Comic Books Magazine

HJ Steele – Featured Cosplayer Interview

Posted on the 19 February 2015 by Comicscritic @comicscritic
HJ SteeleHJ Steele as Winter Poison Ivy (Photo by Erik Blume)There are many talented models and performers who bring their love & enthusiasm to dressing up as their favorite characters. Comic Book Critic will occasionally showcase a performer who embodies this spirit of cosplaying.Whether it’s creating the costume from scratch, altering the appearance of an existing one, or just getting into character, these performers spend a lot of time and effort on their craft. As much as we all enjoy seeing our favorite fictional characters represented in real life, let’s not forget the behind-the-scenes work that goes into that portrayal.One thing is for certain though, their love of cosplaying shines through in their work.The Comic Book Critic Featured Cosplayer Interview is:HJ Steele From Minneapolis, MNHJ Steele as Catwoman (Photo by Chad Scheuneman - retouching by Player 2 Photography)HJ Steele from Minneapolis is a relative newcomer to the world of cosplay. Starting off as a model, she began to create her own costumes and soon was on her way to becoming a cosplayer as well. In that short period, she’s put together some really cool costumes – especially with her Seasons of Ivy Project. HJ also participates in charity events in her spare time.We were lucky enough to catch up with HJ Steele recently to find out a little more about her and her work. Find out more about this new rising star below!Did you begin as a model or a cosplayer, and what were the reasons you decided on either of those? I began as a model back in 2013 after a friend of mine suggested that I give it a try. She set me up with some shoots and helped me get my footing in it, and I modeled sporadically for the next year. I had always wanted to try cosplaying – growing up I had friends who went to conventions and made costumes but I never was able to go myself. This last summer I said “screw it” and made a costume in a couple of days. I was lucky enough that one of my favorite photographers was on board to shoot it, and it was so warmly received that I decided to keep going with it.As a cosplayer, what made you think – “I want to do more of this!”?After I started getting feedback about my first cosplay and started watching more tutorials about crafting online I decided that it seemed like a healthy and positive creative outlet for me. It’s something that I enjoy – and when I stop enjoying it, I’ll stop doing it. Until then, my main motivation is to learn as much as I can.HJ Steele with Katya Kasanova makeupHJ Steele with Harley Quinn makeupDid you find cosplaying to be a much different experience than modeling? How so?I actually think that they’re very similar. I’m very outgoing in my everyday life but a bit of a goofball, and so for both modeling and cosplaying I have to get into a very serious mood and get down to business. I find myself playing a character when doing both.So what do your non-cosplay friends think of your cosplaying?My friends realize that everyone has something they’re into – they know for me it’s cosplay, and I know that they have their own things that I might not be into either but it doesn’t affect our friendship. Everyone is different.If you could pick one motivating factor that makes you keep coming back to creating new costumes and cosplaying, what would that be?Right now the motivating factor is to learn more techniques to create bigger and better costumes. I’m still pretty new to this, so I’m learning about different materials and figuring out how to use power tools so I can build props.HJ Steele as Autumn Poison Ivy (Photo by Chris McDuffie)HJ Steele as Autumn Poison Ivy (Photo by Chris McDuffie)You’re working on a “Seasons of Ivy” project featuring Poison Ivy, could you tell us about that and your motivation behind it?I always wanted to do a Poison Ivy cosplay. She was my favorite villain of any series while I was growing up, so I’d always had this idea of her being my first cosplay. She’s such a well-known character that I wanted to do something I haven’t seen a whole lot of yet. Additionally, doing a yearlong project during my first year of cosplay allows me to look at each incarnation and see where I’ve improved and what I still need to work on.Each of the four costumes features a different season, but in addition, each of the four costumes is based off of a different plant. The fall version uses maple trees as the inspiration and the winter version was inspired by creeping vines. My spring version is being modeled after flowers, and the summer version is a secret.HJ Steele as Winter Poison Ivy (Photo by Erik Blume)HJ Steele as Winter Poison Ivy (Photo by Erik Blume)Which are some of your favorite video games?I played Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time during my formative years, so it really helped shape who I am today – especially Princess Ruto. I think I take after her in a lot of aspects – the love of family, stubbornness, drive to do what’s morally right and being very romantic. Majora’s Mask ranks number two for me because of the dark aspects of the game. I love reading the theories of what Termina is for Link and how he got there.My more recent favorite game is Heavy Rain. I’m a psychology buff so there’s nothing better for me than a game that gets my heart pumping and compels me to keep playing – and emotionally punches me in the face.Have you read comics for a long