My name is Alexis and I run Shattered Stitch Cosplay. I’ve been cosplaying since I graduated high school; I’ve recently spread my wings into the cosplay community at large and am really enjoying the experience. I’ve been modeling on and off since I was 18; I am the summer cover girl of BioGamer Girl magazine, the reigning Ms BioGamer Girl for 2013, and was recently shown on Vogue Italia Online.
When did you start Cosplaying?
I started cosplaying after I graduated high school. I got my start going to Anime Weekend Atlanta many moons ago. The first competition I entered got me a Judge’s Favorite trophy and that ignited a great passion in me to create and compete.
What got you into cosplaying?
I really like the technical challenge of taking something from a 2D world and making it a reality. It’s like my own personal creative Rubik’s Cube. I very much enjoy all the problem solving of fabrication.
What is your favorite cosplay you’ve made(or that you’ve done)?
Sylvanas Windrunner. It was such a challenge; it just came together perfectly literally in the last hour.
How do you determine what to Cosplay as in characters?
My biggest criteria: is it common? I try to do cosplays that are uncommon. If I can google it and there are just pages of it, I cross it off the list. I like to do characters that I know I can really get into the ‘play’ aspect of cosplay – because it’s not just about the costume. Cosplay is about portraying a character to completion – so I try to fabricate characters that on some level I identify with so that I can step into them when I put on the costume.
Do you enjoy cosplaying?
Absolutely. I really enjoy seeing the smiles on peoples faces when they react to the costumes I’ve made. It’s an awesome open door for communication with people and I love to talk to fans of the things I cosplay about their interests and thoughts. I’ve always had such great experiences with the fandoms that it always makes it worth it.
Do you have any Dream Costumes you want to make or do?
Oh yes! My biggest ambition for now is Auriel – Archangel of Hope from Diablo. I’m just getting into working with Worbla, so I think she will be coming to fruition within the next few seasons if all goes well!
Out of all your costumes, which was the hardest to Fabricate?
While Sylvanas was a nightmare for several reasons, my Whitemane costume was pretty awful. The shoulder armor’s securing mechanisms wouldn’t work the day of the con – so I had to pull it all apart and then superglue the pauldrons themselves directly to my skin. That was before I knew how to use craft foam for armor, so they were made out of Model Magic and quite bulky.
What are some cosplays you are currently working on?
I’m working on fabricating Katniss’s Capitol portrait dress, a satyress concept for an artistic project, and a Sarah Kerrigan that keeps getting put on hold. I have several cosplays in my cosplay stable that are complete and ready to be worn such as Sailor Mars, April O’Neil, Childlike Empress, Max (Where the Wild Things Are), Scarlet Witch, and Slave Leia (always a fan favorite).
Which costume are you looking forward to wearing in the future the most?
I’m really looking forward to wearing Sylvanas at DragonCon this year. She is the first cosplay that I’ve really put just astronomical effort and resources into – so I’m really keen to see the reaction to it. Once I get Katniss done, I really think it will be an enjoyable piece to showcase!
Do you think you will ever retire from Cosplaying?
On the frontlines? Eventually. Age will kick everyone out of the cosplaying spotlight at some point – but I think I will always be behind the scenes fabricating, giving workshops, and speaking at cons.
Have you ever considered wearing costumes outside of conventions for daily wear?
Not any of the ones I’ve made specifically for conventions – but I also do limited runs of clothes, dresses, and accessories that are for daily or special occasion wear that I would and have worn out!
Do you fabricate/make your own costumes or buy them?
With the exception of my Whitemane Chapeau and my Psylocke cosplay – they have all been made by me, by hand. It wasn’t until this year that I actually had a sewing machine to use – so everything I had made up until Sylvanas was hand sewn and assembled.
In the World of Cosplaying:
How do your personal views (religious, political, life style) affect your cosplays?
I don’t really think any of my religious or political views translate into my cosplays. I’m a pretty chill person, so its really easy to put my personal soapboxes down to enjoy the craft and not have them really clash with each other, not that I think they would.
What kind of reactions do you receive for your alterations and reinventions of character designs and attire?
I don’t alter them. I try to be as accurate as possible to the original, even in cases of crossplays. I don’t see a need for gratuitous alterations in cosplays that have no function, need, or purpose with the exception of showing skin. I try to stay as canon to the source material as my skill level and budget will allow.
How do you react to the attention your cosplays generate?
I always appreciate the positive reactions and even helpful feedback. I will never improve in the craft if I can’t take constructive criticism and helpful suggestions. Most people thusfar have been super supportive. I was pretty hesitant to make a go of being a “public face” cosplayer, but so far everyone has been really nice.
Have you ever felt uncomfortable in cosplay?
Never. I suppose I’ve been very fortunate in that. I’ve never had any of the nightmare experiences, inappropriate touching or language, or general icky experiences while cosplaying – even in my most scantily of clad costumes. I don’t fabricate anything that I am uncomfortable wearing or would be uncomfortable with the reactions people will give. You have a responsibility to think about that sort of thing when you fabricate something to wear. When you are wearing something in a public space, you have to think about comfort levels, crowd behaviors, and the reactions you’re going to get.
What are some of your favorite moments cosplaying?
