Monday, March 31, 2014

Interview with CAT-CHAN and CC Cosplay: Everyday Cosplay Heroes

Editor's Note: Nerd Caliber is doing a bi-weekly series of interviews with cosplayers from all walks of life. Our goal is to look behind the masks and make-up and discover who are these creative persons that make up the cosplay community.


Photo Credit - The Tentacle Guy Cosplay Photography

NC: What inspired you to get into cosplay and how long have you been cosplaying?

Cat-chan: The very first anime convention I attended was Ushicon in 2004. It was my first year at college and I had just joined the anime club. They were all going to the con as a group. I was very shy. I had already registered, but I almost backed out of going because I was so nervous. After sound advice from my Mom that if I didn't like it I could just go home, I went ahead and drove down to Austin and stayed the entire convention, not wanting to leave once Sunday rolled around. I was hooked! Some of the girls I was rooming with were cosplaying and I was enamored. Seeing them and everyone else in costume made me desperate to try cosplay. So for my next con (A-kon 2004) I had three costumes ready.

CC: I've always loved dressing up and making believe. Back in 2006, when I found out that there was a whole community dedicated to recreating and wearing these fantastical outfits from anime and video games, I was immediately hooked.


Photo Credit - The Tentacle Guy Cosplay Photography

NC: How did you two meet and when did you start cosplaying together?

Cat-chan: C.C. and I met through the ACDF, or Austin Cosplay Defense Force. While the group disbanded several years ago it introduced me to some very fabulous cosplayers and friends. After going to a few cons and events together, C.C. approached me about wanting to cosplay Maru and Moro from XXXholic and that I was perfect because we were about the same height. We could be disturbingly tall little girls together! I agreed on the condition that she would pay me back by cosplaying a pair of my choosing. We made Maru and Moro and then we made a bunch of other stuff together. Four years later, she finally paid up when I made her cosplay Ushio from Gentlemen's Alliance.

CC: Cat and I met in college, and not because we went to the same collage, but because someone organized a cosplayers of Austin meet-up. I don't think I knew anyone in the local community at the time, so I was incredibly relived to find that they were all so open and welcoming. Cat, of course, was no exception. We ended up doing a lot of Lolita and ren fairs together, but we didn't actually do our first group cosplay until we agreed on a cosplay trade off in 2008 in which I made Cat join me as the tallest Maru and Moro from XXXHolic that I have seen to date.


Photo Credit - The Tentacle Guy Cosplay Photography

NC: Can you describe how you choose your cosplays?

Cat-chan: It can be very difficult to narrow down what costume to make next, but I try to adhere to the time, money, skill method. How much time do you have? How much money do you have to spend? Are you at a skill level capable of achieving the costume within those two parameters? The other thing I try to do is pick a costume I know I will be passionate about making. I've never cosplayed anything I didn't really want to make because at 2am when you are still up sewing the week of the con you need that love of the character, costume design or series to really push you to finish.

CC: It depends. For a series or costume I really like or want to do the first thing I will look at is whether or not, body/face wise, I can pull this off. It's not important to everyone (nor should it be) but I've always been a stickler for accuracy and detail and I make very few exceptions for myself. In some cases this means that given the costume do I look enough like this person for others to understand who I am. For example, if I wanted to cosplay Lupin III I would just look like a chubby girl in side burns and suite. I also look at whether or not the limitations of my own physical structure (height/weight, etc) or the group I am in will allow me to be happy with the results. For example, I'm not going to dress up as Chibimoon if the Sailor Moon is shorter than me. After that I will decide given my skill range, budget and time constraints if it is feasible for me to make the costume. I have been asked to join groups before, so I will first get familiar with the fandom and then in addition to what has been previously stated, I will decide if I like the series/character/others in my group enough to dedicate the time and money to the costume.


Photo Credit - ALP Photography

NC: What is the most challenging costume you have done and how did you overcome the skills required to make it?

Cat-chan: I try to choose costumes that will challenge me in at least one aspect. One of my most challenging recent projects was Yukari Yakumo from Komajou Densetsu II, a Touhou doujinshi game. This is one of the most detailed and elaborate costumes I've made, with some very unique and challenging garment shapes. It was my first time making a full ball gown and I had to do a lot of stenciling and hand painting. On top of all of that I only had one month to complete the entire project. It was very intense.

