First name and last initial: TaLynn Kel
Where are you from originally or reside currently: Currently in Atlanta, GA
How long you have been cosplaying: 11 years – since 2005
Other Characters cosplayed: Ame Comi Raven, Asgardian Storm, Bishop, Blade, BloodStorm, Cable, Dark Phoenix, Deadpool, Domino, Frost, Hellboy, Luke Cage, Nick Fury, Nightcrawler, Nightwing, SubZero, Thanos, Typhoid Mary. I’ve also done some general characters like vampires, and a generic Sith Inquisitor.
1. Who or what inspired you to cosplay?
First, there’s my mom. She was someone who would see some old sheets and cardboard and decide that for Halloween, we’d be dinner tables. We couldn’t buy costumes every year, so we’d figure out what we could put together from stuff we had in the house. That is still a large part of the costumes I do…I enjoy flexing that creative muscle and my problem solving abilities. Not that cosplaying is a problem…well, it can be but regardless, it requires a lot of creative energy to figure out how to make some things happen.
Second, I live in Atlanta, so getting into cosplay was just a trip downtown during Labor Day weekend. I didn’t know what DragonCon was the first time I went, but after seeing all the people walking around in costume, I KNEW I’d be there in costume the next year. And I was.
As far as what costumes I decided to do? 2005 was the year that I started getting into internet quizzes and I was in love with X-men so I took the “Which X-Man Are You” quiz and got Dark Phoenix. At that time, I’d never read a comic book but Dark Phoenix’s back story was so compelling that I KNEW I needed to cosplay that character. It was a shitty cosplay which I wrote about in a blog called Letting Go, but your first cosplay doesn’t have to be great. It just has to be fun.
2. What do you do when you aren’t cosplaying? (hobbies, community service, or work)
I’m a writer. My day gig is as a contractor for health communications work. I also work on websites, develop content, and do some really crappy but effective image work. I submit content for Black Girl Nerds and Anime Complexium, and I blog on my personal site TaLynn Kel. I also develop content for convention panels. I will be debuting a new panel, “Cosplay in Non-Canon Bodies” at MomoCon in May and The State of Black Science Fiction 2016 Convention in June. I thought I did more stuff, but apparently, that’s it.
3. What costumes have provided the biggest challenge and rewards so far and why?
Every single costume is a challenge. I am a larger woman so many things don’t come in my size and I won’t learn to sew. While the clothing size issue is something that’s changing, it still causes some problems.
Now add to that that the things we are creating don’t often exist in real life. Taking that 2 dimensional costume and making it into something wearable presents a ton of issues. You start realizing really fast that you have to resize many accessories to fit a human. Or that torsos are longer than real people and legs and arms are obnoxiously stretched out to accommodate the visual aesthetic the comic artists want. All that said, I am particularly proud of my Thanos and my Ame Comi Raven costumes. Ame Comi Raven had a lot of small detailed pieces that I chose to make out of worbla and cardboard. It was tedious, but a lot of fun. I did not get that cape right, though. Epic fail on that. Thanos was a bit ridiculous. Having to make that chin was interesting. I did a passable job, but it wasn’t great. I know that I am going to learn to make prosthetics in the future because there are too many costumes I want to use them on so I need to learn to do it right. Or I’ll just make most of it up like I usually do. I’m not that concerned with everything being done right. I just want to do it safely and have fun.
4. What is the best advice you would give someone new to cosplaying?
Costumes are not made to accommodate bodies that do human functions, like breathe, eat, walk, see. It is your job to remember you need to do those things and to build that functionality into that costume or set realistic limitations on what you can do in costume. I’ve seen too many people get stuck in a costume, or get heatstroke, or dehydrate because they sacrificed their needs to get a certain look. That’s not cool. You are the most important part of your cosplay and you need to take care of yourself while you are doing it. Also, learn about the dangers of crafting. A lot of things give off toxic fumes and people are learning the hard way that you can poison yourself. Learn what tools you need to craft safely because this stuff can kill you.
5. What is one thing the cosplaying community can do better when it comes to dealing with each other?
Stop competing all the damn time. There doesn’t have to be a best anything. Many people bring such different perspectives and fun to cosplay that making it about “who did it better” just detracts from the whole scene. We can embrace the different ways people approach cosplay and recognize that it’s an art form with a ton of different ways it can be done. Let’s stop smothering the fun with this need to prove we’re the best because we aren’t. There is really no such thing.