Q&A with Kukkii-san

I was interviewed by Danish „DKos“ magazine when I was a guest at KoyoCon 2019 – my last convention appearance before covid. Allow me to tell you about myself, how I got into cosplay and wig styling, and what I love about conventions and the cosplay community!

Read the Danish version here (from page 36).

How did you start cosplaying?

I first learned about cosplay in the early 2000s through magazines and online articles when I researched Japanese popular culture and anime/manga fandom for a university class. I was of course fascinated by it because it combined so many things I already loved – theatre and character development, photography, sewing and crafting! I began to visit cosplay events to learn more about this subculture. I made my first costume – Lulu from the video game Final Fantasy X – for AnimagiC 2005 in Koblenz (Germany) because I wanted to see the other side of things. And I never looked back from there!

How do you feel the cosplay community has evolved since then?

Oh wow. With the community being so connected, I see the same trends around the world, just delayed in Europe (compared to America or Asia). Cosplay has become way more popular! It’s still a niche hobby for most, but there are people who actually make a living from cosplay, and everyone can stumble across it by reading the newspaper or browsing their social media feed.

The community has become more diverse, which I think is a good thing. Everyone can now get into cosplay very easily because there are so many opportunities to buy costumes and accessories like wigs, or find step-by-step tutorials for the costume you want to make. Those are options we simply didn’t have 10 or 15 years ago.

At the same time, the insane level of craftsmanship and photography can be intimidating for newbies. For some people, photoshoots have replaced conventions, which I find a bit sad because conventions are the best way to meet each other and to get a realistic image of what cosplayers are really like – beyond the perfection of an edited photo!

One of your specialties in cosplay is wig styling – you have even written books about it. How did you learn to style wigs?

Back when I started cosplaying, good wigs were hard to find, and no one really knew anything about wig styling. I think that’s why I was so fascinated by wigs and wanted to learn more about them. I also really love the smell of hairspray!

I learned a lot by trial and error, but I had some amazing teachers like Katie Bair of Petting Zoo Wigs who posted tutorials and shared their advice freely on message boards. With my books, I want to give back to the community by sharing my know-how and putting it in a professional, easy-to-understand format.

What is your favorite cosplay memory and why?

I went to Dragon*Con in Atlanta (USA) a decade ago and that was really special. It’s like one big costume party around the clock, and my friends and I felt so welcome and acknowledged as cosplayers.

In general, my favorite memories are of meeting people in cosplay and feeling the connection because we are in the same fandom, or because we have the same love for craftsmanship, or the same attitude towards our hobby. This connection is something special that I hardly find in everyday life.

What do you focus on when you judge at cosplay shows?

At first, I try not to focus on one thing in particular, but look at the cosplay as a whole. Does the cosplayer look confident in their costume? Is the character portrayal convincing? The overall impression and the fit of the garment are very important to me.

On stage, I want to see and feel the spirit! That is more important to me than technical perfection. Don’t just memorize your words – be that character. Make me laugh, make me cry, preferably both within just a minute!

I absolutely love good craftsmanship and attention to detail, so when the contest allows, I’ll look at the costume up close and ask questions how it was made, what part the cosplayer is proud of, and what challenges they had to overcome. I actually learn a lot from talking to other cosplayers, even when I’m judging.

What motivates and inspires you to do cosplay for so many years?

That’s an excellent question! I guess I always find new things and people that inspire me. I don’t have the time to make 10 costumes a year anymore (I only completed one this year, boo-hoo!) as I have shifted my focus more and more to teaching and writing about cosplay.

However, I still find new and old characters that I want to cosplay as, so I will probably be doing this until I’m 100 years old. I’m looking forward to moderating an „Over 40 Cosplay“ panel at a con!

Who would have thought? KoyoCon in November 2019 was the last convention that I attended before the covid pandemic. But I did moderate that panel on Twitch in 2020, and many more – find my livestream archives here (in German).

Would you like to find out more about my journey as a cosplayer and tutorial writer?

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