Kari Klyne on Cosplay
Recently, while working with Brian Morelan and his movie Game Companion, I had the pleasure of being introduced to Cosplay Girl and Costume Designer, Kari Klyne. Kari seemed very interesting to me and I asked her if she would be open to talking about herself, cosplay, and life in general. She graciously agreed and thus we started our conversation.
What got you into cosplay?
For as long as I can remember I was always the child who LOVED to dress up. Halloween was of course the best day of the year for children like me- growing up I never lost that love of getting to be a fairy or a witch or a black cat. My birthday even falls one week before Halloween so naturally it has always had a costume theme to it. As I got older I had stumbled into the world of anime, most of which I found on YTV (a Canadian channel featuring childrens shows mostly) and FOX kids. In 2000 (I was 15 guys! Crazy) my family bought its first computer with internet capabilities. The internet was amazing, it eventually showed me this thing called ‘cosplay’, the act of dressing up as some of our favorite characters. Well! My next step was super easy, I must join these people in cosplay! I begged my mother to take me to a local convention and enlisted my grandmother in helping me to create my first real cosplay, as my sewing skills at this point were pretty much non-existent.
I have been cosplaying since 2001, my first convention was AKA KON in Vancouver, B.C. The con is long since gone now sadly.
What genre inspires the majority of your cosplay?
Most of my costumes come from anime, manga and video games- mostly console based ones as that’s what I mostly played on. I of course have nothing against computer games, I have played a number of them including World of Warcraft and League of Legends but console gaming was a large part of my childhood and have a tendency to lean towards nostalgia or just favorites when I cosplay.
Who in the cosplay world inspires you and why?
That’s a toughie! I admire and respect so many cosplayers! I’ll try to list a few here. When I first started into cosplay, I immediately started followed people like PikminLink (Li Kovacs) and Rosiel- combining my love of the Zelda franchise and one of my favorite manga Angel Sanctuary. Their costumes have always providing me with a source of inspiration and a goal to one day make amazing costumes like theirs. Even now I am always awed by the beautiful costumes they create.
As my interests expanded, I began to challenge myself into making more elaborate costumes and using different mediums such as adding armor or making large props to accompany my costumes. This in turn led to discovering other cosplayers such as Kamui and Reika, and Yaya Han. I have always found their attention to detail and helpful tips to be encouraging. I love looking at all their photographs and perhaps getting inspired to watch the show if Im unfamiliar with it and to perhaps even make my own.
How many conventions do you hit in a typical year and what conventions are we most likely to find you at?
Not nearly as many as I would like to attend, haha! I attend roughly 5-6 a year. Most of which are more localized in B.C, Canada or on Vancouver Island. I can always be found at Tsukino Con and Gotta Con in Victoria, B.C. I also usually attend Anime Revolution in Vancouver as well as a few other smaller conventions in and around the area. I try my best to attend at least one convention in the states a year. Mostly its Sakura Con, however next year in March I will be attending Kawaii Kon in Honolulu, since it falls a week before Sakura Con I won\t be able to attend it as well. Being situated on an island, it makes travelling more expensive and therefore am not able to attend as many as I would otherwise like to.
I have absolutely loved it! Its been a wonderful learning opportunity for me. Working on my own costumes has always been great and a fun hobby. Being able to look at a character on the screen and make it into a real costume has always been rewarding in its own way. Working on a film production is a whole different level, but the exactly the same too if that makes any sense. It gave me experience fitting costumes to people that weren’t myself, to fit them to different bodies and get their input and thoughts on the ideas. For the most part there weren’t any set images to really go on other than a loose idea or theme for them. There were challenges of course, but in the end seeing the finished result on screen is pretty amazing and worth it!
Do you have any tips for new cosplayers?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. When I was first getting into cosplay and really starting to sew I couldn’t tell you what the sharp end of the needle was. It was a process of trial and error as anything new is. I reached out to other cosplayers both online or at conventions. Most cosplayers are super friendly and more than willing to share their knowledge and thoughts on subjects.
Also, if you’re just starting out, choose a simple costume. Something that wont be too challenging or intimidating to start with. Figure out what your level is and try to remain in a comfortable area around that- have you been sewing for a while? Or do you prefer to do as little sewing as possible? Plenty of costumes can be pieced together from already made clothing. Thrift stores can be amazing for this! Some with little to no altering involved. Closet Cosplays are also amazing!
What was your favorite cosplay experience and why?
I would say one of my favorite experiences was after meeting my friend (now cosplay partner and co-founder of North Pacific Cosplay) we made plans to attend a local convention in 2010 and perform a skit together. We hadn’t known each other for very long and had roughly five months to decide on costumes and skit. We ended up doing Rune Soldier Louie- an older anime and did a song/dance from White Christmas. It ended up winning us Best in Show and we have been cosplaying together ever since.
I occasionally hear stories of sexism at various gaming and comicbook conventions. Have you experienced this? What would your advice be for someone who has been bullied or mistreated because of their costume?
It definitely exists. While I can thankfully say I have received it less than others that I know, I have received comments and rude stares regarding my costumes many times. The most important thing is how you deal with it. Most passing comments by people can be easily ignored and taken with a grain of salt. Or just smile, thank them for their opinion and move on. Do you know the person who said it? Are they a friend? No? Do you value this random persons opinion about you? Probably not.
While other encounters can be more physical or persistent, these shouldn’t be ignored. They should be called out or reported to the convention staff if applicable. You deserve to feel safe whether or not you are in costume.
Our group (North Pacific Cosplay) is currently working on several new costumes for next year. Two of the big projects are Magic Knights Rayearth- Celestial armored versions and Hakuoki Shinsengumi Kitan. They will hopefully be finished for summer 2015.
If someone wanted to check out your work, where would they look?
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