Shots by Shinobi Cosplay Spotlight: Cosplay Dad UK

I first met Craig while Cosplaying as Yondu as his daughter was cosplaying Rocket at MCM Birmingham about a year ago.  We had already been following each other on the gram.  Since then we have become good friends and been a part of some awesome cosplay group team ups.  We have been lucky enough to share the stage with real life Avengers while cosplaying our favourite characters.  He suited up as Hawkeye.  Hawkeye was obviously the missing piece in Infinity War.  I am sure he would have had the perfect arrow shot in the film.  You may have seen him as Yondu or Hawkeye but we had planned for months in secrecy to shoot Heath Ledgers’ Joker.  He absolutely nailed this cosplay and the reception was exactly what I thought it would be.  I have a new cosplay I am working on and he’s giving me advice on how to paint myself blue.  This month’s spotlight is Craig who is an amazing cosplayer, friend and father. 

What got you into cosplaying? 

I’ve always enjoyed dressing up and loved going to fancy dress parties but sadly they seemed to kinda stop after university. I always craved to do it more on a regular basis but never really had the outlet to do so, at my daughters fifth birthday party she wanted a fancy dress party and myself and one of my friends were the only 2 adults who came in fancy dress the kids loved it, but all the parents thought I was the entertainment. Anyway I was aware of comic cons and had always wanted to go to one so me and my daughter decided to go to a local one, she said that she wanted to go dressed up and wanted me to do to, so I figured it would be fun and my eyes were open to this whole new world of cosplaying which I just assumed had only happened at the big cons in America and Japan. We had an amazing day and it just gave me this thirst for more and finally found the outlet I had wanted.

Do you have a cosplay pet peeve?

People who are disrespectful to others and try to belittle and put others down. I think in a lot of ways the cosplay community is amazing and super supportive of each other. But there is a tiny pocket that seems to think they are better or occasionally you’ll see people share something that makes them happy or that they’ve worked so hard on for others to leave negative/nasty comments. At the end of the day Cosplay should be all inclusive, some of us don’t have £250+ to spend on an accurate movie like cosplay, some people can only afford the cheaper alternatives and they shouldn’t be made to feel inferior for it. They are doing what they want to do and sharing their love for the character.

If you could go anywhere in the world how to cosplay where would it be?

I’d love to get to an American Con, there’s 4 in particular I really wanna go to, Dragon Con, Emerald City, New York & of course San Diego. I’ve been to America a few times myself on holiday or working but never got to a con out there so I’d love to go to one of those, there’s so many cosplayers I follow who all seem genuinely lovely people so it would be great to meet some of them in person but also just to experience being at a con in another country would be an amazing experience.

What was your 1st Con and describe your 1st convention experience?

My first con was a Showmasters event, it was Newcastle Film and Comic Con. Me and my daughter travelled up there on the train she was dressed as Captain America and I was the Flash. I had surprised my daughter on the morning saying we were going to a superhero meeting and she originally was going to go as Spiderman but I had surprised her with a note from Steve Rodgers saying he had left her very own Captain America outfit. I remember feeling nervous as we got the train up and I was sat on a train dressed as the Flash thinking ‘people are going to think I’m a weirdo’ and of all days Newcastle was hosting some Rugby League games so there were loads of Rugby fans on the train too.

The day was great getting to walk around with like-minded people and see all these amazing outfits and talk to so many great people who were just so passionate about their fandom. We had photos taken of us by people and my daughter actually thought she was surrounded by superheroes; she had a huge smile on her face all day and loved every minute of it. At this time I wasn’t on Instagram so I had no real way of knowing anyone etc. it was literally just me and my daughter turning up on the day.

They had the cosplay masquerade as well and my daughter really wanted to do it, I didn’t dare but I let her sign up to it and I had no idea what she was going to do, she was only 5 years old and I thought she’d be put off by the crowd. We queued up so she go do it and we were speaking to people in the que and they were telling us how cosplay helps them escape themselves and be someone else etc. and I just found it all very powerful stuff, one guy was telling me how he suffered from anxiety and although really worried about going in the masquerade he feels because he’s in cosplay he could do it. Then my daughter got on the stage and just did some superhero poses, her face lit up and the crowds were so supportive of her cheering her on, from then I kinda thought you know this is a real cool community to be in and I felt at home and accepted.

How have you improved since then?

My outfits have definitely improved, my flash outfit was one of those you get from the fancy dress shop, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all, I’ve just decided to invest more and lucky enough I’m in a position to do so. I’ve definitely grown in confidence too which I would say is the biggest improvement, I don’t worry when walking to a con dressed as a Blue alien thinking what people would think, mostly I see it as well there’ll never see me again and no-one can really tell it’s me but also once I get my cosplay on it’s not me, it’s not Craig. I’m now the character I’ve become.

