The official handed me a form, requesting a complete record of my relationship with Meagan. This document had a little number on it, which would be called when it was my turn to enter the processing room, where the form would be handed over to another official. This second official would plug my name into a computer, probably sussing out any prior convictions (of which I had none) and making sure I had actually been approved to make an official visit.
After this, I was placed into a processing line (similar to customs). I was only permitted to carry photo ID, my form, a few dollars, my car key, a pencil and and some blank paper. After putting my shoes, sunglasses, form and other bits and pieces into a plastic tray, I walked through the scary-looking metal detector.
I was escorted to an outdoor area which reminded me of those cages you put sick cats in when they need to be taken to the vet. This cage came complete with an electric gate which opened and closed periodically.
After an unknown amount of time waiting in the blazing sun, I was herded into a large-ish room, designed specifically for interviews. I was told to give my form and photo ID to the official at the counter at the far side of the room, who would proceed to assign me a table where I would wait for Meagan to arrive.
It couldn’t have been more than fifteen minutes when I finally saw two giant men and a young woman make their way over to my table.
Closer and closer they came. Everything was moving in slow-motion. I began to stand and the young woman held out her hand.
“Hi, I’m Meagan”, she said.
1) Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure! My name is Meagan Marie, and I’m currently employed at Crystal Dynamics as the Community & Communications Manager, working on the new Tomb Raider title. When I’m not at my desk, I’m often playing games, reading comics, or working on costumes for an upcoming convention. I’ve been cosplaying for six or so years now, and am still madly in love with the hobby and community within it. I can’t see myself stopping anytime soon.
2) When did you first cosplay and what attracted you towards the hobby?
My first foray into cosplaying began with an interest in commercial modelling back in college. I never intended to pursue modelling as a career, as I was pretty married to the idea of working in gaming at a young age. Rather, I participated in hair shows and handbag shoots for some spare cash to help with tuition expenses. Eventually after expanding my network of photographers, makeup artists, and stylists over a few years of shooting, I started to indulge in creative projects with no monetary stake for anyone involved. Essentially, we’d all collaborate as a creative outlet.
I enjoyed taking on the role of creative director, and would work with photographers and makeup artists on increasingly thematic and fantastical shoots. At some point I pitched the idea of dressing up in costume. It was a natural next step considering how I’d secretly longed to be like Lara Croft and Wonder Woman. Here was my chance. The costume attempts were rather sad in hindsight, but helped introduced me to the world of “cosplay.” After attending some small local conventions, I discovered how rich the costuming community can be. I was hooked. I started dressing up for every convention I could, and haven’t stopped since.
3) What does cosplay mean to you on a personal level and how would you describe yourself as a cosplayer?
Over the years I’ve learned that there are some interesting perceived notions about cosplay – that there are rules and stipulations and labels and so on. I’ve also learned that I don’t subscribe to any of those schools of thought. Cosplay to me is immensely personal. It may sound a bit superficial, but I cosplay for my own satisfaction first. The enjoyment derived by franchise fans and con-goers is a secondary, very fulfilling bonus. I think my personal attachment to cosplay is twofold:
First, cosplay is an opportunity for me to express my personal fandom. I construct and parade around in costumes from fictional words that I adore. To some degree it’s wish fulfilment. I want to see my favorite fictional properties brought to life. It’s also a wonderful way to connect and meet other fans. When you’re in costume, your geek card is on your sleave. It’s an easy icebreaker at conventions as it’s immediately apparent if you’ve got something in common with another attendee.
Secondly, in my eyes creating costumes is more about the journey than the destination. I’ve always been crafty, but cosplay has expanded my skill sets tenfold. I may not like sewing very much, but I’m significantly better at it than I was a few years ago. I never expected to be working with mouldable plastics for armor fabrication. I never expected to be dying and distressing fabrics. I’ve learned so much over the past few years, and I can’t wait to learn more. I want to improve my wig styling and makeup techniques. I want to learn leatherworking and casting. I want to take on working with increasingly complex materials. Each costume is an opportunity for me to learn a new skill, and to become more self-sufficient in my crafting abilities. I love that about costuming, and it’s by far what I derive the most satisfaction from.
