Evangelia Zorba ( Ailiroy ), a strong presence in Greek Cosplay, talks to us about Cosplay and her work!
ONE HOBBY, MANY ART FORMS !
Evanelia Zorba, also known as Ailiroy! Most people related to the Cosplay scene know her! For over a decade, she fascinates us with her creations at many events in Athens, and sometimes in Thessaloniki as well!
Starting Cosplay in early 2011, she continues today as one of the oldest active Cosplayers in Greece, having exceeded 36 Cosplays! Having among her achievements various distinctions in Cosplay Contests in Athens, she occasionally takes on the role of a member of the jury, as well as the role of a presenter in various Cosplay Contests! She often appears in magazines with her photos as a Cosplayer ( and not only ), while also being among the 20 selected Cosplayers from around the world in this year’s BlizzCon Online Cosplay Exhibition!
Her activities include seminars and workshops, during Cosplay events, related to Cosplay ( and not only ), while also being a permanent presence at the annual Dungeons & Dragons Monster Annual event by Labyrinth, as a Cosplayer!
We occasionally meet her with her own stand at various Cosplay events in Athens, where she exhibits her creations to the public!
Time to talk to her in detail about everything!
Astrologian from Final Fantasy XIV – Photo by Loïc Ambrosini Photography
Find Ailiroy on the following media! Facebook - Youtube - Instagram - Twitter - World Cosplay - Cospix - Ko-fi
IT INSPIRES YOU INSIDE !
1) Tell us a few words about yourself! What do we need to know about you?
I’m Evangelia, graphic designer, patron modelist, cosplayer who likes cosplay, lover of dancing and martial arts, especially Historical European Martial Arts ( HEMA ).
I also deal with many other arts, such as dancing, singing, acting, drawing, fortune telling etc. I have occasionally tackled many subjects, but cosplay has always been one of them, at least during the last 10+ years.
Dark Elf Gatekeeper from Lineage 2 – Photos by SpirosK Photography
2) When and how did you get started with Cosplay and what got you into it? What was your first Cosplay? What has Cosplay offered you so far?
I started in 2010 by going to parties, cosplay gatherings and group photoshoots. I was very attracted by the fact that some people expressed themselves through their love for a character and its imitation. It was also my personal way of expressing, which, until then, I thought was something strange, as it did not receive the best reactions from the rest of society. Through cosplay I could express myself almost freely.
I consider Kurenai from Naruto as my first cosplay. Yeah, ok, there were other “attempts” for cosplay too, but this one was the one that, when I made it, was wearable, recognizable and with complete awareness of what cosplay was. In other words, it wasn’t just something inspired by something, it was made as a cosplay.
Through cosplay I discovered many aspects of myself that, until getting into it, I was unaware of. I started studying kinesiology, scenography, the application of costumes on stage and photography, a little acting and of course the whole process of making costumes with various techniques. I can easily say that through it I found what I wanted to do in my life and how, albeit a little late.
Aurora from Child of Light – Photo by SpirosK Photography
3) What kind of characters, sources or types of Cosplays do you choose for your Cosplays? Are these choices based on personal interests, and if so, when did you start getting interested in them?
The characters I usually choose are dynamic female figures who have a dramatic, but also epic, story. There are some personal criteria, such as whether I look in some way like the character or whether I can move and behave in the same way, and of course if I would like to move around in that attire and why.
It’s like somehow passing the character from an interview. This has been happening since the first time I competed at Comicdom Con Athens‘ Cosplay Contest, in 2014.
4) Which ones are your favorite Cosplays out of all of which you’ve done until now? Which characters do you think were the most popular? Which character do you want to cosplay most in the future?
My favorites so far are:
– Beatrix from Final Fantasy 9 which was my first costume for a Contest, at Comicdom Con Athens, with it being a favorite character for a long time.
– Astrologian from Final Fantasy 14, which was the first time I had more things to think of besides clothes and a prop. It had a beautiful design that was challenging for the knowledge I had until that point of time and because of that I decided to get more seriously into costume design, study it and develop it even more.
– Kaileena from Prince of Persia: Warrior Within, which was a very quick costume that was not even created as a solo cosplay, but to simply accompany another cosplayer in a contest he participated in. The character was “tragic” and at the same time dear to me.
