Faces of Cosplay: Sarah Harris

Sarah and I are cosplay moms.

When I first started on the odyssey of helping my cosplay daughter (Kiogenic) craft and construct (without going broke), I started a thread on cosplay.com called “cosplay parenting.”

parenting

This isn’t us, obviously. But great cosplay parenting!

While it seemed to me that there were a good deal of parents who supported their children in costuming (and who cosplayed themselves), I hadn’t found anywhere we could share ideas.

Sarah was an early contributor to that thread. She was helping teenage sons in England as I was helping a daughter in the U.S, and we shared ideas and celebrations. I watched the elaborate process of the construction of her cosplays from across the pond.

We became Facebook friends, and talked politics and life events, family and comics.

We started as fellow cosplay moms, but now she’s more than that: my super-cool English friend- cosplayer, artist, and best-ever tour guide……

Because when Kiogenic and I were in London this summer, I finally got to MEET Sarah in person!

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She was lovely and warm and friendly, and had organized the most fascinating street art and counter-culture tour of Camden- ever. We wound around the market and through alleys, looking high and low at the work of many of Sarah’s friends.

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This was my favorite.

She showed us the places the cool kids hang out and showered cosplay daughter with comic book gifts.

As she and Kiogenic browsed comics and graphic novels at a small, locally-owned shop, I chatted with the guy behind the desk, who was interested to learn how I knew Sarah.

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“It would have been awkward if you hadn’t gotten on” he observed.

He was right. I suppose it would have been. But I hadn’t really worried about it. Sarah was already a friend before I “met” her in person. Fascinating, brilliant, talented and delightful.

So today I’d like to offer a profile of my cosplaymom, artist,  costumer and maths-whiz buddy Sarah:

Name: Sarah Harris
Day job: statistician for a marketing agency
Age-ish: 50 (ouch!) (Still not quite come to terms with that!)

Why do you cosplay?

At the moment I’m not (although never say never!), but when I did it was for 2 reasons…for something fun to do with my sons, and because I just love making things. The construction side of cosplay tended to be more fun to me than the actual dressing up part.

How long have you been cosplaying?

The first cosplay I made was 3 years ago. The first I wore was 2 years ago.

How do you choose your character(s)?

The only costume I ever made for myself was Rocket Raccoon. I thought he looked like a fun construction challenge and I wanted to make it for one of my boys but neither were keen…. so I made it for myself instead! The boys’ costumes were always characters they chose themselves from computer games.
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Rocket Raccoon. The tail. And the GUN!

Do you have a signature, or favorite cosplay?

Favourite is probably the Lich King armour from World of Warcraft that I made for my son Connor. It took over a year!
Lich King

Sarah has SKILLZ.


Do you make, or buy your cosplays?

Everything made from scratch. Making is the fun bit for me.

What advice do you have to other cosplayers?

Blimey…..people don’t usually ask me for advice! just have fun with it I guess! And if you aren’t having fun either change the way you do it until it IS fun, or find something else you enjoy more.

What’s the best thing that someone has said to you about your cosplay?


Best reactions are always from the little ones. “Rocket I love you” is probably the best 🙂

What’s the worst thing that someone has said to you about your cosplay?


This is going to sound horribly smug but I don’t think I’ve heard any negative comments! Closest I guess is “oh it’s a CHICK in there!” when someone heard Rocket talk in an unexpected lady voice 🙂

Do you attend conventions?

Yes, around one per month. Comic books are my first love so I tend to go to the ones which are comic content heavy.
Which is your favorite?
ooh, hard to choose. the best I’ve been to this year so far was a bit of a one off, a convention to celebrate the 40th birthday of the British comic 2000AD. I’ve been reading it since I was 9 🙂 So that was a real blast.

Check out Sarah and the rest of the Implausible Cosplay Gnus of her family at: https://www.facebook.com/implausibilityofgnus

The “Artistic Temperament” : Dispatches from Cosplacon Part I

Hello, and greetings from Cosplacon in Jefferson City!

