Yan / Cvy
Years of Cosplay: 9 years
Cosplay as body art. Cvy’s Alice in Steampunkland Singapore team was steadily growing since we bumped into them last time. Now Cvy teaches us how to confront logistic nightmares linked to limited locations and tight schedules. You need a cool head, and a healthy dose of enthusiasm coupled with critical self-appraisal. You may also need kung-fu sewing skills, a taste for detail and rigorous planning ahead for the one-and-only photoshooting event. Lots of survival tips and ways to hone your handicraft, as we may yet save your pockets!
Cvy as Killua Zoldyck (Hunter x Hunter)
Photo by Adrian Song
Cvy as Killua Zoldyck (Hunter x Hunter)
Photo by Adrian Song
Cosplay Gen: You have a very wide range of costumes. What are your main criteria when choosing a character to cosplay? Can you find a common feature for the characters you’ve chosen until now?
Cvy: A character or series I affectionately love. I had an intense fondness for Gaara from Naruto then, and he eventually led me into discovering cosplay, and making my first attempt in sewing and cosplaying.

Since I’m vertically-challenged, the prominent common feature for the chosen characters would be, undoubtedly, my petite physique, thus pint-sized characters. Tall or muscled characters are normally out of my league. But I’ve been told I am too tall for Onion Knight. Life is so hard.

Cvy as Shizuo Heiwajima (Durararara!!) // Photo by Adrian Song
Cosplay Gen: What was the most difficult costume you’ve made until now? Can you detail the process?
Cvy: Freya Crescent from Final Fantasy IX. Only because she is not human. She is a Burmecian dragoon, a rat-like being. I took a considerably long time on figuring out how to make the costume, her face, hands and hoofs. I cannot remember exactly how long it took, but it got to be over 3 months (including commitments and other various priorities that came along the way).

I used a non-woven cloth to sew the hands and hoofs, and then jammed with bear stuffing. Carved and sanded styrofoam for the nails. The face is built on a mask with paper-mache. This part is rather crazy; I applied paper-mache by cutting a gazillion of tiny pointed strips so as to resemble a wave of fur, and it kind of did, only that it doesn’t show up in photos. What a darn despair.

At that point, there wasn’t a big variety of PVC leather sold locally (speaking of which, it is still scarce), so much the less red-colored, but it was still my preferred choice of material. At last, I finally found it, like a rice grain in a pile of sand, but it was extremely thin and fragile; I chose it still because it looks slick and matte.

I used fusible interfacing to strengthen the leather, sewed lining, with 4 meters of stuffing sandwiched in between. Due to its poor quality and pressure, it started to tear on the surface exposing a white base when I wore it at an event. The red above had torn to bits; it was my first and forcefully the last time too as Freya. I actually knew the severity beforehand, so I had prepared a red marker and had my adorable friends colour the obscene torn areas just so I could last those 2 hours in order to have some decent photos taken. The best part is that I found an awesome high-quality red PVC cloth a few months later.

It may be my most difficult costume, in both portrayal and the making, but I find my cosplay a bit lacking still; it has too many imperfections.

Cvy as Freya Crescent (Final Fantasy IX)
Photo by Shuui
Cvy as Onion Knight (Dissidia Final Fantasy)
Photo by Adrian Song
Cvy as Hotaru (Samurai Deeper Kyo)
Photo by Ying
Cosplay Gen: Your portfolio also includes characters that, unlike Black Butler for instance, are less exploited (such as Naota from Furi Kuri, Haku from Spirited Away, or Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle). How did you come to cosplay characters such as these?
Cvy: I’m a big fan of Studio Ghibli, so basically this is the reason why I cosplayed Haku and Sophie. I planned another couple of cosplays from the works of Studio Ghibli, but for some unusual reason, I never get around making them; I’ve even bought the cloth! As for Naota, it was for my good friend, Lynn; she is our team leader and our excellent Haruko, and it is always fun with her. She has so much optimism and striking ideas. Anyway, I enjoyed the well-animated graphics in Furi Kuri a lot, being an animation student myself.
Cvy as Sophie (Howl’s Moving Castle)
Photo by Decadence
Cvy as Sophie (Howl’s Moving Castle)
Photo by Decadence
Cosplay Gen: You also have some very complex props such as those of Rin’s Meltdown Remix guitar, Onion Knight from Dissidia Final Fantasy, or Halloween Town Sora from Kingdom Hearts. What are some of the props you found most challenging to make and why? Can you tell us in a few words how did you make them?
Cvy: Rin’s Meltdown Remix guitar ranks the first in complexity. Mainly because I am not a precision planner and her guitar needs every precision in the world. Every connecting shape herein affects another a lot, so accurate measurements had to be made, or at least close to it; if not, I believe even untrained eyes can see the faults. I’m not too happy with it, but it still is a gratifying experience. Halloween Town Sora’s keyblade is quite exerting too because of its irregular shape, I wanted to have it look tridimensional, though depressingly it still ends up looking flat in some angles. It was the first time I carved a 3-inch thick styrofoam… with… a puny penknife, and I wonder why it was exerting, hmm.
Cvy as Kagamine Rin (Vocaloid, Meltdown Remix version)
Photo by Adrian Song
Cvy as Kagamine Rin (Vocaloid, Meltdown Remix version)
Photo by Adrian Song
Cvy as Kagamine Rin (Vocaloid, Meltdown Remix version)
Photo by Adrian Song
Cosplay Gen: Cosplay can sometimes be a wallet-wrecking hobby; what sort of tips can you provide to our readers for minimizing the costs? Also, which is the costume you invested the most in?
Cvy: One – If you pick up sewing you can save A LOT. I know that not everyone can sew, but I started from ground zero too, with no mentor, only by studying the clothing in my wardrobe and reading tutorials. Don’t give up ‘til you try, like, many times. Unless your tailor gives you a gosh-darn good discount or if you are willing to spend on a commission.

