Heroes Behind the Masks: Cosplay Collective

This weeks feature not only thinks about charity in the community but the costume community as well!  From podcasting to conventions and charity events to inspiring their community they do it all!!  There is so much to say about this weeks feature that I will let them tell it all!!   –Mala

 photo 2014 Toy Drive with The Rouges Gallery_zpsbfg0lcwn.jpg

2014 Toy Drive with The Rouges Gallery

Group Name: Cosplay Collective

Interviewee: Dee Volpe

Location(s): Nashville, TN (Including all of Middle Tennessee and anyone else who wants to be a part of it). We have a presence on Facebook and welcome input from anywhere.

Mission Statement: We connect cosplayers and cosplay groups for support, inspiration, development, and to bring hope, strength, and joy to our communities.

 photo Batwoman_zps4sixdbkj.jpg

Batwoman

When was the group started? And by who ?
We began activities at the end of summer 2014. The founders are Dee Volpe (myself) and Nancy Arch. We have had great help and support from Johnny Dellarocca, Leeanna Player, and Tina Veda.

 photo Nancy as The Riddler_zpsjthwvorx.jpg

Nancy as The Riddler

If you are the creator of this group what inspired you to create Cosplay Collective or CAUSEplay in general? If you are a member of the Cosplay Collective what made you want to join this particular group or CAUSEplay?
As a cosplayer in the Middle Tennessee area I noticed the diversity and many small groups and individuals, yet no real connection between them all. I wanted to unite them for support, advancement, and community causes. As a whole we can do so much more for ourselves and the community at large.

Brief history/overview: We were lucky enough to be acquainted with someone who asked us to work with IndyPopCon 2014 after developing, setting up, and then running the Cosplay Lounge and at the last minute the Cosplay Contest. We had such an incredible time bringing the cosplayers together and spending time with so many wonderful people we started to see a real reason for bringing them together in an effort to create community for them and bringing our love for cosplay to the general public. We offer to bring our Cospitality Suite to conventions where we can set up a place for cosplayers to relax, socialize and even repair costumes while getting off the con floor to avoid photographers for a time. When we realized that our ideas about our group were much different than our acquaintance we decided to split from them and Form Cosplay Collective. We immediately began events introducing our ideas to the community with a room party at Geek Media Expo and then a Toy Drive and Photo Shoot to collect toys to deliver to The Children’s Hospital at Tri-Star Centennial Hospital and the Monroe Carroll, Jr Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. Since then we have visited several Hospitals and Assisted Living Complexes. We are lucky to have contacts where we are able to set up visits at places who have not had this type of events before and we have had great success from them, being asked for return engagements.

We also are a part of a larger group that brings programming to conventions. The Powerhouse Project includes, BDC Entertainment, Unlockable Characters, Comic City Conventions, and Cosplay Collective. As part of this group we provide our Cospitality Suite, run cosplay contests, and produce panels on cosplay. We intend to local charities and hospitals in the cities of the conventions we participate.

 photo Tina as Tomb Raider_zps16fppgiw.jpg

Tina as Tomb Raider

Do you have a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization status or other designation? If not, do you consider yourself a charity group or just a group of friend who do good? And are you looking into getting a 501(c)3 status?
We are beginning the process of getting a 501(c)3 status for our charitable work. We consider ourselves a cosplay community that supports cosplayers while doing good works, if that makes sense. We believe you can’t do the charity work if you don’t support and advance the members that are doing it.

 photo Visit to Cennennial Childrens Hospital in Dec 2014_zpsciv76hfv.jpg

Visit to Cennennial Childrens Hospital in Dec 2014

How can someone join Cosplay Collective?
Anyone, group or individual, is welcome to join Cosplay Collective. We do most of our contact through Facebook, conventions, and local events. We are an inclusive group and encourage all fandoms to join. No shaming or bulling is allowed in this group. We also encourage as much participation as possible.

Is there a website people can go to search for a local chapter?
Right now we have only this chapter, but hopefully that will change after we get our status. At this time our web address, cosplaycollective.org, directs everyone to our Facebook page.