Last year at DragonCon, I made a pretty obscure cosplay for the main day/parade. I chose Bêlit – Queen of the Black Coast from the Conan universe. It blew my mind how many people recognized her, and it was awesome when folks would run up and ask “Oh! Are you Bêlit? From Conan?!” – its always very rewarding to have even your most obscure works recognized and appreciated by its fans.
Do you or have you participate in any contests? (Convention, online, etc)
I’ve competed in many of the cosplay contests across conventions – usually at Anime Weekend Atlanta, DragonCon, and most recently at Phoenix Fest over in Alabama.
Have you won any awards if so what or which?
I’ve won a couple of Best in Show and a Judge’s Favorite.
What was the first event/convention you went to?
Anime Weekend Atlanta.
What is your standing on Handmade vs Store bought cosplay?
I personally think that only handmade costumes should be entered in competitions. If you’re not going to compete or show and you just want to have fun? Knock yourself out! Cosplay is supposed to be fun – and not everyone has the time or skill level to fabricate or sew their own outfits. If someone wants to participate in the community and get their feet wet – there is absolutely nothing wrong with a bought costume. Just don’t try to pass it off as your own work. That’s not cool.
How do you feel about those who Cosplay getting into character? Do you get in Character as well?
For me, that’s a crucial element of cosplay. Its cosPLAY for a reason. Its not just “costume”. There have been people whose costume might not have been the best – but as far as getting into character, they absolutely SOLD it. Those are my absolute favorites. You can be standing around in a costume that looks like it walked out of the pages of a manga or the computer screen for a game – but if you’re just standing there without putting some character flair in it, to me it’s just not complete and it falls flat. I absolutely get in character – that’s the best part! I read the lore, study the character, and learn their most known lines. I listen to Sylvanas’s Warcraft III voice clips every so often to try to emulate her speech pattern.
Is there anyone you always wanted to meet and have a photoshoot with?
I’m so new to the “big time” cosplay world at the moment that I don’t really know who is who yet. I’m sure there are some fabulous people out there whom I would love to shoot with – but I couldn’t tell you their names yet!
Can you share a few tips for beginners from your experience?
Don’t give up. Your first few will look awful. It’s ok. It happened to all of us. There are photos of some of my early cosplays that I hope never see the light of day. But watch those tutorials, read those step-by-steps. You’ll find your own methods and ways that work best for you – and you will get better. I promise. You’ll get frustrated. You’ll get angry. You’ll probably swear. But please, don’t ever give up.
What are the positives and negatives of Cosplaying in your opinion?
It’s a great way to exercise your creativity and teach yourself real world skills. Problem solving, sewing, mending, working with tools – all great things that translate well into our everyday lives. It’s a great community full of helpful and talented people; it’s really a privilege to be included in that group.
As far as negatives, that wonderful community is also wrought with cattiness and elitism. There are cliques and plenty of drama. That is true for most all sorts of interest groups, but it’s very sad to see such nastiness to one another when we should all be supportive of each other’s creative ventures.
How do you deal with negative and positive feedback on your costumes?
It depends. Sometimes positive can be too positive, if you catch my drift. Handling things with grace is the way I try to conduct interaction in regards to feedback. Context and credibility also figure in. If someone’s feedback is simply “that looks like crap” – well, that’s not terribly helpful, so it’s ignored. If someone obviously is unfamiliar with the source or don’t know what they’re talking about, e.g. “That’s wrong. Sylvanas’s leggings should be mint green”, I just laugh and move on. If you are going to try to be elitist, at least be credible or else your criticisms will get chortled at and disregarded. Haters gonna hate, as they say.
That said, I love helpful feedback. I always want to improve and branch out into more complex and intricate designs, and I can’t do that without feedback, tips, and coaching from others. No one ever improved by being constantly patted on the head and told they were perfect.
Any words of wisdom for aspiring Cosplayers?
Just get out there and create. It sounds simple (because it is). As long as you are willing to try, nothing can stop you. With technology being so readily accessible, your options are limitless. There are tutorials, videos, patterns – you name it! You don’t have the budget? Get creative. You don’t have the skill level? Learn. You’re timid or need some confidence? Decide you are going to be good at this, and be the best. Practice speaking to a mirror. No excuses! The only thing stopping you is you.
Outside of Cosplaying:
Do you have any hobbies other than Cosplaying?
I’m a big gamer. I play a lot (probably too much) World of Warcraft; Horde of Argent Dawn represent! I do a fair amount of console gaming as well. I read quite a bit and write often, as well as draw, paint, and design clothing. I work with a lot of photographers both as a model and as a stylist/concept designer – so something is always keeping me busy!
Do you have any helpers (pets) that often ‘help’?
Oh gracious, yes. I have 3 cats who are constantly all up in my business. A piece of fabric gets laid out? Lets go sit on it! Thread? Try to eat it. And don’t even get me started on if a project involves feathers. It’s madness.
Is there anything you do outside of Cosplaying that give you ideas of what to do for a costume?
Books. Always books or comics – the things I read are just as full of inspiration as anything else. You can find inspiration anywhere you look, if you look hard enough with open eyes. Sometimes you don’t even have to look very hard – inspiration will just reach up and slap you in the face!
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