I think the other big thing to improve is my make-up skills which is very odd to hear a 34 year bloke say his make-up skills have improved but since before Yondu I’d done one or two bits of make up with fancy dress but nothing really any good, whereas with Yondu I had to really focus on how to do it and make it look like my actual skin as opposed to just paint, this has then helped with Joker too.

What has been your favourite convention?

I’d definitely say MCM May is my favourite the weather is (usually) nice and it’s busy from a cosplay perspective with so many amazing cosplayers attending. London is quite a cool city, although expensive to go to it’s a nice setting. MCM I find is more gauged towards the cosplay from a convention point of view instead of about the guests which makes it my favorite, although special guests are great to meet and I’ve been lucky enough to meet some great ones my main focus when I go to a Convention is cosplay. I’m quite lucky that I get asked to be parts of groups to do some group shoots too at these cons and so it gives me something to work towards and look forward to.

You always adopt the spirit of the cosplays.  Is it important to you to be in character?

Definitely, I think you can tell when you’re enjoying a cosplay and enjoy the character or at least I can tell with myself. For me cosplay is about expressing yourself and sharing your love for the character, if you don’t love that character or an element of that character then I imagine it would be hard to adopt that spirit. There are so many amazing characters out there and I think that at different times of our lives we can connect with different characters depending on what our lives are facing. For example with Hawkeye in Age of Ultron we saw his family and how important that was to him to protect them, and to me although he gets teased at as being the least useful Avenger it kinda showed a strength to me as he’s got the most to lose, his family and so he has to be on his A game in every fight and as we see he wants to quit while he’s ahead. As a parent I can obviously relate to just wanting to be around your family and not letting them down. I have to say as well, being Captain Britain was great too to reinforce my Britishness and promote being proud to be British and the beginnings of the character is this kinda weak guy who isn’t sure if he can handle this power and doesn’t see himself as a warrior.

What has been your biggest moment since you started cosplaying?

Ha-ha, I’m surprised you need to ask. I’ve been so lucky in my cosplay journey had the chance to be part of so many great projects and team ups but definitely my biggest moment had to be getting asked to attend the Infinity War Fan Event as Hawkeye in London (Even though the best Avenger wasn’t in the movie, I mean come on 100% win record, ha-ha) It was definitely a day I’ll never forget to be part of with so many amazing cosplayers like yourself, Ugo, Alex, Ben and so many others who are all fantastic people. Being behind the scenes in the green room everyone was Buzzing and you could tell how excited we all were. I don’t think anyone really knew what to expect, what was going to happen. We got to see some of the show being rehearsed before anyone else so had an idea of some of the guests but the ushered us out before revealing all. I remember once the show started taking out Paul Bettany with my quiver because he was stood in my space as we were all told where we had to stand when we got on the stage. Then I remember feeling so lucky to see 30 minutes of Infinity War before anyone else and I was surrounded with people who were just as passionate and excited by it as me which made it extra special. It kinda ran over time too and I remember this mad dash to get back as I couldn’t get the next day off work, I only just made my coach back home which took 6 hours to get me home It was definitely worth only getting 2 hours sleep on the way back before getting to work.

Yondu is my favourite cosplay of yours.  But  you have many other great cosplays including the newly done Dark Knight Joker.  Do you have favourites? 

It’s a hard question to answer really; I love all the cosplays I do because something from that character has spoken to me and made me want to cosplay them. Different cosplays have brought new friends into my life and each brought around so many amazing opportunities. I’d have to say though that Yondu is my favourite. I feel I got a lot of recognition from Yondu which on a  personal level has been great allowing me to join groups like the North East Avengers and in its own right has allowed me to give back a bit more by doing more charity events.  He was a lot of fun to put together and I’m looking forward to improving him but is the one I’ve seen the most progress and growth in my skills as a cosplayer with how I act as the character and my make-up skills. It’s also my favourite as he’s a fun character, instantly recognizable and it’s one that no matter where I go people genuinely seem happy to see him, I often get shouted at from across busy Conventions halls, “It’s Mary Poppins Y’all” He seems, especially after the second Guardians movie to have found his way into a lot of people’s hearts and it’s great to bring that kind of character to life. I had a charity event too that I did where I was Yondu and I’ll always remember how there was this one little girl who was just amazed by me because I had blue skin. She was at the charity event because it was for children with heart conditions and she had a heart condition herself, she must’ve only been about 3 year old but her smile absolutely lit up the room and you couldn’t tell she was suffering from a condition and it’ll always stay with me how happy and amazed she seemed to be by me being Yondu, her family thanked me for the time I spent with her dancing and playing around but it was my absolute pleasure.

