My Background: My name is Jen (previously cosplaying as Mai Sheri) and I have been active in the Toronto cosplay community since I first attended Anime North in 2004, when I figured that making and wearing costumes anytime instead of just at Halloween was a thing I wanted to try. My mother taught me basic sewing skills at a very young age, and as a result, my childhood included quite a few hand-made dolls, quilts, clothes, and costumes. Since I have no formal training, cosplay has been, and continues to be, a huge learning experience. I picked up everything I know about fabric and sewing from my mom, following commercial patterns, reading sewing magazines and online tutorials, and working at Fabricland during my university years. I have put that hard-earned knowledge to good use: I have won many masquerade awards - including “Best in Show” in both workmanship and stage categories at various Canadian conventions.
My Focus: It’s easy to describe myself as a passionately detail-oriented costumer, even if I’m working on a “casual” costume. I have been known to scour the city looking for just the right pair of tights, spend countless hours painting intricate designs on fabric, or create a bead-encrusted ruby slipper. I have a tendency to find a way to create a lot of work for myself, so if a costume is simple, I’ve probably made a stupidly time-consuming accessory for it. While accuracy to the source material is important to me, what really makes me happy with a finished cosplay is being recognizable, having an appealing and flattering finished aesthetic, and being comfortable.
As long as I can find the time, I love collaborating with others on photo shoots, video projects, community gatherings, and charity work. I approach costuming as an art rather than a role-play activity. There is, of course, an element of acting the part of the character, but my focus is much more about the art and skill of crafting a costume, and then extending the art-form through the medium of photography or video – whether I’m attempting to recreate or subvert the original source material. I try to be “in character” when I’m posing or acting, but when the cameras are off, I prefer to be myself!
How I choose my projects: While costume suggestions or group invitations are usually welcome, I hope that most would understand that while I may not post it publicly, I have a long list of plans already and cosplay is just a personal hobby for my own enjoyment. My one cosplay wish would be to have more time to dedicate to the more elaborate costume designs on my always expanding “must make” list! Usually I choose to cosplay a character because I enjoyed the source; my interests lie in many different media, and my costumes reflect that. I will pick a specific character from the source material based either on their personality, or their visual design (with other things coming into play such as similar appearance to myself, availability of materials, or skills required to make the costume). I almost never cosplay anything from a source I'm unfamiliar with; the term “labour of love” is quite appropriate in that all my costumes take a lot of time and energy, so a character has to have my genuine affection before I invest myself in a costume.
Regarding commissions: I do not take commissions, and will not for the foreseeable future. Regretfully, all commission requests will be declined.