It’s time for another interview, this time with Bekalou! She’s an amazing cosplayer from California, who has some awesome costumes!
What’s your cosplay alias and why did you choose it?
I chose “Bekalou” awhile before I was cosplaying as a general internet alias; my first name is Rebecca and my middle name is Louise. I figured an alias similar to my real name would be one that I wouldn’t grow out of too quickly.
How many years have you been cosplaying and what got you started?
I made costumes and character outfits before, but my first real cosplay and convention was in January 2008, when I debuted my Princess Zelda cosplay at Sac-Anime Winter. I have always loved crafting, sewing, and wearing costumes, so when I started watching more anime and found friends to go to conventions with, I naturally got into cosplay right away.
What has been some of your favorite things to work with when constructing costumes and why?
I really love working with natural fabrics like silk, linen, and heavy cotton. I can’t use them for everything, of course, since they’re expensive and they’re not always right for every project. I find that these materials are the most workable for methods that involve sharp creasing or dyeing. For props, I tend to like working with wood, given that it’s very sturdy and weather-resistant. I also like Wonderflex, Paperclay, and Super Sculpey for prop detailing.
What are you excited to be working with in the future and why?
I am excited to work more with leather; I used it for the first time on a recent cosplay and I really like how it looks on a finished costume. I’d also like to try working with styrene, as well as resin-casting; so far I’ve done minimal resin work so I’m interested to do more with it. As far as sewing is concerned, I’m curious to try batik (wax-resist) dyeing as a way of detailing fabric.
What are some of the traits you like to see in other costumes and who do you think does well in them?
I absolutely love attention to detail; not only in the construction of the costume, but also in how the cosplayer stays true to the character in their methods and materials. The thought process behind the costume, such as what fabrics to use and what details to add, is just as important as the technical skills, in my opinion. The cosplayers that do best at this are those that are truly dedicated to their characters and strive to bring the character to life.
What is your view of the “cosplay scene”?
Yes, I cannot deny that there is a lot of drama. However, drama happens because people are passionate about their interests and pour their heart and soul into their work. Besides the drama, I feel proud and honored to be a part of such a dedicated, creative, innovative, and resourceful group of people.
What are some of the things you want to see change in the scene?
I’d like even more cosplayers to start making their own costumes from scratch. Storebought costumes, “closet” cosplay, and costumes commissioned from others can be fun to wear, but the process of conceiving, creating, and finally getting to wear a costume you made all yourself is an invaluable experience. Yes, it’s true that time, money, and skills all play into the ability to make a cosplay, but that is true with all hobbies, and there is always a comfortable place to start.
What is some advice you could give people starting to get into cosplay?
Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty – if you don’t know how to sew, the cosplay community online and the friends you make at conventions are all here to help you. It’s okay to mess up; it’s part of the learning experience. And absolutely cosplay the characters you love – don’t worry if they are overdone, or if their costumes aren’t intricate enough. Your dedication and effort will always show through.
What are some of your favorite conventions you’ve attended and why?
My favorite convention is FanimeCon. I’m a San Jose native so it feels like home; I even used to perform with my dance studio (years and years ago) at the theatre across the block from the convention center. The weather is almost always great (except 2011, when it rained!) and it’s a very well-run convention with plenty of events to go to and things to see. Another of my favorite conventions is Anime Los Angeles, which is small but extremely cosplay-friendly. I also enjoy Animation on Display in San Francisco and Anime Expo in Los Angeles.
Give a random fact about one of your costumes that you’re proud of!
My most recently completed cosplay, Keiji Maeda from Sengoku Basara, is my 50th cosplay, and involves 15 different fabrics!