Just recently I had the chance to do a Q and A interview with the freelance artist/Gamer/Cosplayer Kay “KayBear” Thomas (she´s from Atlanta, US). And we talked about everything from cosplay, games, conventions to haters and racism in the cosplay scene. So this would be our full interview with Kay, please enjoy!

Robin TGG
Perhaps we could start with an introduction? So please do introduce yourself, and share with us how you got started with cosplay in the first place.

Kay:
My name is Kay and I am a student and freelance artist from Atlanta! I only recently started cosplaying and going to conventions a few months ago when my little brother convinced me to join him at a local convention called Momocon. I’ve been interested in costuming and cosplay for as long as I could remember, but I was always too afraid that I wouldn’t be able to fit in with the crowd or do it well. But I was immediately proven wrong when I realized how much fun conventions were and how rewarding the process of creating a costume was. After that I was hooked.

kay kaybear thomas mad moxxi borderlands

Kay as Mad Moxxi “Borderlands”.

Robin TGG
Do you make all your cosplay costumes and props all by yourself? If so, which cosplay costume has taken you the longest time to make?

Kay:
All of my costumes and props are made by me! (Besides my Red Sonja larp sword). Every costume I’ve created has been a learning experience and every skill that I learn from a certain costume has the ability to be implemented into a future costume. My most time-consuming cosplay project was Kitty Cat Katarina. Her outfit consists of many small details and accessories, which I felt were needed to really pull the entire costume together. Also, it was pretty much my first time sewing and making props.

Robin TGG
Do you prefer to cosplay as movie, games, comics or anime/manga characters? (do you have any favorites?) Or do you simply cosplay as whatever you feel like doing at the moment?

Kay:
The best part of cosplay is being able to see some of your favorite fictional and virtual characters come to life, so most of my costumes are characters that I have a slight (…or major) obsession with, games that I’ve played or some of my favorite TV shows/super hero idols. But there have been one or two characters that I have cosplayed as simply because I like their design or outfit.

Robin TGG
Which Con do you think is the best one when it comes to cosplay in terms of contests, media focus, participants and quality?

Kay
It’s pretty difficult for me to answer this question because I haven’t attended many cons (I’m pretty new in the scene and have only officially been to 3 cons). However, of the three that I have been to locally, Momocon, Dragon*Con and Anime Weekend Atlanta, I think Momocon would be the best of the three. Don’t get me wrong, ALL of these cons were amazing in their own way, but they are all very different and cater to different crowds and fans. Momocon was very spacious and everything was easily accessible. The Gaming hall was huge and open and featured many different types of games available to play from MKX to DDR to Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards (!!!!!) and the panels that they offered were diverse, covering a wide range of topics.

kay kaybear thomas red sonja

Kay sure nailed her Red Sonja cosplay. No doubt about that!

Robin TGG
Which of your cosplays are you most proud of so far? And why? And do you have any fun stories or awesome cosplay memories that you could tell us about?

Kay:
I’d say the cosplay that I am most proud of so far is Mad Moxxi from Borderlands. Mostly because I think it’s one of my most detailed cosplays and I was able to complete it in just four days before the convention, with the sake of my sanity.  It was also my first time really delving into the world of sewing. Before this project I had no real sewing experience at all (correct sizing, using a pattern, using a liner, etc.) so it was a completely new experience for me. I really had no idea what I was doing and just went for it hoping that the end result would be decent, and it happened to come out better than my expectations.

My favorite and most enjoyable cosplay memory was at Momocon in Atlanta.The con hosted a League of Legends tournament in the video game lounge and I got to sit back and watch people play a match and cheer them on as they were playing Nidalee, while wearing a Nidalee costume!

Robin TGG
Are there any of your cosplay “creations” that you regret that you did? And is there any limits for what you would, and wouldn´t do when it comes to cosplay? (characters which you would never cosplay as for example).

Kay:
I can’t say that I regret any specific costume that I’ve created, but I can say that I do sometimes regret the way that I’ve constructed and made some of the costumes. There are a few costumes and props that I would consider re-doing or reconstructing just for aesthetic purposes.

Robin TGG
I don´t know if it´s just me, but I have noticed that plenty of cosplayers are really fit (at least those who are ranked as “professional” cosplayers), and I can´t say that you´re an exception. So my question would be this, do you work out a lot? And do you keep a strict diet to stay in shape?

Kay:
With my current schedule, finding the time to work out often seems nearly impossible. If you want an honest answer, I rarely work out and I eat a lot of pizza.

kay kaybear thomas nida league of legends

I present to you. Kay as Nidalee from “League of Legends”.

Robin TGG
Do you have any advice for those who are having thoughts about giving cosplay a chance?

Kay:
My advice for those who want to begin cosplaying is don’t give up! I remember when I began my first costume it seemed like nothing worked out. Cosplaying is a lot of trial and error but always remember that if one method doesn’t work out, there is another way out there that will work; you just havent thought of it yet. The rewarding feeling you’re left with after you finish a costume you’ve been working on for weeks or months is always better than the stress you experienced while making it. Also, don’t forget to sleep and drink lots of water.

Robin TGG
When I spoke to you just recently on Twitter, we stumble up on the subject of haters, trolls and racism in the world of cosplay. I honestly had no idea that it was such a big deal that black female’s cosplays as none black characters (just take the case with Chaka Cumberbatch, when she cosplayed as Sailor Venus). I also do recall that you mentioned that you had to deal with haters, trolls and racist twats as well?   

