Cosplay is art – That statement has never been more true than looking at the designs and creations of SunsetDragon. A concept artist and designer for a small animation studio in Balitmore, MD by day, Kit spends her off hours, like most cosplayers, slaving away at the sewing machine. She is also a full time artist, a job Kit says is really fun and “I get to do a lot of interesting projects that keep my art and brain fresh!” Her skill in art and cosplay go hand-in-hand to help create some of the most amazing costumes I have ever seen! Her Blood Elf from World of Warcraft looks like she stepped right out of the game. I was able to catch up with Kit for a few moments last week to talk to her about both cosplay and the life of an artist.
How long have you been cosplaying and what draws you to the hobby?
I’ve been cosplaying for… 8 or 9 years now. My favorite aspect of it is really hard to pick, so I’m going to narrow it down into two things – how I’ve seen myself grow as a person and how many friends and connections I’ve made through it. I’ve improved my craft so much from cosplay, and I’m so proud when I look at my past work compared to my current to see how far I’ve come and how I’ve grown. I’ve also grown personally from cosplay- I’m naturally a more shy, reserved person and cosplay has really helped me be more open and less terrified to approach people. I really like how my self confidence has risen as a result.
How long have you been working as an artist? What similarities do you find between art and cosplay?
I’ve been drawing all my life, but I’ve been working for hire for 9-10 years now. It started early in high school, I’d do drawings as commissions for people, and in college I got my feet wet doing some real life freelance for card games and online games. I graduated from college in 2009 and I’ve been employed at my current studio full time since, and I still occasionally do freelance and of course I find time to grow my own personal business of SunsetDragon (t-shirts, charms, scaves, fun stuff!)
I find so many similarities between art and cosplay. For me they are pretty much interchangeable. I judge my costumes on artistic merits-like how does the composition of the costume look, the colors, the shape, etc. Draping and working from fabrics also has influenced and improved my artwork-now I know first hand how something like that would work in the real work because I’ve made it and already figured it out!
Can you share a little bit about your Blood Elf build (inspiration, design and construction, what it was like wearing it)?
The Blood Elf costume was a bit of a personal triumph for me. I’ve been looking and debating for years which WoW costume to make! I finally settled on that concept art for Tier II Paladin over two years ago, and just this year decided to finally make it when my cosplay partner in crime Dust Bunny was making her Death Knight. I had to design several parts of it myself because I prefer it to the in-game version, and this version only exists in one piece of art. The armor is all made from Worbla- a heatable thermoplastic which I fell in love with. Painting and detailing the armor was by far my favorite part (artist here, ya?). I decided I really wanted to make it look like dinged up metal-so I buffed some copper into the gold to help reflect the red parts of my outfit, and really grunged up my pristine paint job. I opted to keep my face grunge free because us blood elves really do take pride in our appearance! Wearing it was not a comfortable thing! I kind of have to waddle places, and the chains on the dress are real so they swing around and clack against my armor something fierce. I also plan to tone down the bangs on that wig a bit-they are out of hand.
What art projects are you working on right now?
Right now I’m working on several new costumes for Fanime 2013. I recently played the game Journey and I fell in love. My boyfriend finally agreed to cosplay a wanderer with me, so two full journey cloaks are in the works-as well as a remake of my Mari plugsuit, a few Madoka costumes and classical illustration inspired Cinderella dress. As far as the art side of SunsetDragon goes, I’m currently planning a kickstarter for a custom “Little Moon God” plush! Once I have the prototype he will be all over the internet, I’ve wanted to do something like this for years and i am just so excited at the prospect of getting him made for real!