Designer Interview: Seattle Cosplay
Today we’re getting to know Anna He, a.k.a. Seattle Cosplay, designer of the new Bow & Brine pattern for Cosplay by McCall’s. Anna is a fashion designer and technical designer who has worked for brands including Norma Kamali, Eileen Fisher, and Nordstrom, and was drawn to cosplay through a love of anime and fantasy.
Note: We’re at New York Comic Con this week! Stop by both #840 to browse the web-only Cosplay by McCall’s patterns in person, chat with our sewing experts, and show off your costumes. We’re also participating in the “Cosplay: Let’s Get Serious” panel on Saturday, October 8, at 11:00 a.m. In Room 1A02. We hope to see you there!
When did you first get interested in cosplay?
I was working an office job, and really missed working with beautiful fabrics and creating extraordinary clothes. When my friend learned of my yearning, she asked for my help in creating a costume for her debuting burlesque act. And in researching for her costume, the performance and costuming scene just captivated my interest like nothing else! I wanted to make all the costumes for myself.
What was the first Cosplay you made?
The first cosplay I made is Battlestar Galatica’s officer uniform that my husband and I wore to the BSG exhibit here in Seattle a few years ago. I created the pattern, found fabric, sourced the original buttons, pins, and patches. I made some compromises because of budget and time, but I think it came out great!
What was your favorite Cosplay?
My favorite cosplay is the Diablo 3 Wizard cosplay. It was my very first big cosplay, and with it I won the best in show award at Sakura con, and also caught the eyes of the Blizzard community. It pays homage to my Chinese heritage and also celebrates the power of a strong female character.
What was your favorite commission?
My favorite commission was the Sucker Punch Amber cosplay. It was a long and labor-intensive journey and I got to work very closely with a talented cosplayer. To research for the cosplay I watched the movie 3-4 times to get a feel for Amber’s personality, pausing often to get all the clothing details down. I also searched extensively online to get snippets of background information on the costume design process.
What was the most labor-intensive project that you’ve made?
It would have to be the Wizard cosplay. It took months of planning and organizing and collaborating with my friend. To sculpt just the dragon staff took months, and then to make the cast and paint took some more time. I gathered materials from resources I never expected – the scroll used Pearl Paint art papers I had/kept from when I was in college. LOL! I basically sewed and ripped and re-sewed the body more times than I can count. It was a huge learning curve for me. And the closer I get to the end, more apprehensive I was about the costume, and the more mistakes I made. The first time I wore the costume it was con-ready, but not 100% complete. It was not until six months later that everything came together.
How did you learn to sew?
I learned to hand sew very early on as a child. My mother is a hobbyist sewer – when we were in China she had a mechanical sewing machine and she created my clothes growing up. It was not until high school I learned to machine sew and well fitted garment construction. I kept making patterns hroughout high school and college, and much of my professional career now is in the fashion industries.
Tell us about your Creative Process. What inspires you?
Many things inspire me in creating a cosplay. Beautiful femininity, highly detailed artwork, and fellow cosplayers all motivate and push me to learn more skills.
I approach cosplay in a very unique way. Check out my process in this short documentary I made recently for the Pax West 2016 Convention.
What else have you worked on?
I have been creating a lot more video game cosplays, mainly because I spend so much time playing MMORPGs, but I also balance out my video game cosplays with anime and theatrical costuming. I am working on developing digital patterns for a video game company. I love teaching – I hold classes with younger artists to guide them through the art of cosplay and in the fashion industries, and I also lead online classes on how to have a successful online business.
Why do you think cosplay is so appealing?
I think cosplay is popular because of ease of access and inclusiveness. Whether it is buying a costume, making your own from scratch, or getting pattern to help start, it is no longer an exclusive club of super geeks, but an easy way of expressing our creativity and love for the characters we hold dear. It is always a fantastic way to meet like-minded fans, and it’s a wonderful escape to be someone else for a while.
Share one more fun fact?
I currently own 3 sewing machines (vintage New Home, Brother, Pfaff), 1 Brother overlock, 1 Superba Standard knitting machine, and a Brother embroidery machine. My next goal is to get a multi-needle embroidery machine with bigger stitch field.