Dressed to Inspire , Cosplay with Sarah Cain
If you've ever been to a gaming or comic convention, you have probably taken notice of the world of Cosplay. Cosplay is a combination of drama, fashion and makeup. It is the art of becoming a character from a popular video game, movie, or comic. While the quality of this art form ranges from simplistic to breathtaking, there is one thing present in every cosplayer: Courage.
Whether they’re just learning or are professional artists, Cosplayers stand up and reveal their creativity to the world by the thousands. Unlike most artists, they don’t display their art in a gallery, they themselves are part of the art. And every word, be it criticism or praise is right there in their face.
Recently I found one cosplayer whose talent far exceeds anything I've seen in the past. She has meticulously crafted several weapons and armor sets from Guild Wars 2. The most noteworthy was her recreation of the Legendary Weapon "The Juggernaut".
Today we sit down and discuss the life of a Cosplayer with Sarah Cain.
Thank you Sarah for spending time with us at Gaiscioch Magazine to answer our questions. To start things off, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to get into Cosplay?
Hi! I'm so excited! Cosplay has been such a wild ride so I'm glad to share story. My very first cosplay was YEARS ago. I was fresh out of high school and I dressed as Trinity from “The Matrix” to the movie premiere. It was so fun I loved it (sadly that coat was stolen, jerks!). I had a lot of fun and it was crazy to see people’s reaction. I just wanted to do something cool that I liked. I never thought strangers would be so accepting but it was a great first experience.
Can you tell us a little about your first experience with Cosplay? What was running through your head when you wore your first creation in public?
I would say my first convention cosplay really surprised me. I created a Xena costume and the response was amazing, seeing people smile and gasp at something that affected their life at some point made me feel great. I got hugs and just stares where you could tell they reliving a good memory. I felt almost responsible to do the character justice and really make people's day with a cool pose or something. So it brought me out of my shell quite a bit which is something I never expected.
Do you ever have any stage fright? If so how did you conquer it?
I find cosplay to be almost like wearing a mask. Normally I have serious stage fright, getting up on a stage, having everyone looking at me, man I get anxiety thinking about it, but in costume I feel almost empowered and I have no issues. It’s weird.
So fast forward to today, you've become renowned as a Cosplayer and I'm very impressed with your work. You were invited by ArenaNet studio to go to PAX South, did you ever imagine your work would bring you here?
ArenaNet has been VERY kind to me. I'm at a loss for words just thinking about all they have done for me. PaxSouth was such an act of kindness on their part, It’s rare to see giant companies notice the small folk and bring them along to pal around with for a day. It was amazing. They are such a nice group of people. I have put some serious play time into Guild Wars 2 and like I said before, I just wanted to do something cool that I loved. Plus, I thought my guild would get a kick out of it. I never thought Anet would be showing my work on their social media pages, I have even gotten in-game messages from the Anet devs saying ‘hi.’ And the players of Guild Wars are super nice as well, I never experienced anything but positivity. ArenaNet is a great company and they do good work for their fans.
Let's take a look at the steps to come up with a great Cosplay design. You’ve decided what you want to be, what's your process for creating a character?
First I just spend a lot of time thinking. Cosplay is hard work and can be expensive so I try to get a good plan together so I don’t waste materials. When making armor, cheap craft foam is my friend. I make a pattern as best I can and make the armor out of foam first, and then if I like it, I move on to Worbla or leather.
Do you work alone or do others contribute to your work?
My husband is the best teammate I could ask for. However he is a perfectionist and when he makes something, its amazingly detailed and perfect, it’s maddening. I don’t have the ethic but it makes me step up my game so it’s nice to have him always pushing me to do better work.
What goes through your head before you show your work for the first time?
Devil is in the details, I make sure it’s as close to original art as possible. Its about recreating a character, so I just want to make sure I look the part and can sell the hell out of it.
Is there anything you do to prepare yourself for the big reveal? (Music? Meditation?)
I normally reveal a few teasers online then I get with an amazing photographer and let the awesome photos of the completed project do the talking. Then I just wait for comments to pour in because I will only show something that I'm proud of and want to share.
Can you share with us any memorable moments that you've had while Cosplaying?
It would be my most recent with my Dragon Age Inquisition group at Denver Comic Con. I have never gone with a group, and having people that are chill and just talented invite you to be with them all day, there is nothing better. People’s reactions are amazing to group cosplays, they just lose their minds. It ups the wow factor for sure.
What are the professional applications of Cosplay? Could someone make a living doing this?
