First name and last initial: Kiersten D.
Where are you from originally or reside currently? Central Pennsylvania
How long you have been cosplaying? Almost 2 years
Other Characters cosplayed: Midna from Twilight Princess, Zelda from Skyward Sword, Vanellope Von Schweetz from Wreck It Ralph, Mad Moxxi from Borderlands 2, an original Ravenclaw from Harry Potter named Persephone Plunkett, Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service, Jessica Jones, SpiderGwen, Merida from Brave, an original steampunk sorcerer, and Alice from American McGee’s Alice: Madness Returns.
1. Who or what inspired you to cosplay?
As odd as it sounds, the Syfy miniseries Heroes of Cosplay inspired me to pursue this as a hobby! I didn’t know cosplay was such a big thing and seeing what these amazing artists were creating and thinking to myself, “Hey, I can do that, too!” I just enjoyed dressing up with my friends and making crazy sketch videos for my YouTube channel. I dove into my first project head-first and I haven’t looked back!
My dad was also a big influence since he would always make my costumes growing up. I remember looking at pictures of my two-year-old self in a Princess Jasmine costume that my dad made for me and just being so impressed that somebody handmade that. And both of my parents and my boyfriend Josh have been such a huge support system for me, always cheering me on and holding me while I rant about not sewing a sleeve on correctly (this actually happened, I was sobbing haha).
2. What do you do when you aren’t cosplaying (hobbies, community service, or work)
When I’m not dressed up or running around at conventions, I love to play video games! My biggest games are The Legend of Zelda, Borderlands, and the Assassin’s Creed series. I’m always watching Let’s Plays on YouTube to take a peek at newer games coming out and mostly to watch someone play the horror games I’m too terrified to play myself. Game Grumps and Markiplier are the YouTubers I watch on a daily basis.
I’m also in a local costumed volunteer group called the Central PA Avengers and either help out as a handler or come in costume to our different volunteer events. So far I’ve been to one gathering for children with cancer, a Santa’s Workshop to help needy kids pick out fun gifts for Christmas, THON in State College, a blanket drive, and have helped run the Avengers booth at a local convention. I love being friends with a group so willing to give their talents back to the community it lives in.
3. What costumes have provided the biggest challenge and rewards so far and why?
My sewing projects have been the biggest challenge for me so far, and Merida and Alice were my two big sewing projects. I’m not a strong sewer, never have been (I prefer to build props and throw fake blood on things) but I try to work at it a little bit with each project hoping someday I’ll be able to do commissions for people.
As far as rewarding costume experiences go I think Merida has been the most rewarding. Her bow was my first big prop build and it turned out beautifully! I’ve been able to wear her more in the past few months as an Avenger than I have any of my other costumes and it’s always so much fun running around with the kids and letting them hold this giant bow that’s usually bigger than they are.
4. What is the best advice you would give someone new to cosplaying?
I always tell new cosplayers who come to my page and ask for advice to keep practicing their craft and that no matter what you look like, how old you are, or your gender, you can cosplay whoever you want! From day one of my page, I’ve tried to promote positivity within the cosplay community, always welcoming newcomers and complimenting as many people at conventions as possible.
My last piece of advice (and I always hate that this even has to be mentioned) is to remain alert when you’re at a convention or event and stick with your friends. There are far too many creeps out there who try and make you, a person in costume, into their sick fantasy by touching, making comments, or even taking photos without your permission. I’ve experienced situations like this while I’m at conventions and I don’t let the experience go unnoticed by the violator.
I welcome anyone at a convention who is being followed or harassed to come and walk with my friends. I have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to being harassed in cosplay and want my fellow costumers to feel safe when walking convention floors.
5. What is one thing the cosplaying community can do better when it comes to dealing with each other?
Recently I’ve seen the ugly, elitist side of the cosplay community. By elitist I mean someone who thinks their method is the only right way to make something or just generally look down on other cosplayers because they see themselves as “better” or “more skilled” and therefore don’t have to mingle or be nice to you. The sooner everybody realizes that we’re all doing the exact same thing, we all wear these costumes to escape for a little bit, or we make the costumes to scratch our crafting itch, the better the community will be. I mean, let’s face it. At the end of the convention, we’re all just a bunch of nerds dressing up as our favorite characters and that’s the coolest thing I think I’ve ever been a part of.