Conversations in Cosplay: King of the North On Loving Characters You Cosplay And Crafting Your Workout to Become Any Hero
It takes a lot of time and effort to make a great cosplay. Cosplayers the world over spend years honing their creative skills so that, when the time comes, they’re costumes will look perfect. Even when they’re as accomplished as they can get, the really impressive pieces can take weeks – or even months – to make. Just watch a cosplayer stream to see how much care and finesse goes into the tiny details. Then there are those cosplayers who go a step further and don’t just spend hours upon hours sculpting their costumes, but even their own bodies, to create portrayals of their favourite characters that are as accurate as possible.
King of the North is a cosplayer whose commitment to making accurate cosplayers goes as far as to mould his own body into the characters whose shoes he steps into. We spoke to him to find out more about his creative work.
PC or Mac?
What is your favourite cereal?
What is your favourite curse word?
If you could pick a world from any video game, where would you live?
Skyrim from Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
What fictional character from movies, comics, TV or video games have you secretly crushed on?
Lagertha from Vikings, but it’s no secret, haha.
If Gozer the Gozerian from Ghostbusters asked you to choose the form of your destructor, what would you think of?
Gingerbread man from Shrek.
What got you into cosplaying?
My friends invited me to London Film and Comic Con a couple of years ago. When I got there I was blown away by all the people in cosplay, something I hadn’t really seen before or expected. They encouraged me to give it a try, so I started to work on Bane from the Dark Knight Rises which they suggested.
How did it feel going out in cosplay for the first time?
It was really overwhelming, such a surreal experience, and I was part of a fantastic group which drew a lot of attention as the Batman and Catwoman I was with were so amazing.
How does it compare to how you feel showing off new cosplays now?
I think every new cosplay you have that nervousness but also excitement. But I think the more you love the character you’re portraying the more it means on the day.
What do you think of that first cosplay now?
I love it. It started my experiences with cosplay and I met some amazing people.
What inspired the name King of the North?
Well I’m a big Game of Thrones fan and very northern, haha. So when I asked my friends who are from the south what I should name my page they said I should use King of the North.
When did you realise you were first getting noticed as a cosplayer? How did it make you feel?
Whenever you get noticed in a Cosplay to me it’s always really amazing. When people enjoy a character you are portraying and love, it gives you that feeling that you have done that character justice.
What makes a character jump out at you as something you have to cosplay?
A lot of my cosplays are characters I love from series I love. But sometimes you just see a character that makes you say wow that’s cool and you want to know more of the character. I’ve had some cosplays suggested to me though that I would have never thought of doing myself and they’ve actually ended up being some of the most fun I’ve done.
What’s your most memorable con experience?
The first time I ever cosplayed. The attention our group got was amazing and so overwhelming for someone who had never experienced anything like it before, being stopped for photos so many times and people being so complimentary of the group.
What’s your favourite character to cosplay?
If you actually had to live as one of the characters you’d cosplayed, which one would it be?
Probably Ken from Street Fighter. Out of all my characters he definitely has the nicest life style, being rich and talented, in comparison to allot of my other characters who are from rather nightmarish settings.
You do a lot of photo shoots to showcase your cosplays. What’s the most fun you’ve had on a shoot?
Probably the Ken shoot I did with Valentin Offner, it was the middle of summer and the location he took me to, was stunning and it was so much fun, shooting around the water.
Do you like to have creative control over how the images turn out or do you let the photographers take the reins?
I leave it up to the experts, I’ve worked with some incredibly talented photographers who do some amazing work. It’s those guys that make we cosplayers look good.
Who are your favourite photographers to work with?
Valentin Offner – Photographe, Alucard Photography, Sonesh Joshi Photography, MDR Foto Art, to name a few, I’ve been really lucky to work with some amazing people.
You’ve said that you often physically train to get the right body shape for characters. What’s the most you’ve had to change physically for a cosplay?
I’ve gone to two extremes. For Bane I added 10lbs of mass to try and look as close as I could to Tom Hardy’s portrayal of the character. And for Spartacus the second year I cosplayed him for Rebel’s convention I dropped 23lbs.
What kind of training regimes do you use? Do you create your own regimes to suit specific characters or do you stick to set practices?
I usually study the character and see what I will need to do for the character and a realistic time frame, then I’ll adjust my diet and training plan. Some characters have certain body parts that stand out, so usually I’ll work on them more. With Chris Redfield in Resident Evil 5 his most outstanding features are his forearms and triceps so I added additional gym sessions focusing on them.
What character was the most difficult to match physically?
Spartacus. I find it much easier to put on additional muscle, while I find it much harder to cut down and have to really be strict on my diet and cardio and it also takes a greater length of time. It took me four months last year to cut down as much as I did.
Unlike clothes and make up, you can’t take your body shape off at the end of the day. Does changing yourself physically from cosplay to cosplay have an impact on your self image?
It can do, sometimes the physical changes and people’s comments can make me feel self-conscious, but usually the comments are positive when I finally get to the cosplay.
What’s the most difficult cosplay you’ve ever made?
Have you ever given up on a cosplay idea because it was too difficult?
I haven’t really given up on any, but I have pushed a few back until I learn the skills to make them or can figure out how I’ll do them.
Are you working on anything new now?
A few. Chris Redfield from Resident Evil Vendetta, Guts from Berserk and J.D Fenix from Gears of War 4.
What are your favourite materials to work with?
Most fabrics, ever since learning to weather materials I really enjoy the process.
What is the most effort you’ve put into creating a single small detail?
When I put together Chris Redfield, I couldn’t find any boots to match the in game colours, so I had to get a pair with a close pattern, mod them and then fabric paint them in several layers so that they would match the game, even though in game they aren’t that visible. I just wanted the character to look as accurate as possible.
Are there any characters you’re looking forward to cosplaying in the future?
Nyx Ulric from Final Fantasy 15.
Who are your favourite cosplayers working right now?
Dynamite Webber, Lisa Lou Who, Leobane Cosplay, Santatory, too many to name.
You share a lot of other cosplayers’ work and pages on your social media. Do you feel like a sense of community is important to cosplaying culture?
Yeah I think so, we all have the same hobby and share many of the shame fandoms so I think it’s important we all support each other.
What’s your favourite thing about the cosplaying community?
The friends I’ve made over the past couple of years.
How do you think the cosplaying community could be improved?
Being more supportive and positive towards each other.
Outside of cosplaying, what do you like to do with your time?
I go to the gym, watch movies, travel and game.
Do you think you’ll still be cosplaying in ten years’ time? Do you have any goals, in cosplaying terms or otherwise?
I hope so, I actually have a few characters I would like to cosplay as I get older. Goal wise, I’d like to learn how to create complex armours and build that skill set.
Do you have any advice for aspiring cosplayers?
Just give it a go and enjoy yourself and never be afraid to ask others for help and advice. No one is skilled at everything and there are always new skills to learn or improve.