Featured Cosplayer Interview – Alexia Jean Grey
Alexia Jean Grey
There are many talented models and performers who bring their love & enthusiasm to dressing up as their favorite characters. Comic Book Critic will regularly showcase a performer who embodies this spirit of cosplaying.
Whether it’s creating the costume from scratch, altering the appearance of an existing one, or just getting into character, these performers spend a lot of time and effort on their craft. As much as we all enjoy seeing our favorite fictional characters represented in real life, let’s not forget the behind-the-scenes work that goes into that portrayal.
One thing is for certain though, their love of cosplaying shines through in their work.
The Comic Book Critic Featured Cosplayer Interview this week is:
Alexia Jean Grey From South Florida
We caught up with the very busy and talented Alexia Jean Grey and asked her some questions about her cosplaying…
What made you decide cosplaying was something you wanted to do?
Naturally like many costumers, growing up surrounded by video games, comics, and anime with a little bit of an artsy fartsy side. I also grew up in theater. Even though the costume department in high school never made serious costumes, it gave me a chance to experiment with make up and basic sewing. I never really saw much of cosplay while living in Wisconsin, it wasn’t until I moved to Florida where I was fully introduced to it. I became friends with costumers who helped make my first costume and took me to my first convention. The rest is pretty much history!
How long have you been cosplaying and do you remember your first costume?
My first official costume was in 2009 and it was Kasumi from Dead Or Alive 4. It was a very interesting experience, I knew I wanted to make this costume but with no experience in crafting and stressed from stuffing all this research about sewing I turned to my friend Emily Galea. The two weeks spent at her house taught me a lot about sewing and pattern drafting and also created our friendship. She is a very talented artist and often sidekicks with me when I host panels!
Did you begin modeling before you began cosplaying or was it as a result of it?
Cosplaying is the result of my modeling. I was always a little pudgy and shy growing up and even though I loved photography and modeling i never had the guts to do it. Once I started cosplaying I focused more on my body, and having pictures taken of you at cons you learn how to pose and make facial expressions. I finally jumped the gun and started doing more modeling out of cosplay like my venom and Mary Jane body paints. Sometimes I find modeling outside of cosplay to be the most challenging because you don’t have a characters personality and poses to fall back on.
Do you make and/or design all of your costumes?
Most of them yes. I often design my costumes based on statues or random fan art I see. I really enjoy taking a character or costume and adding my own twist to it. I pick characters with personalities and qualities I feel I have or admire. From there I take that character and picture them if I was that character in real life, what would I actually wear. There is nothing wrong with costumes being and exact copy, but I get the most enjoyment out of cosplay by doing this. I also love wearing artists work as well, I like bringing other artists work to life.
Which was the most challenging to make?
Actually the one I’m working on currently, Flame Princess from Adventure Time. I am an AT freak and would love to have a costume of each character! I took on the challenge of making Flame Princess though, I feel like she is the most difficult one to portray out of the cast. Mainly bringing realism to her hair, I took the challenge of dying and building on to a wig. It’s currently giving me a headache right now but I can’t wait to wear it!
Who are your favorite characters?
Wayyyyyy to many! You can pretty much include a lot of the X-men in this list, Storm, Jean, Magneto. I am also a giant gaming fanatic. I play a lot of Street Fighter, Magic The Gathering, and Pokémon. My all time favorite game is Super Smash Bros. Melee! Little miss Peach is who I play.
Which character do you find the easiest to portray and which is the hardest?
I don’t think there is a character I’ve worn that has been difficult to portray. That’s my favorite part about cosplay, is playing different roles and acting out personalities. I guess you could say my Mary Jane body paint photoshoot was the most challenging for me. On top of being nude, I had no props or an actual costume to relay on for poses and facial expressions. I was defiantly my all time favorite shoot I learned a lot from working with James Holmes (photographer) and Jessie Melero (body painter).
What do you like to do in your spare time, other than working on your cosplay?
I am in and out of school for theater production but I play Magic the Gathering on a daily basis. I’m trying to be good and not spend to much money on it so currently trading to make a silly fairy deck (fairies are super scary ha). Also I play with my puppies Loki and Cow Dog!
Do you read comics regularly, if so, which are your favorites?
