By Andrea "Yunie" McFall
Joining with Cosplay Blog with a Brain, this is our next cosplayer interview, featuring Ger Tysk! She's an author and cosplayer from Massachusetts, who has an amazing collection of costumes!
[Ger Tysk as Sheryl Nome from Macross Frontier, photo by Fenyx Design]
Andrea McFall: What's your cosplay alias and why did you choose it?
Ger Tysk: I generally just go by my name, Ger Tysk for my personal cosplay work. Some of my older sites are also under "Gerodere," who is a character from the manga, Rose of Versailles. My friends thought it was hilarious because his name started with "Ger," and it stuck.
AM: How many years have you been cosplaying and what got you started?
GT: I've been cosplaying since 2007. I've wanted to cosplay since around 2000, but due to finances and other situations, it wasn't feasible then. In 2007, a few friends convinced me to join them in a group for a convention. The group fell through, but I finished the costume anyway and haven't stopped since.
[Ger Tysk as Berserker Yuna from Final Fantasy X-2, photo by Elemental]
AM: What has been some of your favorite things to work with when constructing costumes and why?
GT: I'm first and foremost a prop maker. I dislike sewing and honestly don't think I'm very good at it; for me it's more a means to an end. Props seem to come more naturally to me. I do mostly woodworking and not as much with things like resin and casting.
AM: What are you excited to be working with in the future and why?
GT: I actually scaled back my cosplay for the last year, as I was traveling the country to work on my cosplay photobook, Breaking All The Rules: Cosplay and the Art of Self-Expression, and all my money is going toward that. I'm really excited about the book though, and not being able to make a lot of new costumes is a tradeoff that is more than reasonable.
The book is a collection of photographs and interview of cosplayers from around the United States. I managed to get at least one cosplayer from 43 different states to tell their story of why they started cosplaying, why they still cosplay, and what keeps drawing them back to this hobby. The biggest message I want to put out there with this book is that there is no "right" or "wrong" way to cosplay. There are people of all ages, ethnicities, backgrounds, and stories in the book, but the thing they all have in common is that cosplay has helped them discover a new, interesting side of themselves. The best part about putting this book together was seeing the list of people's day jobs on each page. Cosplayers truly come from all walks of life.
AM: What are some of the traits you like to see in other costumes and who do you think does well in them?
GT: A well-tailored and well-fitting costume does a lot. It doesn't have to be fancy to catch my attention. I'm a child of the 80s and 90s when it comes to anime, so anything old school (Macross, Fushigi Yuugi, Cowboy Bebop, Utena) automatically draws me more than anything. Well-made props also make me look twice and want to take someone's picture.
AM: What is your view of the "cosplay scene"?
GT: I find it fascinating how the cosplay "scene" has been changing from when I started until now. Facebook and the internet have played a big part in how well-known some cosplayers are in the community, as well as the proliferation of things like commissions, prints, US-based wig stores like Arda Wigs, and cosplay photography. I'm older than most of the cosplayers in the scene, so sometimes I feel a bit detached and left out, which can be both good and bad. I have been interviewing people from all over the country as I travel and most of them tell me that they have frustrations with the scene wherever they are, but it doesn't diminish their enjoyment of the hobby.
AM: What are some of the things you want to see change in the scene?
GT: As with any niche interest that gets popular, cosplayers are a much more diverse group now, and in a group this big, there are always not so nice people. I think the advice of "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" really holds true in cosplay. People do it for fun, as a hobby and as an escape from real life, to find people who are into the same interests as they are. There are already plenty of mean people out there in the world; cosplayers should respect their fellow cosplayers and just enjoy themselves.
[Ger Tysk as Eiko from Final Fantasy IX, photo by Anna Fischer]
AM: What is some advice you could give people starting to get into cosplay?
GT: My advice is generally for younger people in junior high school or high school. I've seen a lot of people who want to cosplay, but don't have the money or have gotten into arguments with their parents, who don't understand. Do what you can to the best of your ability. Don't alienate your family because of cosplay or neglect school because of cosplay; there will always be next year.
AM: What are some of your favorite conventions you've attended and why?
GT: Anime Boston is my home convention and Otakon was my first real con experience, so those two hold a special place in my heart. Anime USA this year was really fun for me as well. It was smaller and held at the end of the year, and I enjoyed the laid-back vibe.
AM: Give a random fact about one of your costumes that you're proud of!
GT: I guess I'm most proud of my monster Shiva wig (Final Fantasy X). It cost a lot of money and took a long time to make, and I'm very happy about the way it came out.
[Ger Tysk as Shiva from Final Fantasy X, photo by Elysium Entertainment]
Andrea "Yunie" McFall is a co-host of podcast Panel 2 Panel, now featured on Bleeding Cool. She also works with Anime Jam Session and Cosplay Blog with a Brain, spreading as much geekiness around as possible. You can find her on Twitter as @Koiengi and on Facebook under Yunie/Koi.