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Interview of Christina McDaniel (USA)

1. For how long have you been in cosplay ?

I went to my first convention in 2011 as Nel from Bleach and I was hooked.

2. Cosplay is a time consuming hobby. how long does it take to craft your costumes ?

Depends on the complexity of the costume as well as what else I have going on personally (family). Sometimes I’m able to reuse items from other costumes, so I only have to make accessories. If that’s the case, then I can have it done in a day or two (just a few hours of work here and there). But, if it’s a total armor build, then it’s going to take me at least a week, if not more. Armor is a lot of layers and time for drying/setting/painting/fitting/etc.

3. Any other hobby or passion besides cosplaying ?

I have tons of hobbies actually. TONS. I used to sing for work, but have kind of put that on the back burner and only do fun singing clips for FB. I also love art and house is cluttered with my paintings, sculptures, etc. During the holidays, my inner Martha Stewart and Betty Crocker take over. I’m pretty much baking and crafting fun non-cosplay related stuff from Oct to Jan. I am also a self published writer. I have 1 book on Amazon (first in the series) called Before Solstice. I have been working on book 2 in the series for over a year. A wee bit of writers block and tons of other distractions have kept me from working on finishing it.

4. What materials are you using for cosplay crafting, worbla ? Foam ? Can you talk about that a little bit ?

I use whatever I think is going to work for the cosplay and I’m comfortable working with. For example: the next project I’m hopefully working on is my own version of Mera (DC). I have lots of mediums including fabric (4 way stretch is my hero), vinyl, worbla, and foam. I always create my armor in foam first, the cover with worbla. I’m not a fan of the sandwich method (using 1 piece of worbla on each side). I prefer the wrap method. It has a small but of flexibility still and not as sharp edges (which means less sanding work to prevent damage to my skin from cutting into me) as well as using less worbla (saving money is a must). I’m still a newbie IMO when it comes to crafting, so I always chat with my close group of cosplay friends for recommendations. It always saves me time and money by just asking for advice. I also scour the internet for ideas or tutorials whenever I can. There’s tons of resources online from the community. It’s great!

5. Do you have any FAVORITE cosplayer ?

That’s a tough choice because I look up to so many for different things. I adore Jessica Nigri’s confidence and ability to be herself. Yaya Han is the sewing Queen (besides God Save The Queen Fashions, of course) and I love to look at her work. Nicole Marie Jean always has fun costumes and gender bends to inspire me to get out of my comfort zone. Jessica Dru has beautiful costumes and tons of underwater photos to be envious of. The list literally goes on and on. Plus, I have tons of awesome local talent in Houston that I can plug into on a personal level and learn from or do fun themed photo shoots with. I love collaborating with tons of different talent.

6. Did you hurt yourself while making a cosplay or in a convention ?

Every time. There has not been one costume where I haven’t stabbed myself with pins, cut a finger, burnt off fingerprints, etc. I'm naturally clumsy anyway, so it’s kind of a give in to bleed for cosplay. I don’t typically hurt myself at conventions except this past weekend at ACCC. I was working a booth for a company that had me walking A LOT in heels. I rolled my ankle while walking several times (remember, I’m graceful AF) and ended up twisting something and losing feeling in my foot. I’m still recovering. Usagi is my spirit animal, I swear.

7. Do you sell your old cosplays, or just keep it in a huge closet ?

I haven’t sold anything. I reuse stuff for multiple costumes, so my closet it literally full of cosplay. I only have like a basket of real clothes and a walk-in closet of cosplay. I have given some things away though to local cosplayers who needed it. We work together and help each other out a lot.

8. Who taught you to craft your cosplays ? Your family ? By reading books or watching youtube tutorials ?

I have learned most everything from online tutorials. The rest has been from the local talent that I’ve been lucky to have in my life. They are an unlimited resource for me. Plus, I can call them at 3am to ask questions because they’re usually up working on something too !

9. Which conventions are you going to this year ?

Well, this convention season is over for me this year. I take time off from cosplay during the holidays for family time and events. I will only be shooting my boudoir shoots for Patreon until Jan. I am actually already filling my calendar for 2017. As far as conventions for 2017, I typically attend all the local conventions for Houston. But, I really want to branch out this next year to conventions out of state. But, to do this, I need to talk with the right people and hopefully work out some guest appearances since my budget is pretty limited at this time for travel and expenses.

