Hello Julie and Kari. Let’s start off on the latest collaboration you two worked on.
Julie: At first, I wasn’t sure about it, because I think I knew about it really, really early, like when the editing still needed to be done. So then I was handed this script really early. Then I kind of read it over, and I think Kari read it over, because he wanted the feedback because he knew we were into anime and video games and he needed somebody to bounce that off of, so then we gave our feedback. So, it just seemed like it could’ve been a really cute story at the time, like “Oh, this is kinda cute! I think this is kinda fun!” So that was the initial reaction, and then it was a really long time before I was told that they were doing auditions for it, so I was thinking “Oh, yeah! That project!”
Kari: I was really excited for the initial project, I mean it was such a unique story and just a unique concept that hasn’t really been done before. I mean, the idea has been thrown out there of what would happen type thing if this character came out, but nothing’s really been actually made into a live-action film, so I was thinking “Oh, that’s such an awesome idea! I would love to be a part of this!” and it took a while for the script to go through all the editing processes and the interviews and the casting, so it took a while to get into the actual filming.
Julie: So I guess the surprising thing or the thing that I didn’t expect was it to be in so many film festivals. I was not expecting how many film festivals it would be in after it was shown.
Kari: And how well-received it’s been, really. It’s all over the world, and we’re getting all this feedback from India, and all these places. India really loves us for some reason. Ryan’s great with the marketing and promoting.
Julie: He markets like no other. It’s like, a hundred plus festivals and conventions around the world.
Kari: It’s been shown pretty much everywhere.
Julie: Everywhere. Every continent.
Imran: Even Russia. That’s impressive. To get into Russia, it’s pretty tough, so that’s…
Kari: But we can’t get into some of the local ones.
Imran: That’s the thing!
Julie: Our own town rejects us! Oh! Oh, it hurts!
Kari: It’s just funny!
Julie: Antarctica has seen it! The penguins!
Imran: Ha ha ha, the irony of things, as they say. Let’s move on.
Imran: So, after you two worked on Game Companion, have you noticed a change in your cosplay crafting techniques?
Kari: I’ve definitely been able to work more with actually fitting other people, because before, I just worked with myself. I know my own body, I know how to fit a costume to myself without really trying it on too much, I just kind of know. This was a new experience because I had to fit it to other people, so getting some people over to my place and measuring them all, and that was kind of a unique challenge, and that was fun. I had to fit a bunch of different people, and then get their feedback on what would you like your character to be like, and then I could take their input and put my input and just work together on that. It has definitely made me appreciate what costumers go through in film, because I’m thinking, “Oh, this is easy for myself! This is fine! Oh, man… On film, there’s a lot more people to costume!” It kind of gets overwhelming, but it was fun!
Julie: “How many months? Oh, okay!”
Kari: And then the whole last-minute “By the way, we have three more characters to throw in there!”
Imran: Oh, dear God…
Kari: But it’s just the fun that happens on film and stage.
Imran: Part of it.
Kari: Yeah, part of it. It’s kind of like working last-minute before a convention, you know, you’re going all-night, “Convention’s in the morning! Convention’s in the morning!”
Imran: I do not want to experience that… What about you, Julie?
Julie: My costume experience since Game Companion? Or making costumes?
Imran: Let’s say after Game Companion.
Julie: I don’t think that my costumes have changed, per se, because we’re always evolving even since before the show.
Kari: Every costume is a unique challenge.
Julie: Yeah, there’s a different challenge, like I had never done wig-wefting before until I did this one, because his hair needed to be full, like, FULL, but I’ve never done that before, so that was a first experience since the show, but I would have done it anyway, regardless. Working with the costumes for the set and stuff, I have done that before, but with sidekicks, so that is a huge challenge. It’s a huge challenge to have twenty people to costume and to have it done within so many months, that’s…
Kari: We actually have a deadline. We have a deadline that Rick mentions, but usually, you know well ahead by about a year or something, like “Okay, this convention is on this weekend” type thing, but with film, it’s just like “Okay, once the script goes through all the processes, then we’ll get to the interviews and the casting, and then we’ll plan some shoot dates”. But it’s all those steps first, and then you find out “So, filming will be on this day, at this time, since this is what we could get for the booking.” “That’s like, a month away!”
