It’s time for another interview, this time with Ichigo Gami! She’s a creative cosplayer from Maryland, who absolutely loves the hobby!
What’s your cosplay alias and why did you choose it?
My cosplay alias became Ichigo Gami. At age 7, right as I was getting into anime, and starting to get more into fashion design, I was also teaching myself Japanese to help me better understand the culture and why I liked it so much. Strawberries being my favorite fruit, it naturally became my go to choice for my favorite word of Japanese. Also, when I was growing up, between the ages of 3-5, my family lived in Germany. I have a pleasant memory of going to a bakery when my sister would get out of school, and they always had the coolest candies there. One of those was flavored candy paper. So Ichigo Gami came from those two things blended together… Some translate it as Strawberry Goddess or Strawberry Deity which I think sounds kind of sweet.
How many years have you been cosplaying and what got you started?
Ohhhh I have been cosplaying since I think I found out what anime was and even before then… One year for Halloween I went as Pocahontas. She was just strong and beautiful and to a younger self I thought she was cool. So my mom helped me put it all together and I enjoyed it. After that I think I didn’t start attending official conventions until I was 13 or 14 due to the fact that 7 is a bit young and my parents weren’t really into the culture. I always participated in anime and geeky culture clubs at school though.
What has been some of your favorite things to work with when constructing costumes and why?
I love sewing and textiles. Its part of my physical being, I think… like breathing. I can sit at my machine and, I know this sounds horrible… but there are times I’m so wrapped up in the costume and the process I will forget to eat or drink. Or because I’m an insomniac, I don’t tend to sleep when I’m really wound up into a piece. I grew up as an artist with the manic sleeplessness and fluid muse so I always have to keep a notebook by my bed. Since I’ve also worked at a fabric store (a mom and pop type) I was able to more thoroughly learn about textiles after I got out of college. So I guess it’s kind of a comfort zone for me now.
What are you excited to be working with in the future and why?
More armor building and LED work. I have very briefly touched on resin casting but I know I will be doing more soon!
What are some of the traits you like to see in other costumes and who do you think does well in them?
I personally like to see details. That is what adds to a costume now to make it different from others. Something from the characters mannerisms, or in the traits of the costume… Something to bring them to life!
What is your view of the “cosplay scene”?
There are different people with different goals in the cosplay scene. I have acquired friends from many sides of the spectrum. I feel like the scene as a whole is becoming more of a full force entity. We’re able to be more visible in society with less stigma… However there is still the stigma and the bad apples unfortunately. I try to focus on the fact that now-a-days many people can participate no matter what their skill level or age or body type.
Back when I started cosplaying it was harder to find materials and there wasn’t such an ease and plethora of things available online… I remember going into a wig store in a strip mall near my parents’ house just to find they didn’t have any “weird” colors, but the fact there was a local wig store was a strange sort of blessing.
The cons I have seen in the scene recently though is entitlement… Unfortunately, since some folks come with the expectations that experienced costumers and cosplayers must help them, it hurts the folks that actually want to help others. Many times I find the same questions asked over and over again when if they had just done a quick Google search they would have found something.
What are some of the things you want to see change in the scene?
More support of each other. Less of the cattiness that has been drummed up recently… Most of that is from outside sources not even remotely affected by cosplay. But it would still be nicer to see a continued recognition of the movements like Cosplay is not Consent and Cosplay Bullying Sucks. Everyone has been a beginner at one time or another and there will always be someone better than you in your eyes. We all shoot for the moon and hope to end up among the stars.
What is some advice you could give people starting to get into cosplay?
Learn and accumulate as many skills as possible to do cosplay and benefit you in normal life. Everything from sewing a button on to budgeting for making a costume or going to a convention are great skills to practice. You have the world at your fingertips, but don’t forget to always check local places too. You never know when that down the road thrift store will have something for cheaper than buying it on Amazon. Keep aware of your local network. Keep in touch with out of culture friends you have, sometimes you will need someone to pull you away from your sewing machine or hot glue gun and go “Okay it’s time for normal life stuff and socializing with friends…” Always give yourself time. Be it getting in shape for a costume or making the costume from scratch. Just because a more experienced cosplayer did it in a week doesn’t mean you can.
What are some of your favorite conventions you’ve attended and why?
Katsucon was the first convention I ever attended, though it has changed and had a few questionable years I still enjoy going. It’s where I made a lot of friends and fell in love with the convention culture.
Otakon is a great convention because it’s so big and has tons of great panels on different things and places to take great photos. I also have done volunteering with them for a few years and enjoy the folks I work with when I’m there. It’s not really a con I get out of my department very much for but I enjoy what I get to see.
AUSA is my fall chillax con. This coming year I will get to have some time to hang out with a friend I have wanted to have more of a chance to see. Since I get to chillax and its cooler I can wear some of my more detailed and layered costumes because it’s not as hot as Otakon can be.
Give a random fact about one of your costumes that you’re proud of!
Ohhhh there are so many that I love. But I suppose I wouldn’t make them if I didn’t love them eh?
The most recent cosplay I loved doing was Mami Tomoe from Madoka in her Magical Girl outfit. I ended up making it in 2-3 days before the convention for a group that my friends were doing. They ended up having their Mami drop out last minute due to a personal emergency. I’m a horrible fabric hoarder so I already had all the stuff I needed to make it. I had also already purchased my wig and boots because I had planned on doing her in the future. She was the first professional photoshoot cosplay I had done and I really enjoyed being able to hang out with my friends and putz around as Mami. She’s a character I really related to in the show and I was happy to be able to do her justice.