Hi ConJurer, tell us about yourself
My cosplay and artist name is ConJurer, or you can call me CJ. I'm a 24 year-old male Sinagporean, self-employed events organizer from The Neo Tokyo Project and also a freelance designer/artist. I'm also the co-founder of a cosplay and prop/costume-making circle called: "Project Zen".How do you begin thinking of costume making?
I like making things ever since I was a kid. Made some of my own toys out of art and craft materials. When i grew older and became interested in animes and games, I thought maybe i can apply my craftsmanship in cosplay. About 3 years ago on an impulse, I bought materials and attempted to sew/craft a costume, without prior experience and knowledge. My first few attempts at costume making were not successful until last year.
What was your first costume you made?
My first self-made costume of Shannon, from "Umineko no Naku Koro ni" from a year ago.
In case you are wondering what went on from the time I started trying to make something until I debuted, I tried to make highly complicated costumes as an attempt to learn costume-making, and failed. Yes, I am a self-taught tailor, props/armour-maker. I do my drafting and cutting of my costumes using basic math and engineering knowledge, for example, simple geometry, Pythagoras theorem, etc.
I noticed some of the cosplay you have done are female characters. Why is this so?
The choice is not really based on my preference of gender, but rather the level of interest and challenge when it comes to making the costume. As part of this challenge, I chose to even re-design costumes to give them an alternative look. One advantage in doing so, is to be able to be immediately recognized and distinguished from the other cosplayers who go for the default/classic looks of the same characters. My re-designed costumes are of characters such as Mami Tomoe and Saber Bride.
Have you ever thought of cosplaying some male character?
Yes of course! In fact, my really first cosplay attempt from many years ago was of a male character from "Death Note", Yagami Light. Also in the future, not too far away from now, I'm making plans for yet another male character for the next Singapore Annual Cosplay Chess. Not going to put up spoilers yet though.
How long does it take for you to finish a costume like the Saber Bribe?
In total, it took me about 4 to 5 months to complete the Saber Bride costume. And of course, this is due to work and other matters. The amount of time stated in the work-in-progress is just an estimated amount if I have full days free to just work on the costume.
What are the cost and time spend on Saber Bribe and were there others who help you in any way?
The cost incurred only comes from the materials and logistics, amounting to roughly S$300, not including the amount spent of research and development of techniques. I work on the costume for about 2 hours per day. The only help I received for this costume so far, is for dressing up for events,
Have you ever thought of doing costume of your work on another female cosplayer?
I get this question very often, but considering the multiple limitations, I will not be making costumes for other female cosplayers. Most female characters have figure-hugging costumes to look more attractive. For the sake of aesthetics, I will need complex measurements of the wearer's body. Nobody can be my substitute when it comes to taking precise measurements because I do not work with normal methods and templates. Also, I can't possibly take their measurements myself, for obvious reasons. Even if they allow, it will be awkward.
I know beside making the costume to be convincing, other factor like make up and styling of hair or wig is important. Did you learn that by yourself too?
I learnt makeup from a friend of mine who is also a cosplayer. She goes by the nickname "Neir". Henceforth, both makeup and wig styling were just figuring out as I went along, the see-and-adjust-to-fit way.
How do you normally select your choice of character to cosplay and do you feel a certain connection to the character when you cosplay them?
I'll mentally simulate a variety of things, from the making of costumes to possible facial expressions, all these to figure out the feasibility and compatibility. When I'm more or less sure that I can pull it off, I'll start buying the materials to work on it. Although some may frown upon the idea, I don't make a choice of characters based on pre-conceived connection to them, and I don't think it's a rule. I will still try do justice to the character and its designer to learn its traits in great depths while working on the various aspects of cosplay. In the end, it is only a simple matter of diversified perception of individuals over the commonly known term, "cosplay". Nobody is right or wrong.
Were there any struggle or resistance when you cosplay a female character from families and friends of your choice of cosplay?
That is to be expected, especially when I come from a more reserved family. I made my first female costume in secret, and I had to make it in multiple segments so that my family couldn't tell what it was by looking. I went to cosplay events and photoshoots in secret too. Soon enough, they found out, and were greatly disturbed.
They used to associated cross-dressing with gender disorientation by generalizing, fearing that it will lead to homosexuality or transgender augmentations etc. Still, I persisted. Given enough time and opportunity for them to observe that what I'm doing is safe within their comfort zone, they stopped pursuing the matter. I draw the line of only cross-dressing when cosplaying, which they found, is acceptable.
Most of my friends encouraged me to try cross-dressing for cosplay, but some of them ever advised me not to do it before I even tried. Their concern was about the general negative sentiments of the masses against the majority of cross-dressers, especially if they can't pull it off. Sad is the truth, but people are still extremely judgmental when it comes to looks, and they will voice their opinions, whether uncalled for or not. It didn't turn out so bad for me in the end.
Not too long ago, the Neo Tokyo Project was interviewed by Singapore local channel program called the red dot with you inside. Tell us what do you do in the Neo Tokyo Project and Project Zen?
As a partner in the Neo Tokyo Project, I'm the creative director, mostly dealing with various aspects of design and planning for events, collateral, visuals, image advisory, branding and corporate identities. Our niche is mostly where cosplay, gaming and media is involved.
As a co-founder of Project Zen, just as with the other members, we share our knowledge of the various aspects of cosplay and production with each other, help each other out at events, and go on regular outings to have fun. Friends before a common cause. From time to time, I meet up with individuals or small groups from the cosplay community to advise them on their cosplay and costume/prop making.
Do you have any plans to take up some courses to upgrade yourself in costume making such as tailoring and stuff?
I don't mind learning more out of convenience, but as part of my hobby, I prefer to upgrade myself by thinking of methods on my own. It's more fun that way, at least I like it like that.
How are you in person when you go about your daily life?
Out of cosplay, I'm pretty much a sloppy guy who can't really be bothered with my personal image/grooming.
After AFA, are you preparing anything for your next major cosplay?
Yes, I have already started working on my new costume, will be putting up pictures of work in progress often soon enough. But for now, I'm letting everyone guess what it is. You can follow my works on http://www.facebook.com/CJ.
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We thank ConJurer to have this exclusive interview. I hope from reading this interview, we have a better understanding and appreciation a cosplayer passion especially of making their own costume. Let us appreciate them and their passion in this area of art.
Meanwhile you can support ConJurer in the contest by clicking on the "like" button on EACH of his pictures IN http://cosplayidol.otakuhouse.com/2012/11/asia-pacific-finals/conjurer-singapore-cosplay-finalist/