We are delighted to present our interview with the lovely Matchaka Bean! An accomplished artist and cosplayer, Matchaka was also an ice skater. We have no idea where she got the energy for all of these things, but we’re super impressed!
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
Well, I’m Arash Chahal, also known by matchaka.bean, and I’ve been a cosplayer and artist for six years, and seriously for about two years now! I’m absolutely in love with popular culture (Mostly Japanese, Korean, and Indian), and all things colorful, cute, and art related! I also am a casual gamer, and very much a science person, and an avid follower of alternative singers and vaporwave aesthetic.
What or who inspired you to Cosplay?
I was actually inspired to cosplay at first as a way to start feeling better about myself, and help combat some terrible self esteem issues I had growing up. Shows with strong, inspiring characters that I could relate to gave me a hope for my own future, and I soon found myself loving every aspect to becoming that character, from making the clothes to the makeup, photos, and acting like them! Additionally, I was a tad alienated for my short height and baby face, and knowing that these traits were accepted and praised in the cosplay community helped me embrace my natural looks to where I could feel proud of how I looked!
Are there specific types of character that you particularly gravitate towards and why?
I especially graviate towards shorter, cuter characters, since I feel like I can physically impersonate them better, examples being Kana from Mrs. Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, but my personal preferences are with girls that are both cute, and tough, such as Bisky from Hunter X Hunter !
What for you have been the most challenging characters that you’ve cosplayed as, and which have been the most enjoyable?
I went through a phase where I was determined to cosplay characters depicted from the Japanese artist Sakizou, specifically their Card Guards from Alice in Wonderland. For anyone unfamiliar with her work, her depictions are often incredibly elaborate, detailed, feminine, and are inspired by French Rococo and Lingerie fashions. Making the entire costume from scratch took well over 40 hours for me alone, and another for my cosplay partner to have a matching one in an alternative color! However, in the end, we debuted it on stage and had a fantastic time showing off and being proud of our work, despite the numerous needle pricks and hot glue burns!
The most enjoyable cosplay are generally the cosplay that most directly correlate to my interest and depth of love of the characters! Such examples include Yuuri from Yuuri !!! On Ice (Since I was an ice skater for over five years), Sailor Moon (My personal hero from a young age), Sylveon (My favourite Pokemon), and Tharja (One of my favourite Fire Emblem: Awakening Characters!).
Could you take us through a little on how you made your outfits?
The process varies for each outfit and what it needs, of course, but the process usually involved intense research of the character and their clothes, as well as inspecting how other cosplayers made and appear in their attempts to emulate the clothes. This usually involved me saving a lot of pictures, and taking a lot of notes, along with budgeting for how much I can spend on materials, and in what time frame. I like to be thrifty, and reuse parts from other costumes that I have no intention on wearing again, if possible.
The thing is with most my cosplay, the processes themselves are not incredibly difficult, but more time consuming and boring than anything, such as embroidery or painting. This is usually when I like to plug in some music or YouTube and watch something as I work. I’m also a night owl, so usually I’ll stop working late night/early morning, and wake up again to have whatever prepared by the next afternoon. This process continues on for a few days to a few months, depending on the complexity of the costume and the proximity of the start to the convention I want to attend.
Which Conventions have been the most enjoyable for you to attend and why?
I’m honestly much more keen on attending medium-sized conventions, especially ones in the Northern Dallas area! My favourites, which I have frequented for about four years, are A- Kon and A-Fest. A-Kon is one of the biggest anime conventions in North America, so seeing the fantastic work displayed, loads of panels and events, and friends old and new, is incredibly refreshing and makes it even more enjoyable!
A-Fest is more of the making friends con, both as a cosplayer and as an artist! I’ve definitely found it easier to network and connect to not just attendees, but the staff and organizers as well, and converse with them about problems or similar interests! A lot of effort goes into insurance of things running smoothly, and have never been disappointed with the event!
Have there been any memorable reactions to your costumes, and if so, what were they?
Well, my first cosplay was actually in a long maids dress, and I had a man that tried to upskirt me and take a picture! I got so lucky that someone stopped to call security and comfort me after the incident, especially since that was my first convention ever! This has happened a few other times, which unfortunately made me develop some anxieties about wearing anything less than a long dress or pants for a while.
However, I built up my confidence and wore my Sakizou creation, and eventually ended up meeting Yaya Han, one of the most famous cosplayers in the world, briefly at A-Kon in 2016, and she complimented me on it! I was so utterly excited that she thought it looked good, and has even convinced me to make another, better version of it in the future!
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?
Oh, for sure! Some cosplay photographers especially can be picky with angles, lighting, you name it! One can only smile for so long or stand on one foot for so long, you know? But the final products always look stunning, no doubt, and many of the ones that approach me are very good at what they do and it is always a pleasure that they want to photograph my costume!
If a photographer is interested in working with me, the best way to approach me is either through social media or through my business email, and introduce yourself first and give a brief idea of what you want to do. I am a huge planner, so I’d work out all the details along with them in order to make sure its as smooth as possible for both parties. Nobody’s life needs to be more difficult, and in the end, there’s a great product that both parties can enjoy C:
What impact has cosplaying had on your life?
Cosplay has probably had one of the biggest impacts, at least from my point of view, in shaping who I am, and for the better. I learned about so many different genres of material through anime that is popular to cosplay, developed my artistic skills in costumery and makeup, and have made majority of my friends through cosplay related activities! I definitely would not have had near the amount of skill, drive, or motivation that I have today if it weren’t for Cosplay and my dedication to it, and to hopefully grow from it in the future!
Do you have any advice for anybody thinking of cosplaying?
About half the battle is just getting the mindset to do it! Sure, the coscommunities are filled with people that judge based on superficial aspects, and a lot of fights have broken out on what is and is not okay with cosplay (Handling real weapons, skin color vs racism, how much is too much, etc.) These of course come from personal opinions, but hey! This is the internet! It’s full of opinions!
Quite honestly, yours is the only one that really matters in the end of it all, because Cosplay is meant to be something that you do to show your love of a show, anime, game, etc. Despite what others may say. Also , cosplay friendships are some of the longest friendships that I’ve maintained in my life, despite all the moving I’ve done! Having a community that supports you, a network to encourage you, and a way to channel your love and passions about popular characters and media can be one of the most fantastic ways to enjoy yourself!