I sit down with prominent and veteran Cosplayer April Gloria to discuss the highs and lows of Cosplay and the future for the industry, the video game and movie and TV show characters that inspire her, as well as some very insightful titbits to battle self-doubt.
A Game Beauty Interview with Cosplayer:
April Gloria - The Charasmatic Paragon
On behalf of Game Beauty I'd like to introduce to you all to April Gloria! April, for those who don't know you, do you mind giving us a quick overview of who you are and what you do?
Hi! I’m April Gloria and I am a professional Cosplayer and content creator on the internet. I’ve been making costumes for 8 years. I have social media accounts that people can follow to keep up with my progress, and see photos of finished costumes. My husband and I take professional photos of me in the costumes in different locations to produce “living fan art” type pieces. Another aspect of what I do is attend comic and fandom conventions as a guest. I have a booth where people can look at photos of my costumes, see props, talk shop, and purchase merch such as photo prints and stickers. I run panels, workshops, and often judge costume contests.
"It can be really intimidating to put yourself on the internet, but I try to remember that I really do love sharing my art with others...people love seeing creativity, and the world will never have too much of it!"
What first inspired you to do Cosplay and what continues to inspire you to this day, has that changed over the years?
I’ve always had a love of being creative. My sister and I would hand sew pillows and doll clothes when we were kids, and I loved to draw and paint. As I got older I developed an interest in makeup and costumes. A friend told me about cosplay when I was in college, but I didn’t get the urge to actually do it in 2013 when another friend told me my new haircut looked like a character from a game that had just come out, Bioshock Infinite. That inspired me to put together an Elizabeth costume and attend my first convention. I absolutely loved it! I was instantly rly hooked. I loved that I could show my love for a character by becoming them, in a sense.I still love that aspect. If I see a character I like the design of, I automatically think “I’d love to be them!”. I also love the continued challenge of transformation. I like doing different styles of makeup to alter my facial features depending on the character. I think I’ll always have the drive to create, so seeing designs I love keeps inspiring me.
What is technically the hardest part of Cosplay, is it the hair, the makeup, the outfits, the accessories or even the ideas?
I think one of the most difficult things can be translating an outfit from a game into real life. The physics don’t always match up, and I need to find places to add attachments, straps and zippers that aren’t in the graphics. That takes a lot of planning and experimenting sometimes.
Does Cosplay get harder the more graphics and detail within gaming are evolving? For example, is Cosplaying a 1996 Tomb Raider Lara Croft harder or easier than Cosplaying a 2018 Shadow of the Tomb Raider Lara Croft.
Yes and no. It can be a bit easier since the graphics are so clear you can see almost every detail, and some game companies post “Cosplay guides” with accessory closeups and turnarounds. However the designs themselves in some games have gotten so detailed it can be a little harder to make. They turn out amazingly though so it’s worth the trouble. So going back to the question, 96 Lara would probably be easier than 18 Lara, but I all depends on what the cosplayer is wanting.
If you don't have any skills in sewing, make-up or tailoring in general, how could I start to get into Cosplay - or even where would I learn how to sew or do make-up?
I learned so much via YouTube. My mom taught me the basics as a kid but I didn’t have tons of interest in sewing until later on. So I literal googled every question I had. Nowadays there are even more resources for beginners than when I started. I remember using WindoftheStars’ video when I searched “how to sew a bodysuit” and I used Professor Pincushion for specific questions like “how to attach a zipper”.Doing makeup was a lot of trial and error; I started wearing makeup in maybe 2004 and discovered beauty YouTube in maybe 2012. Watching YouTubers gave me a lot of inspiration and tips on how to change features for costume looks via contouring, eyeshadow placement, and brows. Practice was the main thing though. Even though I had resources, practicing the looks was integral to my skills getting better and more to my liking.Another way to get into cosplay if you don’t know how to sew is to look at premade costumes, pull items from your closet, or find pieces at a thrift store (Charity shops for our UK and European cousins) to create an outfit. I still do this for some costumes such as Android 18 where I needed a jean skirt and vest, but didn’t want to make them from scratch.
What's the best gender reversed Cosplay you've ever seen?
The genderbends that really wowed me were cosplay duo Carma Cosplay and their femme Captain America and Winter Soldier. They look a lot like how I’d picture them if they were women! Their other costumes are great too.
For the Men and Women that might feel anxious about putting themselves out there - because Cosplay is very grand and beautiful - what advice would you have to inspire confidence and for them to just get out there!
