If you’re active on social media you might have come across this featured cosplayer without even realizing it. After discovering the world of cosplay at the age of thirteen with the character Freya from Chobits, Sutie has been on a tear cosplaying characters from anime, manga, comic books and western animation all the way into adulthood. Still mad about cosplay, Sutie has visited conventions all across the western half of the United States and has even hosted panels at a couple of them sharing tips and tricks along the way.
I was fortunate enough to get Sutie to sit down and talk to me a little about her life of cosplay and some of the challenges she has faced along the way.
The Mary Sue: What were some of your biggest challenges when you first started?
Sutie: Once I discovered people wore anime character costumes to conventions, I had to do it as well. I was so excited to get to be able to dress up as some of my favorite characters. When it came time to go to an anime convention by myself in cosplay, I felt so out of place. I felt I wasn’t nerdy enough for everyone there and became scared. I ran back to the hotel room I was sharing with my sister, grabbed a pillow, and screamed. I honestly pouted for a few minutes on the bed until I ran out of breath, turned over, and looked at the ceiling. “This is stupid, I’m wasting time,” I thought to myself. I pulled out the convention schedule to find something to do. I was so lost. Then noticed the video game room, now there’s something I’m good at! I went down to the video game room and played, or rather wiped out, all the nerdy players there. This gave me confidence to explore the rest of the convention in costume.
In short, at the first of my cosplaying days, I found it hard to find the confidence to go out in my character costumes. There is a lot of support now, thankfully, and if you ever feel like you’re alone or out of place just keep in mind that you are doing something that most ordinary people are too afraid to do themselves. Don’t be ordinary, be brave, be extra ordinary!
TMS: What is something that you know or do now that you wish you knew about when you first started?
S: You don’t always have to spend a lot of make a great costume. Armor and accessories made of foam look just as good as the ones made of expensive molding plastics. What makes the difference is the finish, or paint.
TMS: You also crossplay, how did you first get into that?
S: I had a friend who was brave enough to crossplay himself and I had helped him through the process, including making the costume. It was so much fun! We had matching characters (mine was not a crossplay) and I had never had so much fun cosplaying before. He inspired me to try it out myself. Of course, he wouldn’t let me try it alone and crossplayed as a character commonly shipped with my own! We crossplayed as Kouga and Kagome from InuYasha. It was a new costuming experience for me. I love challenges and this was full of them. Not only was I dressing like a man but I had to study the character farther to imitate his mannerisms. My makeup was done differently to emphasize a male bone structure. And I had to wear my clothing pieces differently than how I normally would.
TMS: Have you experienced any challenges specifically related to crossplay that you haven’t experienced while cosplaying female characters?
S: Yes, my hips are a big problem for male characters. I have very defined hips and with that an hourglass curve. I have to hide what I normally would show off. Wearing my pants higher or lower and also the way I move. Swinging my hips come naturally, especially since I’m a dancer. I would take wider stances when crossplaying and longer strides when walking. This helped keep me more boxy than curvy.
TMS: Along with being a cosplayer, you’re also a photographer. What do you wish more cosplayers knew about cosplay photography to make shoots go smoother?
S: Study your character for their expressions, mannerisms, and stances. When getting ready for a photo shoot as a cosplay photographer, I would do a bit of research on the show or character I will be photographing. Though, I may not watch that particular show or play that video game. It would help both you and the photographer if you know the character. This way you will get more dynamic pictures with more variety to choose from.
Also, don’t be afraid to communicate with your photographer what you are looking for or wanting. The more you communicate the better your product will be.
TMS: You like to make and use a lot of difficult props in your cosplay, do you have any tips for other cosplayers who want to do the same?
S: Be creative! You don’t have to use the typical materials used to make props. Try taking the time to brainstorm on what you could use instead. Think what looks like a particular shape and try using that. This is how I came up with the idea of using washable markers, gutted out, and painted gold for my Black Widow cuffs.
TMS: What is the longest amount of time you’ve spent putting together a cosplay in terms of hours?
S: It’s hard to keep track of hours but if I had to guess it would be my Elsa from Frozen. I have a record of 130 hours on that costume alone. I tend to make anywhere from 4 to 12 costumes in a year.
TMS: What is your dream cosplay?
S: This is a hard question because it seems if I have enough passion for a character, I find a way to do it. There are a couple costumes that I have put off doing in hopes of learning more of a craft before attempting them, such as full armor costumes. I feel as though I have much to learn still in the art of making costume armor. I have recently been trying out new techniques and will soon be attempting a couple of those costumes I have put on hold.
I’d like to thank Sutie for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer my questions. If you’d like to see more of her cosplay, she can found on Facebook.
L.B. is a coffee fueled anime junkie living in the wilds of Seattle. When not being completely engrossed in the latest simulcasts, he can also be found rambling on Twitter.