Ejen, AKA Cosplay in America
I had the chance to ask Cosplay in America, AKA Ejen, a few questions about his previous book, new kickstarter, and cosplay in general!
If you don’t know already, Cosplay in America is a collection of photographs of cosplay as it existed in America during 2009. Now, Ejen is Kickstarting his new book, which will expand to follow around specific cosplayers and their experiences with the hobby.
I personally backed this Kickstarter since I think it’s so important to document all kinds of cosplayers. Plus, now I’ll get my own copy of the new book — I missed out the first time around! I also have had the pleasure of meeting Ejen, most recently at SDCC. I absolutely love discussing cosplay, the community, and issues facing cosplayers with others, and these encounters in person have given me complete faith in Ejen’s project.
1. How did you get started with cosplay photography?
The first con I attended with my camera was Anime Expo 2008. I bought my lights and all – just like the first book. I knew about cosplay beforehand but I wanted to do more of a “studio-look” to it so I bought my backdrop and lights and shot away. Originally I was going to do it for a few hours….instead I spent 3 days on it.
2. How do you personally define cosplay?
Cosplay is simply the act of dressing up as your favorite character from whatever media source you want : comics, anime, books, TV, movies, video games. Cosplay can be bought, commissioned or handmade. At the end of the day, it is costume play so remember to have fun !
3. Tell us a little bit about your first book.
I made the first book on a bunch of credit cards. I spent roughly $30,000 to have shoot the book, edit it, have it printed in China and shipped back to the United States. The book composed of photographs I took at 6 anime conventions across the US in 2009. It pretty much gives you an idea of who you will see at conventions – a broad scope of different types of people. The book wasn’t supposed to showcase the best or most attractive – though there are some really good cosplays and attractive folks in the book.
4. How is your new Kickstarter (or Punchstarter!) book different from the
original Cosplay in America?
This one expands on the first book. Yes, you will see portraits from 20 cons around the country (I already shot a lot of cons and I got 12 cities left to go) but what you will also see is the behind the scenes – things you would probably never see if you weren’t a cosplayer or friends with a cosplayer. My hope is that with the second book, folks who may only be somewhat aware of cosplay will get a deeper understanding of the culture through portraits, behind the scenes, essays and interviews.
5. How has the cosplay scene changed since your first book?
Social Media has really drawn people together. Nowadays it is not uncommon for folks to have friends from around the country and perhaps pick a convention where they can all meet up. It is easier than ever to cosplay with a wealth of information at your fingertips. Google is your friend !
6. How can people help support your project, aside from funding your
Simply tell their friends about it. The more people who are aware of it, the more hopefully people will understand what I’m attempting to do and support me
7. Do you have any specific memories from your convention experiences that
The time I flew to SakuraCon wearing two different pairs of shoes ? The time I lost one of my contacts at Anime Weekend Atlanta and was blinded in one eye for a day. The laughs I had at Otakon in artist alley chatting with my neighbors. The weird feeling of being on stage and introduced as a guest at Otakuthon in Montreal. The fangirling Mexican cosplayer who didn’t speak a lick of English but gushed in Spanish how she was surprised I was in her country. The time when I was listening to a conversation between two cosplayers about techniques and realized that what they were saying was beyond my understanding.
If you want to support Ejen and Cosplay in America, you can back the Kickstarter, share it on social media, or check out Cosplay in America on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.