Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Yaya Han's Workshop "The Evolution of Cosplay" at Hal-Con 2013
The opportunity to go and learn all about the evolution of cosplay by the queen of cosplay herself, Yaya Han at Hal-Con, was not negotiable. I was going to go. I felt like I had really gotten to know Yaya thanks to the show Heroes of Cosplay, which Shannon and I have discussed on our podcast for Hexed from the beginning.
Yaya has inspired me so much I signed up for an online sewing course and am determined to get over my fear of sewing! Shannon too has been inspired to get back to working with clothing.
Yaya is the epitome of a self-made superhero if you ask me. When she started cosplaying there was no YouTube or Google. She is completely self-taught and learned everything by trial and error. Now? She is one of the best costume designers and cosplayers in the world.
When she began cosplaying there were no digital SLR cameras. Just crappy point and shoot ones. Then the Rebel camera brought a financially feasible DSLR camera to cosplay-enthusiasts and that changed everything.
Yaya shared screenshots of old sites that were the only way cosplayers had of sharing their photos, ideas and communicating with one another. A lot of the sites do not even exist anymore!
Back then, in order to get your name and image out there you had to enter contests to get recognition for your work. Today? You just need a good photo.
She discussed how the fundamental shift for cosplay occurred when photography and social media became accessible.
She described the golden era of cosplay to have been in the mid-2000s when it was still a small community and cosplay brought a very geographically separated group of people together at conventions.
For today's cosplayers she recommended deviantART as a place for people to connect and to see art you will not see on Facebook.
When asked about her Canadian experience here at Hal-Con she said, "I am escaping the American convention scene." I was personally surprised to hear that the cosplay veterans are losing interest in the contests because it takes up all their time at conventions and winning an award these days no longer makes you stand out. Now it is all about photographs, not awards. As a result, the quality in the contests has gone down.
As a big fan of Heroes of Cosplay I was excited when she spoke of her experiences with the show, at first. Turns out that all the contestants were actually friends of hers but because she often was a judge on the show she could not talk to the contestants like she would usually do. At least when the show started. Then they figured out that this it is normal in the cosplay world, for the judges and contestants to hang out together.
The topic of "sexy girls" of cosplay did come up and she was clear that craftsmanship is number one and that many girls and women are selling amateurish prints of themselves at the conventions. She even said, "I mean, what are they (the customers) doing with those prints?" Why would a guy want a photo of them when the images is blurry, the background has a bucket in it... Have standards. High standards.
On the second day of Hal-Con she wore a Snow White costume inspired by a Korean artist's interpretation of the Disney character. She loved just how cute it was and then made it herself. She loves character and a challenge when it comes to costume-making.
I did get a chance to get my photo taken with Yaya but sadly I was near the end of the line and it was all a bit uncomfortable. I later went to buy a calendar from her and got all tongue-tied which is not like me at all! It is rare for me to meet someone who gets me all nervous and gushy. I really feel like Yaya is a superstar and has inspired me in ways I did not think possible. She it the ultimate professional and in my mind, a bit of a superwoman. Too bad I came across as a big goofball but it was worth it!