For example, I can imagine that your Red Sonja cosplay (which, by the way, is freaking awesome!) caused quite a lot of fuss when it became known?  

Kay:
So, it wasn’t until I joined the cosplay community and began to post images of my costumes online that I began to deal with haters, trolls, and racists on the internet. I’ve always seen and heard of other people on the internet and in reality having to deal with oppression and racism, but this is the first time in my life that I have ever had to directly deal with it myself. There have been a few people who have told me my cosplay is inaccurate and not good enough because of my darker skin color, and coupled it with racist slurs and comments such as “Niggalee or Black Sonja”. However, while dealing with this issue I’ve noticed two things. One, people like that only have one thing to comment about and it’s my race, never about the quality and the work I put into my costumes. Two, people like that are only brave enough to say these things behind a computer screen on the internet and never to my face.

I truly believe that cosplaying is for anyone and everyone, no matter your skin color, your body type, your age, or the gender you associate with. Despite the crazy things people say on the internet, it will never stop me from doing what I enjoy and it should never deter other people from doing the same. If you are trapped between your feelings and what other people think is right, always go for whatever makes you happy. Everything you want is on the other side of fear.

kay kaybear thomas jinx league of legends

Kay did a really good job with her Jinx (League of Legends) cosplay.

Robin TGG
Here´s a question that I have thought of more than one time, because I don´t know if I told you this before (I’ll get to the point and the actual question shortly). I´m a hardcore Metal fan, and I have been to plenty of concerts, album and autograph signings over the years. My point would be this, there has always been heavy security at these events (like that one time when I was standing in-line to get an autograph by Slipknot when they played live in Stockholm many years ago, for example).   

So now for my actual question. Have you ever experienced any unpleasant experiences during your cosplays at Cons and such? Like stalkers, or people who don´t know when they have gone too far? If so, did the security sort the problem out? Or how did you take care of the problem?

Kay:
I haven’t actually had any issues or unpleasant experiences at any of the cons I’ve been to this year. No creepers yet. I think I’m super lucky to have been around so many friendly and people at the conventions I’ve attended because I know of a few other cosplayer that have had to deal with nonsense as such.

Robin TGG
I don´t know if you’re familiar with the reality TV-show “Heroes of Cosplay”, but the show starred people such as Yaya Han, Holly Conrad and Chloe Dykstra. And at the time when it was aired (between 2013 and 2014), Heroes of Cosplay caused quite a lot of fuss and drama. So my question would be this, is there really a lot of drama in the world of cosplay? And did the show portray the cosplay scene in a positive or negative way in your opinion?   

Kay:
I’ve heard a lot of different opinions about the show but I’ve never seen it myself so I have no comment.

Robin TGG
Do you have any favorite video games, animes, movies or TV-shows? And which cosplayer (s) do you like the most?

Kay:
My few of my favorite video games currently are League of Legends,  Borderlands and Dragon Age: Inquisition. I’m obsessed with Game of Thrones (Valar Morghulis), Dexter and Trailer Park Boys. Aside from TV- shows I enjoy watching documentaries and any type of horror or cult movies.

My favorite cosplayer currently is Kamui Cosplay. You can tell that she puts a lot of time a dedication into her artwork and her craftsmanship shines through to me. Her cosplays always are spot on and consistent, its awesome.

kay kaybear thomas katarina league of legends

Katarina (“League of Legends”).

Robin TGG
What´s your thoughts on Pax Prime´s “aggressive navel policy” (http://prime.paxsite.com/safety-and-security)? Personally, I shared my thoughts on that topic not so long ago (http://thegg.net/opinion-editorial/the-paxnavelpolicy-and-booth-babe-policies-rants-at-pax-prime-2015/).

Kay:
I think the policy is a rather harsh and vague with their wording. Many people reading this policy will have no idea if their navel is “innapropriate” compared to another persons navel. If you’re cosplaying as a character that wears a skimpy outfit then I think that you should be allowed to do so. Wear what you want, it’s your body and no one should be able to tell you otherwise. However, I do think that if you are attending a convention that is all ages and geared more towards a younger crowd, one should dress within reason.

Robin TGG
This morning I found out that your dad (Garfield Thomas) had been diagnosed with Stage 3B lung cancer just recently (I’m really sorry…), and that you have launched a go fund me campaign (https://www.gofundme.com/qk8xuq2s) for your father. Is there anything we (and others) can do to raise awareness about this? 

Kay:
First, I just want to say thank you for even being concerned about me and my family. It has been extremely hard on all of its and it’s comforting knowing that you have support. I think the best thing to do would be to just keep my family in your prayers and send us as much positive energy as possible. If you are wiling, the GoFundMe campaign is set up just to help my mom alleviate the stress of the large hospital bills that she often receives. Anything at all helps and my family is very thankful. Life is a precious thing, you never know when you’re going to lose it.

kay kaybear thomas nida river league of legends

Kay (Nida, League of Legends) and a really nice river picture.

Robin TGG
Now for my final question. What are your plans and hopes for the future? And what do you want to most right now?  

Kay:
My current plans for the near future is to continue making costumes and improve my craft to the best of my ability. I don’t give up easily, so expect more costumes soon! As for what I want most right now is to graduate college within the next year and travel. I want to see as many new places and faces as I possibly can!

With that said, thank you very much for taking your time to do an Q&A interview with us Kay =)

tgg author avatar robin ek
Robin “V-Act” Ek
The Gaming Ground
Twitter: @TheGamingGround

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