Last week we introduced you to the world of cosplay and met a couple who have a ton of fun doing it — like many do. This week we’re talking to a woman who turned her hobby into a career. Kiki Kannon didn’t grow up thinking twice about cosplay. She dressed up naturally as a child and spent Halloween thinking mostly of the free candy she could collect. Today she’s a prop maker and cosplayer extraordinaire who doesn’t belong to any sort of clique but is rather a lone wolf who enjoys making friends along the way who share her passion for the play. So let’s get to know a bit more about Kiki Kannon, shall we?
Kendra: What got you started into more than just dressing up but actually cosplaying?
Kiki Kannon: I didn’t know that cosplay existed or that it was something that people did. My experience with cosplay started a little backwards, before I knew other people were cosplaying, I was already doing it. I started to make what they call “closet cosplay.” I took clothes from my closet or bought clothes to try to look like characters I enjoyed. Sometimes I altered them, even. I would wear these outfits to school on occasions. They looked more like unique clothing than anything. I loved to have my own style. After my first convention experience, I felt more accepted with what I was doing.
Kendra: What took you to the next level of being a professional cosplayer though? Did you just sort of fall into it or did is this something you always wanted to do?
Kiki: It definitely wasn’t planned. I had started cosplaying in 2003 and it’s something I just really enjoyed doing as a hobby. I went to school for animation and got my degree, but I never stopped cosplaying. It’s kind of addicting really! Around the time when I finished up school, cosplay became a lot bigger than it had ever been before. Not many people were making a living off of it, but I saw it was possible. I figured I’d do it more seriously for some time and see where it takes me, while I figured out other things in my life.
Kendra: In your experience what separates a pro from your regular Joe cosplayer?
Kiki: The only thing that really defines me as a professional is that I turn cosplay into a business. It was a hobby for a very long time at first. It really has nothing to do with skill level. There are many extremely talented cosplayers that just do cosplay as a fun hobby, which is fine. It is still fun for me, but I also treat it as a career.
Kendra: What’s the most you’re willing to admit you’ve spent to perfect a look?
Kiki: Probably the most money I have spent on a costume is one I am actually currently working on. Right now it’s cost me about $1,500 so far. It’s my dream costume and I only want it to be the best I can make it.
Kendra: What are some cool or interesting things that you’ve gotten to do because of cosplay?
Kiki: I have been invited to many events, giving me the opportunity to travel to different places and meet new people. Sometimes I get to meet people I have looked up to for a long time and different celebrity guests and actors. One of my favorite things is collaborating with other artists and doing group cosplay together. I have worked with other artists and being a part of their projects was more than an honor.
Kendra: Do you have any weird fan stories?
Kiki: I like the fact that I am not extremely well known, so I am usually not recognized in everyday life. Which is nice to just do regular everyday things. I am not as recognizable without my make-up, heels, wigs, and costumes on. It must have been very weird timing, but when I had left from class (while I was in college), I was walking in front of these two girls that probably didn’t even notice me. I wasn’t really listening until I realized they were talking about my cosplay! It was kind of bizarre really… At least it wasn’t anything bad! I was kind of flattered as they had brought up a skirt I made for a local event that I won an award for. Aside from that I do get some pretty odd messages from week to week.
Kendra: Will there ever be a time in your life where you hang it up and say it’s not for you anymore?
Kiki: It’s possible that one day I might stop cosplaying. It’s really hard to say right now. I just kind of live in the moment and enjoying what I have while I have it. If I decided to stop cosplaying, I’d love to continue my prop making and maybe even work on films.
Kendra: Lastly, what’s the most rewarding part of cosplaying for you?
Kiki: I think I came into cosplay as an artist. So, the most rewarding part is people recognizing that I do put a lot of time and effort into my costumes. They look at my costumes and the detail and some of the skills I use to make them. Of course it’s always a learning experience, which I also enjoy very much!
Next week we break down my favorite way to play dress up!