Cosplayer Interview: Karista

Karista as the mermaid Keimi from One Piece

Karista as the mermaid Keimi from One Piece

A major part of this blog will be cosplay interviews with my fellow Canadian cosplayers who I feel are often ignored by mainstream geek society.

So without further ado here is my first cosplay interview with the fabulous Karista!

I first met Karista back at Anime North 2010. She was (and remains) in charge of the amazing Anime North One Piece Cosplay photoshoot. Without a word of a lie I can easily say that she made Anime North 2010 one of the best cons experiences I have ever had.

Cosplayer and crafter, Karista puts a lot of effort and love into every costume. She also has the amazing ability to make cosplayers of any level of talent, age, size or gender feel welcome. A talent that is seriously lacking sometimes in the Cosplay community.

Can you tell me about your first cosplay experience: who, what, where, when, and how did it go?

Oh, boy. I think everyone’s first costume needs improvement, but you have to start somewhere, right? My first cosplay was Natsumi Mizuki from GetBackers, which I wore to Anime North back in 2004. The costume itself looked all right, but my poorly styled hair, running shoes, and lack of make-up sort of ruined things, haha!

I’ll never regret it though because it’s thanks to this costume that I was able to meet the talented Pan-Chan for the very first time! I didn’t know who she was back then, but she’s now one of my cosplay idols! She ran up to my brother and I (he was cosplaying Ginji from the same series) with a huge smile on her face and asked if she could take a photo of us.

She also invited us to a large GetBackers photoshoot that was happening the following day. We decided to go, not knowing what to expect. Well, let me tell you… this photoshoot changed my life forever! Everyone was so kind and encouraging. It definitely helped me break free from my shell. I’ll never forget it. Thanks, Pan!

Were you naturally drawn to cosplay, or did it take some coaxing to get started?

Absolutely! I’ve always been a creative person, so it was easy to accept yet another means of expressing that side of myself. No one had to convince me to cosplay. I went to my first convention back in 2003 and was so giddy when I saw my favorite characters come to life – I just had to try it for myself! Now I’m addicted, haha!

Which costume in your collection has been the most fun to wear so far?

That’s a tough one. I’m gonna have to say my original Keimi costume. Not only was it the first costume I made by myself entirely from scratch, but it’s also the reason why I hosted the One Piece photoshoot at Anime North 2010. I met so many wonderful people and made some irreplaceable friends!

Which has been your most difficult project?

I struggle with a lot of costumes because I’ve never had any formal training. Everything I’ve done so far has been a trial-and-error process. I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t even know how to use patterns! It’s a real pain, actually. Either way, the most difficult project I’ve ever taken on is easily the costume I’m currently working on – a Qurupeco Blademaster from Monster Hunter Tri. It involves a lot of materials I’m not used to working with like faux fur, feathers, and leather. It’s intimidating, but I won’t give up! Every challenge is a learning experience.

When you choose a costume, is it important to you to like the actual character or only to like the appearance of his/her clothing?

A lot of thought goes into choosing a costume. It’s always important for me to like – if not, love the character I’m cosplaying. I can’t get excited about a costume if I don’t like the character and if I’m not excited about a costume, I’m not inspired to make it. I try to choose characters that are similar to me in either looks or personality in order to really make the cosplay both believable and fun to wear. I love getting into character!

What type of makeup routine do you follow for your cosplays?

Oh my goodness. It takes me over two hours to get ready for a con! I think make-up is really important for cosplay – not just to hide minor flaws, but more importantly to accentuate your own unique features. The style and amount depend on the character you’re trying to portray. Here’s my crazy routine!

  1. Wash face
  2. Moisturizer
  3. Makeup Primer
  4. Green concealer stick (for redness)
  5. Regular concealer for problem areas (blemishes, dark circles, etc.)
  6. Foundation
  7. Finishing Powder (to set makeup and stay shine-free)
  8. Blush (my favorite part)
  9. Eyebrow pencil (or powder when I want to make them a crazy colour to match my wig)
  10. Curl eyelashes
  11. Liquid eyeliner (for top lid)
  12. Pencil eyeliner (for bottom lid – outer corner only)
  13. Eyesgadow (depending on the costume – this usually goes before eyeliner but I make so many mistakes with my liner…it’s just easier for me this way!)
  14. False lashes
  15. Mascara
  16. Makeup setting spray
  17. Lip gloss

I almost hit 20 steps there. Yikes…

How does it feel to be considered ‘THE Keimi’ cosplayer?

I’m considered THE Keimi cosplayer? That’s cool! There are way more talented Keimi cosplayers out there though, like IchigoKitty! She’s absolutely amazing. I used her photos as reference when making my own Keimi cosplay and she was nice enough to answer a few questions for me in the process. Definitely check her out!

Do you have any dream cosplays?

Super Sailor Mercury and Keimi were both dream cosplays of mine, but I was fortunate enough to have them come true! Other than those two, it’s always been my dream to cosplay Elle from Legend of Mana. She’s been a favorite character of mine since childhood and I would love to take on those crazy wings of hers! I’m slowly (very slowly) piecing that one together though. I have the wig picked out and have already obtained her capelet and gloves. We’ll see what happens!

Along with being a talented costumer you also create adorable little trinkets for your Etsy store ‘Talia’s Unique Treats’. When did you start creating these items?

I’ve been sculpting for about a year and a half now. To be perfectly honest, I can’t quite remember how all of this came about. I think my boyfriend just had some leftover clay (he’s an art graduate) and I was very bored one day. I made a Pokeball for fun, then my friend asked if I could make her Pokeball earrings – things just exploded from there! I’m not making enough money to live off of, but it’s nice to have a little extra spending money for cosplay. I love crafting and I’m so happy that my work has received so much positive feedback. It really inspires me to continue sculpting and improve my skills.

How do your crafting abilities affect your cosplays, if at all?

Oh, they absolutely do! Sculpting has taught me one very important lesson that I’ve always struggled with – PATIENCE! It has taught me to slow down and accept the fact that things don’t always go according to plan. It’s good to make mistakes because you can learn from them! It’s also shown me that detail work always pays off. If I spend a little extra time on something, it makes the costume that much better!

Any final comments or shout-outs?

Thanks so much for the interview, TechniKitty!