“Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery” – Charles Caleb Colton
We love Cosplay, unabashedly so, and one of the cool things about hanging out at Cons is hearing why someone enjoys a character or genre. Cosplay is the biggest form of that flattery, and we aim to bring you the stories behind all those people in funky, fun dress up.
It is our sincere pleasure to talk with one of the premier Cosplayer in the world, Angi Viper joins us for CosTalk:
MoGT: Angi Viper is a rising star, tell us what you like to Cosplay?
Angi: I cosplay anything and everything that inspires me. Every character I cosplay has a special meaning to me and I only cosplay characters I really connect with. Since I love Disney and animated movies, Marvel comics and 90s anime/manga you’ll see a lot of cosplay come from those fandoms.
MoGT: What does cosplay represent for you?
Angi: Cosplay is an escape from reality. It’s an opportunity to live your dreams and become a character you idolize for a day while connecting and sharing your fandom with fellow fans.
MoGT: What are your favorite events to attend? Tell us any good stories…
Angi: My favorite events so far have been WonderCon, Comikaze and D23 because they’re big enough to bring in big guests while still small enough that you can move through the hall and actually have opportunities to meet said guests. I have a million and one stories from all the cons I’ve attended over the years. Most of my favorites are being stopped by children who believe I am the character I’m cosplaying, meeting my art idols and people who became my best friends.
MoGT: How did you get your start and who’s your biggest supporter?
Angi: I started cosplaying in about 2002/2003 when I was in high school. I was heavily in the anime/manga scene and dreamed of going to big anime cons. When I searched for photos from them I found the most amazing costumes and was so inspired. I had my mom help me make my first costumes and threw most together with items I found at thrift stores. I loved the challenge of figuring out how a costume was put together and my mom was extremely supportive of me. She’s always encouraged me in my creative endeavors and was always eager to help me learn a new technique or break down a costume. If it wasn’t for her support back then and my friend Shawn encouraging me to return to the cosplay community a few years ago I definitely wouldn’t be where I am now.
MoGT: What are your biggest pet peeves while Cosplaying?
Angi: My biggest pet peeve is seeing people who look unhappy in cosplay. I understand that some costumes are uncomfortable and shoes wear on you after awhile, but a lot of the time it’s people in bodysuits. If you love what you’re wearing there’s much less chance of you being miserable in your costume. I see a lot of cosplayers cosplaying characters that are popular or their friend begged them to do and they don’t really have a connection to the character so they aren’t relaxed and happy and it shows. Cosplay is supposed to be a fun hobby that makes you happy and I would much rather see cosplayers wear uncomfortable costumes for photoshoots or a less-known costume and be comfortable and happy at cons than be miserable all day for the wow factor.
MoGT: What’s the cosplay culture like where you’re from, do you have friends that cosplay as well?
Angi: Cosplay is HUGE in California. I was shocked at how many of us are out here, but I guess it makes sense with the entertainment industry right there. There are a million and one incredibly creative people with the skills to create amazing costumes looking for an outlet in between gigs or in addition to their office job (like me lol). Most of my friends are cosplayers. Quite in fact I met most of them at local cons and they’ve become my family away from home. We have cosplay construction parties, go shopping for materials together and bounce ideas off each other.
MoGT: What are you hobbies outside of dressing up?
Angi: I used to draw a lot but I’ve slacked off recently >< I love to sing and act. Combining those with cosplay has made me pretty popular in the kid’s party circuit out here which is great for funding my costumes. But mostly when I’m not working my day job or parties, I’m sewing and watching movies. Or eating lol
MoGT: How did your costumes come about, did you make them or do you have good shopping tips?
Angi: I make all my costumes. I start by selecting a character and then I look at as many views of their costume as possible to get a firm grasp on what pieces I’m going to have to make and how everything will fit together. Next I’ll look at patterns at my local Joann’s to see if there’s anything I can use or alter to fit each of the pieces I need to make. Then I use the patterns as a reference to determine how much material I need and start gathering fabric, trim, accents, etc. I like to start with the biggest pieces first so I can start to figure out the weirder details and connective issues that might come into play later. For example, when working on Astrid I made the shirt and hood/shawl first so I could make sure it was going to fit the way I wanted and connect properly before spending a ton of time on the finer details
MoGT: Do you have any favorite photographers you’ve worked with? Throw in your favorite places to shoot!
Angi: I have a ton of photographers I love to work with. Everyone has very different styles and I love that working with many different artists gives different perspectives on my costumes and brings out different aspects of the character. I love shooting on location. I feel that actually being in a space that the character I’m cosplaying might find themselves in helps me get into character and brings out much more lively photos. Not to say I don’t like shooting in studio, because there are things you can do with lighting in a studio to feature the details of a costume that you can’t normally get on location.
I have a few ideas I’ve been mulling around for a while but I always hate to reveal cosplay plans that I’m not sure I’ll be able to do.
MoGT: If you could have your dream roll in a Movie/TV show what would it be and who would be in the picture?
Angi: American McGee’s Alice directed by Tim Burton or Guillermo Del Toro *sigh* I’d love to play Madame Hydra if she’d ever appear in a movie or on Agents of SHIELD. Also Ariel and Elsa on Broadway
MoGT: Cosplay is not consent is a huge movement Cosplayers are getting behind, what are your thoughts/experiences?
Angi: My experiences have honestly been very tame compared to stories I’ve heard from other cosplayers. I’m very grateful that conventions have started to realize the issue and take action (posting signs and banning offenders), but I do worry that the way cosplayers have tried to spread the campaign in the past caused confusion and turned it into a joke (holding signs by exposed boobs or grabbing friends inappropriately while laughing, etc). I do feel like the campaign is a necessary movement but I feel like the bigger issue is respect and goes beyond getting groped to encompass issues like disregard for the frailty of costumes, interrupting breaks to insist a photo and sneaking photos rather than asking the cosplayer’s permission. At the end of the day the point of the Cosplay is Not Consent movement is an acknowledgement that cosplayers are people, not dolls on display and we deserve respect and to be treated like human beings.
The best advice I can give any cosplayer is to have fun. It’s easy to get caught up in what other people want you to do but you quickly lose yourself. Stay true to you and what makes you happy because if you’re working on a costume you love it’ll make the entire experience so much more fulfilling and it’ll show in your final cosplay and photos. Plus it’ll give you much fonder memories to look back on later 😉
MoGT: Are there any cosplayers that have inspired you or that you look up to?
Angi: 10-15 years ago there were very few “big” cosplayers since the community was just developing but I remember following Vampy and Yaya. Their skill and attention to detail showed me what was possible and inspired me to push myself further. Coming back to the community a few years ago, I was inspired by Traci Hines and Firefly Path with JoEllen’s original takes on characters I loved and Traci’s ability to completely transform herself into each character and fully embody them in photo and video. Calling myself Traci’s friend and making her costumes now is a dream I never expected to come true but it goes to show you how far you can go if you stay true to yourself and follow your passions where they take you.
MoGT: Where can fans follow your work? Do you have a print store?
Angi: I’m on pretty much every social media outlet under AngiViper lol. I’m most active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I also have a Youtube where I share top 5 videos, tutorials and my short films at youtube.com/user/angiviper and I’m on Etsy at etsy.com/shop/angiviper where I sell prints, cosplay accessories and random crafts I decide to make sometimes in addition to taking costume commissions.
It was an honor to have Angi as our guest, we’ll be sure to keep following her adventures as you should!
Cosplay on friends