4) No matter who you choose to pay tribute to next, there are always going to be critics that pick apart your work. How do you rise above negativity and criticism targeted at your work as a cosplayer?
At this point, I’m used to criticism. Unsolicited and ill-natured insults from the Internet make their way to me time and time again, and I’ve learned not to mind them. However, my personal mantra is not to let that venom detract from genuine constructive criticism that may benefit my future work. So I’ve learned to weed out the bad, intentionally hurtful comments from ones that could be taken to heart and used to hone my craft. It takes time. It isn’t easy to ignore mean-spirited comments about my weight or skin or face, and instead look for the ones that comment on craftsmanship. Now that I’m able to do it, though, I think it grounds me and ensures I push harder with each successive costume.
5) Overall, do you feel the cosplay environment is a positive one?
I do. For the most part the cosplay community is extremely positive, especially at conventions, and I’ve made many friends through cosplay. As with any hobby, there can sometimes be rivalry and negativity, but I do my best to stay out of that sphere of influence. Cosplay, for the large majority of us, is a hobby. One we’re passionate about, but still at the heart is something we do out of a common geekdom and joy, and that’s all you need to qualify in my eyes. Finding others who think the same way is a wonderful feeling.
6) Are you the sole creator of your costumes, or do you collaborate with others?
I make as much of my costumes by hand as possible, but I think one of my personal strengths is recognizing my weaknesses. If there is an aspect of a costume I’m not talented enough to create, I don’t have an issue with commissioning it. I wouldn’t want to do a disservice to a character I love by overestimating my abilities. This happens most often with sewing complex garments, such as Mad Moxxi’s jacket. That being said, I use commissions as a learning opportunity, so that I improve my skills and then am able to tackle a similar item in the future. I most often gravitate toward designs with armor and props rather than lace and frills, though, which is easier to create in whole by myself because that’s the sort of build I most enjoy.
7) I’ve heard you are quite the merchandise addict; what is your most recent purchase?
I sure am. I love to be surrounded by art, and toys, and statues, although despite popular belief, a cluttered desk doesn’t keep me from getting work done. On of my favorite new additions is the Squid Kids Ink “10-Doh” figure that I picked up at WonderCon. I love designer toys, and as this one has classic gaming roots, it was a no-brainer. (http://squidkidsink.bigcartel.com/product/10-doh-figures)
8) Do you have any advice for those looking to get into cosplay?
Sure! I’ve got several tips for new beginners!
- Start with something reasonable. Don’t try to build a working mech your first go. Pick a costume that accentuates something you’ll excel at, and then move up in difficulty from there. If you discourage yourself early on, it’s hard to find motivation to finish a costume, so being realistic in size and scope is important.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Join forums and costume communities and search out helpful tutorials! Don’t build a costume in a bubble. Trust me, it’s not worth it!
- Try a cosplay group! Everyone has a vested interest in the success of the group, and therefore will help & teach each other new skills. It’s a great learning opportunity.
- Don’t let anyone stop you from cosplaying what you want to, and don’t let Internet negativity get you down. We all get it, even those that are considered “pros.” Keep doing what makes you happy, for as long as it does so.
9) What have you got planned for the future? Are there any exclusives you can share?
The day job is going to keep me pretty busy for the rest of the year, but I’m trying to fit in a costume or two. I’m actually trying talk myself down from the idea that every costume needs to one-up my last. For a while, I wanted every costume to be bigger and badder and sort of lost sight of working on costumes for fun. I put too much pressure on myself. As such I’m working on a Claire Redfield costume from Darkside Chronicles. It’s a fairly simple costume, but I love the character and the look. It will be a fun and casual cosplay to run around in and will allow me to have a breather between bigger projects.
I was about this time that I was tapped on the shoulder and politely told by one of the giant men that my time was up. Meagan and I both stood up, shook hands and in an instant, she was gone.
As I made my way back to the parking lot, I asked myself: Who is Meagan Marie?
Well, she’s anyone she wants to be.
We would like to thank Meagan for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions. For those of you looking to get into cosplay, don’t forget to check out Meagan’s blog!