What type of costumes do you accept? Do you have a costume approval process, if so what is it? What do you look for in a costume?
As a general rule, all cosplayers are welcome. It is not all about the superheroes. We want to not only do the charity work, but we also want to be supportive of the cosplay community and include everyone who cosplays and even those thinking of doing so. We are planning to have “maker meet-ups”, photo shoots, and events for cosplayers outside of cons. So, everyone is welcome. We also have a “no shaming” rule, as I said, everyone is welcome.

Charity events are a bit different, as we want the best representation of the characters, recognizable and well made. We don’t seem to have a problem with finding this. Everyone who volunteered so far has had great costumes. I believe there is a general understanding that we need good costumes for any visits we make. Some members have reached out to get help to make their costumes better just so they can participate in this side of the group.

Do you have people willing to help with the costume making process or a resource guide to help with the process?
We do and are gathering more information everyday of local artists that are willing to help others create. We try to connect with those who use our services at the Cospitality Suite we provide for cons. Those who create are welcome to let us know they are willing to help others. We are also happy to support cosplay businesses in this fashion.

How many people are currently in your group?
Our Facebook page currently has almost 450 members. There is smaller amounts that participate, but most all of us have day jobs and can’t make all the events.

 photo Our Founders Dee and Nancy_zpslf1hwk0b.jpg

The founders Dee and Nancy

Leadership structure: Right now, the leadership structure involves all those mentioned earlier. As we set up our Non-profit that may change as we want others who participate to be more involved in the planning of events.

How is the leadership determined?
That will be determined as we get further into the process of getting our Non-Profit status.

What have you done for charities (types of events)?
We are a very young group, but we have been fortunate to have created several events.

We began with a Christmas Cosplay Photo Shoot and Toy Drive. We invited cosplay photographers and cosplayers to come for a meet and greet. We also invited the public to bring a new toy and they could get their pictures with the cosplayers. It was quite successful and we collected many toys to be delivered to children in the hospital at Christmas.

The toys were delivered to two hospitals by some of our cosplayers. Getting to meet and show support for some little ones who had to be away from home at such a special holiday.

We have been very humbled by being invited to a local hospital that has never had cosplayers make appearances. We visited the adults on the Oncology and the Pallative Care floors and, to me, this was amazing. We collected items that would be useful for them while they were hospitalized and delivered them during our visit. Families and staff were so grateful and we put smiles on faces that needed something to smile about. This is what I do this for. We have been asked to make regular visits from now on.

Events at some senior living facilities have been a joy to do also. After our first one we have been asked back and others have reached out to us to make appearances at additional places.

We are part of a live podcast called Comixstravaganza Live that can be found at graphicpolicy.com on Wednesdays at 7pm CST. We have had several local cosplayers on the show discussing why they cosplay, giving tips about costuming and more. We hope to expand on that in the future.

 photo Nashvilles Dark Knight at 2014 Toy Drive_zpsg2mi0txj.jpg

Nashvilles Dark Knight at 2014 Toy Drive

There is also our Cospitality Suite that we provide to cons where we have a location at the con where cosplayers can get away from the crowds and regenerate and/or repair if needed. We provide many items that can be used to do this from sewing machines to hot glue guns.

Do you create your own event or make appearance when requested?
We create many of our events, but we also make appearances. Our idea is that not only will we do our thing, but if you are a cosplay group and want more participants we are happy to reach out to our group to find some for them also. Any event programmers are welcome to reach out to us for participation.

How did you build you “clientele”?
Mostly by putting ourselves out there and telling people about ourselves. We do this at cons and events. I love to talk about cosplay anywhere and it has surprised me how many people become interested when they hear about and see pictures. We are lucky to have a great network of contacts that have asked for our participation or have referred others to us.

Do you have particular organization(s) or cause(s) you work with regularity?
The Children’s Hospital at Centennial Hospital and Vanderbilt Medical Center has asked for regular visits along with several senior living facilities.

 photo Batwoman and Superboy_zps3izy0nwa.jpg

Batwoman and Superboy

What is the most amazing thing Cosplay Collective has accomplished so far?
Everything we have done has been amazing! Seeing smiles regularly at our visits makes my heart sing! There would be no way to pick just one accomplishment; it is the whole that is amazing!

