Cosplay interviews! A weekly feature on Animetion where we talk to cosplayers on what motivates them, plus a cool gallery showcasing their cosplays.  Here we talk to cosplayer:

Name: Leonie Speller
(a.k.a. Leonie Heartilly/Andserkiel)

Q: When did you start cosplaying and how long for?

I wore my first costume was at the MCM London Expo in October 2007, so just over a year now.  But I had been interested in cosplay for a few years before that.

Q: What attracts you cosplay?

I was always fond of dressing up as a kid so I guess it's kinda progressed!  I'm also very much into the performing arts and being in plays and musicals which involves wearing costumes.  I like being able to be someone else for a little while, it sorta gives you a break from your own life and personality.  In a way cosplay is a form of performing which is something I really enjoy.  I'm a Pisces and we're known for our artistic natures lol

Q:  What has been your favourite cosplay?

It would have to be Rinoa Heartilly from Final Fantasy VIII simply because she is my favourite game character, my first cosplay and one I had planned for a long time.  I adore her outfit, the colours & the style.  I've had some people say I look similar to her and I love the recognition I get when wearing that costume.  I would happily walk down the street in that outfit on a normal day!

Q: Most memorable moment whilst cosplaying?

I work in GAME and we had a dress up day the Saturday before Christmas 2007.  I wore my Rinoa cosplay and I was recognised by a few customers including a Japanese couple.  They didn't speak much English so it was very nice of them to comment on my outfit.  It really made my day.

Another one would be helping to break the World Record for the most amount of people gathered dressed as character's from a game.  Cosplayers got into the news!  It was a great achievement for all who took part.

Q:  Have you had any cosplays go wrong/encountered problems whilst making cosplays?

When gluing the clay zipper (made over the original zipper) on my Selphie Tilmitt dress (from Final Fantasy VIII - ed.) I got glue into the zip itself despite my best efforts not to so now I can't actually un-do the zip it's stuck!  I have to pull the dress over my head oops!

The main issue I have with cosplaying is my own damn pickiness over details, as I like to have my costumes as close in detail to the original design as possible. For example with my Rinoa boots I needed them to have five shoelace holes but she only ties them up to the fourth hole.  That's how fussy I am!  This is also why my costumes are a mix of hand-made and bought.  If I see a costume or part of it for sale in the right amount of detail to my liking, I will rather buy it than attempt to make it myself and it turning out not so good. 

I have the upmost respect for cosplayers who do make everything by hand but myself I would rather buy if it would look better.  My Kairi from Kingdom Hearts 2 outfit I'm working on now will be entirely made by me as I'm not impressed with any of the commissions I've seen around!  I'm really looking forward to the sense of achievement I will feel when it's finished and knowing I did it all myself.  I've already made her shoes and I'm so proud of them bless me haha.  But even if I do buy most my costume I still feel very pleased when people comment on how accurate they are and they're impressed with the attention to detail.  Makes all the long hours of searching for the right supplies and squinting at reference pictures to work out the tiniest detail all worthwhile.

Q:  Have you ever regretted cosplaying?

I only regret the amount of money I spend on it haha!

Q:  Have you ever done group cosplay? If so how did you find that experience?

For the MCM London Expo in May 2008 I was part of a Sailor Moon group.  Unfortunately half the group didn't show up at the right time for the photoshoot so that was shame.  But it was nice to hang out with fellow cosplayers interested in the same show as me and it makes posing for photo's more interesting. 

I was also part of the Final Fantasy photoshoot at the MCM London Expo in October 2008 which was great.  I got the chance to have some shots taken with my character's love interest in the game and they are some of the best pictures I have of that costume =3

Q:  What cosplays are you planning?

The next cosplay for me is going to be worn at The Grand International Cosplay Ball (30th November 08 - please note this interview was conducted prior to this date - ed.).  I'll be going as a character of my own design called "Andserkiel" which is my main internet alias.  It is apparently my name in Elvish according to a website name generator lol.  So naturally she is an elf and I'm following the style of the elves in the Lord of the Rings movies. This will be my first formal cosplay so I'm looking forward to it ^-^

As mentioned above I'm also working on Kairi from Kingdom Hearts 2 hopefully to be ready for the MCM London Expo in May 2009.

Other planned future cosplays are:

Amanda Young - Saw
Sakura Kinomoto - Cardcaptor Sakura
Sailor Moon - Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (Live Action)
Nymphadora Tonks - Harry Potter
Yuna - Final Fantasy X

Q:  Do you have a dream cosplay?

My dream cosplay was always Rinoa and I haven't found a character I've had such a strong urge to cosplay as since.  I suppose if possible I would like to attempt the Dead Fantasy version of her character complete with a huge set of wings and a gunblade.

Q:  Do you have one piece of advice that you would give to cosplay virgins?

Start of with something simple.  If you go attempting a really hard costume for your first try at cosplaying, you may find it won't turn out as good as you hoped and it may put you off cosplaying in the future - you don't want this! 

You can always work your way up to the more complicated costumes over time =) Also don't be scared to admit you cannot make things yourself and have to buy/commission them.  I have to do so most of the time!  As long as you feel comfortable and look good in your outfit that's all that matters. Have fun!

Q:  Do you have an account with the website Cosplay island/other social networking sites?

Yes I'm "Leonie Heartilly" on Cosplay Island and "Andserkiel" on www.cosspace.com.  You can also catch me posting on the London MCM Expo forums. 

(click any picture for a larger image)

Leonie as Riona Heartilly from Final Fantasy VIII - photo by www.mediev.netLeonie as Sailor Jupiter from Sailor MoonLeonie as Andserkiel - an original creation.  Photo by SephNoirLeonie as Selphie Telmitt from Final Fantasy VIII - photo by Adziu

Leonie (right) as Riona Heartilly from Final Fantasy VIII - photo by Silver of www.cosspot.net

Leonie as Joanna from Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street Leonie as Selphie Telmitt from Final Fantasy VIIILeonie as Kairi from Kingdom Hearts 2