do love seeing people act in character, seeing Harley Quinns act crazy is awesome to watch and my favourite has had to of been a Silent Bob cosplayer who never spoke. Subtle yet so cool!
Do you make/buy/commission your costumes? 
I mostly make my costumes or buy an item of clothing and alter it. I've learnt more over time, so I'm making more and more. But the commissions I see people make are so incredible and seeing someone live that character bought, made or not really makes it for me. I do have to thank my incredible friends of Geek-Ta-Scale for all the help, as without them and all of us helping one another, our costumes wouldn't be the standard they are now.

What skills have you learnt cosplaying?
Sewing (Barely), I've learnt a lot about foam and woodworking for swords and props. Tape mannequins and of course praying while gluing. I want to improve my painting skills still which I hope to do with my new version of Wonder Woman I'm currently making.

Where do you tend to shop for cosplay costumes and accessories? 
Online, my amazon prime has paid for itself at this point. Craft foam is fairly cheap and so is glue. For fabrics, Abakhan is fortunately close to my house.

Photography by Cosplay Photography Pad 
Do you have any costume tips/tricks to share? 
Foam work or sewing, find a cheap mannequin or make one of yourself with tape and newspaper. I've stabbed myself so many times with needles attaching things while on me! That and get a good TV show or music soundtrack for the background.
Who is your favourite comic book character? 
Oddly, not someone I cosplay! It's Spiderman all the way for me. I've got high hopes for the new film (fingers crossed anyway) and all around just a great character with great villains. Of course Wonder Woman is a close second.
What are your personal fandoms? 

Photo provided by Aimee Swift
I say I'm a fan of comic book characters definitely but fandoms for me are more in the internet. I love animations and things like anime abridged versions of things. I love so many things that it would be hard to categorize myself into just a few. 

Body positivity is a very hot topic in cosplay at the moment. There seems to be pressure to be a certain shape/weight/look to pull off certain characters. There can be a lot of negativity in terms of trolling within groups based on people’s appearance. How have you found the cosplay community personally?
Personally, I have received negative comments from the public, mainly on internet forums but then again who hasn't? Trolls on the internet are awful people but they exist in every hobby and sadly cosplay is something that is very image focused because you're trying to look a certain way. I've been told all sorts, it's what happens when you go on a public forum, it doesn't make it right but it should be expected sadly. However I see more people defending the cosplayers usually which is always incredible to see. At the end of the day, no one is going to have the body of a comic book character and if we start claiming hierarchy on that, we turn our silly and fun, challenging at times hobby into elitism. It's how you take the criticism, we can acknowledge feedback but bullying is obvious. Ignore and accept you love that character and that's all that should matter.
Those who follow your Instagram will know you’re very much into your fitness. Do you work on your fitness for cosplay at all?
I say both are a happy coincidence. I work out and I cosplay and I tend to keep a constant level, but most of my characters and strong warrior types so I do eat extra clean and workout more in a week leading up to a convention while praying it makes up for the junk I eat at the weekend of a con!
Photography by I Shoot Shows UK
Tell us about your current nutrition and exercise regime and are you doing this for a particular character?
I used to be overweight so I've always struggled with diets until I found something that worked for me. I lift weights (which a while ago I never thought I would do but I love it!) some explosive and weighted cardio but you couldn’t tempt me onto a running machine! Also martial arts and dancing is great fun. My nutrition is that I'm a version of paleo, that is eating natural non processed foods and no grain (bread, rice and pasta is a no go for me.) This works great for me and I invite people to give it a go if they're up for it. It gives me great energy, I get wonderful portions of food and it's taught me a lot about cooking.

Do you have any advice for anyone starting their own fitness journey?

Photography by Tom Farral Photography
I say keep an open mind about weight lifting for the women out there, don't be scared! For diet, balance is key. Respect it should be a lifestyle choice and simply crash diets will not work in the long run. Make swaps, drink more water, try a side of cooked oven roasted vegetables instead of chips and don't completely restrict yourself. Don't think you need to have salads for every meal. My standard day is scrambled eggs for breakfast with bacon, sausages or chicken for lunch and any meat and vegetables for dinner. Have an ice cream at the beach every now and then, have a portion of chips at a con. You need willpower and let's face it, if you're doing cosplay and making costumes, you have incredible will power not to rage quit! For the exercise also I'm actually thinking of making a Wonder Woman workout video soon, have a bit of fun but at the same time give advice for anyone looking to start. I'll be doing that from my family run self-help and health focused business, the "Tao of Us." Website will be up shortly and links from my Instagram.