– Jaina Proudmoore from World of Warcraft, which was my first personal project after studies on the subject and the first one made with the help of other cosplayers who had the patience to work with me and I thank them so much, as I had already started to have health problems. She was a beloved character from the era of Warcraft 3 and her new design was very tempting to test my new knowledge.
So far, I’ve noticed that my most popular cosplay worldwide, even though I didn’t create it for myself and I didn’t work on it with the attention and accuracy it deserves, is Kaileena. Maybe because I looked like her ( brunette beauty – ah, I have my way with words ) and maybe because I showed her fighter’s side with the sexuality and tragedy needed, I noticed that I became quite famous with this character both in Greece and abroad ( especially in India, perhaps on the occasion of the game’s reboot by Ubisoft’s Indian section )
The character I want to do most for many years, and maybe one reason I’m delaying it is because I want to do it exactly as I imagine it and so far I didn’t feel “ready”, is Carmilla from Vampire Hunter D. The character’s design speaks for itself.
Bubblehead Nurse from Silent Hill 5 – Photo by Emotional Photography
5) What’s the most difficult Cosplay you have done until today? What makes it the most difficult?
Every new cosplay I start creating has some new difficulty. Everything so far had many difficulties which, if I were to remake them, wouldn’t be a problem anymore.
6) How did you acquire your knowledge on creating Cosplays and what kind of Cosplays do you prefer to wear?
With testing and perseverance first and studies later. I have no preference on what I wear other than liking a character.
Catwoman from DC – Photo by Foxphotography.ch
7) What do you think about store bought Cosplays? Are they part of your ensemble as well?
Ready-made Cosplays exist, like everything else, on a scale of “you get what you pay”. In the past there were no good costumes at affordable prices, making it seem like a less ideal way to express one’s love for a character, although that has to do with a character’s design one chooses. Now, there are very beautiful costumes at quite good prices because the market in this sector has expanded.
Because, due to such a lacking market in the past I had to learn how to make my own costumes, I’ll lean towards this market if a character ( or an appearance of a character anyway ) does not inspire me to spend time on it.
Generally, the whole point of cosplay is to be able to express oneself with a costume. One can create it or buy it, but in the end one must be able to express oneself. The fact that this option now exists, that once, I emphasize, did not exist, is a good development for this hobby.
Jaina Proudmoore from World of Warcraft – Photos by SpirosK Photography
8) How much effort, time and money does it usually take to create a Cosplay? What is the most common plan and methods you use to create a Cosplay? How important is wig styling and make up in all this?
It depends, are talking about it personally or in general?
I general a typical plan, if we can call it a plan, is to see what the character design consists of. What is he / she wearing? What kind of hair does he / she have? What does he / she hold? How does he / she behave? Depending on the answers, a financial plan is created for each cosplay, which can range from almost nothing to “I sell my kidney and score”. Typically everything is important in a transformation, but what makes each cosplayer stand out is his choice of where to focus on, depending on how one best expresses oneself.
Personally, I emphasize clothing and application of course, meaning on the points where my skills are best.
Kaileena from Prince of Persia: Warrior Within – Photo by SpirosK Photography
9) Do you consider your involvement with Cosplay a hobby or something more serious? How does that define the way you present your work?
I would really like it to be something more serious, really. I made a great effort towards that direction once, but it’s not something that would pay my bills, since it’s still new and unstable in show business.
I’m also getting older. When I was at the right age for such a thing there were no prospects, only good intentions with lots of effort and little response. Now the few job positions that could include cosplayers should better be taken by the younger ones related to this hobby. I think my role in all this should be about lecturing / mentoring and not about competing.
10) You also deal with the creation of costumes, patterns and armor bases, undertaking corresponding commissions. What can one find on your part and what led you to take it up as well?
As you mentioned, I create patterns and bases mostly. It all started because I wanted to give something beautiful to others as well as develop my skills. With all that, I think, I reached a good level, where I can now say with confidence that if my bases differ in something, it’s in their application, and how it can flatter each person individually, so that one feels beautiful with what someone is wearing. I’ve made a lot of patterns that helped various people, cosplayers and non-cosplayers, create what they wanted a little easier.
