Inicio English Unedited Yaya Han interview at Japan Weekend Madrid

Unedited Yaya Han interview at Japan Weekend Madrid

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(Madrid, September 29. Yakuza Webzine).- Last weekend we had the honor to meet Yaya Han, one of the greatest cosplayers in the world, and a living legend for the cosplay community. She was a guest at Japan Weekend Madrid, and this is the unedited version of our conversation with her after her Q&A with Liui Aquino.

Click here to read the edited spanish version of the interview with information about her Q&A

Do you keep the same passion you had when you started doing cosplay?

I try to keep the passion alive, you know, it is hard because this is now my job, which means that I don’t always get to be creative and crafty. It seems like when you run a business, and you’re self employed, 75% of the time you’re doing paperwork and boring administrative tasks and only 25%  of the time are you actually being creative. But I’m appreciating cosplay differently now because I’m very much in love with the community and I really want to help the community, mentor the community, and just find ways to give back. That is now a really big part of my passion, travelling and meeting cosplayers from different countries, getting to know their experiences and you know, finding ways to give them advice and motivate them to keep going. At the same time craftsmanship is my foundation, so as long as i keep making my own costumes it is still going to make me really happy.

How was that transition from being a hobby to becoming a job? You’re one of the few people in the world that can really say that you make a living out of it.

It was a really long road, it was really painful at times. I’ve made some pretty big mistakes but I’m very grateful for them as well because I learned some fantastic, valuable things about just living, how to look at the world, persevere and keep doing what I love. It certainly was not an overnight thing, it was many years of grinding, doing things for free and hoping for exposure and realizing at some point that your work and your skill is worth something. So much of being a creator, a self-employed artist is finding confidence in yourself. If you think you’re worth something you can convince other people to also see your worth. That has been really important to me. I try to follow my instincts a lot, I think a lot of the big business decisions that I make are really based on my gut feeling and what kind of rapport I feel with the company that is approaching me. And I always stick to my message, which is that cosplay is an art form and that it is an unique fan expression and should be enjoyed with fun.

It is said that cosplay is for everyone, but there’s a lot competitivity in this world. Why do you think that happens?

I think is very natural to have competition in cosplay because we’re putting not only our skills out there, but also we’re putting out bodies out there, our faces, we’re representing iconic characters. If you understand that psychological aspect, that you’re dressing up as this larger than life, perfect gods basically, then you can understand the pressure that comes with it. I think the competitiveness is certainly very natural. In any creative field there is competitiveness, but in cosplay specifically you have people that are cosplaying outside their skin tones and their body type; which is something that I have always advocated for, you should cosplay whoever you want. But then you have a lot of people that are critical of others that don’t fit their own vision of the character. So again, the message is that this is a personal form of expression, and you’re doing this for yourself. Everyone needs to be tolerant of each other and respect their version of cosplaying a character.

Yaya Han Yakuza Web
Maho y Vicky, dos de nuestras redactoras, con Yaya Han

But it can be very intimidating for someone who just started in this world of cosplay. What is your advice for those people?

I hear that a lot actually. It makes sense, there are moments when I see someone doing something very crazy and innovative, and it goes over my head, how they even do this? But then you break it down in your research. It really is a journey of learning and curiosity, you want to seek out the information and to understand this new techniques and how can someone make such an incredible costume. So, my advice to people is to really practice your google-fu. Research is half the battle, you have to really go out there and spend 10 hours on Google. I do, you know, I’m on Youtube, I’m on Google to literally scour for any kind of information until I understand something. It’s from doing, hands-on practice and experimenting that you can really achieve great things very fast. I see people now that in their first or second costumes are really incredible and so much better than my first or second cosplays. That’s the other thing to remember, that everybody starts somewhere. For me it was with a 40 dollars sewing machine and just drawing with my marker all over fabric (laughs) you know, it’s a mess. But you got to start somewhere.

You started as a contestant, like everybody else, but now you’re a judge. What’s your criteria when choosing a winner in a contest?

Oh my gosh. I take judging very seriously and I’ve been a contestant myself and I know what they’re going through. That to me is really invaluable in a judge. You have to have experience before you can go and pass judgement on to others. I’m looking always for the most dynamic combination of performance and craftsmanship. It’s not about the biggest and flashiest costume; it’s really about how many techniques were used in a costume. Is there a variety of techniques used? Because with each technique there is more risk that something could go wrong, more mistakes that could be made, and if all of this different aspects were executed well you know that somebody really had to learn and apply a lot of different skills and i really appreciate that. I usually go by as objectively as I can, by looking at the entire pool of contestants and choosing the person that most deserves to be recognized as the winner.

Your schedule must be crazy nowadays. Do you still have the time to be a fan and what are your recent obsessions?

I do have trouble keeping up with new games, new anime or new comics books. I mean, I’m not going to deny it, it is tough, especially with gaming. You need two hands to game whereas I need two hands to craft so it’s not like watching anime or watching a movie of some sort. It’s hard for me to game. However I travel with my Nintendo 3DS and I play games on that and that’s sort of my relaxation between travelling, or on the airplane, or waiting at the airport and that has been my way to still get my Geek on. Right now I’m super obsessed with Pokemon Y, i’m a bit late coming in to it, but definitely Pokemon Y is my life now. I recently played through both Fire Emblem, probable going to replay them again and again, and I’m cosplaying a character from Fire Emblem next so that’s a big obsession right now.

What about your all time favourites?

Anime would be Record of Lodoss War, because I love high fantasy or Cowboy Bebop. Vision of Escaflowne, you know? That era of anime. Or even Ranma 1/2. And I would say in videogames it’s Uncharted. The Uncharted series has spoiled me for everything else sadly.

Interview by Amilcar Trejo Mosquera
Recorded by María Cañizal and Ana Victoria Fleitas

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