In 2018 for the first time ever, the Cypriot EuroCosplay Qualifier was held as an online contest due to the postponement of Cyprus Comic Con. All the entries we received were impressive and outstanding, especially the winner’s stunning cosplay – Gloria Roussou (Alcaria Cosplay) – who had the chance to represent Cyprus at the EuroCosplay Championship in October 2018.
With the end of the holiday season and the start of the new year, we finally had the chance to talk to Gloria and ask her a few questions about her overall experience with EuroCosplay and other general Cosplay questions.
Hello Gloria! First and foremost we want to congratulate you for representing Cyprus at the Eurocosplay finals during the MCM London Comic Con Expo last October. How did you feel when you found out that you won the Cyprus Comic Con Eurocosplay Qualifier 2018?
Thank you so much! I was really happy when I first found out I had won but it didn’t truly sink in until later that day, when friends started asking me what the next step was! That’s when I started feeling excited about it and a little bit anxious!
Which was the most difficult part to complete for your Legion Commander (Flight of the Valkyrie) cosplay and how did you overcome that difficulty?
The wings were the element that made me choose this specific design, because I wanted a challenge. They ended up being the most difficult, time consuming and educating part of the whole experience! After I glued everything together I had noticed that the foam I used was too heavy, so the top half of the wings would bend outwards, instead of staying upright. I removed most of the foam and reshaped the PVC that was supporting the spines inside the wings and then I glued everything back together and finished it. I had to reinforce the connecting edges and also rebuilt the wings with a lighter material. I had used the super high density foam that turned out to be very heavy for that specific application. I stripped everything from the spine and started again with a low density foam that was half the weight of the first foam. This made the wings more stable and I could move easily without worrying about putting too much pressure on the spine or the breastplate.
During your participation in the Cyprus Comic Con EuroCosplay Qualifier 2018, you have mentioned that it took you 8 whole months to handcraft your Legion Commander (Flight of the Valkyrie) costume. How long does the overall process of completing a cosplay take you? From choosing a character to polishing all the small details.
For certain cosplays, choosing the character might be during playing a game, or talking to a friend. For others, it can a long process of weighing pros and cons, figuring out the logistics and deciding if it’s feasible. After deciding on the character, I spend about 10 hours on research and sketching or digitally designing patterns. Once the patterns are done, the crafting alone takes about 80-100 hours. From drawing your first line on the EVA foam, to covering it up with details, to adding rivets or gems or fabric. Then there’s the priming/sealing of the armour, which comes with a lot of downtime. That usually takes about a week, especially if the pieces are rather complicated and can’t be angled properly during drying times. That doubles the waiting time. Painting, weathering and decorating takes a couple of weeks, depending on how many different shades there are or how large the area that needs to be painted is. Finally, figuring out how to connect the pieces together so the velcro/buckles/straps won’t be visible, and also being able to move normally in the armour, usually takes longer than what I anticipate! With all the downtime, the breaks, and the holidays, that usually translates to 4-5 months. The Legion Commander built was an exception because I stripped the wings and built them again from scratch with new patterns. I also made an extra pair of armour gloves, broke off half the breastplate, rebuilt and reattached it, and weathered everything, twice!
How did you prepare for your performance?
I was debating with myself, for a whole month, whether I should add a stage prop or not. I wanted to plant a banner on the ground during the performance but I was trying to figure out how to make a base that would give me the chance to (blindly) plant it in and have it stay up! My sound file was ready, my lines were rehearsed, my movement was planned, but I was still struggling with the base of the stage prop. On the final day, before the contest, I recorded myself repeatedly planting the banner in the makeshift, floral foam filled, base, and the night before the show, I played the sound file a couple of times, just to make sure
that everything was rehearsed and timed well.
Looking back to the EuroCosplay contest, would you change anything about your performance or your costume if you could?
Of course! (heh!) I have the tendency to change and fix everything. All the time! If it wasn’t for deadlines, I would, probably, be working on 5 year old projects, still! I would have chosen a different type of fabric for the belt, a different priming and painting technique for the boots and wings, I would have added a lot more detail on the body suit… the list goes on. A friend mentioned that the performance could’ve been a bit longer and more exaggerated, and even though I didn’t second guess my choice on that initially, I’m convinced now that I should have done that! I tend to obsess with little details!
Do you believe taking part in EuroCosplay was a rewarding experience?
