Eve Beauregard Interviews the Amazing Ardella
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Eve: I’m here with the amazing Ardella! A highly experienced and talented costumer, Ardella has been a cosplay inspiration for me since I went to my first ever con in costume and saw her as Poison Ivy. You might know her as Power Girl, Jessica Rabbit or Black Canary! Today we’re going to be having a chat about being a cosplay role model and the ins and outs of the cosplay community both online and in person.
So first of all, hello and thank you for sitting down with me for Geek of Oz!
You've been cosplaying for a long time now and you’re quite established within the Australian cosplay scene. What is it about cosplaying at events and conventions that keeps you coming back?
It doesn’t seem like that long to me! I’m still shocked when I realise it’s been seven years since I attended my first convention. What drew me to my first convention was the fact that my favourite voice actor at the time was going to be there. What kept me there were the people.
Conventions bring together people from all walks of life and all different fandoms. Being in costume really opens you up to meeting new people. It’s like wearing a highly visible badge that says, “I’m into <insertfandomhere>, come talk to me about it!”
What would you say is the major difference between the cosplay community online and in the “real world”?
I think that, in all things, being online and having the opportunity to remain relatively anonymous will always have the potential to bring out the worst in people. In reality, I've found the cosplay community to be overwhelmingly welcoming and friendly. Online I find that the majority of people in the community are still supportive and uplifting, but there are some who seem out purely to tear others down. It can be depressing at times, because one nasty comment can often hit you harder than ten positive ones.
The online cosplay community is also far more varied than anything you could hope to find in real life, spanning the entire globe and bringing together people from entirely different continents and backgrounds with totally different value systems. I think the diversity of this global cosplay community is one of the things I love most about it.
All cosplayers use social media in vastly different ways. One thing that I've noticed is that you always present a welcoming, informative attitude on your page and your fans love you for it. Do you feel a certain level of responsibility to be a role model in the community given that for a lot of people you are such an important part of it?
I think I grew up being the eldest in a family of lots of kids so I learnt to take on responsibility from a very young age. I would never say that I’m a leader in the cosplay world - there are many people out there far more talented and qualified for that sort of role than myself – but when you have more than 20,000 people following what you’re doing I think it’s impossible not to feel a bit of responsibility for what you present to the world!
I've always believed in presenting yourself the way you would expect others to treat you. I want others to treat me with respect and dignity, understanding that I have a brain as well as a body, so I try my best to show that in the way I post online. If people are looking up to me as a role model, I would hope that they would be able to see a strong, independent woman capable of expressing a well-reasoned opinion and cosplaying some incredible characters. Those two things should never have to be mutually exclusive.
I’ve been told in the past that people are surprised when they meet me in person that I’m not at all serious. I guess the way I present myself online is not as over the top crazy as I can be in real life! There’s a lot that can’t be properly conveyed through text, though, so sadly sometimes my nuttiness has to be dialed back in favour of getting my point across.
Speaking of internet-land, you’re quite a regular on YouTube these days! Tell us a little bit about Planet of the Capes and how you give back to the cosplay community through Kapow.
Kapow is a wonderful YouTube show that focuses on comic books and everything associated with them. Last year they approached me to present my own show as part of the Kapow family dedicated to cosplay. I, of course, was very excited to be involved!
It was really important to me when I first started writing Planet of the Capes that it be a medium for relatively unknown cosplayers to gain more well deserved recognition. I believe the cosplay community is wonderfully diverse and full of incredibly talented people and really wanted to highlight that in the show. I usually feature one or two amazing cosplayers in each episode, or interview a more local member of the community about cosplay related things they’re connected to – like the 501st Legion, for example.
Throughout the first season of Planet of the Capes, I demonstrated some quick tutorials and cosplay tips of my own. We also followed the creation of my Twilight Princess Zelda costume from the very start to it’s debut at a convention.
The second season has just started up over on the Kapow YouTube channel and this time I wanted to try a new direction, with more audience participation! We still feature incredible cosplayers and answer cosplay related questions, but each episode we also focus on discussing a particular topic surrounding the community. Often I’ll have guests join me to talk about these things as well, and I’m really looking forward to discussing them in the comments with everyone! The first episode is up now with a focus on the “cosplay celebrity” phenomenon. It’s got a special guest interview with someone we all know.
I wonder who that could be! So as a writer of tutorials, do you often find yourself looking up tutorials and how-to guides when planning a cosplay?
I’m always looking up tutorials and step by step creations done by other cosplayers – even when I haven’t got any particular cosplays in mind myself! I always find the amazing creativity of others inspiring. Often when I've been feeling unmotivated, browsing other people’s costumes really brings back the momentum I need to keep working.
I don’t think I've ever really used one single tutorial in the creation of my costumes. Everything I make is usually a crazy amalgamation of ideas I've taken from tonnes of different sources. Sometimes it works really well, other times… not so much. It’s all part of the learning experience though.
All aspects of costuming are such a continuous learning experience. What’s the most important part of cosplay to you?
This is a tricky question to answer! Cosplay is an amazing hobby, and that is what it will stay to me. It’s never been about anything other than doing what I love. As long as I’m getting joy from what I do, I think I’m doing it right. As soon as it starts to feel like a job or a chore, I know it’s time to step back.
As I've gained more of a following online, I've found added fulfillment in knowing that I’m also bringing joy to others through my cosplay. That doesn't necessarily mean I cosplay for anyone other than myself, but it’s always nice to know that other people are also enjoying what you do.
Where would you like cosplay to take you in the future?
But really, I've always wanted to travel. I've simply never really had the opportunity to do so in the past. I would love to be able to attend conventions and meet like-minded people from all around the world. It would be so amazing to make that online cosplay community something I could experience in person.
At the end of the day though, as long as cosplay is still bringing me joy, happiness and friendship, I can’t really ask for much more!
Well, thanks so much for your time Ardella. It’s been a pleasure chatting to you as usual! I look forward to following your future costuming endeavours and learning from you along the way.
No, thank you!