11) How did you feel the first time you appeared in public or at an event wearing a Cosplay. Describe your experience to us.
It was a strong experience, but not that foreign to me. I was obsessed with costumes from a young age and didn’t hide it. When I saw that there are many of us, I had no reason to feel anything other than pride and strength then to show that it’s something beautiful and creative. I got mixed reactions from people, but I was used to it from my “normal” life, I had no doubts, only beautiful feelings.
12) How did you end up attending Cosplays events intensively and what experiences did you get from it?
I always loved gatherings. Especially if they included people with common interests and hobbies, so that all of us could talk and rejoice together that we no longer needed to hide in basements.
But more than that, I wanted to show people that I was there, ready to talk and have a good time, because I couldn’t easily approach someone on my own. When I reached a more stable “position”, I imagine due to being a long time in the scene, I thought that this would help even more in something like that.
Yennefer from The Witcher – Photo by SpirosK Photography
13) You attended various events as a Cosplayer exhibitor. Tell us about the content you display on your table. What do people who visit you treat you and what impact do you notice regarding your work at events and online? Are you generally satisfied with people’s response to your work all these years? Is there support from relatives and friends?
In the beginning I tried doing what others did, show off my uniforms, my photos and my work in general. Each new event had something new depending on what I was experimenting with each time. Every person had their own approach towards it, but always a positive one. Taking the conditions we are in and my subject into account, I’m very happy with how good everyone was with me.
Relatives and friends are always there for me, they constantly help and support me because they see that this evolves me as a person and makes me a tired, stressed and happy person.
14) You have attended Cosplay events in Athens, but also in Thessaloniki. Was there a difference that grabbed your attention you between the two cities in terms of Cosplays and related events?
I haven’t been to many different events in Thessaloniki, I’m afraid. One I was visiting often was quite similar to respective ones in Athens. I haven’t seen many differences. Maybe only during the last years the events taking place at the Tae Kwon Do Stadium seem a bit stronger to me, but again, I state ignorance about a corresponding event in Thessaloniki.
Dark Elf Gatekeeper from Lineage 2 – Photo by SpirosK Photography
15) Did the theme and size of an event ever affect your decision to visit and dress with Cosplays at them? What would you say were your favorite events so far?
I prefer to dress as I feel comfortable, but at the same time I like to be … on the subject. Because I like a lot of themes, universes etc, the theme of an event inspires me many times to do something different that I may have always wanted to do but didn’t get to explore as a choice.
16) What result do you expect from outdoor Cosplay photoshoots or respective studio photoshoots in which you participate? Which type do you prefer?
During my photoshoots I want to work with the photographer to create a beautiful image, an image that one would easily put as a poster in his room not because it depicts Eva / Ailiroy but because the image is beautiful in its composition and helps / inspires / travels in some way.
Zatanna from DC – Photo by Time:Fractions Photography
17) Do you think that Cosplay as a subject will continue to be part of your daily life for a long time? If so, what are your plans for the future in this area that you have not yet been able to implement? Is there a long term goal or personal dream that you want to achieve related to it?
Cosplay will forever be part of my daily life. I’m always thinking of new ways and techniques to create costumes and I still imitate character behaviors and adapt them as much as I can to myself. In the future I would like to be able to make the costumes I want to wear for cosplay. I would like to help young cosplayers find out which part of the hobby they would like to pursue most, and to evolve even more quickly and efficiently.
Yennefer & Priscilla from The Witcher – Photos by SpirosK Photography
18) What is your opinion, in proportion to Greece’s size, in terms of the number and level of Greek Cosplays, but also the level of events where they attend? What evolution around them did you notice over the years?
Greece, for its size, socio-economic conditions and beliefs, is much stronger in the cosplay scene than we think. Other countries had and still have an incredible lead of many years and many, if not facilitations, then certainly more stable factors. We had a rapid development both in the field of events and the field of creation and expression of cosplayers.
Catwoman from DC – Photo by Treephoto
19) What is your experience from Cosplay events outside Greece and what’s your opinion about them compared to Greek Cosplay events? What’s your opinion about the quality of the Cosplays you came across in them? Which event do you remember the most and why?
