This week We Love Colors got to interview the interviewer! Amanda Johnson who was our Inside Cosplay Editor for a while, this time we spoke to her about her own cosplay journey and experiences.
?WLC: Tell us about yourself! How long have you been cosplaying for?
Mana-T: Hi! My name is Amanda, but I go by Mana-T Cosplay online. I’m from Minnesota. I started cosplaying in 2012 and began hosting panels at conventions in 2013. I cosplay from anything that interests me, but primarily Disney, cartoons, and anime. I’ve created more than 50 costumes over the years. After I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Art and Design, I moved to Florida, where I’ve been able to attend even larger events and meet extraordinary people in the community. I’ve always been passionate about art and I love that cosplay gives me the creative power to bring fictional characters to life. I make the majority of my cosplays, from sewing ball gowns to styling wigs.
WLC: Do you have a preference when creating cosplays when it comes to how you make them?
Mana-T: I prefer to sew my costumes from scratch without using any store bought patterns. I feel like I have the most control that way. However, sometimes it’s just financially smarter and more convenient to buy pre-existing clothing and modify it depending on what I’m going for. For example, when I was sewing Mal’s cotillion dress from Descendants 2, it was easy for me to start from the ground up since there was so much detail. On the other hand, for Mina Ashido from My Hero Academia, it was much more convenient for me to just buy a bodysuit, sew it into a sweetheart neckline, and then paint on the purple.
WLC: What is your planning process when coming up with your next cosplay?
Mana-T: I always choose characters to cosplay that resonate with me or that I think would be fun to transform into. My friends from high school and I have what we call a ride-or-die exception and basically what that means is that if one of the people that I first cosplayed with in 2012 asks me to cosplay something, no matter how ridiculous, I will. I’ve personally only used this bylaw once to have my friend cosplay Nendo from Saiki K, but it was so worth it.
After I’ve chosen my cosplay, I create a list of everything that I’ll need from head to toe. I start by ordering wigs, contacts, and shoes because they usually need shipping time. Then, I move on to looking up tutorials for anything I’m not 100% sure how to make. Everything after that varies so much by costume.
WLC: What advice do you have for cosplayers at any skill level?
Mana-T: My advice for cosplayers is to not be afraid. Don’t be afraid to cosplay something you don’t think you have the skillset for. There are hundreds of tutorials online. If you find a cosplayer that’s done something like what you want to do, don’t be afraid to ask them for advice! Most cosplayers I know are more than happy to help out other cosplayers and share their knowledge. Along with that, don’t be afraid to spend lots of time on a project, only to abandon it. There is no shame in losing passion for a cosplay you’ve been working on or running out of time before a convention. You can always come back to it if you’d like. It took me a long time to realize that I’m cosplaying for myself before anyone else. Cosplay should make you happy. It’s a hobby after all.
WLC: What was one of your most frustrating challenges working on a cosplay and how did you overcome it?
Mana-T: When I was creating the Floral Maiden costume from Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade, I wove ribbon together to create the front, but I had woven the piece too small. I had already cut out the rest of my bodice pieces, so I self-designed some additional pieces for the front. Now the additional pieces aren’t on the actual dresses, but sometimes sanity comes before accuracy and quite literally no one would be able to tell the difference unless they were looking at a side by side photo.
WLC: How did you get involved with Inside Cosplay and the We Love Colors brand?
Mana-T: I’ve been using We Love Colors since my homestuck days. It’s always been the best company for color matching the trolls’ blood and skin tones. After following We Love Colors for a while on social media, I reached out to them about becoming a brand ambassador. They were so welcoming and offered me the Inside Cosplay Editor position. I’ve been working with them since.
WLC: Which of your costumes use We Love Colors products?
Mana-T: Like I mentioned earlier some of my long lost Homestuck cosplays used We Love Colors products. More recently you can see We Love Colors products in Little Sister (Bioshock), Sailor Uranus (Sailor Moon), Magenta (Sky High), most of my Naruto cosplays, and Princess Bubblegum (Adventure Time).
Little Sister (Bioshock): @frightlightsphotography
Princess Bubblegum (Adventure Time): @parallax.photos
Sailor Uranus (Sailor Moon): @ego_photos_tampa
Magenta (Sky High): @madsskyphotography
Ron Wilson, Bus Driver: @sweetprincessserenity
Warren Peace: @theantifun
Interview and edits by Katherine Ceballos for We Love Colors.