Have you done any charity work as a cosplayer?
Photography by Kosupics 
I have, my group Geek-Ta-Scale have done a few charity events promoting but our favourite so far has to of been going to Alder Hay Children's hospital at Christmas a few times to sing and just talk to these incredible children. We have a school summer fete coming up as well as Manchester hospital visit and a few conventions to sing and perform. 
Our incredible friends often join us for these, all incredible cosplayers and wonderful people:
Hope Mennim: Chemical Reaction Cosplay
Berry Layne Thomas: So she became a hero
James Knowles
Nikki March

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

I love the creativity that goes into them, steampunk versions of things, crossplays, armoured Disney; different takes on things are amazing. I have a few ideas but none I have a clue of how I would bring it to reality!

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

Best: Stay out of drama. There is a lot in cosplay and you can often find it comes to you and you have to make the decision to avoid it. It may feel like it will help you be included but it's never worth it.
Worst: Show more skin. Many of my cosplays already do as they are the character designs. I 100% respect the women who have the confidence to wear less for a cosplay or do a different version of a character but I don't think we should be under the assumption that we have to. We should all cosplay what we feel comfortable with and not do things we're uncomfortable with for ourselves. At the same time, no hating other cosplayers who do. 

Photography by Cosplay Photography Pad  
As a dab hand at attending conventions and events do you have any advice/do and don’ts to share?

Go with friends to a con, it makes a convention for me. The people you go with, cosplaying in a group always tends to go down amazingly too. I love shoots at conventions! The photographers are amazing but remember, don't do anything you don't feel comfortable with. Most photographers are really polite and if you don't feel comfortable going to a quiet area of the con alone with them, you are within your right to say no politely. Bring your own camera of phone; you'll kick yourself for not getting a group selfie. A spare change of shoes! If you can find a way to carry belongings on your own, that is great but I respect a lot of costumes don't allow for pockets so a lot of people sew them inside the costume or just get a small clutch style bag they can easily hide. 

What has been one of the coolest things to come from cosplaying?
My friends, without a shadow of a doubt and the confidence I have received from it. I struggled for photos at my first convention but I've really come into my own since and I've learnt so many new skills from it. 
What other cosplayers do you admire?

Photo provided by Aimee Swift at Cineworld

My wonderful friends I cosplay with for charity. They act in character and they make people believe. Some people on Instagram also, though so many to mention. It's just wonderful seeing a cosplayers with thousands of followers still reply to comments, still react and still be a part of the community. Cosplay groups like Justice League of England, Squad UK. Again, so many people! And of course the other members of Geek-Ta-Scale. I couldn't do any of what I do without you!
Do you have any advice for people looking to do cosplay photoshoots? 
Have an idea of what you want, have a location in mind, have makeup and hair trials for yourself and practice poses. Pack makeup, wipes, I have a box filled with everything you could need! Always know a photographer and look at their work, discuss ideas with them and never be pressured into poses or things you don't want. That is your absolute prerogative. The wait for the picture sis so excited and remember when you get them, credit the photographers and keep a great relationship.
What do you like to do when you’re not cosplaying?
I'm very into my music, I sing and play a few instruments which is self-learnt on YouTube so I say teaching yourself a new skill is incredible so give it a try! Leather working, non-cosplay related craft. Working out, martial arts, writing, cooking, baking, video games and movies and I love hanging out with my dog even when he is a wrecking handful!

Photo provided by Aimee Swift
For people wanting to get into cosplay, what advice would you give them?
Prepare to part with a lot of money! But also pick any costume you love, dress up and go for it! Everyone evolves differently in cosplay and it's always exciting to see how. Be your own cosplayer and enjoy, anything goes!
What are your future cosplay plans?
I'm remaking Wonder Woman from scratch and hoping to have that done for the next convention, I would love a Spidey suit though not sure which. Maybe another Disney one, I'm tempted to do a full armour build next too but would want to do an original design. I'm also thinking Cersei Lannister from game of thrones, Antiope from Wonder Woman and Supergirl. Though as we all know with cosplay, this list could change at any moment!

Which conventions/events do you have planned to attend this year?

The biggest one is LFCC next month! Very excited for that one, a few charity events also coming up and Chester Comic Con in September where I'll put my singing to the test as Ariel as I did at Trafford Park Comic Con. I may be at MCM London in October or if not, Birmingham in November. 
What are you most looking forward to for the rest of the year?

The cons of course, the charity events coming up and seeing what else happens. I have no shoots lined up right now, but I hopefully will soon with some amazing photographers in mind. Hope to see you guys at a con coming soon.
Photography by I Shoot Shows UK 
I would like to thank Aimee with her time for this interview. Stay tuned for many more interviews coming soon!


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