All events everywhere are almost the same, perhaps with a difference in size and organization in various areas. The same goes for cosplays. There are always the good ones, the crafters, the novices, the simple fanatics, the models, the teams etc. The difference compared to Greece is probably in numbers due to the country’s size. If you asked me ten years ago the answer would have been different.
Riven & Evelynn from League of Legends – Photos by SpirosK Photography
20) Do you think the provided Cosplay activities at various events are satisfactory or is there something you would still like to see there regarding Cosplay?
I think there’s nothing new to see in Greece besides even bigger things that will make us look like a theater production. However, such a thing already exists in Greece, it just hasn’t been quite successfully been passed to the field of cosplay yet, mainly because, while we have already seen it in participations from time to time, the competitive scale observed in all its other sectors isn’t there, but I believe it’s the next step and will in fact happen very soon.
Kurenai Yuhi from Naruto – Photo by SpirosK Photography
21) Is there anything more that you would like to see in the Greek Cosplay scene in general?
The only thing I would like to see is the opportunity for activities that take place in beautiful places with cosplayers and photographers, something I’ve so far only seen in Fotocon ( Poland, now Pixelmania ) and Volta in Cosplay ( Italy ). I know that as a country it’s difficult and next to impossible to happen, but I hope it will someday.
22) You have occasionally participated in Cosplay Contests and Cosplay Parades on stage at various events. How did you feel the first time you went on stage? How do you feel now every time you go up?
The stage didn’t scare me, since I danced in various theaters with my dance school from a young age. Of course, there was no choreography, neither anyone to fill up the place with me. In general it was me in my uniform without knowing what I was doing. There, I just tried to do what I knew I would like to see, hoping it would look the way I imagined. Now I have even more confidence and familiarity, but due to health the result I’m seeing is not what I imagined, rather due to detuning. I’m trying to learn things from the beginning again, although I can say that with the knowledge I acquired over time I’ve helped many do their part as best they could.
Original Pagan Witch – Photo by SpirosK Photography
23) Occasionally you placed high in various Cosplay Contests. Tell us about those wins and how you felt in those moments.
Because I was used to failures and frustrations in my life, I can say that I never expected to get any kind of distinction for any reason. I just did what I wanted without thinking about juries or restrictions and while I was saying to myself yes, I’m competitive because I’m in a contest, I didn’t really have high expectations. So, it was a very pleasant surprise every time hearing my name or the name of my team being announced.
Beatrix from Final Fantasy IX – Photo by Cassiel Cosplay Photography
Caitlyn from League of Legends
24) You were also a member of the jury at Cosplay Contests. What is your experience from this opposite side of the stage? Did you feel any pressure or difficulty in this role?
I always want to be fair and hear all the contestants talk about their work, even though I have been judged about it by other judges. I’m trying to be as distant as possible and at the same time compare everything in different areas.
Construction wise, I always take into account the elements of a costume, the materials, the possibilities, the choices and the processing made by each cosplayer, the possible crafting cost with the final cost the result could have had, the costume’s ability to move, to endure and flatter whoever wears it. There are endless comparisons going on in my head at the same time and I’ve found myself many times in a difficult position thinking about who may have been wronged, simply because I didn’t notice something yet. I always check double and triple, no matter how much pressure I receive from my other partners each time.
When it comes to stage presence, everyone is wearing the same costume as far as I’m concerned, they don’t differ in my eyes. What counts on stage is what each cosplayer does with what he has, with what he’s created ( or bought, it doesn’t matter ). I’ve seen cosplayers love what they do so much that, while their costume may not have passed construction wise in the ratings, they made me cry, laugh, feel like they are the characters they impersonate in front of me, something I hope to achieve someday too. That’s where, as far as I’m concerned, a lot of injustice has been done due to the belief that cosplay is just a cool outfit that someone will create without doing anything with what they have on them though. I’ve been pressured in favor of injustice on this issue from many sides without having a choice, and this is something that saddens me the most, despite the fact that the difference in the final scores would have been minimal.
Genasi from Dungeons & Dragons – Photo by Rania Raw
25) How important do you think is a distinction in a Cosplay Contest in terms of whether it was worth the effort someone put into creating a difficult Cosplay? To what extent do you think such a possible distinction should influence the choices of a Cosplayer while creating a Cosplay?
