Bulgaria’s Fantastic Four Comes To Chibicon

Dear friends, as Chibicon is just around the corner, I’m bringing you a wonderful surprise! Allow me to introduce you to our four lovely guests from Bulgaria – Sylvia Aleksandrova, Todor Kostov, Veni Zdravkova and Alex Zin! Along with their extraordinary cosplay styles, they’re bringing along an interesting story on how they started, what motivates them in cosplay, and why is doing a group cosplay much better than doing one by yourself.
Enjoy!

Before we start talking about just cosplay things, I’m sure that you, dear readers, would like to get to know our guests better:

S: Hello, I am Sylvia and I am 27 years old. I have been interested in cosplay for more than 10 years now. I like travelling and attending various events related to anime, manga, cosplay and gaming. I enjoy mainly things related to fantasy/sci-fi/mecha/post apocalyptic and sometimes slices of everyday life. This is why some of my favorite anime series are Natsume Yuujinchou, Seirei no Moribito, Casshern Sins, Stein’s Gate, Bounen no Xamdou, Psycho Pass, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Suisei no Gargantia, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Rebuild of Evangelion movie series, RaXephon (which personally for me is one of the most beautiful mecha of all time), Shangri La (because of the incredible character design made by Range Murata), Shinsekai Yori, Hellsing Ultimate, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, Kotonoha no Niwa and etc. Also I am a big fan of studio Ghibli’s good classics like Howl’s moving castle and some of their newer things like The Wind Rises and From Up on Poppy Hill. Regarding manga, some of the titles that have seriously grabbed my attention over the years are Naruto, Bleach, Claymore, Shingeki no Kyojin, Magi, Adekan, Fruits Basket and two emblematic manhwa series – Demon diary and Noblesse . Among my favorite books are Harry Potter, The wheel of time, Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. Recently I am a lot into Marvel’s universe and planning some related costumes. However, outside of the geek frame, I am an ecologist and I occupy myself with related administrative work. Most of my daily schedule is dedicated to that work and this is the reason why for the moment for me cosplay is a hobby for fun and a wonderful free time activity, through which I can have these mini daily breaks. I have never looked at cosplay from competitive point of view or even had the need to make a facebook page.

T: Okay so here’s a little something about me – My name is Todor, but most people call me Toh. I am a hard core anime fam, gamer, cosplayer (obviously) and a geek and a nerd in the utmost hardcore meaning of these words. I absolutely adore everything artsy or crafty, I get fascinated sometimes by very small things or details instead of the big grand masterpieces. Sometimes there is much more value in a sketch than the finished art for me. Other than that – I try to defy the commonly accepted stereotyped „it-has-to-be-like-this“ world and I do my best to spread my color bubble of a world that I live in. Happiness for all!

V: Hello, my name is Veni and I’ve just recently turned 18 years old. I’ve been in the cosplay scene for almost 4 years now, but I actually started cosplaying 3 years ago. Ever since I started cosplaying, crossplay has become my main passion, because it allows me to be something completely opposite from what I am mentally and physically. It also allows me to get creative with makeup, which is my other big passion. Among my favorite series/anime/video games are Game of Thrones, Sherlock, Fate, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Shingeki no Kyojin, Assassin’s Creed, DC and Marvel Universe, etc. People know me for my love for drag queens and kings, and my parents can confirm that I wear a drag beard on a daily basis at home. Bearded male characters are my trademark. A proof for that is the fact that I’ve even cosplayed singer Adam Lambert. Besides cosplay and drag I love learning new languages and traveling around Europe. It is my dream to visit as many countries in the world as possible.

A: I am Alex Zin, in my daily disguise I am on my graduation’s year of film & media studies in Sofia, and I write for online outlets for film, culture, lifestyle and technology. As any respectable geek, I obsess around anime, western cartoons, as well as films and novels. Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Black Butler and the universe of DC are just a few of the names that have ruined my social life throughout the years. I also play computer games far more than the doctors recommend, but I don’t smoke, which is a good thing, I guess.

 

Everyone’s cosplay story begins differently, and our new friends are no exception either. Let’s hear a little something about their journey into cosplay:

S: Well, to be honest, it all started in the distant 2005/2006, with the standard viewing and admiring of other fans on the web with the thought ‘’These people are cool!’’. Only a bit later on, I was on one of the first anime events in Bulgaria, where some of the guests had prepared themselves with costumes of different characters, and that was the moment when the thought of making a costume and wearing one began to occur to me. As we all know, doing the first step is much or less hard – it personally took me a few years of wonder until I decided to do something. I also received a great motivation from a close personal friend – Todor Kostov (Toh).

