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

Name:  Liz Murphy
(a.k.a. SephNoir)

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

I started making costumes around two years ago, but didn't cosplay publicly until Bristol International Comic Expo 2007 after meeting some local cosplayers online.  I originally bought my first costume, but I was so disappointed with the level of detail and fit that I decided I must be able to do a better job myself.  During the time when I was waiting for the costume to arrive, I was actually commissioned for a costume (Gogeta from Dragon Ball GT for White Leviathan) and was pretty shocked when it won 2nd Place in the Masquerade at Japan EX.  After that I was sure I could make costumes for myself and have done so ever since.

Q: What attracts you cosplay?

For me, cosplaying is something that I can put my all into and something that'll really challenge me.  From a young age I've always loved making things like plushies, bags etc and the challenge of making a whole costume is just kind of the next step really.  There's so many wonderful designs in each series and it feels really fantastic when you're able to bring that costume to life on your own.  I'm never happy with a costume unless it's completely accurate so I can get pretty stressed sometimes, but it's great when I've finally finished something and can honestly say it's completely accurate.  Being able to display your work to the public is a great feeling too, especially when your costume gets recognised. 

Another aspect I love is being able to completely go against social norms for a time and not really worry about what the others around you will think.  Society has such stereotypical views when it comes to fashion, and it's nice to be able to ignore all that and wear whatever you want for a few days.

Finally, it's something that's given me a huge amount of confidence when I needed it most.  People want to take your photo, admire you and compliment you just because you're dressed as someone else, it's a huge confidence boost to have someone you've never met before approach you and say how much they love your costume and want a photo of you.

Q:  What has been your favourite cosplay?

I think currently for myself, Belldandy (from Oh My Goddess (manga) - ed.) is my favourite simply for the fact that I'd been planning it for over a year and was finally able to get it done for Amecon 2008.  Making it allowed me to work with a lot of new materials and create some great methods that I've applied to other costume.

In terms of costumes I've made overall, my favourite is definitely either Celestine or Zagato (from Rayearth - debuting at MCM London October Expo 2008).  They're really beautiful designs and I really feel I've done them justice.  Celestine was a last minute change due to not being able to get the right material for another costume.  With 5 days to go until we left for Amecon 2008 I worked flat out to get it all done.  Zagato has been another last minute costume thanks to problems with my student loan, it's taken about a week to do due to having to remake the top but I absolutely love the colours and design.

Q: Most memorable moment whilst cosplaying?

It's got to be being recognised by Kari Wahlgren (voice of Sakura Kinomoto from Cardcaptor Sakura) while cosplaying The Big Clow Card at Amecon 2008.  I'd been a little disappointed that the signing with her had been cancelled that day, as I'd missed the one the day before.  Walking out of the closing ceremony she spotted me and recognised the costume.  We were able to chat for a little bit and she signed my hat.

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

Thankfully (*touch wood*) no costume has ever gone horribly wrong while I've been making it.  I never use patterns when making things (I only go by my own sketches) so I have to be careful with getting the fitting right.  With Belldandy I had some issues with the blue jacket due to the open back and adjusting the arm holes.  In the end I used a few strips of fosshape to stiffen the back so it would keep shape and stop gapping.  Aside from that my most common problem is my sewing machine jamming because I've forgotten to clean it out for a while!

Q:  Have you ever regretted cosplaying?

I can honestly say I've never regretted it.  I'm sure my bank account could do without buying so much fabric and wigs but I'll never regret doing this.  It's given me so much confidence and I've never done so much travelling!  If it wasn't for cosplay and conventions I would never have met so many wonderful people, especially my amazing partner Jack.

Q: Do your cosplays have a particular theme to them?

I really love to do costumes that are rarely/never cosplayed or I feel have never been done fully and accurately.  As far as I'm aware (from looking through a number of cosplay sites) Emeraude and Zagato have never been done before, The Big had never been done within the UK and the movie version of Belldandy and Celestine are also rarely done.  Seras and Dark Walter (from Hellsing - ed.) were something that I'd been hoping to do for a while and the yellow version is so under done compared to the blue anime version. Obviously I like to do cosplays where I can also make a matching costume for Jack so I like to look for couples or characters from the same series.

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

Aside from couple cosplays, I've only ever been in a group once for the first Bristol Cosplay Night.  It went ok and it was a good night but I personally prefer it as just the two of us, it's too easy for people to let you down and for things to go wrong when working with large groups.  I'd hate for that to happen if I'm putting time and money into my own costumes for it.  It's great meeting other people from the same series at an event, but I know I wouldn't be happy in a group unless I knew the people in the group would do their best on it.

Q:  What cosplays are you planning?

In the recent future, I'm looking at doing the battle version of Emeraude and the black robes for Zagato and a special version of Sakura and Kero from Card Captor Sakura for Minamicon 15.  I've got pretty much the next two years planned out in terms of costumes for events, but I'm sure that'll change as soon as I see a new series.

Q:  Do you have a dream cosplay?

Until recently, Belldandy and Emeraude were my dream costumes but right now I'm working towards Mateus and Adramellech from Final Fantasy XII.  It's going to take a lot of money so I'm not expecting to do it anytime soon, hopefully I'll be able to do them within the next two years though.

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

If there's one thing I could say to everyone thinking about cosplaying it would be; don't be afraid to try doing things yourself and going that step further and never let others stop you.  I've done both sides of cosplaying; both buying and making my costume and I can honestly say it's easier to make it yourself.  Sure it's easy to go online and just buy a costume, but how can you be sure it's going to arrive on time, going to fit, or even be accurate?  I've seen so many people disappointed because their costume hasn't arrived on time or didn't fit so they weren't able to cosplay with everyone else. 

It's a real shame when people say they can't make their own when they've never even tried, you never know what your abilities are unless you try.  There's so many aids as well, so many people have posted guides online and patterns can be bought in pretty much any fabric or department store.  If you can get your hands on a sewing machine and some fabric then have a play. 

Challenge yourself!  If you think a costume is too hard for you, break it down into sections you can handle.  Hit the charity shops and see what things you can modify into what you need.  Most of the time people are paying way too much for a costume they can make themselves because they're paying for someone else to make it for them. 

If you're worried about your costume not being as good as someone else's, don't be! If people are that childish enough to bitch about your costume, or criticise you because of your size, or how you look then they're not worth your time.  Ignore them and continue doing what makes you happy!

Q:  Do you have an account with the website Cosplay island?

I'm currently on Cosplay Island and Cosplay.com as SephNoir.  I'm also on the majority of convention forums and have my own commission website where I do wigs, props, accessories and many other things.

(click any picture for a larger image)

Liz as Belldandy and Jack Murphy as Celestine from Oh My Goddess - taken at MCM London October Expo 2008 - picture by Nia Jones (a.k.a. Tak) Liz and Jack as the Red Mages from Final Fantasy III - taken at Amecon 2008 Liz as The Big from Cardcaptor Sakura, taken at Amecon 2008 Liz as Sera Victoria, Jack Murphy as Dark Walter - both from Hellsing.  Taken at Amecon 2008

A wig for Sakura cosplay (from Cardcaptor Sakura) - one of Liz's wig commissions through her website - http://sephwigs.googlepages.com/home  Liz as Seras Victoria from Hellsing, lovin' the pussy  
A wig for Sailor Cosmos (from Sailor Moon) - a wig commission made by Liz for her business - http://sephwigs.googlepages.com/home