Two – Reuse your wigs! Hair-colour is not a big problem because you can dye using FW acrylic ink – unless is dark based. If the character has wavy hair and your straight fibre wig is heat-resistant, you could try curling it with a low-heat temperature curler. One point of caution: don’t trim a long wig to boy style, as it might look odd, depending on the weft-arrangement.

Three – Footwear is also another money consuming item because there are all sorts of designs an artist could easily whip up, but a nightmare for cosplayers (goes the same for wigs). Does that mean we have to find and buy a new pair each time? Yes. But if within your ability, try to make shoe-covers, or simply modify. But only if it is a unique design that can be manipulated with your existing footwear, so if it is a pair of sneakers or loafers or any that is already available in the market… ah well that’s all the luck we have, spare yourself the trouble. Up to this point, I still find it hard to make boot covers though, so I ended up buying.

Four – If you have close friends who are generous and have what you needed, borrow from them. Ask politely and take good care of it.

Cvy as Ventus (Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep)
Photo by Adrian Song
Cvy as Ventus (Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep)
Photo by Adrian Song
Cvy as Ventus (Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep)
Photo by Adrian Song
Cosplay Gen: In our pilot issue we interviewed your Alice in Steampunkland team which consisted of only 3 members at the time. Now the team consists of 14 members; what can you tell us about the evolution of this project?
Cvy: Word went around in our little circle that I was ‘recruiting’ so it cut me some slack there with the gathering of members. I’m VERY thankful to them for faithfully walking along with my pet project up to the end, er ok, not the end yet. Most thankful to BanditYing and Dan, the initial team; it was harder to gather members then because all we had was a concept, and you can’t exactly call this a cosplay. When our ideas came to birth and our concept accepted, it was an extraordinary feeling, distinctively different from completing a cosplay.
We had a few group meet-ups to discuss each of our plans, to follow a certain consistency in our costumes; some had sketches of their ideas and we would each offer creative input. I set up a private Facebook group because apart from the 14 cosplayers I gathered 6 photographers as well, and it was easier to update at one time because a group of 20 people is too big for me to handle on my own. Lynn (Madhatter) and Xiaobai (March Hare) helped out a lot too with their advices and with putting things together while I went mad myself. Really.

Again, apart from having 20 people now, we needed helpers too for the shoot. So, having over 20 people makes it nearly impossible to hold a shoot anywhere with the already limited locations we could go to with a massive team, let alone a location that is suitable for a steampunk theme. There were two places we would risk it all and ‘infiltrate’, but a couple of members voiced their worries. Legally, we could only go to a boring public park in the end. I planned the logistic part of the photoshoot in… a PowerPoint presentation, with assignments, charts, timetables, all written neatly, in a corporate style presentation – I know it’s hilarious! But it’s the only way to be more efficient, especially when it involves so many individuals.

And, although it is Alice’s whimsical dream, I didn’t want our version to focus around her too much, like the original. I found it essential to have more interaction between the cosplayers, and each character’s ‘screen-time’ to be of equal lineup. So I conceptualized my own storyline using a few references from Lewis Carroll’s book to retain the familiarity, doing the best I could to have each of them as involved as possible. But unfortunately, a few of our members could not make it for the shoot, so we had to scrape a big part of the plan. But all was well, it still turned out good!