10. What is your limit budget for a cosplay ?

I try to make everything as cheaply as possible. I’m a  mom of 3 nerdy little boys, so all my money goes to food and clothes (cuz boys are rough on clothes, man). I try to make costumes for under $50 whenever possible. But, anything with armor will NEVER be that cheap. There’s just so much priming and painting and everything else involved. Plus, worbla isn’t cheap. Although, I could probably cut corners and just use foam whenever needed to cut down cost. 
I’m not above spending more on a good cosplay though. Depends on what it is. My most expensive one was a commission job from Castle Corsetry for my SuperGirl. I paid in several payments, which really helped. This next year, I also have plans to commission a friend of mine, Dekamexican, to make something for me as well. For commission work, I just have to budget and pay in several payments to make it work.

11. Any future super secret cosplay project in mind ?

Not necessarily. I’m not really chatting about what I’m working on with Dekamexican yet since we are still in discussions that won’t be finalized until March. Other than that, I’m pretty much an open book. I do reveal what I’m working on to my patrons on Patreon first tho. They get to see the WIP and get to help me choose the next cosplay to work on. But, I typically announce it sometime later on the rest of the social media. 

12. What are you doing in "real" life for a living ?

I am lucky enough to be a stay home mom in “real life”. I was working a sales job, but it was too stressful for my health and I had to leave for medical reasons. I do pick up odd jobs singing or bartending (I have like 17 years of waitressing and bartending experience) to have a cosplay budget. The more I work, the more money I have to spend on cosplay !

13. Your best experience from a convention ? And your worst ?

Best experience from a convention would be have to be the celebrity experiences. The photo opps are great, but getting to catch them outside the con is way better. I have been lucky to catch a few either out and about or at the bar after hours. And, now, some cons are offering VIP parties where you can actually have dinner and drinks with celebrities. I plan on going to some of those in 2017. Worst experience was one of my first experiences as Nel. It’s actually one of the reasons she has been retired until further notice. Nel from Bleach is basically a torn t-shirt worn as a dress. So, that apparently opened the door for creepers to ask for inappropriate things from me and touch me inappropriately.

It was my 2nd year cosplaying and I almost quit. All I could think of was that if this was what the community was all about then I didn’t want to have any part of it. But, after making some friends in the community, I learned that those instances are fewer than I thought and can be handled by traveling in groups or having a handler. I have a handler with me at every con now. I don’t walk the floor alone ever, if I can help it.

14. Any advice for cosplay wannabees or beginners ?

There’s so much… My biggest piece of advice is to just be yourself. We are all nerds. Don’t listen to the negativity. Don’t let the negative thoughts or words of someone else control you. There will always be someone out there to be a negative Nancy. Brush it off and have fun. Make your costume. Be proud. Improve your skills. Never be afraid to be the nerdy little weirdo that you are. Just don’t be a creep. And, never be afraid to ask for help or advice. There will always be someone out there to help. You are not alone anymore. The community is here. We’ve got your back.

15. Do you have limits ? Some cosplays you will never make ?

Well, I do modeling (fashion, boudoir, etc) as well as cosplay. So, my limit is always no nudes lol I’ve done some implied nudes, and I’m just not a fan. They were very tastefully done, I just wasn’t satisfied with them on a personal level. I probably won’t be doing more of those in the future either. There are some cosplays on the back burner because I personally want to be more fit. That’s a personal preference not because I don’t think I can do it. Because anyone can cosplay anything. I just want to put my best foot forward. A lot of my costumes involve corsets because I’ve had 3 kids. I’d love to eventually not need those because it’s not comfortable to wear those all day for a con. I don’t do a lot of full armor because of budget, but it’s not to say I won’t ever do it. Basically, I like to keep it classy for the most part. I do sexy stuff because it’s empowering for me as someone who was teased her whole teenage life for being “ugly”. But, even though I do sexy, there’s a fine line between sexy and raunchy. I don’t like crossing that line. Think of Dita Von Teese. She does burlesque, but she’s so classy. I love that. Sexy and classy all the way.

Her facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/christinamcdanielofficial/

Her deviantart page : http://kissedbyasuccubus.deviantart.com/

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