Lina Lau
Years of Cosplay: 5 years
London / Hong Kong
Cosplaying and holidays can have a lot in common if you are ready to prepare well beforehand. Leather and furs in hot summer, and sleeveless in the winter because you can’t be choosy if you’re close to the perfect backdrop. Infectious enthusiasm and a supporting crew is the fuel behind every effort put into refined and exquisite propmaking. Cosplaying in Hong Kong and elsewhere is much more than mere competitive drive or just wanting to outshine everybody else.
 
Lina Lau as Blood Dupre (Heart no Kuni no Alice)
Photo by Shiro Ang
Lina Lau as Blood Dupre (Heart no Kuni no Alice)
Photo by Shiro Ang
 
Cosplay Gen: You’ve traveled to conventions to both East and West; what are, in your opinion, the most notable differences between cosplay communities?
Lina Lau: Concerning the cosplayers, the one big difference I find between East and West is their motivation and the reason why they cosplay. In Asia, perhaps because the materials, wigs and props are all easily obtainable, costumes are typically not made by the cosplayer, since access to tailors and factories are so easy and it’s so cheap to do so. Of course, there are those who make their own costumes too, but there isn’t that stigma attached to “bought costumes”, which the West seems to have. Cosplayers in Asia in general also don’t put heavy emphasis on competitions – some of the so called really “famous” cosplayers don’t enter competitions at all.

Another of the main differences is that in the West people put a lot of emphasis on the costume itself; in Asia it is almost entirely the opposite – people care more about your make-up, your wig and how you look. The costume itself is merely an accessory to add to the general effect, rather than the main element. That’s not to say that all cosplayers only care about how they look, but the general consensus is that people are more concerned with how much they look like a character and how good the make-up is, rather than the costume itself. I guess this naturally explains the lack of enthusiasm for people to enter competitions in general, since that’s not the best platform on which to judge how you look or how well you portray a character.

The events themselves are also very different. In Asia, they don’t focus on your costume, but there’s a lot of pressure to look good all the time during the entire event; there are photographers every few steps you walk, and people can be judgmental, purely based on your looks. At cons in the West, outside the masquerade, it’s a pretty relaxed atmosphere, and people just hang out and joke around, so the pressure is considerably less. It’s a different type of culture and a different pressure in Asia, I guess.

Lina Lau as Rami Aikawa (DOLLS)
Photo by Shiki
Lina Lau as Rami Aikawa (DOLLS)
Photo by Shiki
 
Cosplay Gen: There’s a noticeable quantity of female cosplayers portraying male characters, and you’ve had your fair share of male cosplays as well. What sort of advice can you offer to those doing this?
Lina Lau: I think the make-up is important, particularly for the eyes and eyebrows – it really gives you a good feel of the character if you can replicate those features well. Some shadowing and highlighting for the chin, nose and brow area help a lot in creating more masculine features too. Good binding is, of course, extremely important. Poses for male characters also tend to be very different from normal female posture; your shoulders are pulled back more, your back straighter, and you have to stand with your legs further apart with your feet facing outwards in order to appear more masculine.
Lina Lau as Kamui Gakupo (Vocaloid, Imitation Black version) // Photo by Shiki
Cosplay Gen: Make-up obviously plays an important part in portraying your favorite character. What sort of tricks do you often use in make-up, and what sort of general advice can you give to our readers?
Lina Lau: To me, make-up is just as important as the costume itself. I think of it almost as theatrical make-up; you have to change your features to resemble the character as closely as possible. Particularly for me since I work primarily in the medium of photography, and given the type of photography used in cosplay, where the exposure is high and flashes and lighting equipment are used a lot, you really have to make sure that it does not get completely washed out in the photography process.

My use of shadowing and highlighting is quite prominent, particularly for the male characters, since their features tend to be more defined. Fake eyelashes are also very good, particularly for defining the eye shape and adding dramatic focus to the eyes. The make-up style that I personally do is geared towards a more photographic and theatrical style, which may look a little unnatural in real life, but if it was not heavy, the photos wouldn’t come out decent looking, due to the overexposure and flash settings.

However, make-up is really a very personal thing; what works for one person might not have the same effect on someone else at all, so I think the best thing is just to experiment and have fun with your make-up – there will always be something to suit everyone, you just need to find out yourself what it is that works best for you.

Lina Lau as Syon (Wild Fangs)
Photo by Abel
Lina Lau as Mukuro Rokudo (Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, Ten Years Later version) // Photo by by GaGa
Lina Lau as Fon (Ilegenes: Kokuyou no Kiseki)
Photo by Shiki
 
Cosplay Gen: Which is the most challenging and difficult costume you’ve made and how did you pull it off?
Lina Lau: Quite a few of my costumes have been challenging in different ways. For the most part, it is usually the props that make them difficult rather than the costume itself. The highest degree of difficulty I had with props was probably my Chang An Fantasy Night costume, where there was quite a bit of armour, along with a rather large dragon head. It took me a while to figure out how to construct the dragon head and drawing up the patterns for the armour. In the end I sandwiched wire grids in between 2 sheets to create the 3D effects needed. Drawing the patterns on the armour was a lot of fun too – I did it using my hot glue gun.

