Cosplay Spotlight – The Vixen Gamer
Earlier in the year, during the EB Games Expo I was blown away by the amazing Assassin’s Creed inspired Femme Ezio cosplay by The Vixen Gamer. To say this cosplay was spectacular doesn’t do it justice – the attention to detail was superb. So when the creator of this amazing cosplay – Clare Costigan – agreed to answer some questions I had about her cosplaying I was estatic. We covered questions focusing on her cosplaying, the challenges and rewards associated with being a cosplayer, advice for those wanting to try their hand at cosplaying and more. Read on for her answers.
Before we launch into the interview – a little background on Clare herself. Clare is the woman behind The Vixen Gamer – her website dedicated to her alter ego where you can find galleries of all her work – both commercial and cosplays. Her love of cosplaying has enabled Clare to work with some absolutely stellar photographers and make-up artists to capture fantastic photos, and has also provided her with the opportunity to meet some wonderful people. She has recently joined the team at Save Point, Channel 1’s show dedicated to all things gaming as their pop culture presenter. In addition to this, Clare is also currently working on the novel that she’s always wanted to write – Nation Z – which deals with a zombie apocalypse that strikes Australia. With two very strong protagonists, the storyline is set to enrapture zombie fans and the book itself is due out mid 2013.
What is it about Cosplaying that made you decide ‘I want to do that!’?
I suppose it wasn’t just one thing in particular that inspired me to cosplay, it was more of a natural progression of passions and experiences in my life that led me to the decision.
I was a commercial model and screen actress for the best part of my late teens and early twenties and really loved acting and performing but modelling…it is a bit of a twisted world to be honest. I never fit in there. I was a girl who loved video games and zombie movies – those where my interests. Do you think I once met another girl at castings who was levelling a WoW Mage and wanted to discuss the game? No. I tried really hard to learn about my friends interests but at the end of the day the conversations were just one way streets. It can be a lonely sort of world when you feel like no one likes the same sort of things as you. The only time I didn’t feel out of place was at pop culture conventions and expos, or plugged into the world of MMORPGs.
Then it occurred to me after one particular trip to Supanova that I should try cosplay. It made so much sense that someone who was in love with acting out strong heroines would love the cosplay world. I was honest with myself at that moment in time and admitted that I was in love with acting because it offered me access to role playing femme fatales. I wish I had connected this passion with cosplay sooner. From that moment of realisation onwards I was hooked on the idea and began researching cosplay. The more I found out about it the more obsessed I became. But if I really think about it I was sort of destined to find cosplay… at my year 10 school walk a thon I remember dressing up as Lara Croft. It was one of my happiest memories from school.
Do you enter competitions with your cosplays?
I’ve never entered a serious cosplay competition but that’s because I don’t really feel a desire to compete up on stage. I’ve spent so much of my life competing in sport or competing for acting roles and modelling jobs and even in the corporate world. I’m totally exhausted at the idea of competing.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a healthy competition amongst cosplayers because there definitely is but it’s a really respectful sort of competiveness. We all want to cosplay well and we all want to take out cosplaying to the next level. I respect that immensely.
Talk us through the thought process behind choosing a character to cosplay:
It’s funny – sometimes I’ll be lying in bed surfing the net and a cosplay idea will just pop into my head and I feel so strongly that I simply must cosplay that idea. Then it’s a matter of sourcing base materials/clothing (base materials for me are the skeleton parts of an outfit that I can later embellish with my own details, or cut up and tailor to my own specifications). I spend a lot of time in second hand clothing stores, scouring online sources, Spotlight, wholesale material outlets, craft stores and Bunnings. Other times a character is chosen because I grew up loving them, which was the case with Rogue and Kitana. Other times you feel an instant connection with characters such as Lara Croft or Claire Redfield, both of which are (thankfully) rather simple to replicate. And then there are those characters who just ooze this amazing power and discipline and I become obsessed with cosplaying them (My Sith lordess and my Femme Ezio).
What’s the hardest thing about cosplay in general?
The hardest thing is that I’m hard on myself. I like to do things well – I was always told as a child and young adult that if you do something, do it well and try and be the best at it. I don’t think my parents had cosplay in mind when they said it though. But that mantra has stuck with me and I bring that mentality to cosplaying, to presenting, to acting and performing and to my writing as well. I have these amazing grand ideas about cosplay costumes and they flood my mind often but then this annoying thing called money puts a bar on my passions. Money is really a cosplayers biggest hurdle.
It’s actually come to the point where I need to start self sustaining my cosplay if I want to take it to the next level, and I’m beginning to do that slowly. I have no choice but to become savvy about it and savvy cosplayers like Jessica Nigri and Yaya Han have achieved this. I’m not the only cosplayer who is thinking this way – I’ve quite a few cosplaying friends and they are brilliant business men and women who are also formulating ideas and ways to self sustain their cosplay passion.
