Geologist by day, cosplay extraordinaire by night — Susie Creates talks all things cosplay, and cosmaking in an exclusive interview with CBR.
Cosplay is where pop culture fans can fully express themselves, bringing their favorite characters from books, television, and movies to the real world. Susie Creates makes this process look effortless. She’s a wife, a mother, and a Petroleum Geologist, but Susie still makes the time to craft her cosplay by hand. She puts in hours researching materials, studying pop culture, and creating content based on her favorite characters. Susie truly embodies each powerful woman she portrays whether it’s Queen Hippolyta from Zack Snyder’s Justice League, or Carol Danvers from Captain Marvel. Her social media is a treasure trove of information for anyone interested in cosplay and a safe place for people to express themselves.
In an exclusive interview with CBR, Susie talked about her journey as a cosplayer from the first convention she attended, who inspires her, and how she built a community of fellow cosplayers who uplift and support each other. She also gave helpful advice to those who are just starting their cosplay adventures, and time management tips.
CBR: When you put together your first cosplay, did you think that it would bring you to where you are now?
Susie Creates: I would consider my first cosplay to be my Wonder Woman costume [that] I made in 2017, very soon after the first film was released. I originally only made it for Halloween, and it wasn’t a cosplay at the time, but that was the first thing I wanted to wear when I decided to go to my first Con. This Con also happened to be the first time I met a celeb and had a photo op with Jason Momoa (twice!) Since then, I am so proud to have improved my skills and material use by following amazing tutorials like those by KamuiCosplay and Alyson Tabbitha. So much has improved that my attempts to achieve screen accuracy have helped me win competitions like being chosen as a winner for DC Fandom 2021. A highlight of my career is being featured with other amazing DC Fans and cosplayers.
What sparked this passion for cosplay and cosmaking? Was it another cosplayer? Was it a certain movie, or franchise?
The beginning of my cosplay and cosmaking journey actually started because of my height and stature. I could not find costumes at stores that would either fit my height (6’0″) or actually cover the important bits. I didn’t even know how vast the network of cosmakers was at the time, so I decided to just do it myself and learn from YouTube videos. Although it started as a Halloween [costume], I immediately pushed myself to start making costumes from my favorite movie, Wonder Woman, with one of my award-winning cosplay, Queen Hippolyta.
What are some common misconceptions about cosmaking that you run into online?
Commonly, I hear many cosplayers or fellow fandom members thinking that cosmaking is too difficult, or that they don’t have [enough] talent to make their own projects. I think this is something everyone should try, and don’t quit after your first attempts. I feel that there really doesn’t need to be any elitism to building a cosplay from scratch. We all take time to learn and improve, and so can you. You can bring a character to life that no one else has! Or contact those that have made that character before and ask for advice. The vast majority of cosmakers out there are usually available and friendly or have tons of tutorial resources out there publicly.
When you cosplay characters, is the transformation just visual, or does putting on the costume of your favorite characters make you feel different?
Putting on a finished cosplay is so exciting because it feels like I could step onto a movie set! I love the feeling of becoming the character. It’s definitely not just looking like the character, but learning what they are all about. The attitude, the skills, and the backstory can all be brought to life when I transition into that character and find ways to further a story with photos and videos. I just enjoy creating more for my favorite characters.
What was one of the most difficult cosplays for you to create? What was so challenging about it? What was most rewarding about it?
My most difficult cosplay was my first Queen Hippolyta because I had picked up new skills with foam, but building every piece of that costume to appear like real weathered leather and metal was a huge challenge. The biggest challenge was trying to find fabrics to match, from a viper skin vinyl for the skirt, which I hand-painted, to the correct faux-wool blend for the cloak. This project was my first fully built screen accurate project, and it still makes me so proud to wear it, even after 3 years, I have only had to make minor repairs.
What is the process of making high-quality cosplays like yours? What kind of research goes into a cosplay like Queen Hippolyta?
Research on high-quality cosplays is very intense. I really take a deep dive into the web and examine every frame I possibly can from movie screencaps. My friends help find things too, I wouldn’t be able to do it without them forwarding me all kinds of behind-the-scenes or promotional photos. I love finding and following everyone that is involved in making or wearing the costume, from the actors to the stunt people, to the designers and makers, the set photographers, and of course every published photo.
