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Cosplayer Spotlight – Mystmoon

This cosplayer does some great adaptions! Check out how she makes robots into adorable outfits!

What do we call you?

Helen/Mystmoon

What is your favorite beverage?

Ribena, even though it’s a stupid idea when wearing anything easily stained.

When did you start cosplaying?

When I first started university, I joined a Japanese evening class through the Japanese Visual Arts Society and met a cosplay there who encouraged me to go with her to a meet and make a costume for it. I already knew what cosplay was from reading NEO magazine and looking at their coverage of MCM Expo, so when a group of people from the meet said they were going to it and did I want to join, I happily agreed! And now it’s 7 years later, I haven’t been to a London Expo for 4 years, but I’m still friends with some people from that initial meet and regularly cosplay with them!

Why did you start cosplaying?

It seemed really fun! I’ve always enjoyed dressing up, and would take any opportunity to do so, so it seemed the perfect hobby for me! Meeting other cosplayers was the catalyst though, I was too scared to do it alone at first, whereas now I have completed to quite a few events alone. I’ve found cosplay has really helped my self esteem in general, as well as my social skills. I think the me 10 years ago would be really surprised at how many friends I’ve made.

Who are your cosplay idols?

I don’t really follow a lot of cosfamous people, so my idols are more friends I know and admire. I love the other two members of my cosplay YouTube channel, MerriWeather Rose Costumes and A Stark Comparison, I’ve been cosplaying with them for years and it’s great to watch them grow! I was also inspired to restart the channel by the members of Bandursnatch Studios, especially Soletta and DarkFae who’ve been very supportive!

What types of cosplay do you do?

When I started I was mostly cosplaying anime, then I switched to doing mostly Marvel superheroes and now I do a mix of Marvel, anime, Star Wars and western cartoons like Steven Universe. I especially like cosplaying cartoons and anime though, as it’s more fun to me to try and bring drawings to life than to try to copy an actor (plus I don’t look like most actors so it’s easier to be “accurate”) Honestly though, my specialty is making gajinkas of robots. I love robot designs, but due to health and skill limitations, I’m not very good at armor builds, so instead I make dresses inspired by them! I’m fascinated by the questions robots bring with them, especially robots with advanced AI, and I love media that explores this, so of course that passes over into my cosplay as well!

What are your favorite cosplays?

My favourite that I’ve made is probably my Tachikoma gajinka from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. It’s the most complicated thing I’ve done (the backpack took so much planning and trial and error and I’m still not happy with it) and I’m completely blind and knock things over with it all the time, but it’s worth it when people react to it. I’ve been so pleasantly surprised with how many people recognized it and asked for photos, and how many people were curious about the anime. Plus I love the Tachikomas and GITS:SAC so much and the recent live action movie made me so annoyed that I pushed myself to finish out of spite!
My most popular cosplay is probably BB-8 though, it’s the one people request I wear most and the one that gets recognised the most. I’m pretty proud of it, especially how well it’s held up since I’ve worn it for nearly 2 years now. I’m probably going to be wearing that one til either it falls apart completely or Star Wars as a franchise combusts

What is something you want to cosplay but probably never will?

I’d honestly love to somehow cosplay the arm bots from the Iron Man movies. I love them so much, they’re all adorable, but I have no idea how I’d even start with making them as something wearable.
I’d also love to cosplay from Astroboy but a lot of the designs from that are either not something I’m comfortable making or something I think would not look good in reality. Never say never though! I might eventually figure out how to do it!

Do you make, buy, or special order your cosplays?

When I started, I’d buy clothes and modify them, nowadays I make them from scratch as much as possible. I enjoy sewing a lot, so making dresses is more fun and it’s easier to make sure details are right! I’ve recently started making my own patterns as well, and I’m looking forward to using them to making better and more accurate cosplays in future! Props I try to make myself as much as possible, sometimes I’ll commission friends or buy cheap versions to use as bases. I’m not as good at prop making as I am at sewing by a long way though, so sometimes my insistence on doing things myself comes back to bite me!

What do you love about cosplay?

I love meeting people through it! Most of my current friends I’ve met through cosplay and cons in some way, I’m naturally quite socially awkward, so I find cosplays make an easy conversation starter (Oh you like X! So do I!)
I also love the challenge of looking at a design and figuring out how to make it real. It’s one reason why I do so many gajinkas, it’s fun to design outfits and see how much of the character you can bring over and what small details you can add for fans who look for them. I’ve especially enjoyed making the day of fans when I cosplay something a bit more obscure, like the Tachikoma. It’s great to meet fellow fans and to share the love for a character!

What is the most difficult thing for you about cosplay?

Some of the community can be pretty toxic and some of the attention cosplay gets, especially from people who aren’t into cosplay can be pretty disheartening. I’ve been featured on few bad cosplay blogs, my friends and I have had a fair few hurtful comments about our weight and looks, and this isn’t always helped by elitism within the community, especially in the competitive scene. I’ve been cosplaying competitively for the past 3 years, and mostly I enjoy it, especially at smaller events, but I’ve had experiences both with judges and competitors that have made me question if I want to continue entering competitions. In the end, I try my best to stick with areas online and with friends who I know are less tolerant of that sort of thing and block out as much of it as I can.

Who is your favorite character to cosplay?

Most of my friends will tell you I love to cosplay cute robots. BB-8, Baymax and Tachikoma are all such fun to design and try and embody, especially since they are intelligences that are not human, so it’s a challenge to try and portray them well! A personal favourite whenever I’m feeling low however, is Janet Van Dyne or the Wasp! I was first introduced to her through Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and she’s been my favourite superhero ever since! I love her positive attitude and her badassery, so cosplaying her makes me feel super confident and ready to take on the world!

