Conversations in Cosplay: Lindze Merritt Talks Beauty, Books and Passing Her Love of Cosplay to Her Daughter
With more than fifteen years of cosplay under her belt, Lindze Merritt is a veritable veteran of the scene. The daughter of a seamstress, costume creation was in her blood from day one. As well a creating a whole host of incredible cosplays to wear at conventions all over the world, she has spoke on panels, judged competitions and has applied her expertise to creating the perfect make up for everything from film to theatre to weddings. Now, her beauty work takes up a lot of her time, but she takes every opportunity to pass on her love of cosplay to her young daughter.
We caught up with Lindze to find out more about her cosplay career and the secrets to her creative success.
What got you into cosplaying?
Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, and in the late 90s, when researching a costume, I discovered cosplay on a small message board called “COSP”. It immediately clicked because it brought my nerdy side together with my creative side.
What was the first character you ever cosplayed?
Lilith from Darkstalkers was the character I was researching. But the first one I wore to a convention was Sumire-chan from Miyuki-chan in Wonderland, for a big group the COSP people were doing.
How did it feel going out in cosplay for the first time?
I felt really nervous because I was basically wearing lingerie in public and obviously that isn’t something most of us do a lot! I was so self-conscious but everyone was so nice and also dressed up, and no one was creepy, so I immediately felt at home. I wish people had that same experience now, but I think the creepers are in a lot larger quantity now, sadly.
How does it compare to how you feel showing off new cosplays now?
I have a lot less shame now! Nervous excitement made way for stress and relief when you’re done and out there having fun. I love hearing feedback from other people who are into the series or game and appreciate your hard work.
What do you think of that first cosplay now?
I still am proud of it! I don’t think it was as terrible as it could have been, thanks to being raised by a professional seamstress and artist.
When did you realise you were first getting noticed as a cosplayer? How did it make you feel?
I mean, you’re noticed immediately at a convention. There wasn’t much online for cosplayers at the time, and social media didn’t exist, if that’s what you mean. I know now there are famous cosplayers, but that wasn’t a thing then. But the community was very welcoming immediately to me, and I made friends that first convention that I am still friends with to this day! I never looked for fame or to make money from it, but it’s nice to know people admire your fun pastime.
What inspired you to revamp your website? What can fans expect from your new blog?
My website now needs to reflect my career, and that is a licensed aesthetician and makeup artist, but of course I still left some of my cosplay in there because it’s a part of who I am. I started the skincare blog because so few people out there understand skin and what causes the ailments we struggle with like acne, dry skin, etc. Additionally, there is a lot of false info out there due to lax laws on cosmetic claims, so it’s really frustrating to most people on what to believe. I am hoping to bring my years of research on the subject to help simplify things and make my readers more educated buyers.
How does your work with beauty and makeup relate to your cosplay?
Well I wouldn’t have the career path I have now if it weren’t for cosplay. I did makeup through my years in theatre, and that helped me a lot in cosplay. I found myself always helping friends with their makeup for costumes, until I started doing it more and more and eventually started taking freelance clients. After 8 years in the industry, I decided to go back to school for my esthetics license, and that’s what I’ve been doing since! My dream is to someday develop a line of skin care and makeup for cosplayers. We are a special demographic where a lot of the girls are tom boys who don’t have a lot of time or experience but want something easy and beautiful for costumes or daily life. That’s what I hope to bring with my line eventually.
What makes a character jump out at you as something you have to cosplay?
First it has to be from something I’m a fan of, then like I have to that character, then be something I think would be flattering, and of course aesthetically pleasing to me. Needless to say, I’m very picky about choosing characters!
What’s your favourite character to cosplay?
Well I don’t cosplay as much these days, so usually when I do, it’s something comfy and casual. But my favorite one in the past has been Miranda from Mass Effect because I love how it turned out and it was actually really comfortable! Plus she’s a boss bitch!
If you actually had to live as one of the characters you’d cosplayed, which one would it be?
Probably Maleficent because I’d get a sweet ass castle of doom, lots of goblins to boss around, and an evil crow best bud. But I’d try to keep my temper in check and away from pretty boys with swords.
Have you ever given up on a cosplay idea because it was too difficult?
Oh god, all the time. I have so many half made costumes, you have no idea. Sometimes I get stuck on something I can’t figure out, or do to my liking, sometimes I decide it’s going to cost too much, and sometimes I just get bored!
Are you working on anything new now?
The only thing I’m making right this second is Link and Tetra from Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, for my daughter and me. She’s Link.
Is your daughter into cosplaying? What’s her favourite thing to cosplay?
She loves it, but she’s totally spoiled, having me for a mom! She has no idea how lucky she is that she gets to be any character she wants for Halloween or cons, instead of buying a store costume. Her favorite costumes change, but she loves wearing Kigurumis. She wears them to bed and all day if I let her. She has a Pikachu one and I made her a Jibanyan one recently too.
Who are your favourite cosplayers working right now?
I don’t keep super up to date with that stuff, but my favorite cosplayer I worship is J. Hart of J. Hart Designs. He is not human, I‘m convinced. No one can be that beautiful and talented and his designs don’t even look real. I just can’t accept it.
Outside of cosplaying, what do you like to do with your time?
I am always busy working. My job at the spa keeps me super busy full time. I also hang out with my family and friends as often as possible in between that, going out to eat, traveling, or collaborating on creative projects. If I have a second respite, I read any chance I can!
Ooh what do you like to read?
I like to read sci-fi and fantasy, such as the Song of Fire and Ice series, Dresden Files series – and all of Jim Butcher’s stuff—his new book, The Aeronaut’s Windlass was great! The Kingkiller series. Anything by Patrick Ness. And of course my all time favourites, the Harry Potter series.
Do you think you’ll still be cosplaying in ten years’ time? Do you have any goals, in cosplaying terms or otherwise?
Probably in some way or the other! That’s the thing. There is no one way to cosplay. Some people picture sexy girls when they think cosplay, some think of big armor costumes, some think of big ball gowns and some just have fun casual closet cosplay. I have loved dressing up in costumes since I was a tiny girl and I will continue loving it till I’m an old lady dressed as Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle. It’s my passion. You don’t outgrow that.
Do you have any advice for aspiring cosplayers?
Do what you love and love what you do. The rest is just noise.
To keep up to date with what Lindze is up to, you follow her on Facebook and Instagram, or check out her website. She works in a beauty studio in Atlanta, where you can have a one-on-one skincare and beauty session with Lindze – find out more on their website.