For Zack Snyder’s Justice League, I was immediately excited about the Old Gods Amazons. They were absolutely beautiful designs! But, of course, that costume is only seen on screen for a few moments. So I searched all the above-mentioned references and people and get into the details of fabrics, textures, how things are layered and connected, and how to plan them for my own body. Adjusting the photo contrast, turning them to black and white, etc. can help in identifying features and details not usually visible on first look. Then taking the time to sketch through the parts and pieces gets my hands working on things like layering and proportions and placement. I then pattern myself and get onto the final materials.
If you could give anyone advice on getting into cosplay, or cosmaking what would you say? What is something you wish you were told before jumping into this adventure?
I think getting into cosplay is a blast if you choose something you are already a huge fan of. I would absolutely start with whatever your favorite characters are. The complexity of your first cosplay build can vary. In some instances, it could just be that character’s casual outfit or a prop. I mentored someone recently, and we talked about where to start. She had very ambitious ideas, and she did build a full costume, but that was after she started with something small.
A big thing I wish I had learned first was discovering so many makers on YouTube. Don’t search for only your project. Instead, watch many varieties, so you see different materials, teachers, and styles. If you find a cosmaker that you learned something from, watch all their videos. Oh, and don’t be fooled by the speed some cosmakers create full cosplays. Those that are fast have been doing this for a long time, those that are slow may go deep into the project, or only have a brief time to work on it. My advice is a few minutes to a few hours spent every once in a while will still get you to the final result. And patterns! Check to see if someone has already created a template for you to use.
How can those in the cosplay community help uplift, and create a safe space of expression for one another?
The best way to uplift is to support. The brief moment to tell someone that you enjoy their work can mean the world. Even if it isn’t your fandom if there was some part of a build or style that impressed you, tell them you enjoyed it. If it is your fandom or your favorite character, then that cosplayer who also enjoys that character is also your sister/brother in this adventure. Share that together.
Who are some of your biggest inspirations when it comes to creating cosplays?
My biggest inspirations stem from the amazing designs of the Amazons by Michael Wilkinson, Lindy Hemming, and makers like Whitaker-Melam, but ultimately I would say Zack Snyder is a huge impact for bringing the characters to life and giving us the personalities we like to portray in those cosplays. From Amazons to other Superheroes in the DCEU and MCU, I can’t help having a soft spot for tall, strong, powerful women.
What are some of your best practices to make sure you stay on track with your work?
As I have grown as a cosplayer and in general getting older, I find I have no time to waste. I also think that it’s important to have time on our own for hobbies. As a mother, wife, and full-time professional, it’s important to have good work/life/hobby balance. Not that I don’t relax, but if I have the inspiration to create, then I don’t put it off. A lot of my projects take months to create, hours to put on costumes and make short videos, and hours of planned photos on my own or with a photographer.
To be sure I keep enjoying what I make, I try to find all the little time I can. I don’t sleep in anymore when sometimes the best light or the least family commitment time is when I’m up at 7 am. If I’m making a project, it’s probably not just one. For instance, right now, I have 5 separate cosplays that are started or have upgrades needed or just small props to make. Because they are at different stages of progress, I can do what I enjoy or what fits my allotted time. Once a project is done, I truly want to show it off. Photos can be a great start, and more than half of them, I do myself, inside/outside, phone selfies/ true camera. I think that videos like TikTok have brought more ways to bring cosplays even more into character portrayal, show off our creations in more dimensionality, and teach others. So I also set aside time to make videos in batches, save sounds and ideas, and make a list of which characters I am inspired to use.
Where can people who are interested in your work find you?
You can find photos and videos of my cosplay on Instagram and Vero, TikTok, and Twitter. I have a few patterns for sale on my Etsy shop as SusieCreatesCosplay, and a few tutorials on my YouTube as Susie Creates. And I’m always available for Patty Jenkins as a background Amazon of any style.
Susie Creates is available for conventions and can be reached at email@example.com.
Megan is a comic book fan from the United States that has a love for an enthralling story. Outside of comics Megan enjoys films, television, and creating content such as unboxing videos of collectibles or cosplaying.