If you could live in or visit any fantasy tell, where would you go?

I am too attached to the internet to want to leave for a fantasy, as tempting as that is sometimes.

Where do you get your inspiration for your cosplays?

Mostly if I like a thing enough, I will work out a cosplay for it. Sometimes if I see a friend is making something I’ll want to make up something to do a group with them, but often it’s just watching something and loving a character will push me into making plans. Often whilst watching something, there will be a character that my brain latches onto, and from there it’s just a matter of working out the logistics of actually making it! I often have ideas for cosplays floating in my head for a while before I start on them though, waiting for a push to put one of them into prominence in my head! Generally this push will either be friends also wanting to cosplay from the thing, or if a con I’m going to is going to have a guest from the thing who I really want to meet. The push to start on Tachikoma was pure spite from how bad the live action Ghost in the Shell movie was though!

What are your “fandoms”?

Discworld is my oldest fandom, I’d like to cosplay from it more, but the lack of description in the books makes that challenging! I’m also a Marvel fan, not as much now as I used to be, but I still pay attention to it. I’ve been dragged into Steven Universe this past couple of years, and as bad as some of the fandom is, I still enjoy the heck out of that show. The new Star Wars films pushed me into checking them out and I’m now pretty into that, I was one of the people that enjoyed Last Jedi so I’m curious to see where it’ll go. I also began watching more anime recently after getting into One Punch Man, I love Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, The Eccentric Family, The Devil is a Part-Timer, A Centaur Life and most recently I’ve been watching Konohana Kitan and Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World. I also love some of the older classics like Ghost in the Shell and Full Metal Alchemist. There’s probably more I’m forgetting, I watch way too many things!

What is something you wish beginning cosplayers knew?

It’s OK to start small and work on improving one thing at a time. Everyone looks back and cringes at their first cosplay, it’s fine to not be making super impressive elaborate cosplays straight out of the gate! Also, it’s fine to ask for help! There are lots of groups and tutorials online for cosplay, and I can guarantee that nearly everything has either been done before, or something similar has been done that can be modified!

What tips or tricks do you have for other cosplayers?

Hoo boy, I run a panel called Cosplay Disasters that is dedicated to this sort of thing so I can think of a lot! Always try on your full costume before your event! Check if you can sit, walk, drink, eat, go to the bathroom and use a normal sized door in your cosplay! Bear in mind whether you’ll be wearing the cosplay whilst travelling or transporting it to the convention and how you’re going to do it. And think about what needs to go under it! (Don’t be me and pop a nipple in the middle of a panel cos you didn’t realise how low the neckline was and you brought no modesty layers!) Plait long wigs before you put them away, future you will thank you. Do not glue things to something you are wearing to make sure the positioning and stretch is right, especially not when the area of your body you are gluing over has hair. If you’re going to bind for a crossplay, buy a binder and educate yourself on how to bind safely, do not bind with bandages, compression wraps or tape! If you want to wear contacts for a cosplay, visit your optician and get their advice on how to properly insert them and care for them, and make sure you buy from a reputable seller. Know your measurements if you’re buying cosplays online, especially if it’s an Asian seller since their sizes are a lot smaller than Western sizes. Make sure you paint and glue in a well ventilated area, and that the area you work in is well-lit. And if you do screw up, don’t worry! Come to one of my cosplay disasters panels and make an story out of it to amuse and horrify your friends and family!

What is something you wish non-cosplayers knew?

Be aware of photo etiquette, ask before taking, don’t snipe, don’t touch cosplayers you don’t know, I’d hope this was common sense at this point! Cosplay is not consent, we’re all real people behind the costumes and we deserve to be treated as such! Also if you’re hanging around with cosplayers, please be understanding if we hit a limit or are struggling! Often it’s hard to walk fast or sit or eat when in costume, so we might take longer, sorry!

What cosplays are you working on?

Currently I’m finishing a commissioned BB-9E dress for February, then I am making myself a ballgown based on Marvel’s Wasp for March. After that, the cosplays I have bought materials for and semi-started are Amethyst’s naval uniform from Steven Universe, Mei from Overwatch and Kanna Kamui from Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. I’m also getting help from MerriWeather Rose to make myself a Jasmine cosplay so I can join them in doing Disney Princesses, and I may end up doing more work on my Lady Sif cosplay since Thor Ragnarok has made some people I know interested in Marvel again. Of course, I might watch something new this year that adds another idea on here, and there’s several ideas I have floating in my head that are just waiting for a push!

What cosplays do you want to do if money or time were no object?

I’d love to cosplay Cheri Littlebottom from the Discworld series, but I have no idea how to do her beard in a way that doesn’t look super fake and I can afford.
A long standing goal has been the 1960s Golden Avenger Iron Man suit, it’s so hilariously goofy with the weird metal skirt and the dome helmet, I think it’d be really fun to tromp around in at meets, especially if I could include the roller skate boots. I’d also love to cosplay War Machine in a group with the other members of Operation Awesome UK as Iron Man and Rescue, but that would be a very long build.

Where can people find your cosplays?

I’m on Facebook as Mystmoon Costumes and Photography, YouTube as Operation Awesome UK, Instagram as mystmoon92, deviantART as mysteriousshamrock and I’m on tumblr, Cosplay Amino, Cosplay Island and Cosplay Won as Mystmoon. If you find a Mystmoon online there’s a fairly good chance it’s me!

Please remember I do not own any of these pictures and the opinions in this survey belong to the interviewee.

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