Julie: “And how many people working to get stuff together?” It’s nice to have a crew, though, to help, because we had also Leela helping.
Kari: We had a lot of good help on our hands.
Julie: I helped where I could, and you did most of it – sorry, honey.
Kari: Well, for Game Companion, I think Leela did a lot of-
Julie: She did a lot of the thrifting.
Kari: She’s like our thrifting guru. She would just go into the thrift store and buy a whole bunch of stuff.
Julie: It helps that she lives so close. She lives within walking distance from a thrift store, so she goes over all the time.
Kari: So, anything that actually has to be made from scratch, like some of my stuff from Game Companion, I’ve glued that stuff up but then anything else that needs to be altered or taken in, I can do that. So it’s definitely a good group effort involved, which is amazing.
Julie: Yeah, I cut fabric!
Imran: It’s all in teamwork, and being organized!
Imran: Yeah, a huge sweatshop, oh God!
Imran: Now, throughout your costuming career, from 2000, what have been your favorite materials to work with?
Kari: I have the most knowledge with fabric-based costumes. It’s just recently, say a while ago, when Wonderflex was really big, I worked with that, and that was really fun. It was unique, and it was fun to play with. I think I made some Zelda armour out of it and that. But then I was getting into the craft foam and Worbla now, kind of mixing those two and seeing what I can get. I mean, I’m still new with the Worbla, but it’s definitely fun and I really do look forward to finding more costumes that I can incorporate armor and other things into, other than just fabric, clothes, and that.
Julie: Me, it’s definitely working with different fabrics. There’s certain fabrics that I don’t like, like some of that stuff that-… I forget what it’s called…
Julie: Spandex can be difficult on its own, but it’s also not so bad if you know how to shape yourself. Because I’ve made the tight Spandex stuff before, and you can always take it in, make it slightly big, try it on, and then you pin and all that stuff, and then it’s done. Even if it’s a little small, it’s okay, because it’s stretchy. It’s forgiving. But there are some materials that fray like crap, and you’re cutting it, and it’s fraying as you’re cutting it and it’s not cool.
Kari: Cheap polyester, mostly.
Julie: It’s the cheap polyester, but I don’t know if it’s Viscose or not…
Kari: Viscose is a rayon.
Julie: A rayon? Okay, maybe it’s the really cheap polyester that’s really difficult.
Kari: Viscose has a few different things at first. But yeah, the fraying fabrics are definitely horrible, because then you have to fray stuff as you go before you can actually hem it.
Julie: Before you can actually do anything? Yeah. But yes, I’m definitely enjoying Worbla as well. I’m hoping that that I’m going to end up doing the She-Ra costume. And learning to work to make more weapon props and stuff like that.
Kari: Props are fun. I love having costumes that I can have a prop with. That’s the best thing ever, because then you have something else to pose with, too, and then it just gives it more variety than just simple…
Julie: Than just standing there? Yeah…
Imran: Your announcement, the Magic Knight Rayearth that you guys were planning I think for Kawaii Con? Or was it a later con?
Kari: Magic Knight Rayearth, we’re going to have for… Revolution? No…
Julie: No, it was going to be for InCON, and then possibly for Anime Revolution, maybe.
Kari: Depending on how much room we have to bring more costumes over, we might be able to bring them with our big swords.
Julie: They are in the works, I’ve got some material for it now, so…
Kari: I’ve started working on some of my armor pieces, and it’s coming along really awesome.
Imran: My experience working with it Worbla was literally with Foxfire Ahri. I had guidance from Andrea from Forever Dreaming Cosplay, and after her guidance. I have confidence working with Worbla and doing so many things with it.
Julie: A lot of it is just trial-and-error, because I did make some armor pieces, such as a little chest thing and all the way down the leg. But now that I’ve worked with it once, I know now things that I will do differently after working with it and actually wearing it and walking around and thinking “Ohhh, this is how it feels, and this is how it’s not tight” and all that stuff. I also had arm pauldron-y things too, and then that shifts when you’re walking and it was secured, but it was also a cape-y shawl thing. So, the shawl was moving everywhere, and I was thinking “Ugh, I thought I fixed that!”
