“(Costuming) is like a drug addiction” Ana Aesthetic said. I guess that makes her a pusher.
Atlanta recently hosted MomoCon, one of the largest free anime conventions in the world. In its seventh year, MomoCon has exceeded early expectations and boasts attendance figures into the thousands. Like most anime conventions, a large number of MomoCon’s attendees were involved in costuming or “cosplaying.” Trying to find out more about costuming, this writer attended a panel hosted by cosplaying expert Ana Aesthetic.
First off, Ana knows her stuff. She’s been sewing her own costumes since 2000, when she created a costume for the Final Fantasy 9 character, Dagger. She studied Fashion Design and Marketing at the International Academy of Design and Technology. Along with her academic study, she pursued independent study, and she is one of the costuming experts at Penny Dreadful Productions.
I have just started working in the realm of serious costuming, and I attended with my friend who is also looking to up her game, so to speak. We have known Ana for some time and have turned to her for specific questions about costuming, but never attended one of her lectures before. While I had long respected her skills, her presentation make the world of cosplay more accessible than I had anticipated.
Ana mentioned that she was on call during MomoCon, as she is a TV news producer. In a room full of anime fans, there was a sad hush when she mentioned how her weekend had been affected by recent events in Japan. After a momentary pause, Ana Aesthetic began to educate the uninitiated and to initiate the uneducated on the basics of cosplay.
She excused herself as not a strong teacher and asked for forgiveness. What happened next lead me to question her modesty. I fear if she said “I will play with you, but understand I am not much of a poker player,” I would end the evening homeless. She put on a well structured class balanced between lecture and open discussion and provided information that would take the most mundane of dressers and give them the tools to create an audacious costume.
“Cosplay really isn’t serious business. It’s more like a drug addiction, because it’s where all my hard earned cash goes to.” She said at one point, “So I guess, for fabric shops, it’s a very serious business.”
What lessons did students learn?
- Always use the best materials you can afford. She rattled off names of exotic and standard fabrics: sateen cotton, textured vinyls, cotton lycra (better than rachel spandex).
- Great armor comes from floor mats! Mod Podge (the decoupage glue) is an excellent sealer!
- Know the best websites: Fabric.com, SpandexHouse.com, spandexworld.com, discountfabrics.com, MJtrends.com, and many more.
- Sign up for coupons at standard fabric websites like JoAnn’s
- Keep learning and pushing your technique.
- Want to paint leather? Angelis leather paints will do the trick.
- Needle makes a difference! Using leather or faux leather? Use a leather needle.
- Want interesting patterns? Folkware.com
- Move your costumes up to the next level by using Sintra, press PVC.
What did the attendees think? One of them told me this about Ana, “She is very knowledgeable about all things cosplay. She had great tips for where to buy fabric, wigs, and other items inexpensively.” Another loved that the panel “quickly moved beyond introductory information to detailed discussions of sewing techniques for different fabrics and the importance of using the right tools for the job, such as a specialized foot for the sewing machine.”
Ana handled questions from the audience ranging from how to create specific characters to how to make boots for size 17 feet. One sure sign of her depth of understanding was how readily she addressed anime characters, gaming characters, and traditional superheroes.
I will personally be incorporating many of Ana’s ideas into my own cosplay in the future. And surely, MomoCon 2012 is already on my schedule.
Find out more about Ana Aesthetic at
For more about MomoCon:
This is the first of three articles about MomoCon.