Where do you see Cosplay Collective going in the future?
We hope to continue locally providing a resource for local charities and event planners. We would like to help other areas of the country to create their own collective, bringing their communities together for great causes.

One thing we hope to do is to be able to make appearances at locations near the conventions we attend. In connection with the Cospitality Suite we provide, we feel that we have the ability to get groups together to make appearances locally during the conventions.

Do you use any fun terminology specifically for Cosplay Collective?
Of course “Cospitality” is something we use a lot.

Do you have advice for someone interested in creating a CAUSEplay group or getting into CAUSEplay?
Do it! It takes work and perseverance to get it off the ground, but if you put the work into it the rewards are amazing! Find the people that make the decisions and ask. If you ask, usually, they are happy to work with you.

Anything else you want to add about your group or CAUSEplay: The first time I put on a costume I paid close attention to the reactions I got! I saw what this can do for people. A smile is the best thing you can give someone because it gives them hope for something better. Why would you not want to do something like that?

 photo Vist to Vanderbilt in Feb 2015_zpsshjkr1pm.jpg

Visit to Vanderbilt 2/2015

What future events do you have?
Right now we will be creating a regular schedule for visits to the local hospitals and we have several senior living places on the schedule.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SouthernCosplayCollective

Website: www.cosplaycollective.org (Directs to Facebook at this point)

Twitter: @coscollective

Email: cosplaycollective@outlook.com

Podcast: Comixstravaganza Live @ graphicpolicy.com every Wednesday at 7pm CST

Advertisements

Hero Behind the Mask: Knightmage

I have followed Knightmage for sometime now and I am always blown a way by his skill level as a costumer, his attitude, his compassion, and his level of giving!  I will forever be amazed at how quickly he can produce some complicated costumes!  If you haven’t seen his Predator yet check out his Facebook page (one costume that is not shown in any pictures here)!  You won’t be disappointed!  There is so much that can be said about this man but I feel his own words do more justice for his character than I could even attempt!   –Mala

 photo spawncol_zpsmcbq9ks6.jpg

Name: Michael “Knightmage” Wilson

Location: Youngstown, Ohio

What got you into CAUSEplaying?
It started in 2011 when I decided that I wanted to make my Halloween costume. I went with John Stewart Green Lantern. After Halloween a friend asked me if I could participate in a local Relay For Life event. The theme was “America” so I thought, ok, I’ll make Captain America. After that I started attending birthday parties as Spiderman and soon after I made my Batman costume. That’s when I really started getting more involved with charity events. As time went on and the popularity of my cosplaying grew I started thinking that I could use this as an avenue to help a lot of people and organizations. Once I started getting invited to conventions and people would ask if I sold prints of my cosplays, again I thought this would be a great chance. So I came up with the idea to give my prints and autographs out for free. All I ask is a donation of any amount to my charity of choice. Every convention I attend I do a different charity. I try to stay local to where the convention is. I’ve since started to add a “Props Raffle for Charity”. Everything I do involving cosplaying where I’m handed money, whether it be a con appearance, birthday party, selling of prints and props, it all goes to charity. That’s my way of giving back for all the amazing opportunities that I’ve been given through cosplaying.

 photo toys_zpsu2bcpg7c.jpg

What keeps you CAUSEplaying?
A few things. Again, it’s really my way of giving back. Once cosplaying went from a hobby to a passion I really wanted to strive to be an idea. I didn’t just want to create something, wear it then be done. I wanted it to mean something. I wanted to do more and hopefully inspire others with it. There’s so many different layers of cosplaying to me now and there’s so many more yet undiscovered. Showing how you can turn a hobby/passion you love into a charitable act of love is just one layer. But it’s a huge layer for me and it continues to drive me to keep doing more. When I started cosplaying I never expected it to go in this direction. Now two years later I’m getting The Presidential Volunteer’s Service Award and paying off layaways as an anime character. It’s just crazy how life happens and the twists and turns it gives you.

 photo 1011614_673724759355372_1774277900_n_zps26nn57e3.jpg

What was your first CAUSEplay event?
It was a Relay For Life. I made Captain America specifically for that event. I had an absolute blast and it was well received.