I read the entire AVX comic but… I was kinda disappointed. I decided to take a break from Marvel and I have been trying to keep up with the New 52. My schedule is very busy lately but when I have a free day, I try and pick some up. One of my favorite comics is X-Force though!
You seem to be genuinely having fun, is there anything that really gets on your nerves about cosplaying in public?
Not much really, sometimes I get a little performance anxiety the first time I shoot a new costume. Sometimes you need a couple shoots behind your belt to understand how to capture great pictures in a costume – even in a convention setting. The thing that worries me the most is a costume piece breaking on me though. The worst feeling is hearing something fall on the ground when you’re walking!
On the other hand, what do you enjoy the most about it?
All of the friends I have made through costuming! I was very shy when I first started cosplaying but once I started traveling I have met so many talented costumers! It’s brought a lot of really close friends in my life and I wouldn’t change that ever. Also being able to express my creativity with my geeky interests, I have never found something more enjoyable to do with my time.
You attend quite a few conventions as a guest and judge, how many do you usually attend in a year and which are your favorites?
It all varies. Sometimes I come as a guest and sometimes I join Jon Hughes Art/Overground Comics to shows. I believe last year I attended 12 conventions. I had such a fear of planes that I didn’t take the jump ‘til last year to actually start traveling. I still have some anxiety on a plane, so if you ever see a girl practically in tears it’s probably me! I have a lot of favorite conventions from Dragoncon to NYCC as well as Supercon/Animate Miami which I am happy to be Assistant Director of the cosplay department as of this year.
What’s one of your most memorable moments while cosplaying?
Meeting a lot of the guests at conventions, well mainly Norman Reedus! I met him last year at Philly Comic Con last year dressed as Poison Ivy and he complimented my costume and actually hung out with him after the convention. It will forever go down as one of the greatest days of my life. Another one of my favorite moments was at NYCC last year I was lucky enough to work with Marvel to promote the War of Heroes game as Black Widow that weekend.
What are the upsides/downsides to appearing at cons?
There are not to many negatives really at the convention, traveling is probably the only thing that gives me a headache. Like I said I am terribly afraid of flying, the constant worry that one of my costume pieces will break on the plane (or at the show), and getting a lack of sleep that by Sunday you’re pretty much a zombie, also I have a fear of forever getting lost in a city (thanks Taken.). All of that becomes a blur when you’re at a convention though, being able to meet fans and see friends from all over makes everything worthwhile. Also, when I catch a spare moment, I love shopping in the dealers room. I have a collection of car stickers on my Beetle – one from every convention I have attended.
What’s one of your least memorable moments while cosplaying?
The day of heading to NYCC , the night before I couldn’t fall asleep for my early flight. The nightmare came when my alarm clock did not go off in the morning. I had about 30 minutes until my flight and live about 20 minutes from the airport.
As my friend and I were speeding down the highway I was calling the airport to find a later flight, but of course there was no way. I made it to check in and the lady said I might not get my suit cases since I checked in so late (NO COSPLAYZ?!)! Even if I couldn’t cosplay at the con I was worried that I would be to anxious at the con about my bags to even enjoy it. I ran to security (of course stuck behind some elderly people who walked through the metal detector 100 times). Finally get through then they had to check my bags because I forgot to take out my liquids. I instantly started crying my eyes out, if I didn’t make this plane I wouldn’t be able to meet my friend at the convention and miss the first day. The guy felt bad and just told me to run. Thankfully the sweet gate man held the plane up for me.
I was still freaking out on the plane about my bags, with 2 hours of sleep and post cry face… I looked like one hot mess. I finally make it to the airport, AND MY BAGS WERE THERE! I was never so relieved in my life.
I did have one more fail though, while waiting for my friend to get off his flight, there was a little escalator to a Dunkin Donuts from baggage claim. I had 3 suitcases and a backpack and was trying to MacGyver holding my iced coffee and getting all these bags down the escalator. Make it on the moving stairs, then right at the end – BOOF – fall flat on my face, coffee everywhere… Broke escalator and was embarrassed so I ran outside for awhile in my fail shame.
Who are some of your favorite cosplayers?
