Welcome to another edition of ‘Cosplay Spotlight’ – a new feature here at Nerd Nation, where each month we’ll be spotlighting a new cosplay artist in a showcase of both their talent on display in selected photos, as well as the personality behind the talent in an exclusive interview. For this latest edition, we have selected Kona Kyoto of Kona Cosplay.
Kona is a professional costume artist, cosplayer, model, and performer from Charlotte, North Carolina who has recently been taking the nerd community by storm with her immense creativity, warm, friendly personality, and stunning good looks, most recently taking home some cosplay awards at DragonCon 2016 in Atlanta, GA! We had a chance to catch up with Kona recently, and talk to her about her life as a cosplayer.
Here’s what she had to say!!
Nerd Nation: To begin with, how and when did you first get into cosplaying?
Kona Kyoto: “I was introduced to ‘cosplay’ around 2009. I was attending school for Photography and heavily into special effects makeup at that particular time & attended my first convention (DragonCon in Atlanta, GA). As soon as I got there, I was blown away by the amazing costumes I was seeing as well as the fantastic prosthetics/makeup styles. So right then & there I put two and two together and decided that I can do this and decided to make my own costumes! So it just kind of took off from there.”
NN: Do you make all of your own costumes yourself?
KK: “Yes. Everything I’ve made, so far, has been made by myself. When I first started I would use a piece of clothing as my base and build around it. After teaching myself how to make patterns & sew I then didn’t need to use something as my ‘startoff piece.’ However, I am not opposed to wearing borrowed or commissioned pieces by other artists!”
NN: What are some of your biggest influences on your cosplays?
KK: “I am heavily influenced by video game characters, anime, & fantasy/sci-fi characters. I’ve fallen in love with heavy use of detail and I seem to find it most in these genres. When I see a character with huge armor or a beautiful dress my eyes literally turn into two hearts and ideas start running through my head like a film strip!”
NN: Of all the cosplays you’ve done, what would you say was your favorite one? Why?
KK: “Am I allowed to say two? I’m gonna say two! Okay so costume numero uno, Blood Elf Priest from World of Warcraft (equipped with The Golden Staff of the Sin’dorei). This costume helped show me what I CAN make and where determination can get me. I used no image reference on the costume (except for the staff & general style of Blood elves I recalled from previous gameplay) & wanted to use so much detail. I remember making it and thinking of Victorian era clothing blended with the iconic armor style that world of Warcraft characters have. I also wanted to add a lot of sex appeal without pushing it to far over the edge. Of course, my second favorite costume is my zombie nurse costume. This costume started it all and I can never forget my “roots” so to speak. It allowed me to show my skill as both a costume and makeup artist and influenced me to step outside the box.”
NN: How much have conventions and con culture done for your cosplaying? How have they impacted it?
KK: “Conventions/con culture have helped me with meeting other like-minded people who like to dress up like all these characters and not feel weird about it! I would like to be a positive influence in the cosplay community and I get so stoked when someone walks up to me and says “Oh my gosh, I met you at *insert whatever convention* and you were so nice to me!” It’s like, the best feeling in the whole world! The response I get from meeting so many amazing people at conventions is the reason I keep going back to them. I also love giving cosplay advice to anyone who asks. So much so that I started creating YouTube videos on how to work with certain materials and my personal experience with them. I hope to one day be a cosplay guest at conventions and host cosplay construction panels for those who need help with making the costume of their dreams. The convention community is awesome!”
NN: On the subject of conventions, what are some of your personal favorite conventions? Why?
KK: “I am a HUGE supporter of homegrown/hometown conventions. But to name a few…… So first, HeroesCon (Charlotte, NC) & SC Comicon (Greenville, SC). I enjoy the fact that they are heavily comic based so I can get my hands on a good comic or graphic novel. I also enjoy my time at larger conventions like MomoCon & Dragon Con (both in Atlanta, GA). I enjoy the fact that there’s always something going on all the time and I seem to make literally TONS of friends there. Ichibancon (Charlotte, NC) because it’s the best con to finish / start the old / new year (it falls on New Year’s Eve & Day) & the community there is awesome. Finally, a wild card & going back to my love of horror, Mad Monster Party in Charlotte, NC. I get to meet my favorite horror idols!”
NN: What’s your dream cosplay? Like, of all the cosplays you could do, but for whatever reason just can’t right now, which one would be your “white whale” so to speak?
KK: “EMPEROR OF MANKIND FROM WARHAMMER 40K. POINT PERIOD. BLANK. Since my skill set isn’t quite there yet, I am actually currently obsessed with League of Legends & have a lot of costumes in mind to make from that video game. I am also inspired to make more armored based costumes so you can expect a whole lot of armor builds from me!”
NN: Any new projects currently in the works that you’d care to share with us?
KK: “Miss Fortune’s Arcade skin from League of Legends (because I’ve always wanted to cosplay it), armored Vaporeon, Ashe’s Heartseeker skin from League of Legends…..just to name a few!”
NN: Finally, what advice would you give to someone new to the cosplay world?
KK:“Take your time and have fun! And always remember that you’re awesome. Also, never say negative things about your costumes. I hate it when people say bad things about their cosplay or compare themselves to others. Cut that out! Everyone is just as good and we are all equally striving to become better. Did I mention to always remember that you are awesome? Be proud of your work and wear it like you’re the bomb dot com! You do you boo-boo! You go Glenn Coco!”
We would like to thank Kona for taking the time out of her busy schedule to sit down with us and be a part of this feature. For more on Kona Cosplay, including photos, con appareances, and more, please check out her official website at www.konacosplay.com and follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cosplaykona!
Editor/Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine
(all photos courtesy of Kona Cosplay and are copyright their respective owners)