Welcome back to our “Featured Cosplayer” section my friends! We have been on hiatus for a while but will be back on track featuring more amazing up and coming cosplayers across the nation. If you are a cosplayer and want to be featured on our site, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Helping us bring back our cosplay page, it is our pleasure to introduce you to Alexis Montclaire, or better known as Shattered Stitch Cosplay. She hails from Atlanta, GA, a mecca for great cosplayers. And here is her story…
Tell us a little about yourself Alexis.
Well, I’m Alexis and I run Shattered Stitch Cosplay. I’m an active model with a love for fashion and gaming, which blended together nicely in cosplay. I’m the 2013 reigning Ms BioGamer Girl and was just featured on the cover and center spread of their summer issue; they ran my Ranger General Sylvanas Windrunner cosplay. I’m a laid back cat lady, internet addict, and messy little weirdo.
How did you get started in cosplay?
I started cosplaying after I graduated high school. I got my start going to Anime Weekend Atlanta many moons ago – and the first competition I entered got me a Judge’s Favorite trophy and that ignited a great passion in me to create and compete. I really like the technical challenge of taking something from a 2D world and making it a reality; I enjoy all the problem solving of fabrication, the challenge of bringing beautiful artwork off the page/screen to the real world; to make magical things that go against the laws of nature and physics into a visual reality. I enjoy the art and the craftsmanship, and most of all the problem-solving that goes into making a cosplay. Figuring out how to make things defy gravity, to work together in a cohesive outfit, how to make things adhere to my body (note: superglue should be a last resort of absolute desperation), and all the various creative thinking it takes to get from the concept to the finished product. It’s like a fashion rubix cube for me. I love seeing the reactions of those around me – and helping others with their own projects. I like making things that are as accurate to the source as is within my skill set, and always strive to learn new trade skills and creative methods. I enjoy being able to play pretend at the end of the process for a day, to be a magical person or thing, to be someone who has changed entire worlds and fought dragons.
When you are not cosplaying, what is your day-to-day life like?
Pretty normal, for the most part. I’m a general desk monkey – but I’m always trying to find local projects to get into. Theatre, art shows, festivals – there’s always something awesome to do if you look, so I try to get involved in the arts and charity events going on locally whenever I can! I spend a lot of time doing photo shoots – I’ve worked with Paul Mitchell, Desirable Magazine, WedLoft, and recently got shown on a Vogue Italia online gallery. Other than that, I’m normally found at home at my desk hanging out with my zoo crew.
What are your favorite games and what are you currently playing?
I finally had time to log into Diablo III and am really enjoying that. I’m a Warcraft girl, through and through, but I picked up some great games through the STEAM sale not too long ago and am going to venture out into Mass Effect, Bioshock, and all that good stuff.
What does “cosplay” mean to you?
I think that “cosplay” and “costume” are used far too interchangeably now – and every time I hear it, my eye twitches a little bit. “Cosplay” is costume play. Its dressing up as a character and playing the part. It’s not just crafting an outfit and standing around posing. For me personally, it’s very important to invest some time into who that character is to give them life. To me ‘cosplay’ is not only putting yourself in the clothing of a character or person, it’s putting yourself into their skin. I know that cosplay has hit the mainstream culture with a vengeance, and that’s perfectly ok and Im very glad of it- but a differentiation needs to be made between costuming and cosplay. Being a ‘cosplay model’ in a costume is not, to me, the same as being a ‘cosplayer’ – because the very term itself is based on ‘play’; being ‘in character’ and the ‘play’ aspect is the most important part of cosplay to me. It’s absolutely about the character as a whole and not just a snazzy outfit.
Who are your inspirations in this community?
At this point, some of the people I look up to are Maghia Cosplay, Lightning Cosplay, and Yaya. I actually started off not really caring for Yaya at all – but I randomly clicked through to her Facebook one day and saw her posting some photos after she had her appendectomy procedure, showing her scars. She expressed that it was a lot of pressure for people to expect you to be perfect and photo ready at all times; she really stressed loving your own body and being comfortable in your own skin. It completely changed my view on her and gained my absolute respect. Seeing her passion, honesty, and emphatic desire to uphold cosplay as a ‘whole package’ thing and not just a person in a costume on Heroes of Cosplay sealed my fandom for her. There is a lot of backlash for her re: the Heroes of Cosplay stuff, but people need to remember that reality type shows are heavily cut and edited to produces drama for entertainment, else no one would watch. What you see, on any series like that, is not what you get. Additionally, from looking through all their tutorials and step-by-steps, I’ve gained a lot of technique knowledge and have finally worked up the courage to start working with Worbla. I’ve learned so much from all of them.
