Jinkies!! Today we have the opinionated, award-winning, and talented Gina B. She has a lot of good cosplay ideas. Her best is of course Velma for me. Check out her Facebook page and see what you like the most from her Cosplay history.
Andy: What was the first convention you went to? Who or what made you go? Did that convention get you hooked more into “geekdom”?
Gina B.: I actually owe my exposure to cosplay from a girl who lived a block away from me. I cannot recall her appearance, nor her name, but she was a few years older than me, and I saw her frequently when I would walk home from school. Back in middle school, I was a quiet, shy type who always dressed overly tomboyish. One day walking home from school I ran into her and she saw my DBZ T shirt I was wearing and asked if I actually watched the show. When I told her I was an avid fan, she explained how she is an anime fan as well, and was attending a convention that summer in Baltimore. She described all the panels, and costumes, and fun that made up a convention, and I became mesmerized from it all.
I was hell bent on going, and after doing various odd jobs, I was able to accumulate enough revenue to send myself. None of my family members wanted to go with me, so I had to pay an aunt to take me as well as all the hotel and badge fees. Once I got there though, I knew I found a community I wanted to be a part of. I was so thankful I did. For the first time in my life I had found people I could connect with. At that point in time, I was picked on a great deal because I wore these ugly glasses, I had terrible acne, I was in Honor Society and I chose to read books in my spare time. [At the Conventions] I found people there that were like me and I have made some of my most valued friendships from conventions. Conventions showed me I can be who I want to be, because there are others out there who are like me and will value me for who I am.
Andy: What was your favorite anime when you were growing up? How did that foster a love of cosplaying inside you?
GB: Favorite anime growing up? Well lets be serious. I didn’t have internet back then to really watch stuff, so I would see things one of a few ways: Either someone I knew had episodes of something whether it was recorded on VHS or the actual official copy, and they would lend it to me.
My dad had many episodes of Gigantor and Speed Racer taped on VHS that I watched, as well as what was on cartoon network. I would watch stuff at cons, because it was the only place you could see certain things. So “growing up”, there was a severe limit on what COULD be watched. I watched basically the usual Toonami, and Adult Swim lineups, as well as things from friends like Serial Experiments Lain, and Guyver. Personally, I prefer anime that makes you really think; A Perfect Blue, Akira, Lain, Elfen Lied, Ghost in the Shell, the amount of depth to these are all amazing and fascinating to me. Watching anime of characters that I value, is the same though as reading. I fall in love with certain characters and try to emulate qualities I appreciate in these characters. Did watching anime or reading books directly make me want to cosplay before I knew about conventions? No. But once I learned about the Con culture, I knew instantly that I was going to be a part of it.
Andy: You put together a well put together “sexy” Velma, What was your thought process while making this costume? How much of the costume was made/ bought? What is it about Velma that made you want to cosplay her?
GB: Funny story, so I didn’t really come to appreciate the costume and the character until I had it all put together. Originally, it was slapped together because a photographer friend of mine asked me to do it for a photo shoot he wanted to do. I didn’t think much of it, and agreed.
The next month, I needed a costume for NYCC because I was working a booth, and my booth manager asked if I would dress “family friendly”. None of my costumes really are, so I brought Velma along, thinking nobody would notice me. Boy was I wrong. The next day I was all over reddit and imgur as her from my hall shots, and thats when I realized that I actually had a character that I really can affiliate with, as well as semi resemble.
As far as the actual costume, I found the sweater in a thrift store, and bought the socks. I made my skirt and shoes. She is my most simple costume to wear!
Andy: Are you a Pokemon Fan? What Version is your favorite?Why? What does Officer Jenny represent to you? What do you think of her character in the Anime?
GB: I am a MAJOR Pokemon fan. I was part of the generation of kids who would steal the trading cards out of each others desks during recess at school. I am part of the generation who was really the target audience when it first came here to the states. I played red blue and yellow on my Gameboy Color, and I still have them. I have a few favorite pokemon: Zapdos, Arcanine, Charizard, Umbreon, Ditto, and Pikachu. Of course, I will always love the first generations the most because it was part of my childhood, and it is all rose colored in nostalgia.
Officer Jenny though I think is an amazing thing to cosplay on the fact that you can run into others dressed as her, and it only adds to the cosplay. There is so much competitiveness about who is the best X costume nowadays, and people get upset when running into others who are in the same character outfits, but this is one where it really is a great thing. People always ask me though which Jenny I am. I always respond with “guess!”. They always get confused though when looking at my pin. It is in fact a military pin my father used to wear, and I took it and use it so that I have no affiliation with any particular Pokemon city, but still have some sort of militant sense to me. I have grown rather fond of that pin on my hat. In the anime, she really didnt have much depth as a character, but I thought I could have more fun as her than a generic Pokemon trainer, and I was right!
Andy: What character have you cosplayed as that you identify the most with? What is it about that character that makes you feel that you two have the same personality traits?