What is your favorite costume to wear while CAUSEplaying, and Why?
I’ve tested out only a hand full of different costumes at events but Batman is probably my favorite. All kids and even adults love Batman. The reception I get from it is something really special.

 photo 1926780_10201281132260464_2096513057_n_zpswshju9qu.jpg

Most memorable CAUSEplay moment:
Wow. There’s been so many. I think maybe the “Lighting the Bat Signal for Jayden” event. This was a local event for a young four-year old boy named Jayden. He has a rare disease known as MSD Leukemia. At the time he was only given months to live. He’s a huge Batman fan so the idea was to make an event so big that it would catch the attention of Christian Bale in hopes that he would come and meet the young man. Well as time drew closer the idea was thought to have a bunch of superheroes there as well. This is when I decided to make my Batman. I would be Batman for the event. A very small organization at the time from Cleveland “Superheroes to kids in Ohio” got involved and one of the members had just purchased a Batman suit. So the reigns of doing that honor was handed to him. I decided to wear my Green Lantern outfit. When the day came, with only weeks of planning, us heroes (around 12) had a police escort to the local stadium with over 10 thousand people waiting. It was unbelievable. Then comes little Jayden. We all greeted him. He over joyed. As it got dark Jayden lit the Bat signal in the sky. Literally a fully working large spotlight Bat signal. A very kind gentleman who owned one brought his from Cleveland and played the role of Alfred. With the signal in the sky and music playing through the stadium speakers, Batman rolls in with his Batmobile. I don’t remember the type of car but it was donated for use from a dealership. The car was a black sleek sports car and was worth around $500,000. Batman took Jayden for a quick ride and returned to the stadium where we all took photos and chatted. The outpouring of support shown from the community was just incredible. I think that will forever be my favorite moment. The story gets better as Christian Bale did indeed get word and flew Jayden and his family out to Los Angeles to spend the weekend with him. Also Jayden is still with us and is on the road to recovery.

 photo 15502_821010687960111_7216718175655238325_n_zpsvkfrj8ku.jpg

What is your favorite cause to support?
I have a lot but one charity I will always support and is my go to is the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They do so much and to be able to help give someone their last wish, that’s just the ultimate gift to give.

 photo Snake_zpsscbqmvkp.jpg

The silliest/strangest thing you have done for a cause?
So far I haven’t had to do anything really crazy but I’m sure after this interview post that’ll change.

Who inspires you?
I find inspiration from everywhere and everybody. Sounds cliché but it’s absolutely true. There are so many people, especially in the cosplay community who inspires me. I feed off of positive energy. If it’s around then that’s what inspires me.

Advice for CAUSEplaying: So many things to say here. First off you need to be confident in yourself, be true to the character and mindful of your audience.. 90% of charity cosplaying involves working with kids. If you’re Superman then you need to be the portrayal of Superman. I don’t mean looking like you just came out of a comic book. I mean your personality. You want that kid to believe that you are Superman regardless of what you personally look like because all that kid will see is that “S” on your chest. Getting into charity work can be difficult but don’t get discouraged. Create a resume/bio of yourself to give organizations. Get a background check done of yourself too. They need to know that they can trust you and you want to be able to show that they can. Anytime money is involved, especially if you’re raising it, then you need to keep all receipts. Start small. You probably won’t be able to just contact a Children’s Hospital and start visits. You need to build a rapport with your community first. I always say that Relay for Life’s are great for that. They’re everywhere and there’s so many connections in the community that you can make. I can go on and on but I’m always available to help and give some tips and guidance.

 photo 10362856_10201752654088215_4605659803480726224_n_zpse3vhrdfq.jpg

What CAUSEplay events do you have coming up?
Well, since I raise money at every convention I guest at I have a bunch of those coming up. Many I can’t say yet because they haven’t announced me. And of course there’s always a charity event in need of a super hero somewhere. I post my schedule as it comes regularly on my social media pages.

