It’s time for another interview, this time with Fancy Duckie! She’s a friendly cosplayer from Massachusetts, who loves branching out into new aspects of the hobby!
What’s your cosplay alias and why did you choose it?
Fancy Duckie is my cosplay alias, and I chose it because of Princess Tutu; it was one of the very first anime I ever watched (and one of the first characters I’ve ever cosplayed!), and has a really special place in my heart. The (very, very, very) basic premise of the show is that there is a duck, who is in love with a prince (who shattered his heart in order to save his people and seal an evil raven away), and she is granted the power to turn into a human girl, and then into a pretty princess ballerina (Princess Tutu) by a mysterious man in order to return the shards of the prince’s heart to him. In essence, all Tutu is is a really fancy duck, so the name stuck!
How many years have you been cosplaying and what got you started?
I’ve been cosplaying since 2007, so about eight years now! I’ve been a nerd from a very young age; I was raised on Doctor Who and Star Wars, and was absolutely OBSESSED with Sailor Moon when I was a wee one. One of my friends in grade school introduced me to the Tokyo Mew Mew manga, which was when I was bit by the weeb bug. I started reading more manga, watching lots of anime, and saw commercials for Anime Expo on demand. I started watching the convention coverage that Comcast had up, and that’s how I found out about cosplay. I begged my mom to take me and a friend to our first anime con, and the next year I started cosplaying. I’ve been an addict ever since!
What has been some of your favorite things to work with when constructing costumes and why?
Oooh, tough one! I’d have to say it’s a tie between craft foam and casa satin. I love craft foam because it’s really versatile, cheap, and easy to paint (as long as you’re sealing it first!), and I love casa satin for some of the same reasons. It’s versatile, can be cheap (if you play your coupons right), and I just really love the way it drapes!
What are you excited to be working with in the future and why?
I really want to up my prop game in the future, and I’d love to be able to incorporate worbla and LEDs into future costumes. I started (but have not yet finished!) a Mirai Kuriyama cosplay, and I think using transparent worbla would be super cool for her blood sword! For LEDs, costumes that light up are just really cool to me, haha!
What are some of the traits you like to see in other costumes and who do you think does well in them?
I love to see people working in their artistic license with cosplays, especially for shows that have fairly simple art. Everyone has their own little touches to make their costumes unique, and I really love seeing the different ways people make the same costume! I also really love seeing people cosplay original designs for characters (like NoFlutter’s rococo Sailor Moon outfits).
What is your view of the “cosplay scene”?
By and large I think the cosplay scene is what you make of it. I actually just finished my senior thesis in psychology on mentoring relationships within the community, as well as just what the community is like in general. I think cosplay is becoming more socially acceptable outside of “hardcore” fan circles, which is great because that means our community will grow, and we’ll get to see more fantastic costumes and have more people to exchange ideas with and to make friends with! Overall, I would say the community is really positive, welcoming, and willing to lend a hand, and in my study, it seems like there are mentors a-plenty, who have positively impacted their mentees’ lives more broadly than just in the domain of cosplay. I think there are a lot of facets to the community and what defines “fun” for every individual. Some people enjoy making their own costumes and friendly competition in Masquerades, others are content to just buy costumes off of eBay/commissioners and hang out with like-minded fans. In my opinion, there’s no “wrong” way to do cosplay; as long as you’re having fun, you’re doing it right.
But, just like with anything else, there is a downside to cosplay as well. I do think that most of the bologna directed at cosplayers online is not coming from other cosplayers (although I’m sure this does happen). Most of us realize that everyone has to start somewhere, even if they are only just purchasing costumes and wearing them. And even if we don’t think that a costume is terribly well constructed, we have enough tact to keep our mouths shut and appreciate the fact that someone is making an effort at all, or offer constructive criticism if it’s being sought. We know how much time, effort, and money people put into these things, and (I would hope) we as a collective have enough empathy to not be a bunch of jerks. I think it’s a lot easier to say mean things about others’ costumes when you have literally no clue about how much skill goes into making even a “less than awesome” costume. There was a post going around on Facebook a while back, saying to look at the credits for a movie, and look at every person listed for hair, makeup, costumes, armor, props, etc. Cosplayers have to do at least some, if not all of these things. Usually we’re just one person teaching ourselves how to do this stuff. What we do is absolutely incredible, and looking at it from this lens, it’s easier to see that people making these types of comments are pretty pathetic.
What are some of the things you want to see change in the scene?
I’m not really sure; nothing seems so pervasive within the community that it needs to get nixed pronto, but I’d love to see more advanced cosplayers take younger/less skilled ones under their wing! Then again, I’m also really biased in that aspect since this is my line of research! I know how great mentoring relationships can be for youth; particularly those with niche interests like this.
What is some advice you could give people starting to get into cosplay?
DON’T GIVE UP! I feel like it’s easier to break into cosplay now than back in my day (gosh I sound like such an old lady!) in terms of tutorials available, better construction materials (like worbla, patterns catering to cosplayers specifically, etc), better wigs/more colors, but at the same time, it’s more psychologically difficult because you look around at everyone else and they’re SO GOSHDANGED AMAZING and you feel like you’ll never be as great as them, so why start?
I think it’s important to remember that most of the cosplayers you see probably either a) way older than you, with the resources to throw money at a hobby without their parents’ approval, b) have much more experience than you, or c) both! I know it can be really hard to not compare yourself with Yaya Han, DustBunny, Riddle, etc., but these girls are as amazing as they are because of time and experience. And given the same amount of time and experience and resources, you’ll probably end up being just as awesome at craftsmanship as they are some day. Just try to beat your personal best, and I think cosplay will end up being a lot more satisfying for you than if you’re constantly comparing yourself with cosplay famous people. Cosplay for yourself, and because you love your characters, and you’ll be surprised at how far you’ll go (and how quickly!).
What are some of your favorite conventions you’ve attended and why?
Anime Boston 2008 – This was the second year I cosplayed and the first time I ever participated in a Masquerade; I had so much fun performing with my friends, and the cosplay staff was (and still is!) so amazing and lovely. It was so cool to see so many amazing cosplayers and to meet some of my favorite voice talents as well!
Katsucon 2015 – This was my first ever Katsucon, and I was actually there to recruit participants for my thesis! I had so much fun at this convention and met so many wonderful friends, and got super starry-eyed at meeting some of my cosplay senpais!
Give a random fact about one of your costumes that you’re proud of!
My Princess Small Lady Serenity dress has upwards of 5,000 3mm rhinestones that I hand glued over the course of 14 hours!