Of course! The first thing I did, the day after the contest, was to create an entry on my Notes app called “Things MCM taught me”. I have gathered so much knowledge, I had to write it down so I wouldn’t forget. From simple things like business cards to very specific fabric types and sewing techniques. I have met so many excellent cosplayers, learned so many things, and had an amazing time!
Let’s talk about how you got into cosplaying. On your website you mention that you made your first costume out of fabric and duct tape. Can you tell us a bit more about how you started cosplaying and how you progressed over the years?
My first costume was made out of black sheets and metallic tape! Back in 2005 after years of crazy fangirlism over the Lord of the Rings, my friend and I decided to dress up as Nazgûl. It was the carnival and we decided not to buy the standard, mass produced costumes the local shops used to sell. Back then I had no idea what “cosplay” was. We were living in a small town, small community, so our “dressing up” wasn’t that well received. From that point on I only crafted small items, props, jewellery, but never full costumes, because I didn’t want to wear them outside, since people told me I looked stupid. It wasn’t until 2009 when I discovered the term cosplay and found this big community online, that I decided to try again. My second cosplay was Ezio Auditore (ACII), and that’s when I discovered proper materials and techniques with EVA foam. I’ve crafted and sewed some costumes for halloween and carnival season, for myself and friends – like the Mother Confessor dress from Legend of the Seeker, or Harley Quinn from Arkham City – along with various props from video games I enjoyed. When the first Cyprus Comic Con took place, I found myself surrounded by other like-minded people and felt inspired to get more serious. From that point on I started being more active in the community and the craft. I started researching different techniques, ordered materials online, bought books from cosplay veterans, and started a Facebook page to record my progress. I even took sewing lessons!
How much of your spare time do you devote on your cosplay projects?
Currently I work part time from home and that helps a lot with my cosplay work too. I have my own schedule and the time I’m not spending commuting to work is extra time spent on cosplay. These past 2 years I’ve been working for about 4-5 hours a day on average. A few years ago, when I was still living in Cyprus, and I had a lot of free time, I only spent 10 hours a week on cosplay projects. The difference today is that I pay more attention to details on my costumes and I tend to scrap a piece off and start over, if it’s not accurate or good, which takes a lot more time. It feels a little more than a hobby or a part time job because lately, when it comes to cosplay, I also work on weekends and holidays.
Watch Gloria’s stage performance as Legion Commander (Flight of the Valkyrie)
You also mention (on the website) that you create costumes for friends and for commissions – is costume crafting something you’d be interested to do full time?
Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Absolutely! It’s been a couple of years now that I tried to turn this into a paying job, either by taking commissions, or setting up a shop to sell little props and services. It’s a work in progress.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your cosplay beginner self?
Three things: Reinforce, Prime, Weather! Looking back at the costumes I made, I always say those three things about almost every single piece! My connections weren’t secure enough and my armour pieces were somewhat flimsy. The fabrics were too thin or light. I needed to reinforce everything with extra layers or better materials. My colours were very muddy or the surfaces were too porous because I either didn’t use the proper priming agent or haven’t primed at all! And lastly, fixing that colour, or making it look more used. Weathering the costume, adding dirt, shadows, highlights, all those beautiful touches that make the cosplay more realistic.
As a Cypriot Cosplayer who is currently based in Germany, what are the main differences you can spot between the Cypriot and the German cosplay communities?
I haven’t noticed big differences between the communities. The one noticeable difference between the communities is that there are dedicated cosplay photographers in Germany. They are either hobbyist photographers who like to take pictures of cosplayers or cosplayers themselves who take an interest in photography and get proper equipment for it. And all those photographers are in the same communities and clubs as cosplayers and always go to conventions and events.
Is there a specific character you would love to cosplay but haven’t yet? If so, what are the reasons?
I’ve wanted, for years, to cosplay dr. mrs the Monarch (Venture Bros) in her butterfly costume, but I always manage to talk myself out of it for various reasons. I usually end up feeling it’s too revealing for something I would wear and also I can’t sew spandex properly!!
Do you have any big upcoming cosplay projects for the new year that you can tell us about?
I have a few projects in progress right now. Some months ago, I started crafting the Aela the Huntress costume, which will be my third Skyrim cosplay. Also, I hope to finish the Wonder Woman cosplay I started about a year ago, but put aside for Legion Commander and all the other projects I started after that. But my big upcoming project is Kassandra from Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, because I loved the game (and those epic helmets!!)
Do you have any final words for the Cyprus Comic Con community?
There are so many resources available online, from crafting to support to fandom! If life gets overwhelming sometimes, know that there’s a whole community of like-minded people always there to help, or teach, or even to cheer along!