time and which do you enjoy most?I was really into reading manga growing up. Comics are a more recent adventure for me – I started getting comics when Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended and Dark Horse put out Season 8. My collection is humble, but I’m always looking for new series to start reading.HJ Steele as Catwoman (Photo by Chad Scheuneman - retouching by Player 2 Photography)HJ Steele as Catwoman (Photo by Chad Scheuneman - retouching by Player 2 Photography)Did you consider yourself a nerd or geek while growing up, and do you do so now?I think everyone and their mother considered me a nerd and/or geek growing up. Before it became more widely accepted it wasn’t such a positive thing, but I’ve never been ashamed of what I like. It’s been interesting to see the change between nerd/geek being a pejorative insult to now an elitist status. I try not to consider myself to be anything – I’m into what I’m into, and whatever it makes me in someone else’s eyes is their business.It’s great that you work with charities in Minnesota like Relentless, could you tell us what you do and what it’s all about?I am very blessed to be able to take part in Relentless. When I saw that they were looking for cosplayers to participate in their events, I was stoked! Relentless is a group that organizes events that take sick kids out of the hospital and gives them something fun to do for the day that takes their minds off of their illnesses.Additionally, they raise funds to assist the families of the children with medical bills or other necessities. For the Relentless events, I’ve been going in costume and in character to hang out with the kids while bodybuilders perform awesome feats of strength on stage. It’s a pretty awesome group and I am happy to be a part of it. If you would like to donate to Relentless, please visit http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/KaylaHeal/relentless2015HJ Steele as Autumn Poison Ivy (Photo by Chris McDuffie)HJ Steele as Autumn Poison Ivy (Photo by Chris McDuffie)Do you attend a lot of events in costume?I haven’t been able to do too much yet, but it’s something I look forward to doing in the upcoming months. I’m finally attending my first convention in the summer and plan to do more in the next year.What’s one of your most memorable moments while in costume? At the Relentless kickoff event I met some really amazing kids who completely changed my life and the way I view cosplay and charity work. It was great to see that this hobby I’ve been into is something that translates into service for others. It shifted the importance of cosplay from something that was a little thing that I enjoyed to something the brings joy and happiness to others – letting kids meet their heroes and hang out with characters that are otherwise pretty inaccessible.HJ Steele as Winter Poison Ivy (Photo by Erik Blume)HJ Steele as Autumn Poison Ivy (Photo by Chris McDuffie)Have you ever had any bad experiences with people while cosplaying? People have off days, and I try to give them the benefit of a doubt when they do things I don’t agree with. I don’t take it too personally if someone’s being a jerk. If I see someone going out of their way to be rude to someone else I always say something about it. There’s a time to be passive and a time to be aggressive, and if there is a cosplay bully I call them out.You seem to be so busy, how do you find the time to create your costumes, model, and do all the other things you enjoy?I’m one of those people that thrives when they have an active lifestyle, so I try to keep that ball rolling in all areas of my life. Every once in a while I’ll schedule a weekend off and just stay home and cuddle with the cat, but even then I’m sketching new ideas of costumes or coming up with photoshoot concepts.HJ Steele as Autumn Poison Ivy (Photo by Chris McDuffie)Do you have other cosplayers that you admire? Felicia Dark has been my cosplay instructor. Every time I have an issue with the construction or conceptualization of a costume she’s been right there to help me out and support me – I could not ask for a better friend. Her work is phenomenal and you can tell she really enjoys what she does, which is inspiring for me.What advice do you have for someone just starting out?At the end of the day – you are dressing up as a fictional character. If you take it too seriously it won’t be fun anymore. Be kind to yourself, and learn where the good tutorials are. Ask for help when you need it, and make friends in the community.HJ Steele as Catwoman (Photo by Chad Scheuneman - retouching by Player 2 Photography)Looking back on your work, is there anything that you’d do differently?Everything I’ve done I’ve learned from, including mistakes – if the mistakes hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have learned how to fix them. Therefore – no regrets.What does the future hold for you?Hopefully a lot of Moscato. HJ, Thanks for taking the time to give us this interview and we look forward to seeing much more of your modeling and cosplay work in the future!If you’d like to book HJ Steele for your event, you can contact her through one of her social media account below. HJ Steele LinksInstagramFacebookTumblrTwitter  Photographer Credits Erik BlumeChris McDuffieChad Scheuneman retouching by Player 2 Photography Makeup CreditsHarley Quinn Makeup – HJ SteeleKatya Kasanova Makeup – HJ Steele  – The Comic Book Critic

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