Kari: A lot of it is just trial-and-error.
Julie: Trial-and-error, really, just figuring it out. Now I’m going to try different things like putting magnets inside, so that it just stays on and goes right through the fabric so then you don’t have to poke holes or sew anything.
Imran: Or hot-glue, or super-glue…
Julie: Yeah, and it just looks really bad after.
Kari: I would like to hope that we’re past the hot-glue and the safety pins, although we’re not…
Julie: Every once in a while, you have to, though!
Kari: There’s always the one part of me that thinks “Oh, I won’t have to use it! I can sew everything!” No, you can’t sew everything down! Sometimes hot-glue is the way!
Imran: Julie, you were talking about the magnets, hot-glue and safety pins?
Julie: I would like to actually sew magnets inside an arm-strap or something that is part of the costume, and then you put a magnet on the armor piece, and then you just go “Click!” and it stays. Then, when you’re walking around, if it pops off, you can just stick it back on. That is something that I would like to try. My husband has these earth magnets that he gets, and they’re really powerful so he uses it for figures because he plays tabletop games, so some things have to come off and then go back on. I think I got the suggestion from him and also other sources, and I thought “Why am I not doing this? This is something I should be doing!” So that sometimes takes a little… You [Kari] often give amazing advice, so I’m thinking “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?”
Imran: Yeah, it’s all teamwork.
Julie: Teamwork! We do a lot of stuff together. I often go to her house, and we just do sewing sessions and stuff like that, watch a lot of anime while we’re sewing.
Kari: Of course, and then we get distracted.
Julie: Yes, we totally do!
Kari: “Oh right, we’re sewing!”
Imran: Who doesn’t get distracted? That’s the thing. But that’s cool, the magnets idea, I’ve heard it works really well. Kamui Cosplay from Germany, she does it, and for a lot of North American cosplayers working with Worbla or Wonderflex, it works wonders. I have contemplated using it for my Foxfire Ahri cosplay, but because of the magnets, I’m worried if my cellphone’s near it, and I thought “Nope! I’d better not!”
Julie: Well, you can always make a separate cellphone pocket on the inside of something where you could just tuck it on the inside, and hide it away from magnetic things, so then the chance of it going to something magnetic would be pretty slim if you’re sliding it into a hidden pocket. You’re [Kari] someone who likes making hidden pockets all the time and you’re awesome with that.
Kari: I love making hidden pockets! I hate when my cosplay doesn’t have pockets! And then you’re trying to fish them up and not actually look like you’re…
Julie: I mean, some costumes you can’t, because it’s a skirt, and it’s supposed to be tight, and you’re thinking “I can’t put a pocket in there! Unless I’m sticking a card, like, one whole card. I can’t put loose change in there…”
Imran: I know that feeling. You guys announced that you’ll be going to Kawaii Con in Honolulu, Hawaii?
Julie: That is her.
Imran: Ahh, so Kari’s heading there, what are your thoughts? What do you anticipate when you are there?
Kari: I don’t know what to anticipate! I’m super excited, and I think I’m just going to try to look for different elements because I’ve never been to Hawaii costumed, so after doing Sakura-Con and California, that kind of thing, I want to know what the environment is like in Honolulu. I’ve seen some of the pictures and they look amazing, and I’m totally stoked, but I’m not going to have my bestie with me…
Julie: I know, I know! I’m sorry…
Kari: So I have to coordinate my costumes and try to bring down the Summer-y costumes, and not bring down something that’s ten layers and end up thinking “Well, I can’t wear this!” Because even the walk from the hotel the convention centre, it’s not too bad, but if you’re covered up in costumes and wigs and everything, it’s going to be… yeah… And then I’m worried about Worbla too, because it’s heat, and heat will probably… But it will be fun, though! And I’m really excited to host panels down there, and check out the contests there, and I’ll be one of the judges for the costume contest down there as well, so that’s kind of exciting. Not “kind of”, but really exciting!