A: In 2009 I went to the biggest Con in Bulgaria – Aniventure. At that point it was not as spectacular as it is now, and the cosplay wasn’t as flashy as now. I was completely terrified of some of them, particularly a guy dressed up as a satyr, with his extremely hairy legs out in the open. It took me 3 years to overcome this mental scar in my head, and finally, in 2012 I did my first cosplay. The reason behind it is that I wanted to go to the Con without paying a ticket. So, I made a costume that costs 100 levs, in order to not pay a 20 lev ticket. I was never fond of maths.

T: I remember my first event – I didn’t have any friends and I didn’t know anyone there and it was so scary! Two hours later I realized I was home! I was amongst my people and it made me feel so happy, so delighted that there are other crazy people like me. To top that extraordinary emotion on the second day of the event the cosplay happened. I was absolutely stunned and amazed by this idea! This single event had created the spark that would light the fire within me that would burn my endless craving for cosplay! (extra points for whoever got the Star Wars reference).

V: Since I was I child I have enjoyed movie franchises like Pirates of the Carribbean, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, and I used to make Halloween costumes every year, until one day I had discovered what cosplay was, and I did my first not so childish costume- Frodo Baggins. In 2014 a friend of mine told me about a big anime event in Bulgaria that would be the perfect place for me to go and meet fellow geeks. I became a con goer for the next year, until finally getting submerged into the cosplay scene, and since then, I haven’t stopped. I accomplished my dearest childish dreams – to become different characters from my favorite movies, which felt amazing. I met a lot of friends that helped me through and showed me that cosplay is in fact an art, and that there’s no better feeling than being able to escape from reality and dedicating your time to making a costume that will represent you in an unusual way.

To group cosplay or not to group cosplay – that is the question.

S: To answer this question I first need to say that I enjoy cosplaying in group more then cosplaying alone. I did one of my first cosplay projects, which was Code Geass, together with Todor, and I enjoyed it a lot more. After that there was another one and another and etc. It is important to point out that the mutual cosplay ideas with different friends are born in a different way. The first group cosplay that I mentioned came very naturally for both me and Toh, because at that time we were pretty much into the same fandoms, and we were liking almost the same things. After that with time, we developed the custom of discussing the cosplay ideas carefully, whether they are suitable for us, and we really go into depth and study the characters, the possible ways we can do the costumes, which way will be better, what kind of textiles and crafting materials are most fitting to use and many other topics. I think that me and Alex decided we wanted to work together on costumes back in the autumn of 2014. We did our first cosplay in 2015 on East European Comic Con. All I can say is that with Alex all the great ideas are born in the moment and from sporadic decisions, jokes or challenges that we seem to like throwing at each other. And the best part, which I love the most, is when we are both up for the challenge. And last but not least, with Veni.  We have both decided on working together only recently, after discovering how big of fans of certain things we are. Not long ago we started talking a lot about making a photoshoot together with our costumes from Assassin’s Creed. Well, we still have not made the photoshoot, but just talking about making something together and being in cosplay brought us together for, I dare say a splendid Marvel project that we are yet to present this year. Truth be told, I am excited about  working with Veni, because I admire her advanced make up skills and simple, but yet, clever decisions on how to work things out with the costumes.

T: Once I had discovered the joy of doing a cosplay project (even a nooby lame first attempt), I wanted to share this joy with my friends. Once we started talking about doing a cosplay together, our combined ideas and plans grew exponentially! Sylvia has proven to be a great motivation and a force that would push me in my lazy days! And even when we are not cosplaying together, all the time, every year we still consider and discuss if we can do something together that excites us both. 2017 was one of those glorious moments when we combine our creative minds together to create a memory that will last a lifetime! I absolutely encourage everyone to at least once try cosplaying with their friends!

A: Since 2013 we have put up many shows on different conventions in different countries. We have partnered with Sylvia in East European Comic Con and won an award, and I also participated at London Comic Con and was also awarded “Best Performance”. I have always wanted to be the characters I cosplay, and imitate them as much as possible. I emphases a lot on the “-play” part in cosplay, as this is the biggest joy for me. We even did a 20 minutes skit on Aniplay 2015 ( we did Adventure Time), and another long skit on Aniplay 2016 (Alice in Wonderland). I was very happy with out performance, as it took months to prepare, but in the end it payed off and the crowd loved our cosplay.

V: Sadly, I haven’t had the chance to work with any of these amazing people. Since the very beginning of my journey I’ve admired the three of them and I’ve seen them as the truly skilled crafters that they are that I can look up to if I’m in need. I’m thankful that Sylvia and I found more than a few things in common, which contributed to our future collaboration. It will be a great pleasure and experience which I’m really looking forward to.

