Cosplay Spotlight: Malinda Chan
Welcome back to Cosplay Spotlight! For the twentieth edition we present to you Malinda Chan! As usual, our promise is to bring you some of the amazing work these cosplayers do, but also we will be focusing on the why’s and the how’s!
Armed with a can of hairspray as her weapon of choice, Malindachan is all about her wigs. She taught herself to style wigs so she could cosplay her favorite overly-spikey-haired YU-GI-OH! characters, and eventually this led to her habit of selecting characters based on who’s hair looked the most ridiculous. As a gamer Malinda loves to play RPGs, her favorites being Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, Zelda, and the Tales series. Other favorite things include One Piece, animated films, magical girls, sweets, nostalgic things, and owls.
Encouraged to pursue her artistic talents, she earned a Bachelor’s in Art with a concentration in 3D Computer Animation. She feels she can best exercise her range of abilities through cosplay. She learned to sew at a young age, and other than her Jigglypuff costume attempt at age 11, she started making her own costumes in 2004 and actively cosplaying in 2007.
Comic Book Therapy – Thank you for taking the time out to speak to us. How have you been doing lately?
Malinda Chan – I’ve been doing pretty good! I got a full-time position working for Arda Wigs several months ago, and it’s a lot of fun. I’m living pretty comfortably, and I get to do stuff I love within my job.
CBT – What got you into doing cosplay?
MC – In High School, our Anime club encouraged dressing up in either cosplay or Japanese styled clothing for special club events. I already enjoyed dressing up, sewing, and crafting, so it was really easy to get into cosplay. Though, I didn’t get super active with it until I went to my first convention in 2007, and then I was hooked.
CBT – What is your process in choosing the characters you want to portray?
MC – I have to like the character enough to want to invest my time and money into making the costume. Sometimes I get extra motivation if it’s for a group my friends are doing, or if I’m really attracted to the character’s design, but the costumes I am most passionate about constructing are for characters that have a strong personality, good values, or something that I can relate to.
CBT – What was the first character you cosplayed as? Your favorite?
MC -I cosplayed Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist when I was in High School. My favorite characters at this point though have been Yusei Fudo from YU-GI-OH! 5D’s and Link from The Legend of Zelda games.
CBT – How long have you been making your costumes by hand?
MC – Since I started. Sometimes I modified store-bought items (and still do) if it saved time and money, but even with my Ed cosplay, I made the read coat myself. It was crude compared to what I’m capable of now, but we all gotta start somewhere!
CBT – Creating costumes is very time consuming, especially when you want to make sure it’s authentic as possible. What keeps you motivated to continue and how do you handle the stress?
MC – Listening to music or a show in the background helps, as well as sharing progress photos with friends as I go. I also switch around with different parts of the costume so I’m not doing the same sort of thing for too long. So I might sew one part, work on the wig, do some more sewing, work on a prop, back to sewing, etc. Time management does wonders as well. I try starting on things as early as possible, and when it comes down to the last two weeks before the con, I make a list of what goals I need to accomplish each day, with higher priorities first on the schedule.
CBT – Have you participated in any contests?
MC – I have, though I don’t do them as much anymore. I’ve learned that a lot of my convention stress is caused by contests because it takes a huge chunk out of my schedule that I could be spending with friends, and now that I’m living further away from a lot of my cosplay friends, any time I can spend with them at cons is very precious. I also always got super stressed when it came to craftsmanship perfection, and while I still strive to make my costumes look as good as they can be, I feel less stressed about it when I’m just doing it for myself rather than for a panel of judges.
CBT – What is your best Con memory?
MC – It’s hard to say, since I have many of them. I feel like every convention location I’ve been to has some good memories with it. Katsucon 2012 is a more recent one that really stands out to me because it was a very unique experience. I was always told that it was a beautiful venue and saw tons of amazing photos from it, so my expectations were really high (which usually means that I won’t be as surprised when I see the real thing), but I was still jumping up and down in excitement when I first walked through the atrium. A-kon 2007 was really awesome too because it was my first convention experience, and I met a ton of cosplay friends there that I am still friends with today. It’s where it all began for me!
