Monday, September 29, 2014

Shay Fleming: student by week, fictional character by weekend

Fleming cosplays character Kanaya Maryam from the webcomic
Homestuck at San Japan 2014. Photo by Jaclyn Fleming.
SAN MARCOS - Shay Fleming's closet holds the means to transform herself into an alien.

Or a zombie, or a robot, depending on the day and her mood. Fleming is a cosplayer, someone who dresses up as characters from comics and television shows.

"Cosplay" is a portmanteau of the words "costume" and "play". It is the art of crafting costumes made to resemble characters from various entertainment franchises. Cosplayers typically wear these outfits at anime or comic conventions.

"I debuted my first cosplay at the Texas Renaissance festival," Fleming said. "My mom and I made costumes for myself and four other friends based on a webcomic called Looking For Group. A picture I posted online of our outfits even reached the content creator - it was really exciting."

Since her first foray into cosplay, Fleming took sewing lessons and began independently making her own outfits.

"The Weighted Companion Cube from Portal is the first cosplay I made completely by myself," Fleming said. "I designed a dress inspired by the cube and worked off an existing pattern to get the end result I wanted."

Though Fleming's cosplay repetoire is not as varied as more seasoned cosplayers, she has multiple completed costumes under her belt, with more in the works.

"I've finished four of my own so far," Fleming said. "And I helped make five for my friends, and those are all finished. I've got two more of my own nearly done right now, and, I don't know, probably a million that I'd like to do in the future."
Fleming and a fellow cosplayer reenacting scenes from Portal.
Photo by Mason Patterson.

Fleming considers the put-together photoshoots done with finished costumes to be deceptive of the true nature of putting together a costume.

"I don't think anyone's had a cosplay go according to plan," Fleming said. "You can't find some fabric, you mess up while styling a wig, or one of your props break. It seems like no matter how early you start, you're always scrambling to get it done the night before the con."

Fleming keeps track of all her cosplay progress on her blog, both the finished pieces and the chaos of creating them. She and other fans post their costumes for online fanbases to enjoy.

"It's satisfying when photos you put up of yourself in your costumes get a lot of attention because it shows that you did something right and that people enjoy how you portrayed the character," Fleming said.

Fleming will attend Ikkicon in Austin this winter, where she intends to debut a costume of Homestuck character Porrim Maryam.

No comments: