First Name & Last Initial: Stella K.
Where are you from or where do you reside currently? Long Island, New York
How long have you been cosplaying? Since I was 14.
Other Characters Cosplayed: Among all my cosplays, my favorites are Renji Abarai and Sosuke Aizen (Bleach), Kanda Yuu (D. Gray Man), Turkey and Greece (Hetalia), Kiba Inuzuka (Naruto), and all my Prince of Tennis cosplays (I cosplay over 20 characters from that series alone!).
1. Who or what inspired you to cosplay?
The moment I discovered cosplay, I immediately wanted to take part! I actually discovered cosplay through watching masquerade skits from various conventions on youtube. After seeing other people’s creative cosplays and acting, my middle school friends and I wanted to film our own. We sewed our first cosplays in high school, and would get together on Friday nights to just hang out in them. Sometimes we would do silly things like play DDR or walk to the local pizza place in Naruto cosplay and attempt to stay in character the whole time. Other times, we would try making cosplay music videos with all the fancy effects that Windows Movie Maker had to offer, haha.
There’s something magical and purely fun about getting to be your favorite character, to become a character you’re so passionate about! It was a nice escape from academics, and these experiences really brought us closer as friends. For me, just being able to embody a character that I love or find incredibly intriguing is an amazing experience. It’s truly a way to live your fantasy!
2. What do you do when you aren’t cosplaying (hobbies, community service, or work)?
I work as a map technician for a company that provides clients with spatial data. I basically sit behind a computer all day, delineating residential boundaries using various mapping and spatial analysis softwares like ArcGIS and QGIS. So I’m kind of a geoscience nerd, which is also what I studied in college during my undergrad (I have a BA in both geology and geography). In keeping with that interest, I love outdoor activities like hiking, rock collecting (my collection is HUGE) and trail running. I also love rollerblading — it’s my favorite mode of transport! I actually originally got into rollerblading from reading a manga called Air Gear, which focused on high-tech, motor-powered roller blades that the protagonists would ride and battle with. I also like to draw with my graphic tablet, and care for my three fish in my free time.
3. What costumes have provided the biggest challenge and rewards so far and why?
My most rewarding cosplay was DEFINITELY Greece from Hetalia. Because I actually got to have a photo shoot for this cosplay…in Athens. Ever since reading Hetalia, I immediately fell in love with Greece due to his exciting history and philosophical, sleepy, and relaxed mannerisms. Last summer, one of my best college friends invited me to spend a month with her extended family in Greece. Originally, I wasn’t going to bring any cosplay because I felt like I would be very self-conscious to wear it in public. But my friend convinced me that getting a photo shoot for my favorite Hetalia character in his homeland was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up! So I decided, heck, I’ll bring my Greece cosplay. And I’m so glad I did. On one of the cooler days, my friend and I traveled to the 1896 Olympic Stadium, the Temple of Zeus, and the National Gardens to get some really special photos of my Hetalia cosplay. It was a surreal, humbling experience, to cosplay APH Greece amidst such monumental sites in a country that I had grown to love so much. Another funny thing was that Greece (the character) in Hetalia is obsessed with cats, based off of the fact that Athens has several strays running around the city. I actually found a rather friendly, adorable kitten near the Acropolis who sweetly crawled into my lap for a few photos! I am allergic to cats, but this was well worth it!
4. What is the best advice you would give someone new to cosplaying?
This probably sounds cliché, but just have fun with it! These days, cosplay can seem like a popularity contest, or about constructing the most impressive-looking outfit. But some of the simplest, most basic-looking costumes can be the most fun to wear because you love a certain character the most and being them makes you feel good. I choose cosplays based on the characters I feel the most passionately about, so let that guide you!
5. What is one thing the cosplaying community can do better when it comes to dealing with each other?
To be honest, I haven’t personally experienced much drama in the community, but I have a really solid group of cosfriends, so I’m very lucky and thankful to have them. I have heard of a few terrible incidents happening, mostly with the online community. Things like making fun of cosplayers’ appearances on “bad cosplay” blogs and leaving hateful comments. I think I would give everyone general advice to not take cosplaying too seriously. Now, I don’t mean to say that cosplaying isn’t a serious or important hobby to be interested in! Be as passionate with cosplay as you want, I know I’m very passionate about it! But don’t take it too seriously, as in, don’t hold cosplayers to some unreachable standard of quality and look down on those who don’t meet it. Some people cosplay to look perfect and accurate (and that is perfectly fine!), but I just cosplay to show my love for my favorite characters and to make friends with other geeks. And that’s okay, too.