Cvy as Hao Asakura (Shaman King) // Photo by Decadence
Cosplay Gen: In 2010 you made a cosplay music video based on the Hatsune Miku – Rolling Girl video. What can you tell us about the work done behind the video and how did it all come to life?
Cvy: I’ve wanted to make one ever since Kaika and Reiko’s Just be Friends cosplay video. I’ve got some wee bit of hands-on knowledge in videography and post-production because of school and my ex-job in a movie distribution company, so I was keen to try it out. Found out about Rolling Girl from Reiko, and I’m going to say it as cliché-ish as possible – I fell in love. Immediately. It is something I could profoundly relate to too.

The only thing I sew was the skirt; thank goodness I had the rest of the clothing. The photoshoot part was brisk; it was made more efficient because we had a storyboard to follow through. The more mind-boggling portion was the editing; a 3-minute video means weeks of work! I used Adobe After Effects, spending every weekend to edit – the amount of hours can easily exceed the making of one semi-complex costume. I have to arrange stop-motion onto every photo and scene so that ate up more time along with the rest of the nitty-gritty blink-and-you-will-miss effects. Lynn helped with the tracing of the lyrics, each and every Japanese character; I cannot be more grateful!

Great thanks to Wowaka, Akiakane and team, the original creators of the video we based it on.

Cosplay Gen: In your opinion, what is the most important thing in a photoshoot? And what do you think it’s the difference between individual, and group photoshoots?
Cvy: With a group, you get to have interactive shots with your team members, and get to reenact a lot more scenes… but you might confront with the lack of time, depending on the size of the team. Putting a team together requires a certain amount of effort, for example arranging a date whereby everyone is available, ensure consistency in materials and costumes, keep up to date with them all the time etc. But the returns you get can be very fulfilling. For obvious reasons, you don’t encounter those situations if you are arranging your own solo shoot. The varieties in poses/photos are more limited, but you have all the time, plus freedom to further explore aesthetically to some degree.

The most important thing in a photoshoot is that you must be comfortable with your photographer/s and team members. If you are not, this could show in photos a sort of restraint with your expression or body language and the effective communication with the artistry approach you or the photographer might want… unless your adaptability is incredible.

Cvy as Death The Kid (Soul Eater)
Photo by Shuui
Cvy as Death The Kid (Soul Eater)
Photo by Shuui
Cvy as Kagamine Rin (Vocaloid, Sandplay Singing of The Dragon) // Photo by Victor
Cosplay Gen: Your country offers a lot of possibilities for cosplayers. Still, if it was up to you, what would you change in the cosplay scene in Singapore and why?
Cvy: Wow, I haven’t thought about it because I see no way in having the ability or power to ever change. Well, I would like the event/con to be more intimate, less commercialized, not open to the public, and more exclusive to the people who share similar taste. Not only to cosplay, but catered for artists or people who genuinely like anime, seiyuus, games etc. We did have a ‘For Fans By Fans’ Hetalia only event last year, but sadly I could not make it… What I am looking at now are (some, to put it humbly) events that welcome the notion of cosplayers because we ARE a colourful bunch, so we do draw a lot of attention, a magnet for huge crowds attracting absurdly ill-mannered humans at the same time, who lack the etiquette especially in photo-taking (acting like we are some circus freaks but hey, at least they are paid), they are probably ignorant about the subculture, even though I still think it’s just basic courtesy. This makes an exclusive event more sought after, at least for me. But then, being less commercialized would also mean a lack of capital; if only I was filthy rich…
Cvy as Smile (Black Butler / Kuroshitsuji) // Photo by Zeratul
Cosplay Gen: In the now 9+ years you’ve been into this hobby, how has your view changed about cosplay and what does is it mean to you?
Cvy: Comparatively to how cosplay is now, you can say it had changed more than in my point of view. My mentality towards it remains, at least a big part of it; I do it for fun, to exhibit the great passion I have over something I’m enjoying for a long time – watching anime or gaming that eventually lead me into cosplaying new characters. And expectations of myself will raise a few notches too, I guess. I treat it as an expressive form of body art as well. The good part in the evolution of cosplay is that there is a bigger range of choices in wig styles, materials, ready-made costumes etc, unlike the previous years; regarding the cons, people get all pampered by the increasing convenience, but that’s expected when business heads come into the picture. So for everything else, it’s all good.
// Interview by Cristian Botea and Ruxandra Târcă



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