A contest has many participants and few places of success. One can spend infinite money, work very hard and waste a lot of time creating an outfit. But would someone do all that if I said that there was no contest? If I said there was no prize? If the answer is no, then I have bad news for you.
That’s obviously my opinion, but I believe that any artist should constantly develop his art, and if he can’t always keep up with the pace he wants, then a competition should act as an incentive for challenges that lead to the next level of skill. Obviously someone competes for victory and not for pleasure, but just as university entrance exams are not the end of a student’s career, the same way a cosplay contest isn’t the only opportunity to show one’s craft and skills, especially during this time where we have an abundance of choices in our lives.
Original Halloween Witch & Death – Photos by SpirosK Photography
26) Do you think that off stage roleplaying should be a key part of a Cosplayer or do you consider it practically inapplicable?
I believe his has more to do with people’s culture. In my opinion, when someone wears a cosplay costume, they do it because they basically love a character ( referring to anything besides contests ). I take it for granted that someone will try to behave at least a little like their favorite character, especially when they have the excuse of a costume ( always in an acceptable social context ) or at least to act as something besides themselves. The idea is that we feel like someone else when we put on his clothes and walk in his shoes.
Of course, for some reason, this is easily misunderstood, and it’s due to internal issues of the viewers that their reaction to something like that is disparaging in the best of cases. As a nation we have learned to pretend to be serious, one-sided and focused on others’ goals and everything else is considered crazy and judge worthy. So, when we are confronted with something so different in its philosophy, in order to overthrow everything we experience and receive under pressure or belief, it’s better ( wrongly, but justifiably ) to devalue and ridicule it at that moment, especially when we think we are superior in power and numbers.
In my opinion, as always, I believe that during an event we should be experiencing the ultimate crossover instead of being ashamed. It is perfectly applicable, but understandably difficult.
Original Faun – Photo by John Tsilidis Photography
27) Is there any important or funny experience you experienced during your time in the Cosplay scene that you will never forget?
Many, but maybe might be “boring” for people. Every moment someone responds to my costume as if I’m really the character I’m impersonating is important. It’s important meeting unique people due to what I do. I think every time someone recognizes who I am without me knowing them is funny, because, as much as it might seem the opposite to some ( which is understandable if they don’t know me ), I don’t think I’ve gained any fame or recognition yet, I don’t think I achieved something, although this may be due to the demands I may have from myself and so I tend to end up in an awkward situation that I don’t know how to behave, and if I were a little more pale, they would definitely see me blush like a cartoon.
An equally funny moment is every time I make various young ones ( usually gamers who like the character I cosplay ) uneasy and blush as they try to understand where the cosplay ends and the person who just wears the costume starts.
Original Fantasy Characters – Photos by Mpampis Ntirintis & SpirosK Photography
28) What is the first thing you would say to someone who wants to get into Cosplay, either seriously or not? Do you think it’s easy to get started?
The first thing would be “don’t listen to what they tell you, hot glue didn’t help anyone”.
Jokes aside, I would propose to start with something simple, something someone likes and that may be cheap on the market. It’s a pity hearing people say that they don’t get into such a nice hobby because they notice that it requires skills, money and dedication, which may have been once true, but now everything is so simple, fast and easy, with costume stores all over the world, with incredibly detailed, numerous and on a large scale of difficulty Youtube videos, free books in online libraries, blogs, patterns, and those are just the beginning.
Especially during this time getting into cosplay in the easiest thing. In fact, I believe that it’s necessary, because it has so many art froms concentrated at one place, that surely someone will understand through it, much faster than he thinks, what he really wants to do, and what pleases him and completes him by doing it, even if it has no relation with cosplay in the end.
Urban Fantasy – Photo by SpirosK Photography
29) Is there anything last you would like to share with our readers?
Anyone who wants to ask me anything about cosplay shouldn’t hesitate to talk to me. I may not answer right away, I may be working ( most likely ), but I’m always there for any questions related to anyone’s first or next steps in cosplay.
Original Steampunk – Photos by SpirosK Photography
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