The most difficult in terms of costume was probably the Setsugetsuka Gakupo one, since it had a lot of problems during the production process. The Japanese cloth I ordered would not take the dye at all, despite me using both hot and cold dye. Therefore, I decided to try to create the gradient effect using multiple layers of differently coloured organza instead. However, I had no serger and so had to double fold and sew the edges of each layer. Since it is a slippery material, it was difficult to make sure that in the end all the pattern shapes of the layers actually matched up again.

For the flowers on the kimono and for the patterns on the gold trims, I used a combination of hand painting and stenciling. I also custom ordered a batch of iron-on embroidered sakura flowers from an embroidery factory in Hong Kong, who very kindly agreed to make them specifically to my requirements. This saved me a lot of time, though it also meant I kept burning holes in the organza while trying to make sure the flowers stayed on. All in all, I think almost every stage in the production process for it was disastrous in some way, but I’m glad that it (mostly) worked out in the end.

Lina Lau as Kamui Gakupo (Vocaloid, Setsugetsuka version)
Photo by Michy
Lina Lau as Kamui Gakupo (Vocaloid, Setsugetsuka version)
Photo by Michy
Lina Lau as Kamui Gakupo (Vocaloid, Setsugetsuka version)
Photo by Michy
 
Cosplay Gen: The characters you chose also have a lot of accessories. Do you make them yourself? What is the prop/accessory that appealed to your creativity the most?
Lina Lau: I always make my own props and accessories each time I can. I am drawn to costumes with quite a bit of decoration or with some sort of interesting accessories, and I really enjoy the process of turning something that is two dimensional into something which can be touched and felt in the three dimensional world. I enjoy making jewelry and metal accessories the most; the crown, armlet and cloak accessories set from Crimson Spell were really fun to make, and something about the delicacy and sculpted beauty of working with metal filigree pieces really engaged me. I also really enjoyed making Japanese hair forks for my Setsugetsuka costume too. I guess it’s a stereotypical girl’s ideal to have pretty and shiny jewelry and accessories, so I had a great time making and wearing them all.
Lina Lau as Havi (Crimson Spell)
Photo by Shiroin
Lina Lau as Havi (Crimson Spell)
Photo by Shiroin
 
Cosplay Gen: Up to now, what is the character you loved the most to cosplay? What was the particular trait that has drawn you to that character?
Lina Lau: I don’t think I have a particular character that I love the most; I love every character I cosplay, and each of them is special to me in its own way. I’m mostly drawn towards characters with strong personalities and presences, hence I really enjoy portraying them, whether they are strong feminine ones or more masculine and gentlemanly types.
Lina Lau as Kamui Gakupo (Vocaloid, Synchronicity version) // Photo by Harold
Lina Lau as Lina Lau as Kamui Gakupo (Vocaloid, Synchronicity version) // Photo by Harold
Lina Lau as Kuja (Final Fantasy IX)
Photo by Ophelia Chan
Lina Lau as Kuja (Final Fantasy IX)
Photo by Ophelia Chan
 
Cosplay Gen: You’ve made quite an extravagant cosplay after Yuuko from xxxHoLic. What was the most difficult part of it and how did you make it? What about the carriage photo-shoot for the Yuuko cosplay? Was it difficult to achieve?
Lina Lau: The base for my Yuuko costume was made in collaboration with a tailor in Hong Kong. The details and accessories, such as the hat and props, were made or added on by me after the base was made. The photoshoot for Yuuko was done in a holiday resort in China, destined to couples for wedding photography. I was lucky to have a friend who had contacts within the management, who graciously allowed us to photograph there.
The costume took up a lot of space and was extremely heavy, so transporting it around was somewhat difficult, and we went there during summer. In fact, the day that we shot this was the day before a major typhoon hit the city, so it was swelteringly hot and humid, and with the layers of fabric, the photoshoot itself was something of a sauna for me. The resort itself was also very large, and a lot of travelling was needed to reach the different backdrops. However, we were able to rent out mini golf-carts which could take us to the different areas that we wanted to go to; I’m sure other guests were highly amused to see someone dressed as I was, zooming by in a golf cart and looking highly out of place!
Lina Lau as Yuuko (xXxHoLic)
Photo by Shiki
Lina Lau as Yuuko (xXxHoLic)
Photo by Shiki
Lina Lau as Yuuko (xXxHoLic)
Photo by Shiki
 