There are a lot of cosplayers out there that do this for a living. I would imagine it's hard work, as you always need new content, something that keeps people entertained. I like taking my time on cosplay projects, I'm doing this because I love it and it's amazingly fun. I wish I had more time to churn out costumes likes the pros do. I admire them for where they have gotten.
What's your long term plan for your passion? Where do you want to be with this in the next 5 to 10 years?
I hope I'm still dressing up and making fans happy in 5-10 years. I better know how to sew by then that’s for sure. I really hope I can get my craft down and maybe participate in convention panels or maybe even one day have a booth to meet fans and take pictures with.
From what I've seen, you've displayed amazing courage in your choice of art form. What advice could you offer to someone who was thinking of taking up Cosplay?
Ok this one I'm passionate about, so sorry in advance for the long response. Women have an interesting representation in video games and comics. Some would argue they are overly sexualized while others would say that men are as well and there is a double standard. Lots of video games have unrealistic attire the females are made to wear. However, I’m not that sensitive so it doesn’t bother me. But like I said earlier, it’s about me doing what I love. And I love badass looking armor. They are practical and the character can still look hot. I never understood when in a game a character wearing a chainmail bikini and that is able to ricochet arrows, that makes no sense, but it’s good for a laugh. I do get a lot of flak for my choice of attire though. “It’s not cosplay if she’s not showing skin” I just roll my eyes at this, but it brings up a large issue for new people starting out, especially girls/women. The pressure to dress up as a sexualized character is strong within the online community. You have to have a thick skin very early on, people can be mean. But in my experience I have had such an outpour of support and acceptance, so with every one bad comment there are a 100 of the positive ones.
Personally I have nothing against sexy cosplays, but I'm in a badass warrior stage at the moment. What I do have an issue with is when I see these cosplay groups on Facebook, girls posting naughty pictures that are not even close to cosplaying just trying to get likes. It’s really sad. Don’t sell yourself short. If you’re starting out, do what you find is cool, do what you love, find a style you like and work on that. Don’t let the internet pressure push you outside of your comfort zone. Cosplay is art. If you like crafting and creating things then that’s great! Keep at it! If you want to invite people on your journey, make a page and post what you’re working on. That’s what I did, first it was just my friends and family, now it’s all over the world! Which is awesome.
What is your perspective on the recent incidents that have been in the news about harassment during the New York Comic-Con and other conventions?
Yeah, this sucks. Its not just NYCC though, it's everywhere all the time! I don’t know what goes through these people’s minds where they think it's ok to go up to a girl and grab her ass or touch her boobs. We are real people!! With feelings! It’s unacceptable. And what sucks is how quiet everyone is about it. Girls, if you are touched and you don’t like it, you say something, loud. These people are not stupid, they know what they are doing, they need to know what they did is wrong.
Has that sort of thing happened to you? If so, how do you deal with it?
Yeah actually and its funny because it was at NYCC. Some mammoth of a man, man he was huge, very tall and much stronger than I, just came over to me, picked me up and started walking away with me. Couldn’t believe it. He was laughing and his friends were as well. He put me down very quickly. I looked at him with a mean look and said not okay and walked away, he told me to lighten up and I just shot another WTF look. I should have said more to him. Something I will always regret. It’s scary how easy it is for someone to hurt you.
In good humor I have to ask, did you ever expect to see yourself on the cover of a magazine? :D
Haha, Never in my life. Its an honor and I'm very excited but man, what a mind job.
Do you have any closing words for our readers?
I love all my fans so much. Keep spreading kindness and keep being awesome.
Lastly, where can we find out more about you and your artistry?
I mostly update my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sarah-Cain-Cosplay/1450484461847462 and twitter @SarahCain452
In Cosplay there is a fine line between the lewd and classy and in my opinion your work is the epitome of elegance and grace. Thank you again for sharing your story with us. I hope to get a chance to meet you at one of the conventions in the future.
About the Author
Benjamin "Foghladha" Foley
Benjamin founded the Gaiscioch Social Gaming Community in 2001 and has since been the founder & activities director for this well known community. His role has gone beyond just running the Gaming Community and now includes running the Athletics Program in Portland, Oregon, as well as acting as the Managing Editor of the Gaiscioch Magazine, and is the Lead Producer on the Gaiscioch Livestream Productions. Additionally he networks with game developers to form relationships between Gaiscioch and development studios.
His experience in publishing dates back to helping his Grandparents who operated a printing press for over 40 years. In high school and college Benjamin excelled in journalism and played an active part in the school newspaper. Benjamin currently works full time as the director of technology for a franchise trade publication & education company.