We love cosplay, and we are constantly amazed at the artistry, creativity, and dedication of the those who build their outfits from scratch and then embody their favorite characters often to an astonishing degree that few outside of Hollywood can achieve, so we were obviously excited to meet pro cosplayer Ani Mia and discuss the art and passion behind the awe-inspiring costumes.
We caught up with Ani Mia at the recent Tidewater Comicon in Virginia Beach, where we discussed cosplay culture, the embracing nature of the costuming community as a whole, and getting creative when building an outfit with little or no budget.
Read on for our interview with Ani Mia!
How would you describe what cosplay is?
“I honestly describe cosplay as Halloween every day, but you’re showing off your love for things within the geekdom or fandoms that you really love. It’s a chance for you to become your favorite character for the day and go out and say ‘Hey this is who I am and I love this stuff’, and just have fun.”
How did you first get involved with cosplay?
“I went to my first convention in 2007. I’d gone to like book conventions and stuff like that, but cosplay wasn’t so big there. I went to my first anime convention in 2007 and I saw cosplayers there and I was like, ‘Oh my God, they are having so much fun. This is awesome!’.
“So I went out and I bought my first cosplay. I bought it from a little dinky site in China and I didn’t know how to size myself, so it was horrible. It was three sizes too big and my wig was falling off halfway through the con, but honestly, people were so nice. They were like, ‘Hey, love your cosplay. Great job. Keep going.’ It was so encouraging that I haven’t stopped since. It got me to want to actually learn to make them myself and really master this.”
You mentioned that early support from the cosplay community. It can get competitive, but have you found that people in the cosplay community have been welcoming and encouraging to beginners?
“This community – God, they just love everyone. They want to help each other. There’s this sense of just being a family and we look out for each other. I see newer cosplayers coming out and everyone’s always encouraging them and telling them they can do it. And for those wanting to compete, we’re always there to root for them and hope that they do well.
“You come to a con and this is a group of people who – we’ve all been made fun of for liking this stuff, we grew up getting picked on, so I think when you come cons, everyone kind of understands that, and it becomes this kind of sheltering community where we keep each other safe. I think that’s such a great thing for cosplay.
“You’re taking people who are very shy – like myself, very shy when I started this – and really building them up and giving them confidence. I know so many people, like myself, that attribute their confidence to cosplay and what it has done for them.
“I love this community, and I love cons because this is our home. This where you’re safe to be a geek and to love what you do, and no one’s going to make fun of you for it. You can just be you.”
Do you have any advice for anybody trying to get into cosplay with a low budget?
“Learn to think outside the box. I’ve seen people make amazing hats out of cardboard oatmeal boxes. I’ve seen people take apart an un-working vacuum cleaner that they got for $10 at the Goodwill and they turn it into a jetpack. So I always tell people to think outside the box.
“Don’t look for ‘Oh my gosh I need this specific part’. You can get away with something the same shape and size and it’s cheaper. Just think outside the box. You can always use the internet. The internet is your greatest friend. If someone has made it before, there is a tutorial out there that exists. And there’s always a community willing to help.
“Just reach out and expect that people are going to want to help you.”
Well thank you so much for talking to us.
“Of course. No problem.”
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