Cosplay Feature – Emily Hjermstad

Emily Hjermstad’s World of Warcraft Dragon Hunter cosplay is not only stunning, but something we haven’t seen too much of here in the UK.  As a result, it really stopped us in our tracks and as part of our ongoing series featuring cosplayers, we asked Emily for an interview.  Luckily for us she was lovely to talk to and granted our request 🙂

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Hello! My name is Emily Hjermstad, I’m a freelance environmental artist, 3D modeler and cosplay enthusiast. I am an adamant believer that anything can be achieved if you work hard enough, and that bananas should be opened from the non-stem end.

What or who inspired you to Cosplay?

Mmm that’s a big question, I’d definitely say videogames come first and foremost. I’ve done very few cosplays, with my World of Warcraft dragon hunter being by far the biggest and most expensive. I love a lot of designs in games, using them as both inspiration for my art and cosplay- The impracticality of most designs is all part of the fun! My sempai mentor cosplayers have got to be Lightning Cosplay, Oshley Cosplay and Egg Sisters Cosplay.

Are there specific types of character that you particularly gravitate towards and why?

I definitely have a passion for characters the games I cosplay, and I generally pick player characters to imagine myself as them in real life. For World of Warcraft especially I like to create sets I worked hard to earn ingame and have lots of memories raiding with friends to get.

What for you have been the most challenging characters that you’ve cosplayed as, and which have been the most enjoyable?

The most challenging is definitely my Wyrmstalker Hunter from WoW, she took something like a year of collecting materials and planning before I even got properly started! I learned to wire LEDs for the costume, though I have yet to do a dusk shoot and show off my hard work. It was very uncomfortable to wear, but peoples reactions were worth it.

Most enjoyable so far would probably have to be Altair from Assassins Creed. Though not a technical marvel, it was a comfortable costume I could easily bring to conventions and had a great time running around in.

Could you take us through a little on how you made your outfits?

First and most importantly is the planning stage, and this definitely takes the longest. I have to size everything relative to myself (10 foot weapons galore) and work out what materials might give me the right effects, as well as durability, weight, texture and more. Then comes the ordering, gathering and budgeting of materials to get ready for actual building. Then I go into a process of trial and error to ensure each individual piece works, fits and looks good when worn. I often have been surprised about how please people are when you take an interest in a niche field to do small parts of costumes, so I find myself consulting with people across the world who are exceptionally talented and have the kindness and time to help advise me.

There’s always a last minute crisis when it comes to costumes, so you have to be prepared for when it all very suddenly comes crashing down. For my Wrymstalker in particular, I had beautiful dragon wing pauldrons that I just simply could not mount all the way up to the last minute, so I had to pull them apart and build new shoulders. Having extra materials, securing methods and adhesives is really important for when stuff goes wrong both on shoot and in workshop.

Which Conventions have the most enjoyable for you to attend and why?

After attending events like Dragon-con, ECC, London comicon and Fanfest, I have a special place in my heart for my very first convention/cosplay at Tsukino-con, Victoria BC. It’s a tiny little convention at a university, but I’ve been attending since its very first year. It’s so much fun because you really get to know everyone there, I’ve had people recognize me a year or two later and remember what I last cosplayed. It’s all so relaxed and friendly, without the big convention stresses.

Emily Hjermstad 1

Have there been any memorable reactions to your costumes, and if so, what were they?

During my Wyrmstalker photoshoot, we we’re in a public park so I was getting loads of cellphone pictures and we happened to find a good shooting spot near a playground. A really young girl walked up, stopped about 10 feet away and said very quietly and shyly that she thought my costume was cool. I told her she could pat my dragon head if she wanted and she buried her face in her pink backpack then waved goodbye. It was so cute. I hope to inspire a new generation of dragon hunters!

A question about photographers. Obviously cosplayers are a dream come true for photographers, great outfits and poses, does it ever get a bit tiring having to pose endlessly for them, and how do you prefer to be approached by a photographer?

I love love love having my photograph taken, feeling like a rockstar is a huge part of the experience! Photographers should definitely come talk to a cosplayer before they take a shot, and never be afraid to correct our poses. Don’t settle for boring looking poses, if I’ve been getting shots for hours I will quite easily fall into a rut so help my costume look really cool! All this being said, carrying really huge props can be very taxing physically so let your cosplayer have lots of stretches or adjustments.

Just make sure you don’t:

– Take pictures without permission (even a questioning look until the cosplayer gives you a nod and pose counts!)

– Take pictures during adjustments or costume corrections

– Ask for or take pictures while a cosplayer is clearly eating or otherwise engaged. Either come back after, or ask to plan a shoot later based on schedule. I don’t want Azeroth to be seeing me with half a subway sandwich dangling out of my mouth.

What impact has cosplaying had on your life?

I find my digital life has been changed drastically, I love watching other cosplayers progress, art, efforts and problem solving. I hoard materials, instructions, ideas and references. Cosplay is really teaches you to make something out of nothing which I have found very valuable. It’s a huge art inspiration and gets me to pursue skill sets I never would have otherwise considered. I mean where else do you see people who know leatherworking alongside armoursmiths, 3D printing geeks and LED engineers? Incredible people out there!

Do you have any advice for anybody thinking of cosplaying?

Go for it. Seriously. Whether you plan it months ahead and budget big bucks, or spray paint and modgepodge in your garage the night before, it’s always worth it. Cosplay what you love and not what you think others will, it will always end up easier to work on. Even if you are disappointed with results wear it anyways as in the end we are always our worst critics. The moment someone takes a cellphone picture of you or comes up to say hello all that hard work will make sense!

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