COSPLAYER FROM THE UNITED KINGDOM
Enayla is a cosplayer, armorsmith, and prop maker based in the UK. Specializing in costumes with meticulous detail, massive scale, and complex engineering, she is always looking for ways to expand her skills and challenge reality. She actively works with fabric, foam, thermoplastics, resin, 3D printing, and a host of other materials (whatever will get the job done!). When not working on a project, she is active in sharing techniques and encouragement with the cosplay community.
Please introduce yourself – what is your cosplay name, where are you from, how long have you been cosplaying?
Hello, I’m Enayla! I’m a cosplayer originally from the US but currently based in the UK, and I’ve been cosplaying for a little more than 16 years now.
How did your cosplay journey begin? What was your first costume?
I’ve always been a gamer and generally into nerd culture, so cosplay was the obvious next step. I had my first introduction to cosplay when my parents brought me to San Diego Comic Con on a family vacation. I was blown away by the amazing costumes and by just seeing characters that I loved walking around in real life! I found an antique sewing machine at a yard sale and tackled my first costume, a Mesmer from Guild Wars, soon after. It was half modified-thrifted-clothing and half poorly self-patterned, but I had the best time running around as a character from one of my favorite games.
How many cosplay competitions/conventions have you been to?
Too many to count! I’ve been very fortunate to be able to travel quite a bit for cosplay, and I’ve guested and judged competitions in a few dozen countries over the years.
Which cosplay costume took the longest to make? Why?
My Cersei cosplay from Game of Thrones was my longest project to date at nearly two years of work. It was a huge learning experience – I tackled embroidery, 3D printing, and stamping my own textile design for the first time. The original fabric was custom screen-printed, and of course I had to try and replicate it…so I spent three months huddled on my craft room floor, carefully stamping gold designs onto 14 meters of fabric. I’m really happy with the final result, but I don’t think I’ll ever do that again!
Which cosplay costume have you worn the most? Why?
I’ve worn my Dolores cosplay from Westworld more than any other, simply because it’s such a practical and comfortable costume that still shows off some of my skills. I can wear it all day with ease, I can lean over to inspect costume construction during judging, and she’s just a fun character to embody for a day. I also sometimes give a panel on corsetry and structural garments at events, and Dolores is a good example of several (the costume has a corset, bustle, petticoat), so I often wear it to help explain my points.
What part of this hobby/lifestyle do you like the most? Why?
Apart from simply hanging out with friends in costume, I love doing cosplay photoshoots, especially on location. My partner is an amazing photographer and we’re always looking for interesting locations, sharing photo inspiration, and planning for our next shoot. Some of my best cosplay memories are group photoshoots, where we get a bunch of cosplayers together for a road trip and just spend the day creating cool images.
Do you have any funny stories or accidents related to cosplay?
I have several cosplays that include full-sized feathered wings, and I’ve had instances on windy days where I’ve been dangerously close to actually taking flight…or, maybe just being knocked flat on my face! You don’t realize that you have two huge sails strapped to your back until you’re trying to walk around in a strong breeze. I was wearing wings to one event and was struggling so hard to cross the street between buildings of the convention center that I had to have a few kind volunteers grab the wings and hold me upright 😊
What inspires you to create?
My biggest inspiration for a new cosplay project is being passionate about the character or source material and wanting to bring a character to life. There’s no better feeling than spending ages working on a cosplay project and finally getting to wear it. Whenever I’m feeling unmotivated to work on a project, I’ll take a step back and play the game or watch the show, and remember why I was so excited to recreate part of that world.
Why is cosplay important to you?
Cosplay has been a huge part of my life for decades now, and I’ve met some of my closest friends through this hobby. The cosplay community is incredible – everyone’s been so supportive, constantly sharing ideas and advice. I also love that it’s a way to immediately identify someone in a shared fandom – I can’t count how many times I’ve approached someone to admire their costume and ended up chatting at length about the source material! From a personal standpoint, cosplay has definitely brought me out of my shell and helped me become more confident.
What are the three main things that cosplay has taught you?
Getting really good at planning out complex projects is definitely the biggest one! Cosplay forces you to keep track of a ton of elements, figure out how long each piece will take, and adjust plans when something doesn’t work out exactly as you intended. On that note, cosplay has also taught me how to come up with unique ways of handling problems. I’ve had to get really creative with materials, and I think there’s something so gratifying about solving an issue or coming up with a technique that’s never been done before. Thirdly, I taught myself the basics of 3D modelling for cosplay (3D printing props and armor), and found that I loved it so much that I switched careers to become a full-time 3D artist!
If you had to choose one character to cosplay for the rest of your life, who would it be?
I have to choose my most iconic cosplay character, Cullen from Dragon Age. It’s still one of my favorite projects to date, and I always have an incredible time wearing the costume because fans of the game are so passionate. I actually met my partner through Dragon Age cosplay (we both have a version of Cullen) so it has a special place in my heart.
What would you consider to be the biggest achievement in your cosplay career?
I had the chance to judge the finals of the Eurocosplay contest a few years back, and that felt like a big milestone in my cosplay career. All of the contestants were so skilled, as they had already qualified in a dozen different countries, and the overall show was a huge production.
If you could go back in time to the beginning of your cosplay career, what advice would you give to yourself?
I’d tell myself that the stress, tears, and all-nighters to finish a project for a particular event weren’t worth it, and to take my time on my costumes. Oftentimes we set ourselves deadlines for specific conventions and then struggle horribly to meet them, and I try to remember that cosplay is a hobby that should be fun and can be done on my own terms! I’ve gotten better about not con crunching as much anymore, and setting myself reasonable deadlines to finish a new cosplay.
What advice would you give to the people who want to start cosplaying, but are afraid or just don’t know where to start?
For new cosplayers, the first thing I’d always say is to go for it! Every part of the process is so much fun, and the community is such a wonderfully inclusive, helpful group of people. For those just starting out, I’d suggest tackling a simpler project at first and giving yourself plenty of time to finish it. There are a ton of useful tutorials and other resources out there, and plenty of social media groups and forums full of more experienced cosplayers who are happy to give advice. One of the biggest lessons (that I’m still trying to master) is to remember that cosplay doesn’t need to be taken too seriously: in the end, we’re all just nerds dressing up as fictional characters!
Last but not least, are you looking forward to Comic Con Baltics 2023?
Yes! I always love meeting cosplayers all over the world, trading stories, sharing skills, and otherwise geeking out over our cosplay projects! This will be my first time in Lithuania and I can’t wait to see what everyone brings to the convention.