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer?
It honestly doesn’t matter to me. Neither are derogatory terms and both generally means the same.

What was your first costume/cosplay?
John Stewart Green Lantern. Made that for Halloween in 2011.

 photo 1553275_804110169631967_6873359698407807229_o_zpsvo5khejl.jpg

What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
I am a Deputy Sheriff. I’ve been in law enforcement for 15 years. People are always shocked to learn that.

If you could have any job what would it be and why?
I’ve always been fascinated with fight choreography and stunts so I would have to say a professional stuntman. I’ve went to stunt school and have done extra work and stunt work for a few Hollywood movies but I’ve never pursued it as a career.

 photo 10369746_714098405318007_8901636464677809460_n_zpsqws7qv7l.jpg

Tell us something random about yourself: I am deathly afraid of spiders!

Star Wars or Star Trek: Star Wars! C’mon, The Force is where it’s at!

Marvel or DC: That’s tough. Character wise I love DC but when it comes to building a story I love Marvel. So overall I think Marvel has the edge with me.

Favorite Comic Series: Batman. The one character who is always a constant to me is Batman.

Favorite Comic Character: Spawn. Such an incredible story and look. Plus he’s incredibly fun to cosplay.

Favorite Book: I’m not religious but The Bible.

Favorite Video Game: Oregon Trail! No, seriously, probably the Call of Duty series. It’s so much fun. So many hours and days wasted just doing some killin.

Favorite Convention: C2E2. I have so much fun at this convention every year. I’ve met so many awesome friends there. So many amazing cosplays also. It’s a great show with a mix of pop culture and comics. It’s just awesome all around. A very close second is Dragon Con. That con is just crazy nuts but in a good party way.

Affiliations (clubs or groups): Super Heroes to Kids in Ohio, The Heroes Alliance Ohio, Together Brothers Productions, Shot in the Dark Comics, and the East Coast Avengers.

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/Knightmage1

Twitter: @Knightmage

Instagram: Knightmage1

The Hero Behind the Mask: Pastel-Colored Cosplay

I started this blog hoping to inspire people to give back to their communities. The point is to show that anyone can CAUSEplay! My hope has been to show you that you can start at any time, there are many different ways to give back, many causes that need your help, and the different reasons people get into CAUSEplay. This weeks feature is particular exciting to me because its this cosplayers first time using costuming as a way to give back to her community! Though she has helped with other charitable projects in the past this was a new undertaking for her incorporating her love of cosplay! And she plans on making more events in the future! I believe she will go far with her endeavors!  My friends who attended her event had nothing but glowing remarks.  I look forward to following Pastel-Colored Cosplay as her adventure continues! .  – Mala

 photo ShannonDeonier2_zps7ef3e5cd.jpg

Photographer: Shannon Deonier

Name: Pastel-Colored Cosplay

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

What was your first costume/cosplay?
My first real cosplay costumes were Orihime Inoue from Bleach and Hinata Hyuuga from Naruto. I’d tried to imitate other characters before that, but never put in a real effort until I actually went to a convention for the first time.

How long have you been cosplaying?
Since October of 2006, so roughly eight years or so.

What got you into CAUSEplaying?
I’m fairly new to the CAUSEplay scene, having just hosted my very first event.  But back when I used to work in retail, our store hosted a variety of different charity options during the holidays. It was such a great feeling to see the Toys for Tots box get filled each day and to help customers find items for wish lists on the Angel Tree.  Growing up, Christmas was always such a magical time for me and my family. I wanted to share that feeling with others.

What was your first CAUSEplay event?
That would be our recent holiday party event! It was held on December 13th at Kafeneio in Salt Lake City. The entry fee was to bring one new and unopened toy donation for Toys for Tots and we managed to collect 43 toys and fill an entire bin!

What is Cosplay for a Cause all about?
Cosplay for a Cause is really new. This was our first event, but we wanted to make it about helping others. There are a lot of cosplay events going on in our community, and cosplayers in general often get a bad reputation so we wanted to show others that cosplayers care and we really just wanted to help kids have a great Christmas.

 photo EurobeatKasumiPhotography_zps98da1c24.jpg

Photographer: Eurobeat Kasumi Photography

What inspired you to create this?
I grew up in a large Greek family and Christmas was always a really magical time for us. I wanted to spread that feeling as much as I could.

