Today I'm excited to feature the amazingly talented Kohalu Cosplay. His wing work is out of this world, and he's been building costumes for over ten years. Read his full interview below!
Hello Everyone, I am Kohalu, a cosplayer based in Northern California, near San Francisco. I specialize in making wings and 3D-printed props, though I can do pretty much anything.
How and when did you get into cosplay?
I made my first cosplay almost 10 years ago. Back in high school when I was the president of the Anime and Manga Club, one of my club members told me about Anime Expo. When I went there I saw a lot of people wearing the costumes of my favorite characters and I thought it was really cool. I figured, "How hard could it be?" I made Ash Ketchum from Pokemon soon after and the response was incredible. I was hooked!
How did you come up with your cosplay name?
In the anime Inu Yasha, one of the characters that I really liked is the ninja boy Kohaku. When I was making an account on DeviantArt, I put that as my username but I accidentally misspelled it as Kohalu and I just kept it from then on.
What do you do when you're not in cosplay or geeking out?
My life generally follows this pattern: work, work out, make cosplay. I play Dungeons and Dragons twice a week - once as the GM and once as a player. With having a girlfriend on top of all that, I don't have time for any other hobbies. I don't really play video games or watch anime with any regularity anymore. I don't even own a TV.
As for the job, I am the Global Product Lead of Firebase Console Services at Google. It's pretty sweet.
Who is your cosplay idol/inspiration?
I look up to a lot of people for a lot of reasons;
Missyeru was my original senpai when I first got into cosplay. She taught me a lot about craftsmanship and, more importantly, the kind of attitude you should have when approaching cosplay. I'd be a whole lot more elitist if not for her influence.
Jessica Nigri is a pioneer of being able to monetize cosplay and creating your own brand. She is a genius of marketing and being able to flip scandal and negativity into her benefit is something amazing.
Yaya Han is a veteran of the cosplay community and a master seamstress. She is the top example of bringing her brand to the mass market, like through her line of fabrics at Joanns or her cosplay sewing patterns, or how she was one of the first distributors of worbla in the US. Her contributions to the cosplay community, like bringing it to the mainstream in Heroes of Cosplay, are unparalleled.
Kamui's innovation and tutorials have been teaching me how to make things since the very first serious costume I made. Her methods of armor making have been copied and adopted in some way by pretty much every cosplayer I know. She is a titan of cosplay and I see her influence in every convention I go to worldwide.
Punished Props and Volpin Props are my prop crafting senpais. When I'm crafting and spending hours and hours sanding, I'm trying to produce things of the same level of quality that they make. Their work is what has inspired me to really push my standards of quality higher.
What is your proudest cosplay accomplishment?
The most impressive thing I've made is Morgana from League of Legends. It features animatronic wings that spread to about 13 feet wide at the press of the button. I think people like that one the most, but the costume I've always felt was my best is Link, the version from Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Warriors. That costume has posed the greatest craftsmanship challenge to me and I had to learn a lot to make it. There's sewing, embroidery, leathercraft, 3D printing, sculpting, fiberglass, making chainmail - just a huge amount of different techniques. I made that costume with the intention that Link could wear it in actual combat, so it's incredibly strong.
What cosplay(s) are you working on right now?
At this moment I'm working on a dream cosplay I've been theorycrafting for a couple years now, Artanis - Hierarch of the Daelaam, from StarCraft II. It has quite a lot of challenges - digitigrade stilts, LEDs, resin casting, creature mask and skin, difficult armor. It's the cumulation of everything I've learned in cosplay so far.
What is your dream cosplay?
I've had a few "dream cosplays". Previously it was Illidan from World of Warcraft, or Morgana from League of Legends. Now it's the one I'm working on right now - Artanis. It's quite a doozie.
What is your favorite convention to attend and why?
My favorite convention is Anime Expo. It was my first and I consider it my "home con". It's changed quite a bit over the years and there are definitely more enjoyable cons for the average person, but AX will always have a place in my heart.
Do you have any cosplay or convention pet peeves?
As conventions and people evolve, a lot of things change. I used to really hate "glomping", which is when people would give you sort of a tackle-hug, but that's pretty much disappeared from the con scene. I think my biggest annoyance at a con is going through weapons check and security checkpoints and the huge lines they cause. I think it's all totally unnecessary security theater.
Do you have any horror stories or mistakes you've made that others can learn from?
Every new costume is a learning experience. If one falls apart, learn what you did wrong and keep moving forward.
Do you have any tips or words of encouragement for other cosplayers?
I think a lot of people take this too seriously. What you're doing in this hobby is dressing up as imaginary characters. It's glorified Halloween, so don't sweat it. Just have fun.
Where can we find you on all things social?
Photos for this interview provided by Alive Alf Photography, and Kairu Photography.
What a great interview! I hope you enjoyed it to. Go find him on all things social and show him some love and support. =)