Imran: I checked out their convention centre when I was down in Honolulu, and I thought “Oh my god, it looks so nice!”
Kari: I’ve seen some of the locations for some of these photos to shoot, and I was thinking “I want to meet some photographers and I don’t know anybody who’s going there yet!” Why aren’t you [Imran] going?! Would he fit in my luggage?
Julie: You can fly the plane there, can’t you?
Kari: Yeah, totally!
Imran: Uhhh… I have the ratings… I just have to do the proper training on the right aircraft. It’s doable.
Kari: We’ll go down with you!
Julie: Yeah! Just jump on a plane. Just… get in our Gundam and fly on over.
Kari: Oh wait, you don’t have a Gundam…
Julie: Depends on when in the story! Hello!
(ha ha ha)
Imran: This is going to go into your experiences from when you guys started. From what I’m aware, you guys started in the year of 2000?
Kari: I started in 2001.
Julie: She started earlier than I did. I didn’t start until… well, 2006 was my first convention. So then, my cosplay experience would probably be more 2007? Even though I did make a costume for it, it was just a Kimono, because I did not know what to expect. I honestly thought I was going to walk into a room full of basically guys who were really into- I didn’t know! I had no idea! When I walked in, I thought “THERE’S GIRLS!” I was so happy! “It’s like, 50% girls! WOOHOO!” So I was elated, but a little bummed that I didn’t have this extravagant costume, while my husband actually made a costume, and he was Ichigo from Bleach. That was the same year where Bleach. Was. Everywhere. You know? So everybody loved him. It was just before Bleach was everywhere, so everybody still loved him.
Kari: Must’ve been hard to clean up afterwards with all that Bleach…
(ha ha ha ha)
Julie: So 2007 would be my start. It’s a little bit after hers, but it’s still a while, so that’s my beginning. The earlier costumes, I’m trying to think… Well, I did Winry. That one was really good.
Imran: Full Metal Alchemist?
Julie: Yeah. It was really easy to make. Black tube-top and coveralls. I did wear that in 2006. That one was Winry. But I just made the tube, and Matthew had coveralls. “Alright, Done!” I’m trying to think of some of the other ones… We knew each other a little later.
Kari: We met at this first convention. Well, not at this first convention but…
Julie: It was the last year that Kei-Kon was Kei-Kon… No, that’s when I saw you! When Tsukino-Con was first… The first Tsukino-Con!
Kari: But you saw me at this first convention, but you wouldn’t talk to me!
Julie: Well, I knew of you, I just didn’t know you. So then I guess our first costumes together were from Rune Soldier, our first go.
Kari: And then we entered the contest. First off, we thought “You know what? Since we’re friends now, we might as well enter the contest together!”
Julie: “Do you wanna do this? Yes I do!” I think we became best friends that way! We barely knew each other!
Kari: We didn’t kill each other for the entire practicing, so that automatically made us best friends. We survived each other practicing…
Julie: Doing all the crazy stuff!
Kari: I started in 2001, and my first costume was Cardcaptor Sakura. It was made by my grandmother mostly, because I didn’t know how to sew very well, and it didn’t really resemble her, but it looked close enough that when I went to my very first convention, it was still recognized! My dad made me a little staff thing with wood and some tubing, it looked really cool! I loved it, it was so much fun! And I met so many people that way. But looking back at the photos, I thought… “That… that never happened…”
Imran: I know how you feel. There are two cosplays that, when I look back on them, I think “Oh wow… why did I do this?”
Imran: Now, throughout your times when you started cosplaying, have you noticed any changes in the community from then up to now?
Kari: Huge changes.
Julie: I would say so, yeah. More acceptance for people wearing costumes. Well, the community has definitely grown. I know that this convention has grown a lot since when I first came, but I think that even other people who don’t cosplay are starting to accept it more. There are still going to be those, “I don’t know what this is, guys, you guys are weird” kind of people, but most people are just accepting of it. I can tell other adults that yes, I dress up, I go to panels, I do modeling photoshoots, and us being published in the book, so then everybody is thinking “Oh, cool! It sounds fun!”. I don’t know if they’re just being nice, but I think it’s a bit more accepted now than it was before.