What is causes has Cosplay for a Cause supported? Or what do you see Cosplay for a Cause supporting in the future?
Our first event was to collect donations for Toys for Tots during the holidays.  As for the future, I would love to have events to help support the Humane Society of Utah and the Utah Food Bank.

How hard was it to arrange this?
Had I been doing it on my own, it would have been VERY difficult. It’s thanks to my friends in the cosplay community that it turned out pretty simple.

From pitching in for the venue rental to bringing refreshments, games, decor and entertainment, my friends were happy to help and I’m so grateful to them for that.

If someone wanted to create something like this in their area what would you recommend?
Voice your ideas! Share them with friends and plan together, contact the charities you wish to support. One person’s inspiration can go a long way, but nothing will happen if you remain silent.

 photo ShannonDeonier_zpsc5de35ab.jpg

Photographer: Shannon Deonier

Who inspires you?
My cousin, Brittni Vega.

If you’ve been on Instagram or just love dogs in general, you’ve probably seen Harlow, Sage and Indiana. My cousin is their owner, photographer and now the author of their new book!

She has been a big supporter of the Humane Society of Utah, featuring adoptions and even participating in their holiday telethon on Fox 13.

Seeing the things she has done has really been a driving force for me.

Advice for CAUSEplaying: With a hobby like cosplay, it’s very easy to feel excluded, left out or unimportant. But anybody can be charitable and pay it forward to those in need.

What CAUSEplay events do you have coming up?
Plans are underway for our Humane Society event, which we are hoping to hold in the spring time. Nothing is official yet, but we do have an event page that you can follow for the time being!
https://www.facebook.com/events/349392671907262/

Do you prefer to be called a cosplayer or costumer?
Probably a cosplayer? Most of my costumes are from franchises I enjoy as a hobby. I guess I would consider a costumer to be someone who either makes creations of their own design or someone who does it professionally.

What is your day job (a.k.a. how I pay for my expensive hobby)?
I currently work on event staff for a local reception center. I’ve also been taking commissions on the side for small projects.

If you could have any job what would it be and why?
I would love to have any kind of job where I can work creatively. I have a wide variety of things I enjoy, from videography to costuming to writing, so pinpointing just one in specific isn’t easy. I am aiming to go to school for fashion design this year, so we’ll see where that road takes me!

Tell us something random about yourself: I’m the writer of a webcomic, alongside my friend Stacie Pitt (who is currently an intern under Todd Lockwood) as the artist.

Our comic is called Trinity Crest and you can read it by clicking the link below:
http://trinitycrest.thewebcomic.com/

Star Wars or Star Trek: Star Wars!

Favorite Anime: It’s hard to pick just one! Probably Card Captor Sakura, if I had to choose.

Marvel or DC: I like both, but a lot of my favorite characters come from DC.

Favorite Comic Series: I don’t know if webcomics count, but some of my favorites are Myth by Zelda C. Wang and Monster Pop! by Maya Kern.

Favorite Comic Character: Poison Ivy.

Favorite Book: Anything by Neil Gaiman.

Favorite Video Game: Okami.

Favorite Convention: Anime Los Angeles. If you want to see a convention that goes through great lengths to be well-run, well-staffed and cares deeply about attendee feedback, definitely check it out!

Affiliations (clubs or groups): I’m a part of Right in the Doki’s, which is both a cosplay team and YouTube channel focused on many different aspects in cosplay.

 photo EmilyEvans_zpsaa9e8526.jpg

Photographer: Emily Evans

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pastelcoloredcosplay

Tumbler: http://pastel-colored-cosplay.tumblr.com/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCl2PiPOo93USfaJ5eVy47hw

Additional Info:  Check out this other interview done with Pastel Colored Cosplay last year!

—————————–

Let me know how you are getting involved! I want to hear your stories!! And adventures!! Or tell me about a CAUSEplayer or a group you think are making a difference! Email AdventuresWithMala@gmail.com with your stories!