By Andrea "Yunie" McFall
Joining with Cosplay Blog with a Brain, this is our next cosplayer interview, featuring Etaru! She's a cosplayer in Chicago who is very well known for her beautiful Alexiel costumes!
[Etaru as Angel from Tekken Tag Tournament 2, photo by Kevin Chan]
Andrea McFall: What's your cosplay alias and why did you choose it?
Etaru: "Etaru" was an online handle that I used for years before getting into cosplay. The name came from a fictional character I created in a Sailor Moon fanfiction I wrote many, many years ago that I hope will never surface to see the light of day.
AM: How many years have you been cosplaying and what got you started?
E: I've now been in it for going on 10 years, and that honestly feels like such a short time, and an incredibly long time, especially looking back to how and why I started. I had heard of anime conventions when I looked online and saw people dressed in gorgeous, extravagant costumes of their favorite characters, but had never done it myself. When I visited Denver, CO for a family event, I heard a convention called Nan Desu Kan would be held the same weekend, and went for a few hours dressed as Mireille Bouquet from Noir. I loved the experience so much that I went to another convention the following year, and another, and another.
[Etaru as Ms. Marvel from Marvel Comics, photo by Cliff Nordman]
AM: What has been some of your favorite things to work with when constructing costumes and why?
E: It's no small secret that I love working with feathers and constructing wings. Kind of a strange obsession, but there you have it. I find it very calming, and feathers are so tough to resist all forms of nature that they can survive through any anime convention. I've also developed a love for silks, and continue my love/hate relationship with vinyls and pleathers. Constructing corsets and close-fitting costumes is also growing on my list of things I enjoy making, in part due to the close attention to fitting and how it fits/makes my body appear; I think because it's a deviation from what I normally wear that I enjoy the difference of "real clothes" to "sensual costumes."
AM: What are you excited to be working with in the future and why?
E: I've never been exceedingly good with prop making or armor, but with the number of tutorials and materials becoming available for costumers online, I'd like to try my hand at it more in the near future.
AM: What are some of the traits you like to see in other costumes and who do you think does well in them?
E: I like to see a consistency of quality in costumes, and especially hold respect for portfolios that show an evolution of craftsmanship and taking on more challenging projects to try new techniques and approaches. There's just something to be admired about a cosplayer who usually specializes in fabrics, and takes on a challenging wig or armored costume. Yaya Han has done an exceptional job of this over the last few years, branching out of just fabric production to thermoplastics, resin casting, latex and even wig construction, branching out of her early comfort zones.
AM: What is your view of the "cosplay scene"?
E: The cosplay scene of today is in my view akin to candy: you know it's wonderful in moderation, but at some point, it becomes a poison to the body. It's great for constructive criticism, support, friendship building, and improving your own skills as a costumer. It just often takes itself too seriously.
AM: What are some of the things you want to see change in the scene?
E: I would love to see more constructive criticism and less de-structive criticism. It's not a competition of who's the most talented, the prettiest, the boldest, or who gets the most attention in the media. I'd love to see more of the comradery that initially attracted me to the community.
[Etaru as Unknown from Tekken Tag Tournament 2, photo by LJinto]
AM: What is some advice you could give people starting to get into cosplay?
E: Have fun! Don't be afraid of critics, there's bound to be one rotten egg in a dozen. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again – the beauty of cosplay is that you can always remake or fix boo-boos. Don't be overwhelmed, take it easy and build up your skills and the complexity of your costumes. Challenge yourself, because there's nothing more beautiful than seeing a creation you've made slowly come to life. Give yourself credit, feel pride in what you make and that you accomplished something special, no matter how simple or complex. Respect yourself, don't invest in anything you don't feel happy doing or spend all that time making it just to satisfy others.
AM: What are some of your favorite conventions you've attended and why?
E: My opinion of favorite conventions has changed with my expectations of them are, and what I hope to get out of attending them. I've loved Fanime for the quality of photoshoots and photographers, but Dragoncon and Colossalcon for the company and very laid back atmosphere of the convention goers and locations.
AM: Give a random fact about one of your costumes that you're proud of!
E: In 2013 I chose to make a new Alexiel costume from Angel Sanctuary, knowing I had advanced my crafting skills to make wings more efficient, light, and realistic looking than those constructed in 2008. I'm extremely proud that I could make them so light they needed no shoulder straps by cutting back on heavy material use (replacing chicken wire with embroidery floss), and engineering them so they could be taken apart into three pieces to fit into a standard suitcase. No more lost packages in transit to a convention!
[Etaru as Alexiel from Angel Sanctuary, photo by Judith Stephens]
Andrea "Yunie" McFall is a co-host of podcast Panel 2 Panel. 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 Y