Today I am honored to feature a local cosbae, and one of the members of our Disney Viking group. Get excited for Miss Chezza!
How and when did you get into cosplay?
I started cosplaying in September 2014. I wore my first (store-bought) cosplay to the Edmonton Expo that year and was immediately hooked. I've always enjoyed video games, comic books, and anime, so cosplay was kind of a natural next step for me.
How did you come up with your cosplay name?
My real name is Cheryl and in England a common nickname for Cheryl is Chez or Chezza. I was born and raised in England (though I've sounded Canadian since my teen years), so it was just one of my nicknames. When I had to think of my first Xbox gamertag, I chose Miss Chezza and it soon translated over to cosplay.
What do your friends and family think of your hobby?
They love it! My parents are my biggest fans. My mum has almost all of my prints. My best friends are my biggest fans. Everyone has been so unbelievably supportive and naturally curious about it--I get a lot of people randomly messaging me just to ask me things about my cosplays and the reasoning behind it. I love hearing when people enjoy or get a kick out of my cosplays and it's even more fulfilling when it's someone you've known for years and years.
If you're still cosplaying in 10+ years, do you think it will have an effect on your cosplay choices, or the characters you choose to portray?
Definitely. I think if I was cosplaying 10 years ago, I'd have chosen different characters than I choose now. But I attribute that mainly to my taste in characters and the media I'm choosing from, rather than body type or "age appropriate" cosplays. I've seen people of all ages rock cosplays of all shapes and sizes and I don't think age should have any impact on what someone decides to create. It's a fun hobby and we should be doing what we want!
What do you do when you're not in cosplay or geeking out?
I'm a marketing and communications manager for a software company, I run a food blog called Wine + Dine (www.winedineyeg.wordpress.com), and I'm the Editor-in-Chief of The Pulp magazine (www.thepulppress.com), which provides coverage for pop culture events and artists around Edmonton.
You've recently launched a Patreon. This is still a relatively new idea to the cosplay community. Can you tell us how it benefits you, and how it benefits your patrons?
I adore Patreon! It's such a great tool for artists who might need a little help financially to continue their creations. With my Patreon, people can subscribe monthly for an amount that they choose ($1 to $50) and they get rewards based on the tier they select. I started this partly as a way to help fund my cosplays (because we all know how ridiculously expensive it can be) and a way for me to make exclusive content available to those people who wanted just a little bit more than my usual social media posts.
Some of the tiers get monthly print packages, which could include exclusive boudoir/sexier content, posters, nerdy items, and more. It's really great because not only does it help bring me closer to the people who are actively trying to support me, it also lets me challenge myself in terms of creating content that is a little out of my comfort zone. I'm all about body positivity and I think boudoir shoots are an excellent way for both women and men to become more comfortable with their bodies--it's definitely frightening, but so far it's been amazing! And I wouldn't want to share most of that content with anyone but my supportive, incredible patrons.
Do you have any advice for a cosplayer wanting to launch a Patreon of their own?
I think it's important to think about how you can use your Patreon to give back to your fans, rather than as just a cash cow. I've seen a few Patreon accounts that feature goals that are pretty self-oriented (I want to buy a new this, or I need money to get that)--especially if the thing they need money for has nothing to do with their cosplays. Those accounts generally don't do very well. I mean, if you want to get paid to cosplay, you have to work for it.
I'm updating my Patreon or planning things for it almost every other day. I need to set aside a solid half-day each month to organize everyone's monthly packages and personalize the prints. And I need to plan for shoots and cosplays well in advance so that my patrons are always getting fresh content. If you're going to get a Patreon and do it well, you have to think in terms of "what can I do to give people a reason to subscribe?" I feel that it's more about them than it is about you.
Who is your cosplay idol/inspiration?
Jessica Nigri. She's everyone's, I know. Ivy Doomkitty is also one of my favourites--she's stunning!
How do you choose your next cosplay?
I see a character. I make the cosplay. It's actually as simple as that! When I first started out, I immediately went to the characters I've always known and loved: Jessica Rabbit, Gogo Yubari, Silk Spectre II, Alisa Bosconovitch. Now that I've gotten all of those out of my system, it's basically a method of seeing characters in new media and thinking "I must make this cosplay." I also take suggestions from fans every once in a while or create cosplays as part of a group.
Do you have any cosplay or convention pet peeves?
There's never enough access to food. Especially for me, since I'm a celiac. Cosplayers need to eat!
Do you have any horror stories or mistakes you've made that others can learn from?
The first time I ever styled a wig, I cut the bangs straight across. Biggest mistake ever! They stuck out and looked ridiculous because the hair was so blunt and thick. I've learned my lesson since then--cut up, not across.
Do you have any tips or words of encouragement for other cosplayers?
Have fun with it, NEVER judge others, and be sociable! There are some amazing cosplay communities out there and becoming a part of one is such a great feeling. Introduce yourself, meet new people, and forge your own con family.
Where can we find you on all things social?
I adore Miss Chezza. She is a very talented and sweet person and I'm so lucky to have shared some experiences with her! Follow her on social media, and support her on Patreon if you're able. You won't regret it.