Keri and Michael Garasic of Walrider Cosplay are partners in life and in cosplay. They’ve created costumes from Final Fantasy, Bloodborne, and other games and do especially great work when it comes to masks and leather. I talked to Michael about his cosplay history, preferred materials, and his most challenging build so far.
Adafruit: How long have you have been cosplaying and what inspired you to start?
Walrider Cosplay: I started cosplaying around 13 years ago when I was 14. I remember a con was just starting up in my hometown of Pittsburgh and I wanted to see what it was like. Ever since I was little I always played video games, watched anime, and loved movies, specifically sci fi and horror. The first day of the con I saw people dressed up as characters and I just felt and urge to do the same. I went home, slapped together an awful Sephiroth costume and went from there. I was hooked ever since.
Adafruit: It looks like you’ve made a variety of masks for your costumes. Are you more likely to choose a character to cosplay if they have that accessory?
Walrider Cosplay: For me, the biggest draw for any character is props. I love sculpting and fabricating just about anything so masks tend to tie everything together. To be honest the mask thing started because I had low self esteem and cosplaying was a way of helping cure that by the things I’ve made. Come to think about it, Gehrman was one of the first costumes I made without one.
Adafruit: Your leatherwork is beautiful. Is that a skill you learned because of cosplay, and/or how has cosplay honed that skill over the years?
Walrider Cosplay: Thanks a lot. I actually first started working with leather when I was in the Boy Scouts. Whenever I first got into cosplay, I started taking the leather hobby more seriously. I started just playing around with it and making simple stuff. Over time I became much more proficient making complex designs and now I make leather goods for renaissance faires, LARPers, re-enactors, bikers, films, and even NY Fashion week.
Adafruit: So many materials are available to cosplayers — do you regularly try out new ones? What materials have you found the easiest to work with?
Walrider Cosplay: I really love experimenting with new things just to see how it works. Worbla and EVA foam seem to be the newest thing on the scene and a lot of people have taken to them. A lot of my work is centered around ABS plastic, fiberglass, Urethane resin, polystyrene foam. But most of it is hand sculpted using clay or just foam carving. Then I make a mold using either tin or platinum silicone, and cast it in something. I actually just ordered some Worbla to give it a shot so we will see how it goes.
Adafruit: What has been your most challenging build so far?
Walrider Cosplay: The current one. Each build I do has different challenges and I like to test myself. Sewing was fairly new to me until I met my wife (she is an awesome seamstress) so most of my costumes before then were creature suits that were sculpted out. The current projects revolve around a really intricate jackets, lots of armor, and a really complex set of weapons (It’s the Bloody Crow of Cainhurst and Maria from Bloodborne). I will have my hands full.