It’s time for another interview, this time with Lander! He’s a talented cosplayer from Georgia, who also enjoys crossplaying!
What’s your cosplay alias and why did you choose it?
This is actually a very long story, but I’ll shorten it to the good parts. My cosplay alias is Lander and it comes from when I was in high school. I was a huge Highlander fan, I had the black trench-coat, long hair and sword, and I also loved collecting martial arts weapons and learning how to use them. When I got to college, I started getting involved in a fraternity and had that nickname. One of my brothers one day went “well you’re not exactly ‘high’ (because I didn’t smoke) so we are just going to call you Lander, that way we can say ‘hi, Lander’”. When I first started going out, I seemed to be everywhere. I “roamed” a lot, so it’s like I roamed the land… Lander… So yeah, it stuck.
How many years have you been cosplaying and what got you started?
What got me interested was a little thing about expressing myself, course I really didn’t know how much back then, and it also determines on what you consider “cosplay”. I define it as dressing up like a character, (from anything) and being that character while dressed up.
My first cosplay technically was back in Dragoncon ’97. I did an original character from a Highlander fanfic I was writing at the time (back when fanfic wasn’t a term) so that would be 17 years…. But its on and off, plus a 10 year hiatus because of reasons, but I still did other costumes, though not from anime or manga… So yeah, some amount of time. Then things get complicated since my first manga costume was Sailor Cosmos back in AWA’99 (so this would be also my first crossplay, again, before it was a term) but it was made for me by a friend, because at that time, I didn’t know the first thing about sewing. Still, I wanted to make a costume by myself and since catgirls were all the rave back then, I made a catgirl for Studio Ironcat (though I never got in the calendar) and that was the first one I ever made. It was then I realized I loved the costume because I could express myself like I never did before.
What has been some of your favorite things to work with when constructing costumes and why?
Well this will show you the limit of what I did, because mostly I altered or found a lot of my costumes or they were made of spandex. I would have to say the most interesting thing was the stretch velvet for Alan I did one year. It stretched in only one way and I should have known that when sewing it. Oh and painting the flute; I wanted it to look like the anime but also be functional, so it was nice painting something that had a function and I could play the tune…. Ahh, memories.
What are you excited to be working with in the future and why?
I am working on a drow for Dragoncon and a mermaid tail for Anachrocon. I really love this because I took 10 years off and I’m finally getting back into things. I’m really excited because the mermaid tail will incorporate a monofin and heavy duty vinyl and the drow will use makeup and sewing techniques I’ve never used before.
What are some of the traits you like to see in other costumes and who do you think does well in them?
I really like detail and ingenuity, even though I never use them in my own, I really like how people have turned cardboard and plastic 2 liter bottles into a Samus armor costume that looks really good. I’ve seen giant mecha costumes that take a long time and a socket wrench to get into. Its really cool what people come up with to see their dreams come true.
What is your view of the “cosplay scene”?
Honestly, it really hasn’t changed, just access to better materials and Youtube has entered the mix. When I first started people had their passions, their obsessive love of an anime for whatever reason and that still hasn’t changed. What has changed is now we, the nerds, are the cool kids, so like the cool kids who shunned us so long ago we formed “cliques” and “rules” (you’re not a real gamer/anime lover/… blah blah blah) but then that’s human nature. We still cling on to the things we love only now there are tons more people with tons more money/access to better stuff so it’s a lot like high school only instead of being the outcasts in our corner, we are now the entire student body in the community. There are some bad apples, but I don’t think they have done much damage, since this community was started on people who had a love and passion for making things. I still see that we still have our “Professionals” but instead of being animators or a voice actor from this or that anime/manga (although they are still guests) now we have Cosplayer “Models” who have started traveling the circuit. In no way do I dislike this… I’m jealous, because we all kind of started out the same, only I was never accepted as one of the girls (and with transgender acceptance the way it is now imagine it 17 years ago in the Deep South… there is a reason the Sailor Cosmos staff was a steel-reinforced chunk of wood). Some have their own businesses, making costumes for others, and some have started their own conventions. I think its just the evolution of the convention scene. When I first started, I would have LOVED all of this stuff to be available (these kids today don’t know how easy they got it… ramble ramble ^.~) so it really hasn’t changed. You still have a group of people who come together to costume their favorite characters from their favorite anime/manga/movie… only now it is MUCH, MUCH easier to get that large-every-character-group photo-shoot that you always dreamed about.