 

Saying that you want to be a cosplayer is one thing, but becoming one is something completely different. I’ve asked Sylvia, Toh, Alex and Veni what advice they would give to potential future cosplayers who are afraid to start something:

S: You are afraid to start a project? Well, start it with a friend who is also interested, support each other and motivate each other to get work well done. Cosplay is just another, or maybe a totally different way to spend time together and have fun. Don’t strain yourself on how good your costume is or how people will accept it, because the community is big enough and open minded enough to praise your effort. Don’t hold back to ask for help or advice from others, and most importantly, don’t hold back on expressing your likes through cosplay.

T: I always admire people who do cosplay – it might be the simplest of wardrobe dress up, or a simple cardboard. The scariest part is to make the decision and to get on that stage! Once you do it, no matter how simple of a cosplay you are doing – you have made a dream of yours come true! And not many people have had that courage! So, it is okay to be hesitant and afraid, but never let these feelings stop you! Also, never be afraid to ask other cosplayers for help, or advice, or just talk to them for motivation. We don’t bite…much!

V: You shouldn’t be afraid to try. If you love a certain thing, then let that love push you. Even if you have no idea how to sew nor craft, knowledge comes with practice, so be ready to fail, but also to succeed. Every little effort pays off in the end, so don’t give up and start cosplaying!

A: It’s just like every other challenge in life. You cannot start something new and expect to be a pro in it. There is a big learning process in cosplay, which frankly, we all have to go through in every costume we make. But, the benefits and the joy of this hobby are worth the struggle. The emotions you will have, and the friendships that you will build in this hobby are what keeps me motivated to continue on, and it’s a good way to look upon any challenge in life.

 

Speaking of motivation, what is that which motivates them?

A: The amazing reaction of the fans of the character I make is what brings such joy to me when I cosplay. I was also awed by fictional characters, and when I saw them for first time in videos or photos, I was so amazed by the way that the cosplay community works and achieves the complete look of the characters. So, by bringing excitement to the people that come to conventions and watch the shows makes me keep doing it, even after 5 years. This is a hobby made by fans, for fans.

V: My main motivation in cosplay are my friends and their support. Of course, watching new titles gives me ideas and motivates me to start crafting new things and discover/develop skills. I get easily attracted to characters, even if the said character doesn’t appear to be in my style. Motivation comes from different places and it’s normal for it to lack sometimes. That’s why I personally leave the craft to gather some energy and continue at a more appropriate moment.

S: For me, there are 2 things in cosplay which are huge motivation. The first one is that through cosplay I am given a magnificent opportunity to revel in all the things I love, because, let’s face it, it is one thing to say that you like to play Assassin’s Creed, but it is a whole different thing to run around in a costume of Ezio and be like ‘’Wohoo I’m an assassin!’’. The second major thing is expressed in the face of the cosplay community. In recent years, apart from being a free time activity, cosplay has become a huge bonus, even a gift for me, because it gives me many opportunities to meet people who share the same general interests; people to spend wonderful time with and charismatic people from whom I can learn and enrich my knowledge of the way costumes are made.

T: Now, this is a question that I think has a different answer every day. But I would say (most of the time) that I try to do the things that make me happy! These things may be silly or useless to other people, but when I do them, I am rejuvenated and full of energy!

 

For some of them, this will be their very first time on one of our conventions, but some of them have visited our conventions before. What are their expectations?

S: If I am not mistaken, this will be my 3rd time attending an event in Serbia. Among my expectations is the chance to manage to see and have a good time with the friends from Serbia that I have made throughout the years and visits, and to enjoy the content of the convention at it’s fullest!

V: Visiting a Serbian convention was on my list for a long time but I wasn’t able to do it until now, because I’ve just recently turned 18, and I can travel on my own (yay). It is a big pleasure for me to come here, because this is a way of showing the friendship that was formed between both our communities in the last years. I expect to meet a lot of new faces, and maybe explore a different cosplay mentality. I’m sure that everybody will give their 100% at doing art and simultaneously having fun.

T: I have already visited this event a few years ago – I hope that I get to meet even more happy and enthusiastic people there, people that share this thirst for adventures and art and happines! And I do hope I’ll make less of a fool of myself this time, haha! Stop by and drop me a Hi – I’d love to get to meet everyone!

A: I am thrilled to come to Chibicon. Some friends of mine had attended it in previous years, and they said that the energy and the crowd is amazing, that it is really a fun experience with a lot of various content and a great environment for fans of such sort. It is my first time in Serbia as well, so I cannot wait to try all the local dishes, as well as a designated amount of home-made (mainly alcoholic) drinks!

 

If you want to check out more of their cosplays, here’s how:
https://www.facebook.com/zin0066/
https://www.facebook.com/TohCosplay/?ref=br_rs
https://www.facebook.com/venuscosplayandmakeup/

Andrea Resnik

Poliglota, budući italo – arabista, prevodilac, večni filozof i povremeni rejver.