If money was no object what would be your dream cosplay?

There’s so many I’d love to do and so many cosplays I have in mind to attempt in the future but I guess thinking money wise as I know how expensive a proper suit would be and proper full on Iron Man suit would be pretty amazing. I’m not sure I have the swagger of Stark to pull it off and have the patience to move in the suit but yeah that would be a great experience.

Who is the best Avenger?

Ha-ha well I’ve got to say Hawkeye, he’s my main man. I think honestly coming from that raw superpower aspect it has to be Thor who is the best, but I think what Hawkeye brings to the team is invaluable and can’t be overlooked; he brings that human aspect to the team. He’s not an alien or had super serum or gamma rays injected into him or a billionaire, he’s a badass at what he does. He’s an expert with a bow and arrow and speaking as a fellow archer that is a damn good skill to be able to hit your target each and every time.

What is the most difficult cosplay you have done?  Why was it difficult?

I think for me personally the most difficult was the Joker. In essence it was the easiest one to put together because the character is so popular it’s easy to source materials and get reference pictures from etc. The reason it was so difficult was the own pressure I put on myself because I love the character so much and the Heath Ledger version is iconic I want to make sure I had it bang on and that details were accurate but not just the costume itself but the poses etc. I’m still not 100% happy with it and in each picture I pick faults and know myself how I’m going to improve, I think in all honesty I’ll never be 100% happy and will always see something I can improve but at least I’m at a point where I’m happy enough to let others see that cosplay.

 Do you prefer cosplaying solo or with groups?

Definitely in a group. It’s great to be able to bounce off people get some great group shots and it feels amazing when you’re in your group all ready. I remember at the Edinburgh Infinity war photoshoot when we finally met up with a lot of the other cosplayers we had this moment when we were walking down the Royal Mile and it just seemed like the whole street on a busy Saturday afternoon parted to the sides to lets us walk down. It felt so badass and people were just stopped taking pictures of us. I know you took one of the official shots from the shoot and I’ve heard that actors from the movie have actually seen the picture which is insane and lots of people comment on thinking it was an actual still from the movie as part of it was filmed there and that for me is amazing to hear. Cosplaying solo can be pretty fun too, but it sometimes feels like more work, Like when I was Captain Britain, I was so excited to cosplay him and so happy with the final outcome but at the moment all my pictures have been solo ones so although it’s nice to see group shots are always good to bounce off others.

Are there any cosplays that you admire?

There are so many amazing cosplayers out there, some who are just chameleons and can seem to just change how they look and morph into character, and I couldn’t pick out just one. But what I would say is I admire anyone who does cosplay, at any level. I think in this day and age it’s easy for people to get scared off from doing anything like this. So many people are quick to judge, or troll especially with social media. So for people to stand up and say you know what I enjoy this fandom or character and I want to celebrate that by cosplaying then that takes a lot of guts and has to be admired, especially if it’s helping you with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety like it seems to help a lot of people.

Have you learned more about yourself since cosplaying?  

Definitely, I’m usually quite a shy reserved person in day to day life but cosplaying has given me this outlet to not be and explore my more dramatic and creative side which I guess has always been a bit suppressed. It’s helped me to become more confident in myself too as I usually lack my own self confidence but cosplaying has definitely built that up in some areas. It’s also helped me with problem solving skills which I think can be leaked over into other areas of life. I think the most important thing it has taught me though which is going to sound cheesy is to not take things and life too seriously, I just try to enjoy myself nowadays and take things in my stride, its taught me that this is something I enjoy doing and it makes me happy and that’s the important thing as none of us know how long we are going to be on this rock for so let’s just try enjoy it.

What makes you choose to cosplay a certain character?

I’m pretty open minded when it comes to choosing a character to Cosplay. Usually it’s because I just see a connection to that character and it’s made me want to explore this character more. For example with Hawkeye I have always had this thing where personally I think archery is cool and myself I actually do archery so I had an instant link with and any other Archers really, I guess I could’ve always cosplayed Green Arrow who is another Archer I like but I dunno for me Hawkeye always seemed more skilled and resonated with me on a deeper level. I chose to cosplay Yondu as from the 2 Guardians movies I just thought the character was pretty bad-ass and had this aurora around him; he had a swagger and was just a cool character. I think also especially from the last Guardians movie where he sacrificed himself for Quill and was ultimately seen as this great but quirky father figure spoke to me. So choosing a cosplay character needs to grab my interest but there’s no set thing that can trigger that interest, at the moment I’m researching a character called Dabi from My Hero Academia. I’ve never watched any Anime but I’m doing him as part of a group cosplay. I normally wouldn’t agree to a character I have no idea of but I liked his costume and look so it interested me to cosplay him, I hope I can do him justice.


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