Photo by gamerjoefoto
At San Diego Comic Con this year, I sat down for a quick break when in walked the most impressive cosplay I had seen that day. I, of course, climbed through the sea of people surrounding this mysterious cosplayer to get my own photo and promptly hunted him down on Instagram once I got home. It led me to Mr. Jason Biser of Biser Builds. Kayle is technically only his SECOND cosplay (whaaa?), his first being an equally impressive Commander Shephard! I am so excited he agreed to this interview. It was so great hearing about his experiences and goals within cosplay, and I am so excited to share it with you today:
First things first, of the cosplays you have done, which is your favorite and why?
Oh man, start with the hardest one. That’s like choosing your favorite child. I guess if I had to choose though, it would be my 1st cosplay Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect series because of the sheer awesome reactions I get from people at conventions has been life-altering. In passing, I’ll hear a giddy “Hey Shepard!,” or a respectful head nod with a quick “Shepard” from just about every 5th person a walk by. To be noticed and identified by so many with such positive response makes me so happy I put in the work, and effort, to build and wear Shepard to a convention.
Photo by Dietary Fiber Photography
If time and cost weren't a factor, what is your dream cosplay?
A larger than life rendition of T-rex Megatron from Beast Wars! Oddly enough I stumbled on this dream cosplay by accident while at SDCC this year. Sideshow collectibles had an epic 27” statue of T-rex Megatron on display, and I immediately said to myself “I have to cosplay that!” I’m a huge fan of Beast Wars, and as a kid, Megatron was my favorite character on the show. I look at time and cost as relative though, and will definitely be putting this on my list for a future cosplay build.
I was lucky enough to see your LoL Kayle cosplay at SDCC this year and was BLOWN AWAY. It was so impressive, you couldn't even walk a couple of steps without getting stopped for photos ;). What's the experience like at a convention wearing such a show-stopping cosplay?
The experience is definitely a mixture of elation and claustrophobia. I am always terrified and excited to put on Kayle. Terrified in that I get encased in armor with massive wings strapped to my back that limits my mobility to a point that I can’t really fend for myself; in large crowds like a convention, this can be very daunting. Excited in that I get to see the positive reactions from total strangers. Their eyes light up, jaw drops, and then big smiles - I’ll never get bored of that. Physically though, maneuvering through crowds, through doorways, and up/down stairs with nearly 30lbs of costume and a 8ft wingspan (when closed) is an exercise for sure. I will typically stay in Kayle for 4-8hrs straight while at a convention, and end up coming home a few pounds slimmer every time (staying hydrated is a must!).
Along the same note, how long did it take you to build Kayle? Were there any new skills you picked up to make that cosplay happen, and do you have any more big cosplay builds on the horizon?
Kayle, start to finish, was a period of 14 months with about 1000 hours of work . Working mostly weekends and a few hours each weekday. Most of the time was spent figuring out how to use so many materials & techniques that I’ve never used before. Admittedly, Kayle is only my 2nd cosplay I’ve ever built so I threw myself into the deep end with new materials like worbla (thermoplastic), sintra (expanded pvc foam), styrene (impact plastic), fabric, and resin. New tools/components like linear actuators, mico controllers, large batteries, and a casting pressure pot. I approached Kayle as an opportunity to add to my tool belt, and force myself to learn a lot of things. I feel that with each cosplay I plan on doing I should aim to use a material that scares me so that I can learn about it as well as how to apply it. My next big cosplay build may just be T-rex Megatron, which I plan to teach me how to sculpt, mold, and walk on stilts.
Photo by Kryptic Frames
Why do you cosplay? What about it brings you joy? :)
I’ve thought about this before, and I can sum it up into 3 things. 1) Empowerment. Getting to be a hero/villain in real life allows you to absorb the power that character is imbued with from the fans that admire that character. The fans project their love, excitement, and passion to you as an embodiment of that character. 2) Artistic outlet. Allowing my painting, drawing, and design/engineering skills a chance to be translated into a performance art; not just spectator worthy of mounting a piece on a wall, but to be enveloped by the art and show it off to others. As if the painter saw his audience's reaction from the point of view of the canvas. 3) Affirmation of humanity. In the world there seems like so much emphasis on the 'me' and not on the 'us'. Conventions showcase the most positive aspects of people. That all creeds can meet to share their similarities & differences.
What is a favorite memory from doing cosplay? Maybe a convention experience, a challenge you overcame, meeting a hero, etc?
My favorite memory of cosplay would have to have been when I went to my very 1st convention – San Diego Comic Con 2015. I was blown away by practically everything: the crowds, the toys, the collectibles, the booths, the sheer nerdom of it all. I was even naïve enough to enter into the Masquerade contest with my Commander Shepard cosplay, not really knowing what I was getting into, but ended up winning Best Re-creation which was my proudest moment in cosplay so far. That weekend opened my eyes and mind to so many new things that I will forever be changed. Specifically, the support that I got backstage of the Masquerade. Here we are, over 100 contestants competing against each other, and everyone willing to help each other get ready, repair something, or just trade knowledge of how they built their cosplay. I will always remember that.
Who are some of your favorite cosplayers and why (and where can we find them?)
My favorite cosplayers are Bill and Brittany Duran of Punished Props. They have such an impressive combined talent and are so willing to share their knowledge that I can’t help but admire them. I’ve even had the pleasure of meeting them in person and they are such awesome people. They have a website www.punishedprops.com and a Facebook community group The PropTarts of Punished Props where anyone can join and talk about their latest cosplay and prop builds with an entire group of other cosplayers.
I also really like the stuff that Jechts has been building. He works fast and can put out some impressive cosplay in such a short amount of time. His attention to functional props and special effects is what keeps me watching his twitch streams to find out how he puts it all together.
Do you have any crafting resources or tips that you wish you'd known when you first started cosplaying that you wouldn't mind sharing? :)
I wish I had found TNT Cosplay Supply when I started cosplay. They have really great quality EVA foam, which is pretty much a standard material in all cosplay these days.
The Evil Ted Channel has some incredibly informative and easy to follow step by step tutorials on how to use basic tools and materials with amazing results.
Punished Props as well has some great introductory demo videos on how to use both basic and advanced materials/tools that can help propel any cosplayer to the next level.
Do you have any other thoughts or words of advice for people wanting to jump into cosplay, but just might be a little intimidated or nervous to take that leap?
There is only one piece of advice I can provide… JUST START. Starting is the hardest part of just about everything in life, and cosplay is just the same. You can start with something small, or something big, but just pick up a pen, x-acto knife, and a piece of foam and just start building. The greatest cosplays all began with a first trace and a first cut. If you don’t like what you made then take in what you’ve learned and try again. After all, it’s just a few dollars worth of foam.
Where can we follow you online, and are there any other projects or platforms you'd like to promote in this interview?
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