It’s time for another interview, this time with Arlette! She’s a long-time cosplayer from the East Coast, who wants to see the community continue in a positive direction!
What’s your cosplay alias and why did you choose it?
It has been Arlette since 2005 and was HealerKou before that (from 1999 onwards.) I was heavily into anime and my favorite character was Sailor Starhealer from Sailor Moon. After so many years, though, I kind of grew out of it and watched anime so much more rarely that I changed it to something which honestly has no real meaning. It’s just a name I’ve always liked.
How many years have you been cosplaying and what got you started?
My first anime costume was in 1999. It was the hardly recognizable Tot from Weiss Kreuz. It was an anime that my friends and I loved that was still pretty new at a time when it was harder to get new anime. It has never been very popular, so I doubt anyone would recognize the same costume now! The reason I did it was for love of the show and the character. I didn’t know how to sew, but I bought some needles and thread and bought a dance leotard from a thrift shop which I altered. Before that, from the age of 13, I had attended Star Trek conventions and wore store bought uniforms. Cosplay was a natural progression from that. Before Tot, I had actually tried to sew the character Lal from Star Trek: The Next Generation, but I was 14 and it was awful!
What has been some of your favorite things to work with when constructing costumes and why?
I actually really enjoy painting. I find it relaxing in a weird way. I often freehand the designs I paint on costumes, which means no stencils or anything fancy. Like all of the design are 100% me and my brush.
What are you excited to be working with in the future and why?
My husband and I have recently bought a heat gun and a dremel set and we hope to start working with Worbla to make armor!
What are some of the traits you like to see in other costumes and who do you think does well in them?
I think that a costume doesn’t have to be 100% accurate if the cosplayer embodies the character. And what I mean by that is that some people just have a certain look… a certain special something in a certain costume that makes them embody the character even if they’ve made the costume more modest or wore heels instead of flats or whatever. One of my favorite cosplayers is Belle Chere who mostly does comic characters, and usually badass female heroes. I feel that she embodies those characters with her poses and a confident stature, and she does put 100% accuracy into costumes that may be considered skimpy by some people’s standards. So while someone may think “oh that’s easy; there’s hardly anything to it” she doesn’t shy away from that and totally goes for it. I admire that confidence and dedication.
What is your view of the “cosplay scene”?
I feel that we are in a state of flux. The 4chan generation of bashing everyone for any reason seems to be dying off and making way for actual helpful threads and tutorials on forums like DeviantArt and Tumblr. The Tumblr generation has taken it a step further by defending people’s right to cosplay despite race, gender, disabilities, etc. I think that’s awesome, and it’s the direction we need to be going in. Less criticism, more fun. Back when I first started going to cons, and I don’t just mean anime cons but the little local Star Trek cons that used to spring up around here, everyone was helpful and nice and genuinely kind. Everyone was smiling because we all loved the same thing. We need fewer egos in cosplay, because we’re just nerds dressing up because we LOVE STUFF!
What are some of the things you want to see change in the scene?
What is some advice you could give people starting to get into cosplay?
Do what you love. Cosplay what you love. Embody it. Own it. And don’t let anyone take it away from you.
What are some of your favorite conventions you’ve attended and why?
My absolute favorite convention is DragonCon! I’ve been going since 2004 and never looked back. It has everything you could possibly want. I’ve been able to meet some of my favorite actors like Nathan Fillion and Gillian Anderson, and three cast members (and my favorite writer!) from my favorite show, Once Upon a Time. I’ve also always enjoyed Animazement in North Carolina, because while it is still a medium-sized con they have been able to get some really big-name guests that I care about a lot. Like the Japanese voice actress for Sailor Starhealer!
Give a random fact about one of your costumes that you’re proud of!
I’m very critical of my own work, but I’m pretty proud of my Rapunzel costume. It has everything from hand-painted designs to hand-embroidery, and I used many methods that were new to me at the time. I believe it’s also the first legit bodice I ever made with boning and eyelets… it actually laces up in the front, no secret zippers or anything. I saw Tangled in the theatre 5 times and tried so hard to get as much right on the costume as I could.
Thanks for the interview, Arlette! You can see more of her, and her husband’s, work on their Facebook page!