Star Costumes was lucky enough to catch up with cosplayer Taylor Bennett (aka hmwsgx – just try to pronounce that), and the lovely Taylor was nice enough to answer a few of our questions.
Could you give us a little background on who you are and what you do?
I am a graduate art student that majored in 2D Studio art, and switched to costume-based art during my Masters in Art. Currently, I am a part-time art instructor at a community college. I am a huge sci-fi nerd, and extremely obsessed with Bioware games (if my costume roster did not make it obvious).
What initially interested you in cosplay and when was this? What was your first costume?
I saw photos of cosplay when I was in high school around 2002 or so. I thought it was really strange and I didn’t completely understand the concept, but I was fascinated by the idea of dressing up as my favorite characters. I finally decided to take the plunge into cosplay in 2007 when I saw Jia Jem’s Rydia costume. Her insane amount of dedication to detail and bringing a 2D character to life inspired me to give costuming a shot.
I barely knew how to use a sewing machine, but I wanted to learn, there was this hunger to get my hands on a new material and try a new creative outlet so I knew I would have to dedicate my time and energy if I was serious about making my own costume. I took a theatre costuming class to learn about pattern making and how to sew with different fabrics, and I read a lot of tutorials online. My first cosplay was Tali’Zorah from Mass Effect 1. It was a poor choice on my end since I was a sewing novice and knew little about armor making, but it was well received. The feedback and lessons I learned helped me progress and get better at cosplaying.
What’s your favorite aspect of making costumes and cosplaying in general?
My favorite part when I am making costumes is finding the materials–shopping! I know that is such a girly reply but I feel so satisfied when I find the perfect fabric, even better when I find something on sale or have coupons to save money! It is hard to choose the best part of cosplaying at a con, but I would have to say it is seeing the reaction on other people’s faces. It feels fantastic when someone shouts my character’s name across a room or runs up to me asking for a photo and that they have been trying to find me all day. Meeting people who appreciate the series I am cosplaying from is the best feeling in the world, because we are both sharing this total geek-out moment and discussing our favorite parts about the characters and story.
I think my favorite specific moment was cosplaying as Female Shepard at San Diego Comic Con. I was bummed out that I didn’t have my Morinth costume ready and I used my FemShep dress as a backup for the Bioware Costume Contest. I felt completely insecure because my costume was so plain compared to other cosplayers’ elaborate Mass Effect costumes, but then I decided I was going to make the most of it and have fun with my cosplay by assuming the role of “Party Shepard.” With a bottle of wine I borrowed from an open bar and a sway in my walk, I shambled on stage and turned on an obnoxious and loud personality with plenty of “drunk” dancing. People loved it and I had a blast! I still get messages and emails from people explaining how they saw me on BiowareTV and that I was their favorite cosplayer at the contest by that performance alone.
Is there anything you don’t like about making costumes or cosplaying?
Making costume patterns from scratch. That is the most difficult part and it is endlessly frustrating when I cannot figure out how to get the sizing just right.
What do you currently have in the works? Anything you’ve been dying to make?
Currently I am working on a Wrex from Mass Effect for my friend, which just so happens to be a costume I have been dying to make! I am also working on Scout’s mom from Team Fortress 2 and I am considering a costume from Borderlands–not sure which character to make yet.
Expanding on the last question, what factors go into deciding who you want to cosplay as?
There are a few factors, the most important is cosplaying from a series I absolutely adore. I think it shows how passionate I am about Mass Effect and Dragon Age since those two are the only series I have cosplayed from (so far!), and I think fans of the series are happy to know I am genuinely interested in the games and not just choosing the costume because it looks cool. I am also a glutton for punishment and go for costumes that are complex and rarely seen in the cosplay community.
Another important factor in choosing a costume is how much fun it will be to cosplay that character. I enjoy characters that are morally ambiguous, like Aria T’Loak and Flemeth. They make me feel conflicted and unsure of their motives–although their actions do seem to be driven by their own selfish desires, but who can blame them? That is a realistic personality. On the other hand, I have cosplayed as characters I don’t care for such as Miranda and Morinth (sorry fanboys!). I thought it would be fun to cosplay them since people at cons say things about my Miranda cosplay like “I chose Jack over you! Sorry, I have a soft spot for bad girls” and I just HAVE to interact with some in-character quip, and when I cosplay as Morinth I act like a minx–it is insanely fun to do and fans get a kick out of it.
Any helpful advice for fellow cosplayers?
Never get discouraged, whether it is negative comments on your costume, your skill level, etc. The worst thing you can do to yourself is start comparing your work to cosplayers who have either been making costumes for years, have fancier tools and equipment, or a bigger budget. Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t have the right budget, tools, body type, gender, or personality for a character. If you want to dedicate your time, money, and passion into a certain costume that is your business and no one else’s. And always remember: HAVE FUN WITH IT!
A big thank you to Taylor for granting us an interview! Be sure to check out more of her work at her Deviant Art page: http://hmwsgx.deviantart.com/.