Bombshell Poison Ivy
Mac Beauvais of Strange Like That Cosplay is a talented maker. She’s cosplayed as characters such as Data from Star Trek to Ariel from The Little Mermaid to different renditions of Poison Ivy. Whether it’s designing costumes, wearing wigs, or applying killer makeup – she’s got serious skills. We discussed her cosplay history, her favorite cosmetics for cosplay, and the types of skills she’s learned over the years.
Adafruit: How long have you been cosplaying, and why did you start?
Mac: I’ve been officially cosplaying for about four years now, but it seems like much longer. I have enjoyed dressing up (beyond Halloween) since childhood, including my pieced together Princess Leia, Yellow Ranger, and Donatello costumes from when I was quite young. I didn’t take the plunge into actual convention-attending cosplay until San Diego Comic Con 2010. I found myself wrangled into a Gotham City Sirens group because of my overly-ambitious, homemade Poison Ivy costume from Halloween 2009. I’ve never looked back.
Adafruit: You’ve cosplayed a variety of characters from Poison Ivy to Data to Ariel; how do you decide which costumes to make next?
Mac: It really depends. Sometimes it’s a passion project because I love a certain character. Sometimes I’m invited to join a group cosplay and build something to fit in with the theme. Sometimes it’s just because I have pieces laying around that could easily be modified into a particular cosplay. However, the one thing I will never do is cosplay a character I don’t feel a personal connection to. I have to love the character.
Data and Riker
Adafruit: What different skills have you had to learn over your years of cosplaying?
Mac: If patience can be considered a skill, I’d say it’s the first one I learned. Even the things that may seem simple can take a very long time to make happen.
After that I’d say that I’ve acquired the skill to take unconventional materials and make them work for me. It takes an eye to see something that can be used for a totally different purpose and make something special of it. For example: I was building a cosplay of Liz Sherman from Hellboy and needed a flame prop. Obviously, lighting my hands on fire wasn’t an option, so I needed to find a solution. It was a really unique challenge, but I ultimately achieved it using two plastic bottles and a light-up ice cube. On another occasion, I had to create a wrist crossbow for a Steampunk version of Poison Ivy. The final product is pretty literally made out of junk, but no one seems to notice.
Being a cosplayer really forces you to get familiar with a little bit of everything; I’ve had to learn how to paint items to look weathered, how to pour resin, how to modify wigs, how to effectively hand-stitch garments, what types of glues are okay for what projects, et cetera. I’m always learning.
Adafruit: What are your least favorite parts of working on a new costume?
Mac: Getting started. It’s always easy to fantasize about how awesome it will be when it’s done, but when you’re looking at a pile of raw materials and realize you have to make them into something, it can be a little daunting. Plus, there never seems to be enough time. (It doesn’t help that I’m a chronic procrastinator.)
I also really dislike the tedium of some projects. As an example, gluing the leaves onto Poison Ivy costumes is an insanely time-consuming task and you start to get a little cross-eyed after a while. People have remarked that my more traditional Ivy costume must have been so easy to create and it kind of makes me want to Hulk out and smash when I hear that. Every single leaf has to be adhered in a way that it won’t fall off, and they have to be arranged in a way that looks natural to how leaves grow. It’s not just slapping them on or making it all uniform.
Adafruit: I’m always amazed by your makeup; did you attend school to learn or are you self taught? What are some of your favorite cosmetics products?
Mac: I am self-taught. I’ve gotten great advice from other cosplayers and from tutorials, but at the end of the day, it really comes down to me playing around to see what works. For instance, I looked up some info on what they used for Data’s makeup in Star Trek: TNG. However, with how pale my skin is, I really didn’t need some of the products that were recommended. The hardest was when one of my yellow contacts ripped on day one, and I had to do a an emergency makeup job ala the film, First Contact. I actually had to darken a portion of my face to be “skin toned” so it looked different from the android side. I happened to have a bunch of odds and ends in my makeup kit and that was what ultimately saved the day.
For products, I am a big fan of Smashbox’s Photo Finish Primer and Urban Decay’s Potion Primer as the bases for foundation and eye shadows. I also very much like Makeup Forever’s Mat Velvet foundation, but I recommend everyone find what’s best for their skin type. When it comes to eye shadows with a lot of pigment, Ben Nye makes some great shades. (That’s what I use for my Poison Ivy cosplays.) I’ve also had my butt saved quite a few times by Makeup Forever’s 12 Flash Color Case. It’s not cheap, but it lasts and it’s had some handy applications.
Steampunk Poison Ivy
Adafruit: What advice would you offer to new cosplayers?
Mac: Try and try and try again. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and don’t be afraid to screw up. We have all been there, and often on many more occasions than you might think. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I can’t speak for all cosplayers, but I am very humbled when someone comes to me for advice and will do everything I can to help. Cosplay should be about having fun, and if you’re not enjoying it, then you need to find out how to change that, and sometimes getting a little help or encouragement can go a long way.
Keep up with Mac’s latest projects and costumes on her Facebook page.