This Q&A feature article is the first of many to come for our Gals For Gals series where the team of Geek Gals interviews a variety of female artists, cosplayers, and creators.
Cosplay, short for costume-play, is a unique form of creative expression within the nerd-verse or geekdom for anyone who wants to bring their favorite characters to life. At the heart of it, it’s an eclectic clash of creativity, community, and catering to one’s love for the fictional world. Realistically, it’s also a chance for individuals to explore their own means and motivations behind cosplaying, and why they get into cosplay in the first place.
Meet Sonia Blade
For instance, in today’s society where representation has become important, marginalized groups and people of color are exploring different avenues to express their voice and artistic outlet, and the cosplay community is no different. My goal is to bring those voices to light and share their process and experience. For this article, I interviewed Sonia Blade, a Puerto Rican cosplayer hailing from Austin, Texas, to ask about her take on the art style, why and how she began, and what things this community can improve on.
All photos provided by Sonia Blade Cosplay
Read our Interview
What inspired you to cosplay?
I wanted to get into it because of my friend, Sumner. He and his friends create such amazing cosplay and it truly inspired me. Once I got out of college, got a job and had excess funds, I started what now is my dedicated hobby.
Do you make all your designs? And if so, what is/are your favorite piece(es) to make?
I make most of them. Sometimes I buy, sometimes I thrift and modify. [It] just really depends on my budget and if I’m competing or not. I love sewing, beading, etc. I love making extravagant things. Right now my work is not where my imagination is, but soon I will be debuting some amazing things.
I see that you have been a cosplayer for three years. Has your perspective and attitude towards cosplay changed or evolved over the years since you started? What does it mean to you today?
My perspective has changed and my reason to keep cosplaying has changed. I think now I see more of the community and while I think it’s a good community, there are ways to improve. Now I feel like I’m not only cosplaying for myself, but show that anyone can cosplay, specifically POC, can cosplay anything they want.
What has been your top three favorite characters to cosplay? And why?
- Prompto – One, it’s comfy and I love him so much. He is such a relatable character and I think it’s really nice to have that connection with him.
- Auron – I love my grumpy uncle. Auron’s design is mysterious and cool and his sword is bad-ass. I love him so much! Stoic characters tend to be my favorite.
- Sailor Neptune – I love Sailor Moon the series, and Sailor Neptune is my favorite outer senshi. She is graceful, serene, and beautiful.
These are all subject to change at any point in time.
As a Puerto Rican cosplayer, how would you say is cosplay viewed in your community as you know it? Do you come across many Puerto Rican (or other Hispanic/Latino/Caribbean) cosplayers? What do your loved ones think about it?
Surprisingly we out here. I meet more PR babes into cosplay now then when I first started. We are hidden that’s all. My loved ones think it’s cool and as long as I’m making sure my priorities are straight, it’s fine. My dad thinks it’s cool and Halloween everyday for me.
The cosplay community is vast and diverse and a great place to make friends but also face bad takes. What are some things you personally feel this community can improve on?
I think the community can improve on many things. The blatant black-facing for cosplay in the community needs to stop. Period.
There is no respect in black-facing; there is no respecting the characters if the character is POC but you are white/light. In your efforts to “respect” a character, you are inherently disrespecting an entire race.
I think there can be efforts in getting diverse cosplay guests at cons. If you preach “Cosplay is for everyone,” then show it. There are people with the skill-set and social media numbers that you are looking for, that are diverse in size,shape, color, hair style, gender, etc.
As an Indian who has cosplayed a couple of times, I am sometimes told by other South Asians that they don’t feel represented enough (or they are too shy and less motivated to cosplay) and that my work inspires them to go for it. What is a piece of advice you would give others who want to cosplay but feel that they are not good enough?
You are good enough doing any cosplay. Don’t feel pressured to do humongous builds when you are starting out. I know Instagram has a way of showing us the best of people, and people who are at the top of their skill level, but remember that we all started small.
My first sewn cosplay was Esmeralda. I KNEW NOTHING. I got a sewing machine, some patterns and did the best I could.
I didn’t know about bias tape and how to use it. I didn’t know how to make skirts. WHAT WAS BACKSTITCHING? However now through my mistakes, I’m able to learn and grow. So just keep at it if you love it. You will improve; there are so many resources out there. Take your time, budget your money, and most importantly, have fun!
If you want to share anything else about new projects, please do so!
I have this huge project: Since I love Disney, I’m cosplaying every single princess in at least one of their outfits in their prospective movies. Currently I’m working on Belle. And I try to post work-in-progress photos to show others and hopefully inspire to make their own cosplay. My goal is to debut that at A-Kon in Dallas, TX at the end of June as well as the ultimate FFX baddie Seymour.
If you are a POC / WOC cosplayer or creator of other forms (artist, writer, musician, filmographer, actor, etc.) and would like to bring your voice to the table, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter at @jules_ba5ak. I would love to interview you!
Featured image credit: Sonia Blade Cosplay