I found a terrific photo of someone cosplaying Ahsoka Tano. Well I say cosplaying, but she was owning that character, and unsurprisingly found out that Amber was also a professional prop maker. Coupled with the fact that I’m a ridiculous Star Wars geek, it was just a winning combo. We reached out to Amber for an interview, and because she’s just awesome, she said yes! Read on.
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Hello! My name is Amber Brite, and I am a professional prop-maker. Cosplay has been my day job for about a year now, making & selling costumes to other cosplayers all over the world. I specialize in Star Wars alien props, such as Twi’leks and Togrutas. On the rare occasion that I’m not doing something cosplay related, I’m probably playing video games. Star Wars: KOTOR was my biggest obsession, but these days you can find me on Guild Wars 2, Borderlands, Overwatch, or whatever MMO caught my attention this week.
What or who inspired you to Cosplay?
Oh man, I have been cosplaying since before I knew it was called cosplay. I did movie premieres, little costume parties, any chance to dress up was the best. I loved Halloween. When I discovered the convention scene… I knew I was hooked. Things really took off when I met the Mandalorian Mercs costuming organization, and they introduced me to all kinds of materials and techniques as I built some of my first real cosplays.
Are there specific types of character that you particularly gravitate towards and why?
I like a challenge, most of all. A character that’s the perfect storm of everything – interesting costume design, challenging armor build, props, prosthetics… the whole nine yards. The more a costume stretches my skills to new limits, the better.
What for you have been the most challenging characters that you’ve cosplayed as, and which have been the most enjoyable?
The most challenging was probably Ahsoka Tano from Star Wars Rebels. The headpiece alone was a 6 month process of sculpting, molding, casting… there was a lot of trial and error as I tried to figure out exactly how I wanted it to look. Especially because I wanted to make sure the tails swung and moved naturally when I walked, which had never been done before. It was really new territory for cosplay, and I’m really proud of how it came out.
As for most fun? D.Va I love D.Va so much. The costume wasn’t particularly difficult, being just a basic catsuit… but her personality is so much fun. She’s energetic, fun-loving, and full of so much attitude all the time. Plus I’m a big E-Sports fan (I watch League of Legends pro matches pretty much non-stop while I’m working) and the fact that her backstory is that she’s a pro-Starcraft player means I really get to have fun talking in lingo and geeking out, without breaking character.
Could you take us through a little on how you made your outfits?
Each one is very different. I usually start by sketching the character out. Drawing them myself means spending time looking at references, and making note of each little piece that goes into it. By the time the drawing is done, I have a really good idea what goes where, and how I’m going to bring it to life. From there… I try to juggle the different projects as best I can. Sewing the pants while I’m waiting on the paint on the armor to dry. So on and so forth. Over the years I’ve found materials that I really like to work with – Sintra, Vinyl, etc. I chose them for their durability, so I know the costume will last as long as possible without needing as many repairs.
Which Conventions have been the most enjoyable for you to attend and why?
Phoenix Comicon, hands down. It’s an absolutely massive con, but it’s such a friendly community full of people who are just… excited to be alive and be nerds in 2016. This year I’ll have a booth of my own there, which is really exciting. I find having a booth makes it so much easier for me to meet new people and make new friends, because I’m so much easier to find than when I’m just wandering around. Really looking forward to it!
Have there been any memorable reactions to your costumes, and if so, what were they?
Too many to count. I really love the way kids react. Once when I was cosplaying Mystique, I posed for a picture with a young kid. I told him, “Okay, give me your best super hero pose!” he looked back at me, and in the most serious voice ever, he told me, “No! You can’t! You’re a super VILLAIN!” So we took a picture of us pretend fighting instead. It was great!
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?
Not at all! I’m always happy to pose for pictures. Some of my closest friends were people who simply asked me for a picture as we were passing each other in the hall. I always appreciate photographers and will always give you my very best pose.
Some small advice for those who might not be sure how to approach a cosplayer for a picture.
1) Always ask first. We really appreciate when you are polite and get permission first.
2) Let’s move a little bit out of the way first so we’re not just blocking traffic in the aisles.
3) Please tag us if you can! Us cosplayers never get to see all the wonderful pictures you take of us, and we would love to see it and to geek out over what an awesome weekend it was with you!
What impact has cosplaying had on your life?
It’s my whole life, now. I own my own cosplaying business, I travel the country selling prints and props. It truly has been a dream come true, and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.
Do you have any advice for anybody thinking of cosplaying?
Do it. Get out there and rock it. Even if you have no idea what you’re doing, just grab some crafting stuff and start gluing and painting. My first cosplay was put together with clothes I found at Goodwill. The cosplay community is one of the most welcoming and friendly groups of people you will ever meet, and we will support you every step of the way. No matter what your skill level, or body type, or age, or whatever… get out there and have fun. Cosplay is for everyone, and it’s whatever you want it to be. Good luck!