“I love Halloween,” says Kyahri (aka Sarah Rose Gunn) when asked about dressing up. “That’s like the best day of the year. Well, it used to be but not anymore, because everyday is like Halloween for me.”
Hailing from Scotland, Kyahri’s interest in cosplay started in 2010 after a friend persuaded her to attend a cosplay meet. She later turned to making her own costumes and has since gained recognition for cosplaying as the wild and crazy Jinx from League of Legends.
My interview with Kyahri was conducted at May’s MCM London Comic Con, where she appeared to be morally supportive towards fellow cosplayers and equally happy, yet modest, about her own achievements. She also revealed that one of the costumes she wore at the convention, Raven from Teen Titans, was put together cheaply in just one day with leftover material. During our time we talked about motivation to work on costumes, budgeting and wanting to be Jinx.
Who are you cosplaying as this weekend?
Raven from Teen Titans, Popstar Ahri from League of Legends, and Jinx from League of Legends.
You mention Ahri, which was one of the first costumes you made.
It was the very first costume that I made by myself, the classic Ahri.
I understand you’ve made some adjustments to this since you first attempted it. What have you changed?
I’ve made new tails for this and they’re bigger. They’re pink, so they’re different! I’ve made them a different way because I wasn’t really happy with the way I made my first costume.
You put up a video showing how you put the tails together for Popstar Ahri. Could we potentially see more videos like this which would help others thinking of cosplaying the same character?
Yeah, I want to make more videos like that. I just haven’t really made anything that’s worth documenting. Hopefully the next cosplay I make will be one I can [make a video for].
How did you end up getting into cosplay? I understand you were persuaded to go along to a cosplay event?
I used to watch anime when I was younger and never really thought anything of it. It was in 2010 and my friend said, ‘We should go to this meet. I really want to go and see these people who dress up as anime characters.’ I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to go.’ But we went, it was really fun and it just took off from there.
It was in Glasgow in my hometown. People used to meet up, we’d dress up in character, walk around and act really stupid. It’s kind of embarrassing now, but it was really fun at the time.
I used to only be into anime and buying costumes, but a couple of years later I started playing games and I got more into cosplaying. Then I thought, ‘Oh, I really want to go to one of these conventions.’ The first MCM one I went to was May 2013; that was when I made Ahri.
You say you’ve always been into dressing up and making stuff. Do you happen to recall a particular turning point that you feel got you to where you are now?
(Pauses) Probably when I got my first sewing machine a couple of years ago. I didn’t know how to thread, didn’t know how to do anything. I was like, ‘I really want to learn how to do this.’ I started studying fashion so I could learn how to make clothes. It’s making me more optimistic about stuff that I want to make and I want to try harder now.
So you were initially buying costumes online…
Then you wanted to take this to the next level?
Yeah. What’s the point of paying all this money just to wear it? I’d rather show something that I’m proud of, like, ‘I made this. Look at me’ (laughs). And every time you make something it gets better, so you can see how you’ve progressed. If you looked at my first costume and [compared it] to my stuff now, you’d be like, ‘Well, that was really bad back then’ (laughs).
I don’t think a cosplayer is ever going to be satisfied with their work. There’s always something you can improve. Even if someone else can’t see it, you’re like, ‘Nah, I can do that better.’ There’s a lot of trial and error as well when it comes to cosplay. Because you might not know how to do something, then you’ll try it… and it works! Then you’re like, ‘Well, I learnt something new today!’
I would ask what your favourite cosplay is, but I take it that it’s Jinx from League of Legends?
Unless that’s changed recently?
Well… Jinx and Ahri kind of tie. I can’t really decide between them, I love them both so much. I’ve done more Jinx cosplay, but that’s probably just because it’s easier. But I do like Ahri more to be honest. People know me for Jinx.
So I imagine one day it would be Jinx and the next day it would be Ahri?
That’s why I’m doing Ahri and Jinx this weekend, because they’re my favourites. The only thing I had [definitely] decided on [for this weekend] was Ahri, so I guess that means Ahri is probably my favourite (laughs).
They’re both from League of Legends. What is it about these characters/cosplays that you like so much?
The thing I like about Ahri is that she’s a fox and she has tails. My favourite Pokémon is Ninetails, and it just looks like her so much. Also I used to be a Naruto fangirl, I was really into Naruto and he’s kind of like what Ahri is.
I like Jinx because of her personality. She’s crazy, she’s got blue hair, she’s someone I’d want to be like. I want to be like her (laughs). People say that I act like Jinx when I’m in costume. I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s really weird. Because I’m not like Jinx at all in real life.’
You say you wish you were like Jinx. Is there a bit of wish fulfilment there as soon as you put the costume on?
I think once you put a costume on, you can feel like a different person. That’s the thing I like about cosplay. I feel like I am Jinx and I get more confident and I actually transfer that confidence into my real life as well… just not as crazy.
You’ve done lots of variations of Jinx. Is there a particular favourite?
Battle Bunny Jinx is my favourite. That was just something random I put together, because there’s a character in League of Legends called Riven who’s got a Battle Bunny skin. I was like, ‘Oh, I’d really like to cosplay her.’ But I kind of wanted to cosplay Jinx. So I thought, ‘I could put them together.’ After I made it, people were like, “Ah, that’s really cool,’ and they started making their own versions of different characters. So I started a trend, which is cool! I think tomorrow you’ll see another one walking about. So I’m like, ‘Yeah, I started that!’