Cosplay Gen: Noticeable in most of your photos is the attention you give to the background. How important do you think backgrounds are to the final outcome of the shoot? Also, how hard is it to find the right place to shoot?
Lina Lau: To me, backgrounds are very important, because I think that they set the right atmosphere. If I spend so much effort on the costume, the props, the wigs and the make-up, I want to document the costume in a place that would not let my previous preparations go to waste. I guess I am a bit of a perfectionist as well, so I do a lot of research and sometimes even travel abroad in order to find the best locations for shoots for a particular costume. It’s also a good excuse to take a mini-holiday and just go travelling and stay in gorgeous locations while seeing different cities or countries!
I have been known to go to sometimes quite extreme lengths for a good set of photos; shooting in winter with a sleeveless and backless costume before, while standing inside the pool of a waterfall, and shooting in tropical and humid weather in the middle of summer while I was in leathers and fur. A lot of planning and organizing goes into each shoot, but I am very lucky to have friends and photographers who are equally enthusiastic, so although we may all be a bit crazy, we have a lot of fun in the process.
Lina Lau as Mitsuru Tenjou (Barajou no Kiss)
Photo by Shiki
Lina Lau as Radu Barvon (Trinity Blood)
Photo by Shiroin
Lina Lau as Prince Ludwig (Ludwig Revolution)
Photo by Shiki
 
Cosplay Gen: It seems almost all cosplayers have done at least one Vocaloid costume, ranging from the most simple Hatsune Miku outfit, up to the very stylish Gakupo you’ve also made. What is your opinion regarding Vocaloid cosplay?
Lina Lau: I think Vocaloid cosplay is so popular everywhere because there is something in it for everyone. Essentially, there is no limit to it; nor are there any set versions. Therefore, the creativity it gives, and the scope of the costumes are very varied; there is bound to be a version somewhere out there that will appeal to you somehow.
I really enjoy watching some of the PVs that have been created so far. I think that the Vocaloids are an extremely good medium through which different artists can express their skills and originality due to their flexibility. I was impressed by the different character designs and by the story telling skills in some of the music and PVs; they really inspire me to recreate the world that they have built and bring it to life somehow, which is why I like cosplaying from it.
Lina Lau as Kamui Gakupo (Vocaloid, Sandplay Singing of The Dragon version) // Photo by Sidon
Lina Lau as Kamui Gakupo (Vocaloid, Sandplay Singing of The Dragon version) // Photo by Sidon
Lina Lau as Kamui Gakupo (Vocaloid, Sandplay Singing of The Dragon version) // Photo by Sidon
 
Cosplay Gen: Do you think it’s important to have a certain attitude towards cosplay? Also, what does cosplay mean to you?
Lina Lau: Personally, I think of cosplay as something like theatre; a recreation of the original. The emphasis is neither only on the costume, nor on the wig and face. It’s on the whole package; the atmosphere and the feel that is created, which is why the backgrounds of my shoots and the feel of the photos represent a major element that I concentrate upon. Naturally, this means that I’m neither very interested in competition results, nor am I concerned with who made what part of which costume exactly. What I look for is the overall effect, how well does a cosplay recreate the atmosphere and feel of the original work.
Partly, I cosplay because I can spend time with my close friends, cosplayers and photographers alike. Having a hectic schedule means that it’s not always possible to just go out and have a meal with a friend when I’m rushing a project, so planning a shoot and executing it is like extra incentive to finish everything I have on time, and be able to take a day out to spend some time in good company. Cosplay should be both fulfilling and fun – after all the effort and hard work that we’ve put into it, there shouldn’t only be focus on results. At the end of the day, it’s a hobby, and what is most important is that we should enjoy the process, as well as be able to admire the final product.
Lina Lau as Xima (Chang An Huan Ye)
Photo by TENSION
Lina Lau as Xima (Chang An Huan Ye)
Photo by TENSION
Lina Lau as Xima (Chang An Huan Ye)
Photo by TENSION
 

                  

4 Comments

  1. Jade says:

    So glad to see the feature of Lina on here! I’m a big fan of hers. ^_^

  2. pohcbSonic says:

    She’s a professional.
    totally speechless. =)

  3. Sumire Kaiti says:

    Incredible! She is the best cosplayer I’ve ever seen! Really a professional!

  4. […] The fifth special guest at Otaku Festival Cosplay Edition is a cosplayer who’ll be visiting Romania for the second time, after taking part as a special guest at Nijikon 2012: Lina Lau from Hong Kong / London! A very talented and experienced cosplayer, Lina is for sure a perfect presence for a festival edition dedicated to cosplay, as a jury member for the cosplay competitions. Lina is also an old friend of Cosplay Gen, for which she gave us an extended interview in the third issue of the magazine. The interview can be read here. […]

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