I also believe that gaming and pop culture companies need to pay more attention to cosplayers and begin sponsoring and utilising them in their marketing campaigns more. I truly believe it’s time they give a little back to these immensely passionate fans. As a cosplayer I can’t even begin to tell you how much raw talent sits in this community. Why are advertisers and marketers using commercial models and actors to promote their products? It makes no sense to me. Asia is brilliant at utilising their cosplayers and so is the USA… companies are slowly beginning to catch on and that’s a positive sign.
What’s been your a) favourite and b) most challenging cosplay so far?
My favourite cosplay is my Femme Ezio. It is a cosplay that makes me feel incredibly empowered. And the positive and excited reactions from Assassins Creed fans always blows me away. Actually the reaction from females is also amazing. It means allot to me when a woman comes up and compliments me on an outfit. I can see them draw strength and inspiration from it in the way characters like Rogue and Pheonix did with me. There are so many awesome male characters out there and I can’t resist but create female versions.
The most challenging cosplay was my Sith Lordess outfit. It was a hard slog to get the pictures created, both physically and mentally. It was a good 8 hour process to capture a couple of strong pictures. My aim is always quality over quantity. My make up artist Marie Harder is a genius, she created all these prosthetics, painted me blue and even created a bald cap for me. The detail and skill she used on my make up was insane. Sydney based photographer Nathan Hendry painstakingly set up the shots of me in my cloak and created these amazing effects like wind and smoke in real life to add depth to the picture and to help me get into character.
Physically it was exhausting for me as the model. I was using a replica light saber and it was really heavy. Combine this with a shot that required me to have my toes of the ground so it looked like I was coming in to attack from the air and it was a long night of me continually jumping up with a half kilo light sabre above my head and in mega high heel boots too.
The results though speak for themselves… they are the best pictures I’ve ever shot. It’s a bit crazy but If I don’t suffer during a shoot then I feel I could have done more to get a better shot. Crazy thespian… I know.
Many people say cosplay is not just about costume but about attitude as well – is it important to embody the character you’re cosplaying in both attitude and physicality?
Oh absolutely. The most convincing and entertaining cosplayers are those who ‘become’ their character. Obviously they don’t become the violent or savage parts of a character (Master Chief cosplayers don’t go around shooting people and Sith’s are kind to the Jedi’s) but I think a cosplayer always appears more polished when they embody their characters personality.
I love to act like Lara Croft at an expo, crouching down with guns blazing. I utterly adore stalking (climbing) around expos when I’m Femme Ezio too. Heck I even enjoy being a character on the way to an expo. For Brisbane Supanova I caught the train on my own… in Lara Croft mode. The girls in Starbucks loved it when I went to order coffee and the entire shop gave me an ovation when I entered… after a few seconds of total silence that was. Poor things probably had no idea what the hell was going on at first. Honestly it sounds insane but it was so much fun yet people shouldn’t be surprised; I’ve studied at NIDA and LAMFT performing arts institutes so nothing truly fazes me anymore (Drama school whips the fear from you). Actually I wish there was something out there (in the performing arts world) that would faze me, I’m craving a challenge.
What are you working on next?
Oh so many things. I’ve a Kitana (Mortal Kombat) cosplay to shoot. I’ve got a Baroness (G.I. Joe) cosplay in the works. I want to do an Arwen LOTR shoot because I’m so in love with her character.
I working on some cute Dead or Alive 5 Kasumi outfits too. I desperately want to create a femme Connor Kenway but I’m going to need to source funding for it. I’ve also got an Aveline De Grandpre cosplay coming too but I’ve altered it a bit to suit my style. I like to make my cosplay sexy yet powerful. I’m not obsessed with making the costume look like replicas. I love putting a bit of my own personality into it as well and that’s the great thing about cosplay; you are absolutely free to style the costume to suit your own personality and desire.
Any advice for any just starting out cosplayers?
Don’t ever be afraid to be yourself, have faith in your passions and enjoy the art of cosplay. If you’re going to cosplay concentrate on one cosplay outfit at a time and make it the best outfit you can. Be respectful to your fellow cosplayers, it’s a place of friendship, encouragement and community; these people will become your best friends so don’t be afraid to walk up and say hello to cosplayers you admire. These are also the people who will fill you with encouragement when you have those moments (and you will) of doubt: ‘It’s 3am what on earth am I doing sourcing latex stockings online?” They will be the ones to send you a message with 3 little words, there the only words you ever really need in life: ‘Keep going fool.’
I’d like to thank Clare for answering my questions, and also for creating such amazing cosplays for those of us who aren’t costume savvy to enjoy and appreciate. For more information about Clare, and to see all her cosplays and commercial work to date, check out her website – The Vixen Gamer.