I respect everyone who goes through blood, sweat, and tears for cosplay. We all have late night-right before a con cosplay finishing. Things breaking, running around all day in uncomfortable shoes. A small portion of cosplayers I adore are Yaya Han, Soni, Stacey, Nadya, Kearstin, Carlos, Victoria, Ani-Mia, Ivy Doomkity, and way way more. There are also a lot of artist and photographers who’s work inspires me on the daily, Jon Hughes, Animaze-guy, Elysiam Entertainment, j Holmes Photography, Jessie Melero, BGZ Studios, David Ho, Bryan Humphrey, & Stacey Hokett.
How has cosplay changed, if at all, since you began?
I began cosplaying right around the time Facebook started becoming greater than MySpace. So even in the first year I dressed up, cosplayers didn’t really have fan pages, I never saw cosplayers have tables with prints, things like that seemed to blow up in the last couple years. I think it’s a really awesome though. If I ever have a question with a costume I can Google and find tutorials which, before the days of social media (or even the old dogs before the Internet was really used), I really appreciate.
However with the good comes the bad such as bad trolling, sometimes cosplay drama, but the only thing I can’t really get over is the 1000000000 blogs and articles about people being bullied and scary stories with “cosplay does not equal consent”. I really don’t stand for bullying and being an over all jerk but I feel like it has a big affect with people who want to start cosplaying and sort of scaring them off.
I recently met one girl who really wanted to start but was afraid everything needed to be perfect otherwise she would be harassed or a shame if her outfit wasn’t “the best”. I told her we all start somewhere my costumes from when I first started to now have gotten a lot better like every other cosplayer. Also she shouldn’t be worried about being the best, it’s about having fun and you should just ignore any rude comment on the Internet about your outfit, body type, race, etc.
How much time do you invest in it?
It’s a daily basis 365 day lifestyle. If I’m not making costumes, I’m working on print orders. If I’m not at a convention I’m working with the cosplay department of Animate and Supercon. Even when it gets stressful I love every second of it, not many people get to do what they love every day, so even when I get frustrated you have to remind yourself the fun it comes with. Sometimes I need a weekend to relax and take a break, but by Sunday my neck starts itching and I get anxious to keep working. I am a very ambitious person though, if I’m not doing a million and one things at once I feel like I’m doing nothing at all. I am always trying to challenge myself
What advice do you have for someone just starting out?
Practice, practice, practice, (did I mention practice?).
It takes time to learn all the tricks of cosplay. You will see with every costume you make how much you improve, I suggest every costume have a part of costume where you will learn about a new material or new technique. Cosplay is a mix of a million arts, from sewing, to armor, to wigs, to make up, to posing. Sometimes taking on a big project where you unfamiliar with how to go about it, it’s easiest to work your way through smaller costumes (also a money saver).
One thing I can’t stress enough is – pattern drafting is a great skill to learn and will help with any part of a costume. For sewing you can go and buy a pattern but most of the time you will need to alter the pattern in some way. Learning how to draft your own will be a great deal of help (and you can get a perfect fit for your body).
Also don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it can suck at first but it’s how you learn, and sometimes your mistakes can make your costume ten times better in the end. So just pick up some fabric and start!
If you could change anything since you started, what would it be?
Not getting so stressed about the little things. I’m a bit of a perfectionist so I would get to wrapped up with the silliest stuff when I started out. Also I wish I had the guts to start traveling earlier on! As much as I love Florida shows, going to a complete new shows in a new state can be very exciting. Besides that I wouldn’t change much everything has been a learning experience, so even when I would get annoyed about costumes, it helped me improve.
What does the future hold for Alexia Jean Grey?
Right now I just started working with sharkrobot.com (it’s an awesome shirt and geeky stuff website). So I will be a part of their cosplay calendar and will be traveling to shows with them! So be on the look out!
Also trying to figure out some new costumes for this year, I have an endless list, so I’m trying to figure out after Flame Princess and Cammy, what I will be working on next.
Alexia, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions. We look forward to seeing a lot more of you in the future!
If you want to see more of Alexia Jean Grey, check out the information below:
Booking & Contact
If you would like to book Alexia Jean Grey for your convention or want to contact her for modeling opportunities, you can do so through her email here.
Alexia Jean Grey Links
– The Comic Book Critic