Kari: When I first got into costuming, when I first approached my parents, I said “I want to do this! I want to go to a convention, and I want to dress up!” And their reaction was “Dressing up? That’s not Halloween, it’s for children. Children can dress up. They can get away with it, but you’re a teenager now. You shouldn’t be doing this.” “But… but I want to!” And then finally, they decided “Okay fine, go do it. Whatever. It’s a phase, they’ll get out of it soon enough. Let her go embarrass herself. Whatever.” But best time of my life doing that, and I never went back!
(Ha ha ha)
Kari: There’s that, and then you tell other people, and their reaction is “That’s… that’s really weird… Why would you- so you’re like a Trekkie?” No, not a Trekkie…
Julie: Another thing that I’ve noticed is that it’s gone from closet cosplay. Where you’re just putting stuff that we’re wearing right now, where it’s just your jeans, or black pants, stuff you’ve just had in your closet. It’s gone from that to spectacular. There’s big wings and props and things that glow, and you’re practically thinking that they can jump off the roof and fly away! Glowy things and electronics, and it suddenly exploded into incredible costumes that looked like they came out of a movie.
Kari: It definitely went from whatever you could find lying around your house that happened to look like it to just making everything from scratch and just making it accurate, and they just bring it! All I could think of was ,“Wow!”
Julie: Trying to keep up with that!
Imran: That’s the other thing I’ve noticed . Their progression of how people are doing more advanced techniques, it’s insane.
Julie: It’s insane. Absolutely insane. But even then, even though I know that my particular skills are not going to match theirs. I don’t care. I still want to do it because I like it and I’m having fun doing this. Even just putting on clothes that we have out of a closet, it’s putting it together, buying a wig, it’s because we enjoyed the Anime, we enjoyed the characters, that’s doing it for the fun, really. It’s all about doing it for the fun. Completely 100%. So I don’t care if my skills don’t match so-and-so like, big-big name, then that’s okay, because I’m doing it just for fun. Yes, I think my skills are changing and evolving, and I’m growing, and I’m learning new things, and I’m making things better, and I know how to hide seams and things like that, and I’ve learned over time. Just do it. We’re not shy about having tea, out wearing costumes, and just because.
Kari: In the middle of the year, no conventions around, wanna do a photoshoot? Just outside? Or wanna go for tea or something in costume? Yeah, okay, let’s do it! And then people’s reactions are “Oh, you look so cute! Aren’t you all fancy! I wish I could’ve done that in my younger days!” And you’re thinking “Yeah, it’s awesome! You could totally do it now! You don’t have to be our age, just do it!”
Imran: And have fun with it!
Julie: Just have fun!
Kari: I mean, some people have the money to put into their costumes, which is fantastic if you have the money, which I don’t.
Imran: Most of us don’t.
Julie: We do everything as cheaply as possible! Every once in a while, there’s a little bit of that splurge, because it’s just perfect.
Kari: Like, a dream costume that you can actually put hundreds of dollars into, but most of our costumes don’t really cost all that much in comparison, since you can wait until the good sale days, and you can get all the fabric and everything to make it, but it’s a labour of love.
Imran: Any closing words that you want to say?
Julie: For people getting into it or are just into it, just keep doing it, just have fun, really. All I can really say is just have fun. Get some friends together, and create your own little thing. Have a picnic. We had even done that picnic thing where we just said “Hey, people in our area! We’re having a picnic at this time! Join us!”
Kari: Find an excuse! Make an excuse! If there are no conventions at that time, but you’re really going through some withdrawals, make an excuse! Make a reason! It’s my birthday! I wanna go dress up! Drag your friends out and make them dress up too!
Julie: That’s what we do!
Kari: Cosplay is for everyone. No exceptions.
Julie: It’s for everyone if you want to do it. If you don’t, you don’t.
Kari: Thank you so much!
Julie: Thank you!
Imran: Thank you so much for doing this interview with us at Cosplay Victoria and coming down to Tsukino-Con!
Interview transcribed by Adrian Simeoni
Photography by D.I.S/C Photography