Cosplayed is back! This week, I’m trying something a little different. Rather than doing some basic research on our featured cosplayer, I decided ask her if she’d be willing to answer some questions for us. Some of these questions even came from our viewers, as I asked for them via Twitter.
This week I interviewed the lovely Leen Isabel. You may remember seeing her in one of our previous group features where she was dressed as Ada Wong from Resident Evil. Mike B and I discussed not only her amazing costume, but also the talents of the photographer who took the time to put her character into the perfect setting.
So, without further ado, I’m going to let Miss Leen Isabel tell you about herself and how she became a cosplayer.
Interview begins below the gallery.
GAMEBREAKER: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Career, hobbies, etc.
Leen Isabel: Hi there! I’m Leen Isabel! I live in Los Angeles and besides being into cosplay, I’m also an illustrator. I’m into comics, manga and video games, too! Outside of my nerd life, I’m a pole-dance enthusiast and I run my own webcomic called Pole Dancing Adventures. I’m also part of Geek Girls and you’ll often find me there posting my own cosplay and articles for fans. And as if I weren’t busy enough, I’m also a member of Girls Drawin’ Girls! Together with this fabulous group of women, we draw sexy pin-ups and put ‘em on display at art shows and comic conventions. That’s me in a nut-shell!
GB: How long have you been a cosplayer and how did you get into it?
LI: As a kid, I remember browsing through the now defunct magazine, Animerica and seeing all the photos submitted from cosplayers. From there I had hoped that I could do it someday. I grew up in northern California and dreamt that I could one day attend San Diego Comic Con & Anime Expo.
Fast-forward some 12 years… I met my husband, then boyfriend, and he took me to my first San Diego Comic Con in 2005. For the first five years, I enjoyed myself immensely but always looked wistfully at the cosplayers realizing how badly I wanted to join them. So, five years later, I worked up the courage to go SDCC 2010 as Psylocke – my first cosplay. That year, Chris Claremont and Milo Manara had just finished their work on their one-shot “X-Women” issue and I got to meet them both. It was incredible and unforgettable.
GB: Is cosplay a hobby or your profession? If not your profession, what do you do to fund your hobby?
LI: Cosplay is mostly a hobby but sometimes I get lucky and book a gig as a model. I’m a gamer model for Charisma+2 and will model at tradeshows and game events if my schedule allows. Otherwise, for cosplay that isn’t work related, I’ll just budget for supplies. If you’re not careful, cosplay can rack up quite a bill! I can always look to costuming friends to trade materials with. That helps!
GB: Do you make all your own costumes? How long do they take to make?
LI: As I’m still new to the hobby and have other responsibilities, it’s a mix for me. I enjoy making props and accessories and non-complicated patterns, but I usually ask help when it comes to trickier materials and embroidery.
GB: Is cosplay an expensive part of your life?
LI: Yes! I always end up spending more than I budget. It’s always the small things or the trial and error that gets me. If one method didn’t work, then I’ll end up buying more supplies to do it differently. Sigh!
GB: What your favorite piece and why?
LI: Chun-li. I love the fabric because of the sparkle and it fits like a glove but it’s incredibly comfortable.
GB: What’s the most difficult thing you’ve made?
LI: My Roxy “Freefall” costume was challenging since I decided to have the body suit made out of latex. After putting it on, I was praying that it wouldn’t rip at the seams.
GB: What character would you like to cosplay most?
LI: I honestly already cosplayed my favorite character and she was Psylocke. However, I would love to tackle her other variations or redo the first costume as I have more experience now!
But if I had to pick someone I haven’t cosplayed yet, then I’d go with The Stalk from Saga. However, I have no clue how I would get her spider-ey bits to work.
GB: What are the worst and best experiences you’ve had due to cosplay?
LI: I’m not too fond of fans that want to take photos with you and think they have the right to place their hand a little too low on my back. I’ll always have to take their hand and remove it. I even had someone ask me for a kiss once and got really upset when I wouldn’t do it. I love to celebrate the culture just as much as anyone else does. I just wish fans would respect cosplayers in return. We’re fans, too! Not playthings!
GB: Have you worked with many photographers? Is there a certain one you enjoy working with most?
LI: My favorite photographer has been Sean Otis Spann Barley, from Los Angeles. He shot with me for my Ada Wong (Resident Evil 4) costume and he was great! He scouted for locations, was an excellent director and those were the shots that I think you saw! He’s a patient guy and fun to work with. I’m planning new shoots soon with him, so you’ll see more of us.
GB: What tips would you give people wanting to get started in cosplay?
LI: I think it’s a great idea to start simple. You’re likely to get less discouraged if you work with simpler patterns at first. There’s a learning curve when you have to deal with sewing machines, glue, heat-guns, etc. Don’t dive into something too complicated because you might get exasperated and back out.
I go to cosplay.com and visit the forums to look for answers to my questions. (I’m online there as leenisabel!) Chances are there’s someone else out there that has asked the same questions that you might have!
GB: Do you sell costumes or cosplay accessories and if so do you have a site for it?
LI: I don’t create accessories for sale, but I do have a website with my photos! You can find me online at http://www.leenisabel.com, http://www.facebook.com/leenisabelartist, http://www.poledancingadventures.com
Photographers featured in this hit are:
Eurobeat Kasumi Photography
Sean Otis Spann Barley