Yaya Han is a world-famous cosplayer, costume designer and model. With over 300 costume creations, and having travelled as a guest to over 100 conventions worldwide, she is an expert in the cosplay community. She has an online store selling a large range of accessories, and has also grown the business to include her own pattern line with McCall’s, and her own fabric line with Cosplay Fabrics. But it wasn’t always so.
“I discovered cosplay 18 years ago when it was a tiny, underground community. Nobody really knew what they were doing, but I feel lucky that I discovered it so early on,” says the self-taught seamstress, who has been making her own costumes since 1999. “What got me into cosplay was simply wanting to cosplay. I had no background in making costumes, and I had never put on a costume before I started cosplaying, so it was a discovery on my own. I’ve always been very active and continue to make costumes.”
She’s also willing to chat with and help new cosplayers and fans. Striving to stay true to what got her into the industry, the passion for the characters Han creates can be seen with each costume that she makes.
“Take advantage of the resources available and do your research. Research is half the battle,” Han says when MyM’s Louise Saul asks if she has any advice for someone just starting out in cosplay. “I think a lot of people want to be given the answers, but I encourage people not to seek out shortcuts. The goal should not be to have the finished costume, but to have the experience and savour it.
“You need to hold on to why you want to do this in the first place, and choose characters that mean a lot to you. Don’t worry about whether they are popular or not. It has to be a character that you have a connection to, because that love for the character is what’s going to drive you through the moments when you’re really frustrated and want to give up.
To read the full exclusive interview with Yaya Han, where she discusses her career, how cosplay has changed over the years and her experiences with online bullies, pick up a copy of MyM Issue 68, out Friday 10 November 2017.