It’s time for another interview, this time with Steff Von Schweetz! She’s a well-known cosplayer from Nevada, who loves playing with fabric to bring characters to life!
What’s your cosplay alias and why did you choose it?
I go by Steff Von Schweetz, which is actually a recent rebranding from my previous cosplay handle, Anti Ai-chan. The previous one was hard to pronounce and no one understood what it meant; so two years ago I decided to rebrand. Steff is my real name but I didn’t feel comfortable putting my last name out on the Internet. I chose Von Schweetz since Vanellope (Wreck-It Ralph) is my favorite Disney character and we have a lot in common.
How many years have you been cosplaying and what got you started?
I started cosplaying back in 2003! I’ve always been a fan of dressing up on Halloween and school spirit days. My mom used to make my costumes from scratch; so I could be whomever I wanted. When I discovered that anime conventions existed, along with cosplay, I knew I wanted to try it. Nearly 14 years later and I have yet to stop dressing like a fictional character.
What has been some of your favorite things to work with when constructing costumes and why?
I am very much a fabric person! While I don’t mind working with foam and plastic or even jewelry, there’s just something about working with various fabrics that gets me excited! Haha, I never thought I’d have a favorite fabric either, but I love working with suedes and suiting. I find the textures on suede give a lot of depth to the overall look of a garment while suiting tends to have very rich colors and the blacks are so nice a dark.
What are you excited to be working with in the future and why?
I have a costume on my list that has a lot of scaling on it. I’ve actually had the scales now for nearly a year, along with the rest of the fabric for the costume, but haven’t started it. It’s made me nervous because I have no idea what I’m doing with it! So while I’m nervous to start it, I’m also excited to push myself. Hopefully this summer it will get done. Someone please hold me to it!
What are some of the traits you like to see in other costumes and who do you think does well in them?
Again, because I’ve become a huge fabric nerd over the years, I enjoy when people layer textiles and textures together to make something visually stimulating. I love watching Enayla Cosplay! The level of detailing is insane and her use of fabric is out of this world.
What is your view of the “cosplay scene”?
I think the cosplay community could use some help. Maybe a wakeup call? I think there’s a lot of negativity and drama that is unneeded and can be sifted out if we all put in some time and effort. I do try to be as positive as I can within the scene though. One person at a time can make all the difference.
What are some of the things you want to see change in the scene?
Like I mentioned before, there seems to be an uprise in drama and negativity across the board. I think, since cosplay has become more mainstream and trendy there’s been a bit of a switch in how people within the community see each other. There’s always been a healthy amount of competition but now it’s all about gaining followers and growing in popularity. There is nothing wrong with wanting either of those things, but I see more and more people getting into cosplay for just popularity reasons and not with the craft or community in mind. While I obviously can’t speak for anyone but myself, I think a lot of people who have been with the community for several years are frustrated with that kind of mentality. I don’t have an answer to get past the issues that have come up within the community but I think we should all remember that at the end of the day, we are all just nerds in costume.
What is some advice you could give people starting to get into cosplay?
Just go for it. It doesn’t matter if you buy it online or make it yourself; it doesn’t matter if you have a social media following already. If it’s something you’re interested in, you should just jump in. If you like it, you can worry about how to sew or improve of things later. If you want to make social media pages dedicated to the hobby, you can do it later. But you’ll never know if you don’t give it a go.
What are some of your favorite conventions you’ve attended and why?
I love Anime LA. It’s a convention I’ve attended multiple times and always come out of it feeling great. The staff is always friendly and Chaz is the sweetest man on the planet and always wants what’s best for his attendees. I love the ribbons you can obtain and I more so love that it started as a way for attendees to meet new people. They provide chairs and beanbags for people to sit on so security won’t hassle them about being on the floor. I hope ALA continues to grow and improve.
Give a random fact about one of your costumes that you’re proud of!
As I mentioned previous, Vanellope is my favorite Disney character; so, when I decided to cosplay her standard I wanted to get in as many details as possible. I purchased the artbook for the movie and it gave me the insight that her sweater is supposed to come across as dirty. So when I got the sweatshirt fleece, I did a number of dye baths to get a teal I liked and then did a quick wash in black dye to get some gritty tones into the fabric.