This month, we’re shining our community spotlight on Magic cosplayer and streamer Ashlen Rose! Ashlen was one of our guests on Local Game Show and will be competing in The Chalice this fall, so we wanted to give you an opportunity to get to know her better. Read our interview with her below to find out how she got into Magic, what goes into creating a costume, and what else she’ll be up to this year.
Card Kingdom: How did you discover Magic? What about the game appealed to you most?
Ashlen Rose: I discovered Magic through Duels of the Planeswalkers 2009. I spent hours playing through the campaign, collecting more cards so that I could build the perfect deck to beat the next boss. The fantasy aesthetics paired with endless combinations and strategies are what appealed to me the most about the game.
CK: When did you start cosplaying?
AR: I started cosplaying around 2012. Shortly after attending my first anime convention, I asked a friend to teach me how to read a pattern and give me a refresher on how to use a sewing machine. I had taken woodshop and sewing in high school, little did I know how much those classes would come in handy later on. My very first cosplay was Hinata Hyuga from Naruto.
CK: Why does cosplay appeal to you?
AR: I think, much like Magic, cosplay has endless combinations and strategies you can use to make something. There really isn’t one “right” way to do things; some like to create everything from scratch, some like to repurpose existing items, and others like to do a little of both.
CK: Could you take us through the process of creating a costume, from start to finish? How long does the process take?
Every cosplayer has their own process that works for them. For me, it’s a lot of research and prep work before I even begin diving into the actual building.
Phase 1 – Research & Prep: I will usually spend the first few days researching the time period and cultures that might have inspired the the character’s aesthetic. Then I break the costume down into individual pieces, which helps me figure out what materials I’ll need and how I want to make each part.
Magic cards are doubly complex to cosplay because, unless it’s a planeswalker, we rarely get more than one point of view of the costume and usually what we do get is not full-body. There’s a lot you have to fill in and get creative with – what does the back look like? What kind of shoes would that character wear? A really helpful tip, that I got from [Christine] Sprankle, is to look at other cards from the same set. If I want to make a Thalia cosplay, I would look through Innistrad cards to see what other Cathars wear and draw inspiration from that.
An easy step to forget about until the end is fixing (how everything will attach). It’s important to plan this earlier in the process because it affects HOW I will make the cosplay. I have to travel with a lot of my costumes, so they need to be able to break down and fit in a suitcase. It’s much easier to build a staff with that in mind than it is to take a saw to it after.
Phase 2 – Shopping: Aside from fabric & patterns, I order most of my materials online. One of my favorite things to do is spend hours searching online for things that can be altered for a costume. For example, Steve Argyle’s Bloodbraid Elf has a giant dinosaur skull on her shoulder. You could sculpt it out of clay, 3D print it, make it out of papier mache – the options are limitless! I didn’t have a lot of time, nor a 3D printer, so I ended up finding a children’s dinosaur lamp that would serve that purpose. All I needed to do was add some horns and repaint it.
Phase 3 – Patterns & Mockups: Before I start cutting up any of my material, I like to make sure I have paper patterns of everything. Usually I’ll cut out the pattern and try it on to see if I like the scale/fit. For anything that needs to be sewn, I like to make it out of a cheap fabric first to ensure the fit is going to be right.
Phase 4 – Build the things: After I’m done researching, getting materials, and patterning out the pieces, I finally get to build everything. I like to try on pieces as I build them to make sure they fit correctly and that the fixing will hold.
Phase 5 – TRY EVERYTHING ON TOGETHER: This is probably the most important step, almost as important as remembering to de-sideboard at the end of a match. Even though I’ve tried everything on individually while building it, I like to make sure it will all fit and work well together. This step lets me test all the fixing as well as the comfort level of the costume.
The process varies greatly from costume to costume. On average it takes 2-3 months; keep in mind this is because I’m also waiting on materials I’ve ordered which can take 1-2 weeks. Sometimes there’s only 2-3 weeks to make a cosplay, so that’s when I have to get really creative with how I’m going to make things.
CK: What’s your favorite costume that you’ve created?
AR: Probably my Admiral Beckett Brass cosplay, because who doesn’t like wearing a giant blue hat and an amazing cape?!
CK: Could you tell us about some of the other content you create for Magic?
AR: I stream a lot of Magic content including: Modern, MTG Arena, building costumes, and cracking packs. I also do some of the voices for the magic audio dramas produced by Voice of All, and I’ve had guest appearances on Game Knights, Tolarian Community College, and more.
CK: Any upcoming projects you’d like our community to know about?
AR: Yes! I’m part of the cast for the newest D&D/Magic stream coming to Twitch – Ravnica: The Broken pact! It airs October 13th at 1pm Pacific over on the twitch.tv/dnd channel and I’m extremely excited to be a part of it. Not only do I get to play pretend, I get to do it set in the world of Magic!
Header image credit: Minotaur Photography
All images used with permission