Being in the public eye, how do you deal with negative comments if you do get them?
It depends. Sometimes positive can be too positive, if you catch my drift. I have never had the experience of someone saying something blatantly hateful or sexist/degrading either to me or within earshot, and online comments are generally positive – so I’ve been fortunate in that respect. Handling things with grace is the way I try to conduct interaction in regards to feedback. Context and credibility also figure in. If someone’s feedback is simply “that looks like crap” – well, that’s not terribly helpful, so it’s ignored. If someone obviously is unfamiliar with the source or don’t know what they’re talking about, eg “That’s wrong. Sylvanas’s leggings should be mint green”, I just laugh and move on. If you are going to try to be elitist, at least be credible.
That said, I love helpful feedback. I always want to improve and branch out into more complex and intricate designs, and I can’t do that without feedback, tips, and coaching from others. No one ever improved by being constantly patted on the head and told they were perfect.
What is your best cosplay moment?
Well, I’m hoping it’s going to be winning the WoW costume contest at DragonCon – but that remains to be seen. I might just drop dead on the spot if I place out of sheer shock and excitement. But in current actuality – I love to talk to fans of the things I cosplay about their interests and thoughts. Last year at DragonCon, I made a pretty obscure cosplay for the main day/parade. I chose Bêlit – Queen of the Black Coast from the Conan universe. It blew my mind how many people recognized her, and it was awesome when folks would run up and ask “Oh! Are you Bêlit? From Conan?!” – its always very rewarding to have even your most obscure works recognized and appreciated by its fans.
What is your favorite cosplay and least favorite if you have one?
I absolutely love Sylvanas. So far, she has been the most fun to wear and so great to be in character – and I haven’t even worn her to a con yet! The one I had the most fun in was a little-known cosplay I did a while back for KajiCon: Ponyo. Being in character and costume for Ponyo was a total blast, from running around screeching about Ham to being able to let my inner child out to play – it was a really great experience. The least favorite was probably High Inquisitor Whitemane from World of Warcraft – she was my first real try at cosplay using armor types and strapping. I look back at the photos of the cosplay and just cringe. Not only did it look rough, it was an absolute nightmare in just about all other aspects as well. The day of the judging, the strapping for the pauldrons broke – so I superglued them to my shoulders. Every time someone bumped into me, it would pull against the skin on my shoulders and tear it. Even when I try to think back on the experience, I can’t remember much – and I think that’s my mind trying to protect me from the whole hot mess.
What is your biggest challenge so far being in this community?
Gaining ground. There are so many talented cosplayers and costumers now until there is an absolute ocean of Facebook’s, Tumblrs, Deviant Arts, and other social networking to swim through to try to tread water near the top. I really broke onto the scene with Lady Windrunner, so I’m trying to really up my game to stay afloat. A personal challenge within the community for me is the constant struggle with not sexualizing costumes for page views and likes. It’s almost come to a point in the social media fan wars that skin content is overshadowing quality craftsmanship, and I find that very disheartening. Lingerie and some ears do not a Digimon make, yet it would have 500,000 Facebook fans while other talented artists making full sculpted body armors have 20,000. I know that cosplay is like any art, and open to interpretation and customization – but just like any creative process, there are negotiable standards in what makes art, indeed, art.
Are your cosplays a personal representation of you as a person or are they just characters that you love and want to bring to life?
I like to do characters that I know I can really get into the ‘play’ aspect of cosplay – because it’s not just about the costume. Cosplay is about portraying a character to completion – so I try to fabricate characters that I on some level identify with so that I can step into them when I put on the costume. I choose characters with whom I can feel a sort of kindred spirit. My biggest criteria, however: is it common? I try to do cosplays that are uncommon. If I can google it and there are just pages of it, I cross it off the list.
Any future cosplay plans you willing to reveal and where can fans catch you next?
I’m currently in a mad dash to finish Katniss’s Capitol Portrait dress for DragonCon. After that, I intend to try to start production on next years DragonCon piece – World of Warcraft Priest Tier 8, with a special twist –Its 7 feet tall and goes by ‘Anmut’. I have several cosplays in my cosplay stable that are complete and ready to be worn such as Sailor Mars, April O’Neil, Childlike Empress, Max (Where the Wild Things Are), Scarlet Witch, and Slave Leia (always a fan favorite). I will be at Dragoncon 2013 starting in a few days, as well as ChattaCon, ConNooga, and I plan on returning to the Alabama Phoenix Fest next year as well!
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with us Alexis! You can find Alexis at all the following links below and can see more of her photos in the gallery below. Just click on any picture to start the slideshow.