Awesome Cosplayer Tali hits the nail on the head when it comes to cosplay that games creators have strokes of genius when it comes to designing characters and costumes noting that you fully realise this when “you have to make floating orbs, heel-less shoes, or wings that are as wide as you are tall”. Tali clearly has some great experience and I would think almost every cosplayer would nod in agreement with – “Double sided tape will save your life someday.”
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Dorothy, and my pseudonym is Tali Cosplay. I’m from New York but I spend half my time in the UK where I go to university. I mostly cosplay characters from video games.
What or who inspired you to Cosplay?
In high school, I started playing video games to relieve stress. I had been to conventions once or twice, but I never thought I’d be confident enough to dress up. Looking at the intricate costumes in the games I was playing inspired me to try making one of the outfits. When I finally wore it to a convention, speaking to people who complimented my outfit and liked the same games really helped me with my self-doubt regarding my creative ability, my looks, and my social skills.
Are there specific types of character that you particularly gravitate towards and why?
I usually go for the bitchy, arrogant characters. I’m kind of a chronic people pleaser, so trying on those personalities is really fun.
What for you have been the most challenging characters that you’ve cosplayed as, and which have been the most enjoyable?
I recently finished Tali’zorah from Mass Effect – a character who’s basically allergic to her surroundings and needs an “enviro-suit”. I still haven’t worn her to a convention because the helmet makes it difficult to see. Morrigan (a witch from Dragon Age) is definitely my most comfortable costume. I often find that the simpler the outfit is, the more fun it is to wear.
Could you take us through a little on how you made your outfits?
I always start by listing each element of the costume. Then, I write down a rough idea of how I could make each part. A lot of people think the most important thing when making a costume is having each little detail correct. But in my opinion, video game characters’ outfits shouldn’t be treated like regular clothing. Game designers are geniuses when it comes to concepts, but when translating costumes to the real world we’ve got to adapt them to make sure everything stays in place. This is important to realize when you have to make floating orbs, heel-less shoes, or wings that are as wide as you are tall. Once I’ve laid out ideas for creation and attachment, I buy my materials and get to work. This involves making patterns, cutting things out, sewing, painting, and (of course) ultimately deciding the part I’ve just spent 3 days on needs to be redone. It’s not a linear process, and it’s never the same for each costume. That’s the fun part.
Which Conventions have been the most enjoyable for you to attend and why?
I’m a sucker for big conventions. I like having lots of opportunities to meet people who are fans of the same things that I am. So the American cons I’ve been to (New York Comic Con, Tampa Bay Comic Con, etc) have been my favourites. Everything’s bigger here, after all.
Have there been any memorable reactions to your costumes, and if so, what were they?
At my very first convention I remember seeing this girl walking around with her boyfriend. When she caught my eye her face just lit up and she yelled “Morrigan!” and looked as if taking a photo with me was the most exciting thing in the world. It was that kind of unbridled enthusiasm and kindness that inspired me to keep going.
On the other hand, I’ve had times that were not so positive. Once, I posted a picture of my EDI (a robot from Mass Effect) costume to a Facebook group. I was immediately met with a flurry of critical responses, one of which coming from someone who told me that my costume “wasn’t detailed enough” and that I “should have done the whole thing with body paint” instead of wearing a catsuit. Body paint! Here’s a tip: don’t insult a cosplayer if all you’re trying to say is that you’d rather see them naked. But in all seriousness, cosplay is just a hobby for me, and it often takes a lot of effort to make even the simplest costume. So people should try to be conscious when criticizing someone else’s work, even if they think they’re being helpful.
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?
Photographers have no reason to be hesitant to approach us. I wouldn’t have painted myself silver or spent hours putting on a full armour costume if I didn’t want my photo taken. Modelling is fun, and it’s nice to see the product of your hard work captured. If you’re approaching a cosplayer, there’s no need to know the character or comment on the outfit at all if you don’t feel comfortable. Just being direct and asking if you can take their picture is enough.
What impact has cosplaying had on your life?
Cosplaying has bolstered my confidence in so many areas of my life. It’s made me less shy and more creative. I’m a psychology student, and the way I judge a hobby is by how well it induces a “flow” state. That is, it must have a clear goal, produce immediate feedback, and have a good balance between perceived difficulty level and perceived skill set. Both in abstraction and execution, cosplay fits this criteria perfectly. I’m not where I want to be in terms of skill level, but this doesn’t discourage me in any way. It gives me a reason to push forward and try again.
Do you have any advice for anybody thinking of cosplaying?
If you’re unsure of how to make something, don’t be afraid to do some research to see how others have done it.
Don’t compare yourself to other cosplayers. You never know how much time and money someone has spent to get their costume to look just right.
When deciding who to cosplay, choose characters you love. That way, even if the costume isn’t the way you’d like it to look you’ll still find people who are just as enthusiastic as you are.
Speaking of enthusiasm, it’s not something to hide or be ashamed of. Media like cartoons and video games can be just as rich in art and philosophy as more traditional art forms.
You know that detail you’re beating yourself up about forgetting? Yeah, nobody noticed that.
Double sided tape will save your life someday.
Photographs courtesy of (in order):