Ars Gratia Cosplay: July Bombshell Kayley Marie Finds Artistic Niche

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Hayley Marie as Angela; photogray by Rick Currier

All imagery is by Rick Currier Photography (FB: Rick Currier Photography IG: @rickcurrier32)

Cosplay has come a long way -- but it still has a long way to go. If you don't believe me, witness the debut of this season's BIG BROTHER on CBS, where the admission of one of the houseguests, Ramses Soto, that he was a professional cosplayer was met with blank stares and crickets. (The silent message of derision from CBS did not go unnoticed.)

Fortunately, cosplay has people like Kayley Marie in it, who not only create some outstanding designs but also serve as an opinion influencers. In her role as an art teacher, Kaylie shares her cosplay experiences with her students, while also fostering their own talents in the arts. This is exactly the kind of positive face cosplay needs -- and precisely why we are proud to have Kaylie Marie as our July 2017 Critical Blast Bombshell.

 

Critical Blast Bombshell, July 2017

Kayley Marie

What is your interest in cosplay, and why do you do it?

I was originally exposed to cosplay growing up through the Internet and television, the very limited exposure it had at the time, and always had wanted to partake. My first cosplay experience was Baltimore Comic Con (BCC) four years ago, with my cosplay partner-in-crime, Sharon Rose.  It all started when she invited me to join her at BCC that same year.  Since then it has gone beyond being just a hobby, it is now something I consider being my own walking, breathing work of art.  I am an artist, but before cosplay I went through a phase of “not being good enough” and stopped painting and sculpting for a long time.  After Sharon introduced me to cosplay, I found myself using my skills again and finding my own artistic niche in the cosplay world. I may never be as famous as Degas or Picasso or Rembrandt, but I am happy and that is all that matters.

 

How did you get into it, and what was your first cosplay experience?

Like I said in the first question, Baltimore Comic Con 2013 was my very first con. I can’t believe it has been almost four years! My first cosplay experience was at this very con, which is also one of my favorite conventions to date. I first decided to attend with Sharon Rose with a large DC Suicide group she was putting together. After starting to build my Poison Ivy, I decided to build what I consider my first real cosplay. The one that really got me back into sculpting and painting. This cosplay was my genderbent Thor. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wanted to cosplay a female version of Thor (this was before Marvel announced their female Thor). In the end I decided on a hybrid version inspired by 1940s (so rivets were a must), incorporated color and streamlined details from “big screen” Thor, and had classic comic book inspiration. I included key elements that were identifiable as Thor but were feminine, such as the classic blonde hair, makeup that read as “strong yet beautiful”, and one of my favorite touches--electric blue contact lenses complete with Nordic designs. When I finally debuted this version, the reception was beyond anything I could have imagined, I felt like Thor. I really fell in love with cosplay.

Kayley Marie Cosplay as Marvel's Mistress Death.
Photography by Rick Currier.

 

What is your "Secret Identity?"

Outside of cosplay I am a educator. To be more specific, an Art Teacher. I teach in a building with grades K-8, and I am the only art teacher. I teach all 700 of my little aspiring artists. It brings me so much joy! Yes, my students do know about my cosplaying. They love to ask what I am building and where I am going next. I bring back photos from the conventions and show them. I am the “Coolest Art Teacher Ever.”

 

What kind of social activities do you get involved with, especially if you are able to incorporate cosplay?

I am part of a charity group called Central PA Avengers (CPA). We are a group of cosplayers who love to give back to our community. CPA is a completely volunteer team of cosplayers whose mission is to give back to the community and raise the bar for cosplay in general.

The Central PA Avengers are a group of friends and family who have taken their cosplay and costuming skills to the next level, the level of greatness, providing children and families with super heroes, princesses and more! Our characters bring spirit back into children's lives and give them the strength and encouragement they need in trying times. Our mission statement, "We came, we made friends, we made smiles!" is just a small testament to the power of charity cosplay.

 

Do you make as much of your own costume as possible or rely on purchased materials -- and is that important overall to cosplaying?
 

I do a little of both. If I can make the cosplay, I try to make as much as I can. I will say my strengths include prop making and armor building, which I absolutely love to do! All of my armor and props are 100% eva foam. I find that I can get the same results from foam as if I was using something like worbla. Plus, it’s definitively much more cost effective. As far as sewing, that is where I will say my skills lack. I really dislike sewing spandex, so all of my spider suits have been commissioned. I am, however, learning! Angela of Asgard and my second version of Thor are my first two cosplays that I sewed everything except for the pants. My goal this year is to do more sewing for my cosplays. I do however, do all of my own makeup, even if it takes me five hours!

I don’t think making everything for a cosplay is important. Everyone does cosplay for different reasons. As long as you are having fun and you are happy with your cosplay then it shouldn’t matter. After all, we are all geeks in costume.

Kayley Marie Cosplay as Marvel's All-New, All-Different Wolverine.
Photography by Rick Currier.

 

 

What is your favorite cosplay--your go-to look that you just love to put on and act out?

So currently I have two favorite cosplays for different reasons. The first cosplay will always be special to my heart. That cosplay is Thor. I love being Thor. Thor has always been one of my favorite characters; beyond the god of thunder’s ferociousness is a character that is loyal but dedicated to his family and the safety of the nine realms. This is what I admire about him—regardless of the situation, Thor does what is right, even if it may cause him great personal harm. A great example of this, and one of my favorite versions of Thor, is J. Michael Straczynski’s [run on the series].Thor is outcast from Asgard, and yet he returns to help defend his people even under the threat of execution. I see Thor as strong, confident, and a symbol of all things good.

My second favorite character to cosplay as is the All New All Different Wolverine. Laura Kinney has taken up the mantle as Wolverine. In her comics she is just as strong and ferocious as Wolverine, yet has a more compassionate side. Laura is a character that has been through so much in her life. She was trained as a weapon and treated like one, but through it all she comes out the hero that Logan would be proud of. I absolute adore being her and interacting with Wolverine fans of all ages!

When I cosplay these characters I feel powerful, strong, and I see the hope and joy in adults and children alike, especially in the kiddos.  Tiny avengers actually bombarded me once; they were so excited to find Thor!  It’s the same way when I am dressed as Wolverine. To the kids, it does not matter that Thor or Wolverine is girl, or that compared to everyone else she is tiny but mighty; all that matters is that this is a character they recognize and love. When the kids see you, you are that character.  It does my heart good that these characters bring so much joy, and inspiration to not only myself but to so many others.

 

Where can people go to find you online?

You can find me on various media pages:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kayleymariecosplay

Instagram: www.instagram.com/kayleymariecosplay

Twitter: @KayleyMarieCos

Tumblr: @KayleyMarieCosplay

I do have an online print shop as well. I open it for a few weeks at a time, look for the sales on my social media pages! Hint: Special themed sales available this August!

www.kayleymariecosplay.storenvy.com/