A Continued Inspiration – Yaya Han
Yaya began her costuming career 14 years ago. Captured by the prospect of being able to become one of her favourite characters and consistently challenged by the amount of varying abilities needed to create costumes, Yaya found herself buried in tutorials and fabric. Constantly asked for commissions, she eventually started a company with two other craftsmen named ‘DayDream-Artisans’. Finding she enjoyed the imagination and creativity of crafting accessories, the business headed in that direction. (If you were lucky enough to attend LSCC, Yaya’s cat ears which were exquisitely made and served as a good example of Yaya’s intrinsic love for accessories.)
Guest appearing since 2001 at conventions around the country with a heavy emphasis on the craftsmanship element of Cosplay, we found ourselves (on our launch-day, in fact) face-to-face with the self proclaimed ‘Cosplay ambassador’. Our dream to interview Yaya was, to our amazement, granted as Yaya kindly put some time aside for us, and I began, simply armed with a notebook and pen, no flashy cameras or equipment.
Attending her panel previously, Yaya spoke about her first convention and costume that she presented at Anime Expo. Freely admitting it was the first step towards continual practice of the art form, she encouraged new Cosplayers to try costuming – by purchasing a costume if need be.
Yaya spoke passionately on the transformative process of Cosplay – How do you feel? Girly? Powerful? – All of these attributes can be expressed in different characters. Yaya also enjoys the transformation costuming can bring to the body; speaking about the elements she used to create the ‘Jessica Rabbit’ costume – bombshell bras, boned corsets and butt pieces. Cosplay engulfs Yaya both physically and emotionally, even professing that Yaya keeps all her costumes like they are her children.
I was perplexed why someone with so much passion and knowledge was prepared to sit down with someone armed with nothing more than a green pen and notebook.
I pressed on with my questions, knowing I was against the clock as Yaya had an enormously busy day.
Yaya told me that Cosplay had given her a clear direction; she enjoyed the creative, hands-on element with it and the fact there was always something new to learn. We had a lengthy discussion about the types of communities within the Cosplay scene and turning Cosplay into a career path.
“You have to have a goal,” says Yaya. “You have to create a product and offer it outwards. Knowledge, costumes for others, merchandise, books; it must be aside from the perks of attending ‘con’s for free.”
Setting yourself goals with realistic ways of gaining an income is fantastic advice. Yaya went on to mention having other avenues to go down just in case. From this, Yaya spoke about the types of Cosplayers: –
“Long time veterans” – Those that are skilled, have been on the scene for a while and Cosplay purely as a hobby.
“Casual Cosplayers” – Those that purchase their costumes.
And then the “new Cosplayers” that focus on promoting themselves as a commodity.
Each carry different philosophies and act as a sub-community within the community of Cosplay. Originally, my question was asked with focus only on the American Cosplay scene but, as both the UK and American scene matched closely, Yaya went on to talk about how young our UK scene was in comparison.
It was a nice relief to hear that our scene mirrors the US, just to a lesser extent.
I thanked Yaya for her time and she asked me what the interview was going to be for, to which I explained why we wrote. It was very odd having the person you had just interviewed take such keen interest – to the point where they ask you for your card in return.
I cast my mind back to Yaya’s panel the day previous; she shared her love of George R.R. Martin – the author of ‘Game of Thrones’. She had the opportunity to, as she described, ‘meet her hero’. Just as Yaya had been inspired by, and carried great admiration for, this writer, Yaya herself was very aware of being an inspiration to others, and this article that carries Yaya’s words also aims to achieve the same thing.
Each Cosplayer must start at the beginning and be inspired. They must bury themselves within tutorials and fabric. Once that inspiration from others has sown the seeds of your passion, as you progress you will find that you are then producing work and inspiring others. It is a circle that has been met by Yaya with full understanding, and a very humble and sincere nature.
Yaya leaves us with this quote – which I hope will make you (whatever your Cosplay ability or sub group) continue to follow your dream, just as Yaya has: –
Cosplay is: – “Unlimited creativity, a way to challenge yourself to learn new skills and a sincere way to express something as a fan.”
Yaya Han (and photography) – http://yayahan.com/
Nick Accot and Geeks are Sexy (Photography) – http://www.geeksaresexy.net/
Resources: – (Listed by Yaya From her Panel)