CC: One of my most challenging costumes was Kanoe from X1999 because when I decided to make the costume I had no idea how I was going to complete certain aspects of it. I also had to work with a lot of new techniques and materials that I hadn't used before and that I wasn't necessarily confident in. Because of this I did a lot of mock ups and experiments on how the costume could go together. A LOT. I also did hours of research to see how others had constructed similar garments and accessories and most importantly budgeted in the time and resources for me to make mistakes.


Photo Credit - Angelwing

NC: How have you've seen cosplay evolve since you have got into cosplay?

Cat-chan: When I started cosplaying nine years ago there was one place online to get quality wigs and you could only get natural colors or a hand full of party shades. If you needed blue you had two choices and if you didn't like those you either had to sacrifice accuracy or spend hours dying wigs on your front porch. Now there are people who loved cosplay so much they've started their own wig companies! How amazing is that?

Resources in general were much harder to come by, but I also think people were much more willing to share what they had learned through their own trial and error. I remember back then if you got stumped you could just PM a cosplayer on and they would explain how they did something.

In some ways our community is much more connected thanks to social media and I'm very thankful for the chance to get to talk to cosplayers from all over the country on twitter and facebook but at the same time I miss the old school networking when we used to do meetups at cons and various forums.

CC: As conventions have grown and become more known to the mainstream populace the cosplay crowd has gotten not only lager, but also younger. Additionally because of its emerging popularity the tools, knowledge and resources needed to cosplay have become way more accessible and commercial. As an example when I started there was only one well known website to buy wigs from and if you wanted anything other than a natural shade you were dyeing it yourself. While these changes have taken away some of the closeness and community feel of the hobby, I have been able to see better costumes at a wider range because so many more people are doing it. It's very exciting stuff to see a hobby you thought would be forever relegated to the shadowy underbelly of a culture begin to rise up. Though I will mention that with its current stint on national television it's been really weird when my boss starts asking me questions about cosplay and the inevitable, "you'll make me a Halloween costume right?"


Photo Credit - ALP Photography

NC: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out cosplaying?

Cat-chan: Never be afraid to try! If you don't know how to sew, find someone that does or take a class and learn. To me cosplay is all about expanding your knowledge and learning new skills. Research and never be afraid to try new things. Don't be afraid to ask questions either. There are some people out there who may not want to share their methods, but most of the cosplayers I know love to talk about how they made something, so don't be afraid to ask them.

CC: Do your research and build your knowledge and skill set in steps. Don't feel bad if you aren't WTF the BEST costumer EVER when you are starting out. You are going to make mistakes and have bad looking costumes. Remember you can always remake later if you want or just delete all the photos of it. Don't be afraid to try new things and try to find someone to do it with. It is so helpful having someone else who constructs to help me with things like fittings or even just to bounce ideas off of. If you don't know how to do something ask for advice and look at how others have constructed before you. And most importantly remember why you are doing the hobby. The stage on which cosplay is looked at is bigger than ever and the community is still growing. With more people come different and conflicting ideas. Don't ever let anyone else's opinion make you feel less joy in what you have done. You are the only one who can decided if you are happy with something and depending on why you are making costumes you may not need to have the best, most accurate cosplay. Always take constructive feedback into account and try to grow with its help, but don't let the pressure of outside criticism make you unhappy or keep you from doing something you enjoy.


Photo Credit - Angelwing

NC: Congrats on your 1st place win for the USA Gulf Preliminaries for the World Cosplay Summit! What kind of preparations did you make with coming up with your skit and costumes?

Cat-chan & C.C: We went to the Gulf Prelims & Finals for 2013 at Anime Matsuri and by the time the event was over we had decided we were competing for 2014 at San Japan. We agreed on Card Captor Sakura fairly early because we are both huge fans of the series and we wanted to do something lighthearted and fun. Because we live about four hours apart, most of our time was spent alone working on each costume separately, though their was a lot of facebooking and texting going on throughout the process. We also had to plan several weekends together taking turns staying on each other's couches so that we could practice the routine.

We at Nerd Caliber wish the best to you at the WCS USA Finals! You can find Cat-Chan's website at or her Facebook page at and CC cosplay on facebook at There conjoined team name is C4 Cosplay. Look out for them in the finals!

Photography Credits:

The Tentacle Guy Cosplay Photography. -

Angelwing -

ALP Photography -


Photo Credit - Angelwing

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