One whole big hotel of cosplayers wearing everything from papier-mache anime heads to ghostbuster uniforms (complete with unlicensed nuclear accelerators). This is cosplay daughter’s favorite convention because it’s all about the cosplay. 🙂

The creativity and artistry on display here is amazing (photos soon, I promise!) and that has me thinking this morning about a subject that has occupied my attention of late- “the artistic temprament.”

I’m not an artist myself. I would never claim that title. This modest experiment in creative nonfiction (and the occasional steampunk hat) are but small forays into that landscape.  I’m at best a technician and wordsmith.

I know this, because I recognize a true artist in my daughter, and her best friend.

I also recognize it in the amazing folks I’ve met in and through this cosplay adventure, like my friend Sarah in the UK, who built/sewed/fabricated this Rocket Racoon FROM SCRATCH.

Sarah as Rocket

I also see it in the amazing creativity on display, the shipping and combinations on view at a convention like this: Hello Kitty Darth Vaders.  Master Chief as Master Chef.

I am amazed and impressed by these artists.

But as a Mom (which is a key element of this particular blog) I also see the struggles and challenges of being a member of that tribe.

I’ve written before about cosplay daughter’s strict attention and near-obsession with detail.  She sees minute differences and shadings that I simply don’t. She finds variations of color and configuration that I can’t even perceive to be ESSENTIAL to her design.  And sometimes, when she can’t realize her vision, she just simply refuses to go on.

(Remember those long fall boots? My first blog post? They’re sill in pieces in the garage.  Every once in a while she mentions them, but hasn’t returned to try and make them work.)

I saw that kind of thing again over the last couple of weeks with another artist (who needn’t be identified by name here, it’s not important) a costume and clothing designer.  She had invited me, cosplay daughter and cosplay best friend to model in a fashion show here at cosplacon. The theme was to be the ball scene in Labyrinth.

Labrynth

I was going to get to wear a BALL GOWN AND CREEPY MASK. Made by a REAL COSTUME DESIGNER. I was STOKED. The girls were too. How fabulous!

But then- attention to and control of detail. Costume designer communicates that she will need all three of us to commit to showing up for hair/make-up, rehearsals and photos at 11:30, for a 5:00 show that lasts until 6.  And during that time we are sequestered so as to not ruin the moment when we appear.

Wow. Ok, that’s a deal breaker for the girls, who aren’t excited enough to give 7 hours of their convention day to realize the vision and promote the business of someone else.  It’s a bit much to ask.

But I’m still in! (*chanting*)  Ball gown! Ball gown!

and then, just a few days before the convention, the designer reveals that she is simply not happy with the level of detail and scheduling notes that she’s getting from the convention (which like most of these events is volunteer run by young people with day jobs).  She won’t compromise her vision or risk the time and control she needs to make her art happen.

So she pulls out and refuses to participate. Rats.

As the girls would say: “sad face.”

sad face

So- was this a bit self-important and divaesque? Maybe. The convention organizers apparently thought so.

But here’s my observation- this is the kind of attitude and approach that makes the art fabulous to begin with. That attention to detail and confidence to demand that it be right or not happen at all is what can give us great works.

But it’s also hard and challenging- for the artist and for the fans/supporters.  I really was looking forward to that fashion show. I have also spent hundreds of dollars on a pair of boots that are still in pieces in my garage.

Both things are frustrating.

and the artists themselves- when they disappear in Salingeresque fashion, can lose business, or fans and then no one gets to see or appreciate their work.

There’s lots of definitions out on in the internet of the “artistic temperament”- everything from medical dictionary references to mood swings and blasts of creative energy; to centuries-old meditations on originality and self-involved self expression.

But I’m not sure any of these are really important or really capture my new experiences of being a artist groupie.

I do, however, often think of  Deborah Harkness’ amazing All Souls trilogy in which all artists (from playwright Kit Marlowe to mathematician and astronomer Thomas Harriot)  are actually daemons- brilliant, magical, vague, fickle, creative and destructive all at once.

Do I think my artist friends and family are daemons?

Of course not.

Do I think those artistic folks that surround me have abilities that seem otherworldly in their magic and inscrutability?

Yes. 

And how wonderful, challenging, rewarding and frustrating is it that I get to travel alongside of them?

more from Cosplacon later! I promise!