Cosplay is an expression of individuality and passion for movie, video game, anime and comic characters brought to life and shared with others. Cosplaying allows people to dive into a world of adventure and imagination. It’s always fun seeing others in cosplay at conventions. Learning the process behind the cosplay and why they pick the characters they pick is just the tip of the iceberg. From San Antonio, meet cosplayer Jessi Arntz!
Back in April at Fan Expo Dallas, 60 area cosplayers competed in the first ever Masters of Cosplay Grand Prix Qualifier event. The Dallas Best in Show winner was cosplayer Jessi Arntz. She advanced to the Masters of Cosplay Grand Prix finals at Fan Expo Canada, which took place Aug. 30 – Sept. 2. She competed against winners from Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, Megacon Orlando, Fan Expo Boston and Fan Expo Canada.
We had the opportunity to interview Jessi Arntz. Learn more about this fellow cosplayer!
What got you into cosplaying?
I attended my first convention at 13 and my bestie’s dad, who also cosplayed and was in the 501st (The official Star War costuming club), always encouraged me to join in. Flash forward to college, I finally had the opportunity to try and after creating my first suit of plastic Mandalorian armor, and I joined with the Mandalorian Mercs costuming club. The group frequently cosplaywed for charity, it was an amazing experience and really solidified my love for it. It is very gratifying to light up someone’s face by interacting with them as their favorite character.
Who/What are your inspirations for cosplaying? (Other cosplayers or favorite characters?)
Svetlana of KamuiCosplay is one of my favorite makers. She was one of the first makers I started following for her mastery of worbla and foamsmithing. Some of my other favorites are SKS Props, Inaste’s Tears, and Henchman Props for their big elaborate builds. The things they all create are so realistic and flow well. They are true artists and share their methods with the internet for others to use. I hope to be like them some day.
What made you want to cosplay as Inquisitor Adrastia for Fan Expo Dallas back in April?
I first played Dawn of War II back in college around 2010. Having only just started costuming, I knew I could not do her justice at the time and put her on my list for future work. I love her character because her outfit looks different from other Warhammer inquisotors. Her armor is all black, reflecting her dark personality. Her dialogue in the game was brutal and I knew that as a cosplay, it would have a commanding presence. I love emulating powerful women and she commands a large unit of soldiers hunting officers that have turned against the Empire.
How long have you been cosplaying?
Costumes are something I was always interested in as a kid. Halloween was always my favorite holiday and my mom home made all of my costumes. Always having an overactive imagination and creative hands, I made my first costume when I was about 6 out of butcher paper. I’m sure if “cosplay” was more of a thing back then, I would have gotten into it sooner. I started officially cosplaying in 2009, creating Star Wars and steampunk personas and costumes.
Can you explain more about your cosplay at the Masters of Cosplay Grand Prix finals in Toronto?
In March, I started working on a Monster Hunter Generations cosplay. The monster is called the Nakarkos and is the final boss battle in the game. It is a cephalapod that wears the bones of it’s victims as armor. I chose it mostly for it’s aesthetic but also because it would be such a challenge. There is only one concept image of the armor and the onscreen version is too small to use as a reference.
The armor is mostly hand tooled leather that has been watershaped and painted with Angelus brand acrylic. The helmet, shoulders, belt, and chest skull are all carved from 10mm EVA foam with layers of Mod Podge, liquitex paint, and varnish. There are also 3d printed parts and the glowing teal parts are Worbla transpa-art with Krylon sea glass spray.
The sword I made to go with it is called the Infernal Greatsword. I wired neopicels and a vape rig to the inside so it shifts color when it glows and emits smoke. It is carved entirely from EVA foam with a wooden dowel and fiberglass rods inside to make it rigid. I only had three days to make this part. It was very stressful and I will probably revisit it soon to make it better.
What are your favorite fandoms?
The list is a mile long but some of my favorite things are RPGs in any form, whether it is tabletop (DnD, Vampire:the Masquerade), video games (Fallout, Horizon Zero Dawn, Elder Scrolls) or LARP. Lord of the Rings played a major role in my early years so I fall in love with most things that have similar fantasy elements.
What advice do you have for aspiring and/or beginner cosplayers?
My best advice for new cosplayers is to be persistent. Don’t give up because you make a mistake. It is easy to get overwhelmed when you first get started learning a new skill. It is an art form like any other and we all make mistakes. Don’t look at other cosplayers and say “I could never do that.” Of course you can. Be inspired by their work and skill. It may take years to get there but you can. There are so many videos out there now on how to do this stuff. Don’t be intimidated, just try it. Keep trying. You’ve got this.
Featured image credit: Jessi Arntz