Because you’re mostly known for cosplaying Jinx, how do you tend to react when people leave comments, saying you are “the best Jinx cosplayer” they have ever seen?
I take it as a compliment, but sometimes, deep down, I don’t think I am. I know people who I think are better. As long as people aren’t dissing another cosplayer against me then I don’t really mind. But if someone said, ‘Oh, you’re so much better than this cosplayer,’ I’d be like, ‘Don’t say that. That’s really rude.’ I wouldn’t want someone to say to me, ‘Oh, you’re not as good as that Jinx cosplayer.’ It’s not a situation anyone wants to be in.
It’s kind of like bullying in a way. You can spend ages on a costume and think it’s amazing, then someone could say, ‘Oh it’s not that good. That cosplayer is so much better.’ Then you’ll be really upset.
You’re thinking about how the other person feels?
Yeah. You have to think about stuff like that when you cosplay. Some people are just like, (adopts diva persona) ‘I’m the best, I know I’m the best, that person is crap,’ and you’re just thinking, ‘Oh my God’ (laughs).
You’ve said that you don’t actually have motivation to work on costumes.
I usually get motivation when I have to do something else that’s university or work related. I’m like, ‘Oh, I think I might work on my costumes,’ and I get really pumped to make my costumes.
I’m a really lazy person. If I’m lying in the house and I have nothing to do, I’m just like, ‘Nah….’ I usually end up rushing everything in the last few weeks like most cosplayers, because [I say], ‘I’ll do it later.’
So is it the looming deadline of a convention that causes you to work on your cosplay?
Yeah. I want to be organised. When it comes to a couple of weeks before a convention, you’re like, ‘Oh my God, I need to do this.’ So that gives you motivation to make it, because you want to have it in time.
So were you like that in the last two weeks before this convention?
Yeah, I completely remade my Ahri jacket because I didn’t like it. My Raven cosplay, I only decided I was cosplaying that a couple of days ago and I made it in one day. You panic more and then you make things really fast. You can ask any cosplayer. It stresses you out, but you get it done. It’s kind of like any work. I like to think that cosplay is fun though, because it’s fun when you get to wear it, but you still think, ‘Ugh… I need to do that.’ So… you need motivation.
Is that going to change in the future, before your next convention?
Hopefully, because I want to start making bigger and better things, so I would need to start things more in advance. Because I did time my Ahri tails. I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll make them in advance.’ So I got them ready, but I kind of gave up halfway through and I ended up rushing that as well. I need to find something to give myself more motivation, to keep going. Eventually I’ll be able to get it all organised… hopefully.
When I used to have a job, I used to spend what I wanted because I’d get more money next week, but I don’t have a job now, so it’s kind of more budgeting. I still buy my fabric from fabric stores, but now I buy them on eBay because it’s so much cheaper. You can buy samples online and sometimes they’re free.
For Raven, I was using stuff I had lying around the house. I was like, ‘Nah, I’m not spending money on this costume.’ So I only spent a tenner on that costume.
I think I’m getting smarter with where I buy things from and how I buy things. If you waste so much money on something, you just think, ‘Why did I do that?’ You regret it. My first Ahri costume I spent so much money on that, and I’ve just thrown it in the bin because it’s so bad. I haven’t thrown the tails in the bin; I’ve still got the tails.
Okay, I’m curious, how much did you spend?
The costume didn’t cost that much. But the tails, I used some really expensive faux fur for some reason. It was like £100 for them. I kind of regret spending that much money, because I only ended up spending £30 on my new Ahri tails. I could have got it for so much cheaper if I wasn’t so naïve back then, thinking ‘I’ll just buy this one because it’s pretty.’ But it’s cheaper if you get it online.
What would be your number one dream cosplay to create?
This changes a lot. I think it would probably be Morgana or Nami from League of Legends, because they’ve got wings and tails and I think it would be amazing to make something like that. But I don’t know how to do that. If I made wings I’d want them to be huge, but I could never transport them anywhere.
I want to do it one day, but I have enough trouble getting tails down. I need to shrink my tails so I can manage them in my suitcase. I could never shrink my wings.
Definitely. I used to be really shy… I still am quite shy, but I can go up to people and have a conversation with them. I’ve made so many friends through cosplay. Most of my friends live in England. But I can go up to anyone in the convention and just talk to them. It’s really good. It gives you that confidence in real life.
I feel like, to do cosplay, you can’t be really shy. If you want [people to] take pictures of you, you [have to] want to be in front of the camera, and it gives you more confidence to do that. I love being in front of the camera. But in real life, if someone asked me to be in a movie, I’d probably say no, because I don’t like acting. But being with my friends and having fun just makes it so much easier. So yeah, cosplay really helps.
How does it feel for you when you’re here at MCM and people ask you for a photo and talk to you about your character and costume?
It’s amazing, I love it! I’d be so disappointed if I came to a convention and no one wanted to talk to me about my costume or take a photo. On Saturday I hope I get a lot, because I’ve worked hard on [my Popstar Ahri] costume and I want it to be noticed. I didn’t work hard on Raven so I don’t mind if I don’t get noticed for that (laughs).
Thank you to Kyahri for taking the time out for the interview. You can also follow her on her Facebook page (Kyahri Cosplayer).
Photo of Kyahri cosplaying as Popstar Ahri by Harriett Greene (Manga Girl Photography).