It can be really intimidating to put yourself on the internet. I still get nervous posting sometimes! But for me, it comes down to just doing it anyway. I create for myself first and foremost, but I try to remember that I really do love sharing my art with others. So if you are even contemplating showing off something you’ve made, do it!! People love seeing creativity, and the world will never have too much of it.
So Game Beauty gifted you our three palettes, Adventure, Fantasy and Victory, tell me your honest opinion on them and even constructive feedback if you have any. (Won't be mad we promise!)
Thanks so much for sending them to me! I honestly feel like the critiques I had for a few things have gotten better with each release. I like that the Fantasy and Victory had no pressed glitter. In the first two, some of the mattes weren’t as smooth as in the Victory. I’m not sure if you changed formula or if it was specific colors that came out different but I’ll be honest, when I swatched the Victory palette is the one I’ve been wearing the most, and I was really excited upon seeing the color story. Colorful palettes are fun too, but I was glad to see you guys rounding out the collection with a more neutral palette. I also absolutely love the artwork. It’s so so stunning! I love how the palette unfolds to open.
Aside from my day job I'm an inspiring Artist, I can't tell you how long it's taken me to find the right Pencils, Paper and Equipment that suit me and my style and no doubt will find more in the future, how important is finding the right make-up and how even do you know what is right or wrong for you?
When doing photo shoots and going to conventions, it’s imperative that I find makeup that works for me. For photo shoots, I look for products that will sit smoothly on my skin and look nice in closeup photos, so depending on the character I’ll use smoothing primers, medium to full coverage foundation, etc. For conventions I need it to last as long as possible. Some convention days can be up to 10 hours long if I’m working as a guest, so the makeup needs to be able to hold up to that. I use mattiffying primers, full coverage foundation, powder, setting spray etc for that. A lot of it is trial and error. I test things out at home before wearing them to a con. Summer is a great time to test how sweat proof things are! Usually by the time a convention approaches, I have a good idea of what I’ll need to bring.
What's your biggest make-up fail? Did you retry it later on?
I have a costume that requires me to use red body paint on my face and chest. I used water based paint and I thought I did a good job of setting it. However my photo shoot for it wasn’t until the end of the day, and it was 90+ degree outside. My paint started getting extremely shiny, and looked like it was rubbing off in areas. I had powder with me but it could only do so much. I didn’t think about the fact that water based paint could start coming off if I was sweating. I got the photo shoot done, and my photographer did a great job fixing the body paint in photoshop, but I learned a lot about what to do next time. Maybe invest in an airbrush and use alcohol based paint, or if I use water based, use a different method (I’ve heard of people using hairspray), and try to stay indoors.
A lot of creative people suffer from Imposter Syndrome, do you have any tips in combating the feeling of competition or self-doubt?
I definitely struggle with imposter syndrome. One thing that might be a nice thing to do is to screenshot some of the nicest comments, or if someone you respect in the industry notices you, and keep them in a folder/album on your phone. It’s not a cure all, but it’s easy for me to get lost in the negative comments. Having an album of positives can help me stay on track.
What would your best beauty tip be for Men and Women, separately or in general?
Honestly, for people of any gender, wear it with confidence! You can wear anything you want and be as creative as you want. Don’t be afraid to try out new things. Even if you don’t like the result the first time, practice!! You’ll get there!
My favourite character you Cosplayed was Bastila, I always had her in my party aside HK-47, she was kick-ass and the KOTOR series was amazing. But what Cosplays - if they aren't a secret - are you currently working on or plan to do?
BONUS QUESTION - I'm positive people want to know, in Mass Effect and Kotor (Dare I say Fable?), do you tend to play Light or Dark, Paragon or Renegade?
Thank you! Bastila is one of my favorite costumes I’ve ever made. Right now I’m working on the Nightingale armor from Skyrim, which is my favorite game! And for the bonus answer, I actually haven’t played though all of Fable yet, but for KOTOR and ME I mostly do light/Paragon choices, but I am not afraid to lay down the law in a more rash way sometimes. If a character really annoys me, I’ll choose dark/renegade options if they push my buttons hard enough.
What do you like about Cosplay now, compared to 10 years ago?
I love that it’s so accessible! Nerd culture has become mainstream and that’s made it possible for anyone to cosplay. You can go to Spirit Halloween and find costumes from the Witcher or Naruto ready to wear. I think that’s amazing! You don’t need to hand make everything to be a cosplayer. I personally love doing costumes from my closet or using altered pre made costumes sometimes.
What is the future for April Gloria, where can we find you and what do you have in store for us to look forward to!
I’m just going to keep on creating! I love that I get to have this creative outlet and that I can share it with so many people. You can follow me online in multiple places. I also livestream on twitch Mondays and Wednesdays!