We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Cash Branson . We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Cash below.
Hi Cash, thanks for joining us today. Learning the craft is often a unique journey from every creative – we’d love to hear about your journey and if knowing what you know now, you would have done anything differently to speed up the learning process.
I’m self taught in the sense that, outside of a couple semesters as a theater major 20 years ago, I’ve not received any formal training in costume making, photography, modeling, workshopping, painting, or any of the myriad skills a person develops learning to cosplay. The good news is there is a wealth of knowledge out there in the form of books, online tutorials, and how-to videos.
My key resource for learning by far, however, are other cosplayers. The community is, in my experience, welcoming and open to questions about how they were able to do various things with their costumes. If I’ve had any success, it’s because of the help I got from my fellow cosplayers, with a particular shout out to Chad (@atwellian_costopia).
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
“Cosplay’ is a portmanteau of Japanese origin combining the words ‘costume’ and ‘play’. Fitting then, that I got my cosplay origin in Japan.
After graduating from college, I took a job teaching English in Japan in 2004. A friend of mine suggested that we go to the Tokyo Game Show, the biggest gaming industry event in Japan. I told him that if we were going to go to an event like that, we needed to go all the way. We wore our Halloween costumes from the previous year (characters from Lupin III, an anime from the 70’s). We had a blast taking pictures, getting to know people, and to our great surprise, appeared in the Mainichi Shimbun, one of Japan’s national newspapers. I was hooked.
I’ve since moved back to the states, got married, and had a couple of kids, but I’ve never stopped cosplaying. Over the years I’ve made more than 50 costumes (I average about 4-5 per year). I travel to conventions both to attend and act as a cosplay guest/costume judge, but I still have a professional career. I work for a balance of those things that is best for my family. They’ll even sometimes join me in the cosplay fun.
We often hear about learning lessons – but just as important is unlearning lessons. Have you ever had to unlearn a lesson?
I’m a perfectionist. I want my cosplay done right, I want the details to look how I want them to look, and I want the costume to be indistinguishable from what I saw in the movie. Except, that’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself. It leads to a lot of frustration when things don’t come out looking how you want. And perhaps most crucially, it can make you give up a project you really love because you feel it’s not up to your standards.
Perfection as the standard was the most important lesson I had to unlearn. Perfection can and should be a goal, but you have to give yourself grace. There will be times when what you plan doesn’t quite work out the way you want, but 99% of the time the only person that sees those ‘flaws’ is you. Once I realized that it led to a real paradigm shift in the way I cosplay.
I no longer strive for screen accuracy. I still do detail work for myself, but I don’t get hung up on making something look 100% what I saw onscreen. If it will make wearing the costume difficult or if my technique isn’t exactly what I want, I work around it. I strive to represent the idea of the character. What I mean is I’m not trying to recreate the Ironman Mark LXXXV armor from Avengers: Endgame. I’m trying to recreate the moment and the feeling of when Tony Stark snaps his fingers and saves the universe wearing that armor. It’s like that old adage “People won’t remember what you did. They remember how you made them feel”.
For you, what’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative?
That’s easy! It’s the interactions with the fellow fans!
I love going to a con and meeting up with others that share my love of certain characters or see what new and amazing looks my fellow cosplayers have put together. There is something really rewarding about bringing a piece of fantasy to life. Making everyone’s day a little less serious, a little more magical.
Jeff Zoet Visuals Kc Alfred Photo Soft Filter Photography Gyarmati Sandor