CBT – How would you describe yourself as a geek?
MC – Even outside of cosplaying, I love playing video games and watching Anime, as well as things like sci-fi or fantasy films and shows. I like a wide range of stories between shoujo and shounen manga, and I especially love RPGs.
CBT – There’s been a lot of turmoil because of the “sexual” component that is being discussed amongst convention organizers that sees many cosplayers getting asked to put some more clothes or turned away because their costumes are to “risque”. How do you feel about the apparent censorship of these costumes?
MC – It really depends, since I believe there is a time and a place for everything. Conventions are trying to aim to be family friendly, whether it be for the really young kids that are accompanying the fan parents, or the teenagers that are required to have a chaperone parent or guardian. If you’ve got a person wearing a costume that would be considered inappropriate or trashy in a normal public place, then that can create a bad image for both the convention and the area of interest. I grew up in a pretty conservative household, and I know that if my parents went with me to a convention and saw those cosplayers, they’d probably freak out. And if I was still a teenager, they might have forbid me from going to conventions ever again, and might even ban me from owning or watching any more Anime. I’m going to use Yoko from Gurren Lagann as an example here. As long as a Yoko cosplayer is wearing the bikini like swimwear is meant to be worn (aka, no “underboob”), nipples aren’t obvious, and their butt cheeks aren’t hanging out of their shorts, then it’d be fine to walk around in public areas of the con. I think it’s best to limit the more risque stuff to private photoshoots and later times in the evening when under-aged kids aren’t going to be out and about. My husband once cosplayed Kamina at a con, and after our private photoshoot the hotel made him go up to our room to get a shirt to cover his torso. Sure, it might be frustrating that you can’t be “accurate” while you’re walking around the con, but at the end of the day it’s not like other people cosplaying Kamina at the same con get to be accurate either because they are required to do the same thing. Just means you might get to be a little more creative with your costume so that it is appropriate; like making a special themed jacket or PJ pants.
CBT – Many Cosplayers are either into Comic Books or Manga/Anime. What are you most into? Favorite Comic or Manga/Anime?
MC – I’m mostly into manga/Anime. As girly and dramatic as it is, I’ve got a special place in my heart for Fushigi Yugi because it was the very first Manga I started to collect and get hooked on. And while the first series has been completed, there is a prequel (the Genbu Kaiden) that has been ongoing that I still keep up with, and I really enjoy it. :3
CBT – Any advice you would like to offer up and coming cosplayers?
MC – Never underestimate what you’re capable of. Experiment with new materials and techniques, and you might surprise yourself. I was intimidated and didn’t know what I was doing when I tried wig styling, and next thing I knew, wigs became the highlight of my costuming work. Also, never limit yourself to characters people tell you to do, or base what you cosplay on who you look like; you have every right to cosplay any character you want regardless of race, gender, or body type. There can be some mean people on the internet that might put you down, even if your costume is spot-on accurate, but don’t let that hold you back. As long as you are happy with what you accomplish, that is the most important and satisfying thing.
CBT – Thank you so much for your time. Anything else you’d like for us to be on the look out for?
MC – While I’m not as active online as I used to be, I’m still pumping out several new costumes and trying to catch up on some of my social networking places when I can. New photos will be uploaded to Deviantart, Facebook, and Tumblr, and I’m going to try harder this year to do v-logs again for my Youtube. I’ve been doing lots of wig tutorials through my work, and you can watch them for free on the Arda Wigs Youtube channel.
Make sure you hit like on Malinda Chan’s fan page to check out some of her other awesome photos and keep up to date with her adventures.
Wig tutorial videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/ardawigs
Hey cosplay and fellow geeks!! As the continuing interest in the cosplay world grows, we want to reach out to the cosplay community and highlight those who dedicate their time and effort to a passion for cosplay. Tell us YOUR story! If you know someone that you would like to be featured in this section let us know!
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