Mariya Karpenko: on first cosplay, entrepreneurship and plans for the future22 March 2018
Mariya Karpenko, a cosplayer and an entrepreneur, will be one of the judges at the WEGAME 4.0 cosplay show. She is doing cosplay for more than 10 years now, takes part in foreign festivals and works with a team of experts. This is a single case of a cosplayer, who turned her hobby into a business.
- Tell us about your first costume. When was it created, what materials did you use, how did you come up with the idea?
I was about 15 or 16 years old, it was Lelouch's costume from the Code Geass anime. It was not great, because I had to cosplay a broad-shouldered boy of aristocratic appearance, and was myself a small chubby girl.
There was nothing difficult: it was a school uniform, a common costume fabric, I used basic chevrons. It was a simple costume, I started creating complex costumes in two or three years. Now, a whole team is working with me, everything is much more professional.
- You have a Karen cosplay from Code Geass as well. Is this topic dear to you?
Not really, I mainly work with video games, this is my main direction. Our company works in this field, we rarely cooperate with films and TV shows. We go back to anime only if the project is interesting.
- Which costume was the most important for you, a turning point in your career?
One of these was a Merida cosplay from Braveheart. Triss Merigold from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Eloy from Horizon Zero Dawn, 2b from Nier Automata are costumes that become a challenge for us and helped us to improve.
- What is most difficult for you when creating costumes?
To manage the work of many people. I am an entrepreneur now and turned my hobby into a business. Our team makes costumes for individuals, for companies. I do not work alone, and managing is the most difficult, but it brings great success, because we can bring together so many experts.
I do makeup, wigs, shooting; there are guys who make armor, there are people who work with tailoring. We can create almost any costume.
- You have more than one business. For example, you used to produce The Witcher-style underwear. What do you do now?
We have created a collection of Overwatch jackets last year, and now the project is under consideration for official distribution. It will take time, a year or a year and a half, it’s time to reach new levels.
We also create our own designs, inspired by computer games. Our ultimate goal is to work directly with large companies such as Blizzard, Capcom, CD PROJEKT RED. Not an easy task, especially if you are in Ukraine, but cosplay in this regard is very helpful: people like it, they like its creative component, and we try to offer them something interesting, even if it's casuals.
- Do you feel more like a cosplayer or an entrepreneur?
It's impossible to separate these concepts. If I were just an entrepreneur, it would be impossible to develop cosplay so effectively, it's an art. It is much more interesting for me now to develop projects of my team, creating interesting costumes with joint efforts. However, cosplay for me is not just a costume, it is primarily a holistic image, a story that is told from the perspective of the artist. Now the emphasis is shifted to the costume, but it seems to me that there is something more.
I always emphasize that I'm not a cosplayer who works, I'm an entrepreneur who has a team. This is my distinctive feature.
- Are there any other cosplayers that you really like and get inspiration from?
Yes, there are a lot of them. Alyson Tabbitha is an incredible source of inspiration for me. She focuses on the transformation. She combines makeup, costume, behavior – just turns into another person. I am not sure, but when I look at her photos, it seems to me that she even changes her gestures.
And she's incredibly strong in terms of building a community, we do not have such community. Competition is essential, but it can be more friendly and development-oriented.
I also like Maul Cosplay, he is my idol! He works with his wife, I also work with my husband. I met him personally and I can say that he is a man of very strong spirits, he is incredibly charismatic.
- You will be the judge at the WEGAME 4.0 cosplay show. What do you expect from participants and what would you like to wish them?
Do not be afraid to make mistakes and do not be afraid of imperfection. The main thing is to do your best, because it is experience. You don’t have to be perfect, no one is. Transform, change, find new friends, because cosplay is also a community.