At the moment, Jackson doesn’t have anything setup for his social media accounts, but when he does, we’re so going to stalk him! His Cloud Strife cosplay is pretty damned epic, well, it certainly grabbed our attention! Read on to find out more:
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Jackson, I’m turning 25 soon, and I live in the Raleigh area of North Carolina. I’ve started cosplaying since May of 2014, and I’ve come to really enjoy it since. I’m a full time software engineer for a tech company in downtown Raleigh, and my daily activities outside of work include exercising, cooking, spending time with friends, playing games, and watching anime!
What or who inspired you to Cosplay?
My first and main motivation to cosplay was seeing Cloud Strife in Final Fantasy VII for the first time. I was around 7-8 years old around the time, when FFVII was released for a year or two. I was a tad bit young to understand the story back then, but I really liked how Cloud was in the game, and he became a hero to me, similar to how comic book heroes become heroes to other people back then. Since then, I always wanted to be like him, and when I heard about cosplay, I wanted to cosplay Cloud.
Are there specific types of character that you particularly gravitate towards and why?
I tend to gravitate towards characters that I know about and enjoy. If I didn’t know about a character, I would most likely not cosplay as them. I also tend to gravitate towards characters that I share a similar body type with.
What for you have been the most challenging characters that you’ve cosplayed as, and which have been the most enjoyable?
I have only done one cosplay so far, and that’s Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy Advent Children, so that would fit into both molds. Cloud has been the most challenging due to planning and putting on the cosplay. It’s not an easy outfit to change into. It’s also the most enjoyable because I achieved my childhood goal of cosplaying as Cloud. It’s also nice that Cloud’s getting more attention due to him being released in Smash 4 and a remake of the original VII is on the way, so more people know what character I am.
Could you take us through a little on how you made your outfits?
For the Cloud cosplay, I started by collaborating with one of my friends, who is a seamstress, and what we did was research the outfit extensively. Advent Children is a movie, so we watched through it and screencapped as many pictures of the outfit to get different angles, as well as figure out what texture/material it is. We also looked up official images online to get a closer look. The closest material was denim. My friend got my measurements, and she helped me sew a majority of the clothing. My girlfriend made the wolf emblem for the pauldron out of polymer clay baked in the oven, and was painted a black base, then a metallic silver on top to give it its metallic look.
I made the sword harness out of craft foam that had a layer of pleather on it. Each one was measured out, cut, and glued together via a spray adhesive, and reinforced with gorilla tape. The buttons/snaps were glued on using a Liquid Fusion brand epoxy. The sword bases were made out of half inch insulation foam board, and the handles were PVC pipes covered with colored craft foam. The foam was cut with hot wire tools, layers were glued together via a Shelby brand spray adhesive and clamps, and painted with a base layer of acrylic. They were then detailed and clear coated with an air brush. It took me around 6 days to make four of the swords, and I have two more to make for the next convention. The wig is from Arda Wigs, and it was cut and styled with the help of one of my hair stylist friends.
Which Conventions have been the most enjoyable for you to attend and why?
Given my schedule, I’m only able to attend 2 cons a year so far. One in the winter (Ichibancon), and one in late Spring (Animazement). I go to these because they’re decently sized, as well as in-state. Animazement’s venue is less than a minute’s walk from my work place, and Ichibancon is a 2.5 hour or so drive. It is very convenient to go to these. I do want to go to 3 cons a year eventually, with the third one being an out of state one, just to experience it.
Have there been any memorable reactions to your costumes, and if so, what were they?
The most memorable reactions are when people get really excited to see me and are very eager to take a picture with me. People admiring my work is more than enough to make me happy that I did it! The most recent reaction that I loved was at Animazement 2016. A little girl came up to me all smiling and really wanted my picture, and her mother explained that her husband plays FFVII a lot, and Cloud is her daughter’s hero. It really warmed my heart!
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 haven’t really thought about this, but while it does get tiring to pose over the course of a day for pictures, I tend to enjoy it due to that they think my cosplay is picture-worthy. I don’t really hold myself that high to be honest, so it really makes me happy when photographers approach me. Though when photographers do approach me, I do like that they are kind and ask to take my picture. I don’t like it when people snap pictures without asking, especially when I am not ready or am doing something else (like eating).
What impact has cosplaying had on your life?
The main impact that it has had on my life is meeting a lot of great friends that enjoy cosplaying and the same type of hobbies/interests as I have. I don’t get to see them but once or twice a year, but even so, we all understand how busy life can be, and still really enjoy each others’ time during the convention. It’s a really nice escape from the daily grind, so I am glad I have made a lot of friends out of it. It also has inspired me to continue working out and exercising, as keeping healthy is important for me for cosplaying.
Do you have any advice for anybody thinking of cosplaying?
Just do it! If you’re ever thinking about dressing up as a character you love, don’t hesitate on creating a cosplay for that character. A lot of people think they have restrictions when it comes to starting out, whether it be financial or equipment related restrictions. You can get basic materials for very cheap, and equipment can be something as simple as a box cutter, X-Acto knife, scissors, and any glue. If you ever feel like your first cosplay was terrible, just know that your next one will be better, and the one after that will be better. The more you get experience in crafting a cosplay, the better they will become. It’s an art!
I was the type of person that really wanted my first cosplay to be as perfect as I could make it to be as an amateur, which is why I started so late, and which is why I only have one cosplay mostly done. I kept adding to it, and debut new parts of it at each con I attended. I was scared of failure. If I had listened to my advice now, I would have started cosplaying much earlier, probably in 2007 or so. I was too self-conscious at making inaccurate cosplays, even though that shouldn’t be the main concern of a cosplay. Cosplaying is for enjoyment. At the end of the day, having fun at a convention is all that matters. So if you’re ever thinking about cosplaying, just do it with three steps: plan, craft, test. Plan the cosplay by doing research on your character you want to cosplay and what materials you need. Craft the cosplay together with that research and materials. Test run the cosplay so you can point out any issues early on and rectify them before wearing it at a con. Having a cosplay break during a convention is always unfortunate, but you will learn from it. My sword harness broke on me when I first debuted it at Ichibancon 2016 because I didn’t test run it, but I learned what happened, where the problem points were on the harness, and how to fix it for a future con.