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Your new Cosplayer of the Month: Ven Tsun
Tell us about the first time you put together a cosplay piece.
The first time I put together a cosplay piece was with my older brother. I was about 14 at the time and we had gone with our mom to our first anime convention ever. It was a small con in Edmonton called Animethon, hosting only a few hundred people. Back then it was $2 or free if you brought a donation to the food bank. I had never been exposed to anything like it before. And of course, like many others, that’s where I saw cosplayers for the first time. It was intriguing, my brother and I really wanted to try our hand at it, and my mom was ecstatic to try and help us make something. At the time, my older brother was heavily into Hunter X Hunter, so we decided on Chrollo and Kurapika. Back then (21 years ago in case you were wondering about the timeline) it was a lot harder to access resources for cosplay. Coloured contacts, wigs, and make-up weren’t really a thing! So, we did our best with what we had. My hair was easy since it was just black and slicked back, but my mom and I helped bleach my brother’s hair blonde, it turned out super orange because we didn’t really know what we were doing, but we thought it was perfect!
We went fabric shopping and were having a really big struggle trying to find white fur for Chrollo’s jacket. We found out this was because fur was considered seasonal fabric and they only carried it around fall/winter season, since it was spring/summer, that wasn’t an option. Luckily, we found a fabric store that sold fur all year round, Marshall’s fabrics (a haven, honestly). It’s where I ended up buying all my fabrics from then-on for cosplay.
We bought used patterns at Value Village since we couldn’t afford to buy them at full price. This is when I started learning how to resize/alter/make patterns early on, we also hand stuffed all the ribbing on Kurapika’s outfit. Thinking back on the amount of effort we put into our first cosplays I’m actually really proud of us. It took us months before we finally finished them, but there’s really nothing that can replace the feeling of wearing something for the first time that you hand-crafted.
When we brought it to the convention no one had ever even heard of the anime, but neither of us cared, we were just really happy to be cosplaying. We entered the cosplay contest with no idea what we were doing and won. After that I tried cosplays here and there but had trouble really getting into it. It wasn’t actually until I was about 28 that I actually started consecutively cosplaying.
What types of characters are you drawn to as a cosplayer?
I definitely navigate mostly towards the grumpy, angry, jerk characters! Maybe because I can be pretty grumpy myself sometimes. Hence the Tsun in my cosplay name, short for Tsundere. I also tend to choose the quiet and shy types. I think I really like going for characters that I can find something relatable to my own personality in.
What do you hope to achieve through cosplay?
I am in love with the art of cosplay, so the things I hope to achieve are constant improvement. With more cosplays I want to learn more skills, having a social media account for this has taught me many things, followers can sometimes have the most amazing input, and I think without them I wouldn’t have been able to learn half the stuff I know now.
If you could give any piece of advice to new cosplayers, what would it be?
Let yourself make mistakes, be proud of the things you can achieve through the level you have. There is always room to grow, you will always improve, and you’re always going to run into problems (I still make mistakes in creation again and again, the trick is to keep at it and not give up). As fun as cosplay is, it can be an extremely difficult hobby, both craft-wise and financially. Remember to take a breath and not compare yourself too much to others. Setting goals can be healthy but creating unrealistic expectations for yourself can damage you more than you think.
What would you say is the hardest part of cosplaying?
Not ripping your entire cosplay off halfway through the day and burning it in the nearest trash can.
In all seriousness though, I think the hardest part for me has been scheduling the time to work on my passion. I work about 50+ hours a week, which doesn’t really give me a lot of free time. If I don’t set a strict schedule for myself, it’ll never happen. We make sacrifices to do the things we love and I would be lying if I said I’ve never sacrificed sleep, social time, self-care time, and the like. And I think that’s going to happen to anyone, regardless of if cosplay is what you do or not.