What are some of the things you want to see change in the scene?
Well, like everything, I would like to see more positivity. There is a lot of negative stuff going about but that’s because instead of having 300 people at a con loving everything you now have 300 people at one con liking the same thing, people try to say “this person is better” or “this cosplayer is better for this reason” or “are you a true gamer girl?” This is BS and I hate it… which is why I never did competitive cosplay back in the day. It took too much time and resources… and sometimes things would get ugly.
I want to say this from the bottom of my heart. We have access to great materials, not the crap wigs from the Halloween store anymore. We can find better fabrics then spandex, satin, fur (yes that’s what we had to work with unless you knew someone in the fashion industry), we have thermoplastics (worbla) instead of ruining an oven trying to vacuum-form ABS plastic for armor, we have digital high resolution cameras in the cell phones and con-photographers are many instead of just Kevin running around. We all can make websites and Youtubes and things, people can get plastic surgery to look better/closer to their ideal, not to mention other things.
So WHY…why all the hate?? Is it we fear we are not the best? Do we fear people will find out we are socially awkward? Things have changed… people care about people now, the social awkward person can find friends, the small-chested girl can now have anime DDs (with or without surgery), we have contacts to give us anime eyes, these are things we DREAMED of when we were starting out… Why shame it? Embrace it!! Help the younger generation to be great and have those epic cosplays we wished we could do back when we were little.
What is some advice you could give people starting to get into cosplay?
First, establish what you like to do at a con. If you like changing into different costumes then do it, but don’t feel pressured to. I like the idea of having one or two costumes and have them done really well, or have them where you can run around the con in them comfortably. The rule of Cosplay is it should be fun, not stressful, so do what you like. Cosplay can get expensive so I do the make one costume really well, have it be a character you have a passion for and can enjoy. Now I know my stuff is old, but let’s put it this way, I have seen cosplayers who spend hundreds of dollars making 1 costume and only wearing it once. My White Tiger was one of my most favorite (and apparently well known) costumes and it lasted me 5 years, where I would wear it for an entire day (sometimes go to the raves with it), and then bring it home and throw it in the washing machine and dryer. This was back when I went to 4-5 cons a year, not bad for $50 worth of fur……. So I definitely got my money’s worth. Do take the Cosplay 101 classes even if you know how to sew, you can learn a lot, and more sometimes from the Q&A sessions. I like to sit in on friend’s panels just to hear the questions and learn things that I either forgot about or never knew.
What are some of your favorite conventions you’ve attended and why?
I’ll alphabetize it but they are pretty much the cons I still go to. For me, going to cons now is more about seeing my friends than taking in panels or stuff like that. Its really weird because I staff quite a few but started as a fan…… Ahh, memories.
Anachrocon – It was so fun. I got engaged and married there. Definitely quality over quantity; it’s a fun small con feel even though its growing. If you love history, steampunk, or alternate history you got to check it out.
AWA – It was my first anime con and hasn’t changed much over the years, which makes it feel like going home and no time has passed since I first started (for someone who battled depression this is a very good thing).
DragonCon – Welcome to Nerd Mardi Gras. Come for the costumes, the alcohol, and parties. Come see your favorite stars and take in panels and programming that run 24 hours, but buy a badge. It helps keep the silly sports fans that only want to molest the girls (whether they actually are female or not) out. That and security will throw you out because you might be a sports fan.
Momocon – FAST GROWING for a REASON!!! A really fun anime con that the staff keeps fun because it was started by anime fans themselves.
NekoCon – I get to see all my northern friends who never get down south. Always had fun and karaoke is a blast.
Give a random fact about one of your costumes that you’re proud of!
Since I am split down the middle on gender I’ll do both:
Male – “The White Tiger that Mauled Roy” was apparently an email spam that went around the internet for 2 years before I knew about it. This was WAYYYY back before Youtube/Facebook/4chan/Rott could make anyone with a camera popular and back when you had to know the person to get their email because it took 5 minutes to log onto AOL and another 3 minutes to download your email….. So yeah, I’m internet famous… kinda.. THE POWER OF SPAM!!!!
Female – The White Catgirl because I have a friend who knew me for years, and also knew a girl for years, and it took him 5 years to realize we were the same person because he always met “her” while drunk at parties. Apparently when I was partying, my true side comes out. This costume also helped me find myself even though it would be many years later before I would truly understand why I felt like I did when I was in it.
Thanks for the interview, Lander! Hope to see you at a con soon!