Nowadays almost every games convention comes with bunch of characters from the games we all love. These characters are the members of the ever so big cosplay community. These are fans who dedicate a lot of time and hard work to stun everyone with their masterful costumes crafted with patience and love.
However, while some cosplayers do this just for fun, some are into this cultural phenomenon because cosplay became part of their lives – it is a hobby and a job. Team Paraluna from Netherlands are the perfect example of this. Sophie Linssen and Liza Kaper are experienced cosplayers and have represented their country Netherlands in many international cosplay competitions all over the world. This team of cosplayers are known for their work with special-effects makeup bringing even the less human-looking characters to life.
While Team Paraluna travelled a lot, they are still few countries short to mark on the map. Lithuania is one of them, but not for long. Team Paraluna will honour GameOn cosplay event by joining our jury this September in Vilnius. As the event is getting closer we briefly spoke with them about the importance of cosplay in their daily life.
How did you start with cosplay?
We started cosplaying in two very different ways. For Sophie, it started with a sewing class she took. One of the teachers was a cosplayer and they were going to work on a sewing project that all the students would show off during an anime and gaming event in the Netherlands. After that Sophie kept on learning new costume skills and debuted more and more outfits for these events and started joining competitions to further progress her skills.
For Liza, it started from a performance point of view. She was part of a dance group that would debut 2 new full dances every year during a big demo performance for dance groups in the region. After leaving the group due to school demanding more time Liza did miss the yearly stage performances. Now through cosplay she can once again enter a big show but now for Dutch cosplay selections for international finals.
How did Team Paraluna came to be? How did you meet?
We met at Liza’s first convention, and became friends right away. After that we started working together. At first there was a noticeable divide within our skills, Liza was mostly busy with sound design, performance scripts, photoshoot planning etc. while Sophie was the costume expert. But we’ve learned so much from each other; it now turns out Sophie is actually a great voice actress and singer and Liza makes all her costumes herself now and gives armour workshops. Some things never change though, Sophie is still the sewing guru.
What was your first cosplay together and why?
Zidane and Garnet from “Final Fantasy 9”. They suited us so much in personality and they were also a great project for each of our skill levels at the time. Sophie wanted to make a big dress with embroidery and Liza wanted to slowly get to know sewing techniques. Since the shape of Zidane’s outfit wasn’t too complicated it was a very good starter project. Funnily enough, Liza’s second sewing experience ever (still under the watchful eye of Sophie) awarded her 2nd place in her first cosplay fashion show.
How do you select what to cosplay?
By what we love! We are very much gamers and often we fall in love with specific videogames and characters. It then becomes very easy to figure out who cosplays who since we have a different taste in characters while we do love the same games. Sometimes when we have too many plans that we can’t choose from we’ll start making a “pros and cons” list together. We both write down these points and through that we’ll arrive at our next duo project. These discussions are very necessary since we’re a duo. But once we’ve chosen the characters we have a lot of fun supporting each other and debuting the outfits together at events.
What does cosplay mean to you?
It means a way to express our love for the videogames we play and a way to be creative. The skills we’ve been able to obtain and the people we’ve met make us incredibly happy! We can also never see a movie or theatre production the same way again. After meeting professionals in the field and getting to know how the costume industry works, it really emphasizes how much of a one-man-show a cosplayer is. A movie studio has a team for costume, make-up, hair, styling, but a cosplayer is all these people in one. Representing the Netherlands at many different international finals (World Cosplay Summit, ECG, EuroCosplay, CICAF in China etc.) also made us realize just how amazingly talented cosplayers are. These international finals are always such a treat to be a part of because it gives you the opportunity to learn so much from each other. And because we all share the same hobby, cosplay becomes a way to connect with people from all over the world.
Do you have any plans with cosplay for the future?
We have a crafting show on Twitch that we want to give a lot more time and love to, because it’s so much fun and we’d really like to see it grow and succeed. Next to that, we want to share the love of cosplay and give more panels and workshops at (international) events. But in the end, we’re still crafters and we never want to stop learning, so we’ll keep on trying out new techniques and materials and finding out new ways to make a character come to life.
There is a rumour that cosplay is a very expensive hobby. Do you agree?
It depends. We will admit that we’re lucky to have sponsors, because it gives us the freedom to experiment with materials and figure out the best techniques without having to worry that much about the price tag. However, cosplay can be as expensive as you make it. The three factors that influence your costume are: skill, time, and money, but you only need two to make a great costume. Pick any two and combine them. If you’ve got skills and money, you don’t need a lot of time- but if you’re willing think creatively and put in the necessary time, you can make amazing costumes under a small budget. We feel it’s more about balance: we never want to spend too much on our costumes, but some materials and techniques are just not worth the time.
What would be your ultimate tip for a new cosplayer?
We have three.
Tip #1 Ask for help. A lot of cosplayers (The two of us included) love helping with questions and we also post a lot of tutorials. So, you won’t stand all alone when starting your project!
Tip #2 Do NOT shape hot worbla on your face/body and please do use proper protection gear for the more hazardous materials. In general, stay safe everyone! (On our Twitch streams, you’ll often see Liza remind everyone of the safety rules and then Sophie proceeds to break them. “Do as I say, not as I do.” – Sophie, 2017)
Tip #3 Have fun! This is such an obvious one but it can really shape the core of your ‘cosplay career’. If your core was one focused on what others want this will catch up with you later. So, cosplay for yourself (or in our case also a bit for each other)! Others will cheer you on regardless and will only be extra inspired by your passion.
Team Paraluna will visit GameOn and not only judge local cosplayers but will also share their experience during GameOn III Conference during public discussion “How to become a cosplayer?”. GameOn III will happen on September 16th-17th.