GB: Ironically enough, I have to say Velma. She is a pair of shoes I grew into, and the more I cosplay her, the more I find I share with her. Firstly, I know its a joke about her always exclaiming about her lost glasses, but sadly, I do it too! I am always taking off my glasses for just a moment to do something up close to my face, and the next thing I know, they are in the abyss of god knows where, and I am fumbling about looking for them. This is something my boyfriend never stops making fun of me for. But seriously, like I said, I am a very bookish person, and getting to cosplay someone who is is really a lot of fun.
Andy: What is a memorable moment at a Convention that you have had? Why does it stick out in your brain among all the other Convention moments you have had?
Gina B: I have a few moments that really stand out to me. Of late, they have more to do with my fans actually. For example, at NYCC, a dapper gentleman came to my booth and asked if I was in fact me, told me how meeting me in real life was one of his goals of the weekend, and how happy he was to meet me. It really touched me to know that he really enjoyed my work so much, and that he really wanted to meet me. I remember so many people like him now that have come up to me to tell me how much they wanted to meet me in person, and I try to talk to everyone who says so, that I have had some really pleasant conversations with them, and it really makes a convention that more enjoyable.
Andy: How have you seen cosplay change since you first started? Do you think it is a positive or negative change? Syfy is doing a cosplay show, do you think it will be a good or bad thing for cosplaying in general?
GB: This is something that has been in the focal point of the community as an issue of late, and there has been no lack of opinion. Regardless of my personal opinion, there has been a great flux in cosplay and the community itself, and with Facebook, everything has become more than just the core community participating in online facets, as well as conventions. The more mainstream geek culture has been spreading, the more the integrity of the community has disintegrated, and I personally think that making it a competition for TV can create stereotypes for the mainstream that do not necessarily hold true with the core community.
Andy: In a video about con etiquette you stated some ways not to pick up cosplayers, i.e. being a creeper, rude, or saying unwanted sexual comments,, can you state some ways that a guy/girl could pick up you or a fellow cosplayer?
Gina B: Oh there are tons of ways to get REJECTED [her emphasis] at a con, but many don’t talk about how to pick people up. Mostly with trying to communicate with cosplayers in general, [you need to] read the situation. If the cosplayer is dressed up in a lot of clothes and its hot out, they may be irritated. If they are dressed in very little and its cold out, they may be irritated. If they are wearing really high heels, and have been in a costume a long time, they may be irritated. This may be a reason as to why they are short with you and shoot you down. If they are walking away from the con, chances are they are going to get changed, or grab food, so stopping them then to hit on them is probably not a good idea. Its so hard to pick up especially female cosplayers because many guys are asking for their numbers, they are getting yelled at with random raunchy crap all the time and there is also the chance they are already taken. Just be respectful, and try to spark up a conversation about the costume, the show/game, or just life in general. Don’t be obnoxious, and let the person go if they are giving signs of being uncomfortable.
Andy: What skill or skills have you seen in other cosplay sewers that you wish you could do? What do you wish you knew when you were first starting to cosplay that you know know about the process of making a costume?
GB: I wish I had patience! There is many cosplayers I know that do incredible work with applique techniques that I wish I simply had the patience to do. Tons of beading work, etc. Granted, if I sat down and did it, I could probably accomplish it, but by no means do I wish that type of labor upon myself!
Simply what materials are better to use when. When is it better to use stretchy fabrics vs non stretchy. When is it better to use fiberglass vs styrene vs expanding foam for weapons and armor. Knowing what material to use, instead of trying to force an item out of the wrong material saves time, money and effort sometimes, and that is something I had to learn as I did it.
Andy: How do you choose the photographers for your cosplay shoots? How did you learn good posing for your cosplay photograph shoots?
GB: At first I worked with anyone who would walk up to me and ask for a shoot. I learned quickly though that just because someone is holding a fancy camera, doesn’t make them a professional photographers. After collecting a few hundred business cards, and pawing through their work, I have found and befriended the main photographers I work with for my page. I still let anyone take my picture, but may not be inclined to go off for an extended shoot anymore with just anyone.
How did I learn how to pose? The hard way. I would see the most horrible pictures of me at first because I clearly didn’t know what I was doing (I sort of still don’t to be honest). I watched every season of Americas Next Top Model, and practiced angles in a mirror. Now that I am friends with photographers, I ask to see the shots they take, and will move my body according to what I see in their lens to make a better photo. I am still learning though, and I feel awkward every time I am in front of a camera.
Andy: What are some tips you would give to a beginning cosplayer?
GB: Breathe! Manage your time in costume making, and dont think you can make something in a week. Give at least a month to make it. USE GOOGLE! I am constantly being asked questions of “how do I do X”. Chances are that I didnt know either, and found a tutorial online that someone else did, and went from there. I always use Google to see what others have done and what works for them or didn’t work for them.
Andy: What conventions will you be at this year?
Gina B: Too many! haha. But seriously, For 2013 I already went to Katsucon, and plan on attending Anime Boston, Anime Expo, Dragon*Con, and NYCC.