Cosplayer from Lithuania

Please introduce yourself – what is your cosplay name, where are you from, how long have you been cosplaying?

Hello! I am PonPon but I am also known as The Strawberry Godfather 🍓 I lead the Strawberry Mafia, which is what I affectionately call the community I am blessed to have – gathered. You are most definitely also welcome to join anytime and enjoy the ride!

I live in Lithuania and reside in the second biggest city – Kaunas. It’s hard to put a finger on exactly when my cosplay journey began, but if I recall correctly my first dabble into cosplay was in 2017, which means this year will be the 6th. To be fair, time flies!

How did your cosplay journey begin? What was your first costume?

My cosplay journey beginnings are bittersweet. There’s a story that comes along with it. My best friend from way back when was an anime watcher and it was quite a foreign concept at the time. Of course, my friend wanted for me to join in on it, I was told that the art is amazing, the concepts are awesome and it’s really worthwhile to try it. But there I was, not thrilled about it, because I was attending an art school and my teachers, coincidentally as my friend brought the idea of watching anime up, were insisting that if you indulge in anime style you are abolishing your drawing skills. Unfortunately, it was quite a firm belief in art education. So, of course, I did not want to get influenced by anime and be scolded or ridiculed by the teacher –  I was very strict with myself, looking back at it, it definitely makes me feel upset. But one day my dear friend had a breakthrough with the stubborn me and managed to put on an episode of “Kuroshitsuji” (Black Butler). “Just one episode, c’mon, trust me!” Famous last words, am I right. One, two, five, twelve; in no time I binged the entire series. To be honest, the series was life changing, I can vouch for it now! I was craving more and immediately I was introduced to cosplaying as I was seeking out Black Butler content online. People dressing up, conventions… It opened the doors for the possibility to bring my beloved characters to reality and oh man, how much I enjoyed the idea… Especially for me being a theatre kid. The video that introduced me to the wonders of cosplay was “AX11 – meeting the best Grell (Aicosu)”.  It made me so fired up, that I decided to cosplay while attending my first ever convention, now I was the one pestering my friend to join me! I made my own props and costume, really wanted to try my luck on stage, but I found out about the possibility when the application form was already closed.

I feel very grateful for @/Aicosu and the person who provided the Grell footage from the convention. I am very grateful for my friend, whom I no longer am close with, for being able to change my mind. It’s all connected – my first ever cosplay ended up being Grell Sutcliff from “Black Butler”.

PonPon during Comic Con Baltics 2022: Together with GameOn

How many cosplay competitions/conventions have you been to?

To be honest, I stopped counting how many conventions and competitions I have attended. I just know that I haven’t missed almost any conventions since 2017 in Lithuania – maybe only a few. And fun fact! Performed in almost all of those conventions in cosplay competitions! There were only a few instances that I had to, sadly, skip.

And then from 2018 I think I started putting foreign conventions onto my list – in which I also try to perform in. I really do enjoy stage don’t I… So I have seen quite a lot I dare say.

Which cosplay costume took the longest to make? Why?

The costume that took the longest, shockingly as it is, was The Trickster from the game “Dead By Daylight”. When I saw the character, I right away clutched onto the design obsessively, went into it with lots of hype and it made me think “oh it shouldn’t take a long time, should it?… oh was I wrong. Well maybe it shouldn’t have taken so much labour but my designer heart had to make it harder for myself.. To begin with – I had to create my own pattern for fabric for the coat and pants. Also I wanted to give it some mirror chrome effect, which gave me a very “fun” time figuring out what dye to choose on fabric and how to approach it. The making of the pattern on the fabric was probably the most annoying part to be honest, I had to be very precise and find creative solutions. As well as the search for the correct colour shade for main body, or at least as close to the original as possible. I really enjoy to play with different material textures but that leads to an issue of finding the right colour with proper unique texture I have in mind, it usually leads me to shop not only for garment fabrics, but look into the textile section for different purposes like curtains or leather furnishings. So I remember that costume as a fun time with technical difficulties. Not to mention I lost feeling in my fingers, because I decided to give the bloody accents a lively feel; that fresh grimy vibe. The way to do it was to individually sew on a lot of pretty glass-like sparkly beads, sew them on accents that are dyed in red for that true blood-like effect in different hues. Even the smallest details get my utmost attention, it makes it very enjoyable for me, making things look raw and real. But then when you think about it, all us cosplayers eventually lose the feeling in our fingertips, like it’s a casual experience isn’t it?

Which cosplay costume have you worn the most? Why?

I have a confession to make. But I have never worn same cosplay at the convention twice. I always want something new… But I want to start to do that! And The Trickster cosplay will be the first one to put in practice!

What part of this hobby/lifestyle do you like the most? Why?

What I truly enjoy about cosplay is the meaning of it that it holds. First of all – It helped me find myself and accept myself in so many ways; and to find courage to do things that I always loved and had interest in, but didn’t have an outlet for. I love that cosplay gives us all the possibility to escape the day to day lives and express our geeky love, share the same energy, to feel safe! I am thankful to this hobby for giving me a an opportunity to express my passion for making designs, sewing and showing it to the people. It is such a beautiful thing to express creativity.

Then how could I not mention the sense of community and how lucky I am to have a possibility to meet so many great people thanks to cosplay!

So I love how versatile this hobby can be. It can help you mentally, physically and even teach you life skills.

Do you have any funny stories or accidents related to cosplay?

It is usually really hard to remember such things but there is one I would like to share that I find really funny right now… I had a Grell Sutcliff cosplay performance. I thought I definitely had everything with me and on me… Oh how was I wrong… I went to the prejudging, spent the whole day at the convention, had a performance… Came back home. Looked at the photos – then I noticed that something is off. And then it dawns upon me – I forgot my suit vest! Nor I, nor my friends noticed that, nobody told me at the convention. I was so angry at myself, I held this grudge for two weeks! I kept chewing myself out… And now the actual funny part comes in. I was so upset with myself that I went as far as photoshoping a whole suit vest in – in all of my Grell photos from that convention.. I remember even going to one of my IT teachers and showing the photo, asking “would you be able to tell what is not real in this photo” and she failed to notice! She pointed at Grell’s Chainsaw which was a real prop I made. That was the confirmation my evil photo manipulation was a success, what a story, right?

What inspires you to create?

I get inspired by the characters themselves as in their personality, back story, looks, features, even the lighting they are given in the shows and music.. it can make me so hyped up to start creating! Same goes to the real life people: I get really inspired by people’s personalities and the feeling they give me. That’s why I always say I am really into getting to core. Also the environment – basically things that can give you specific feelings of being in the moment. It goes to the point where you can connect specific fabrics, colours and music to the content’s environment and even technical parts; like you would already think of why to use a specific technique and have an argument why it is like so. Also, things that make me question a lot and search for solutions! It gives a special kind of fire in creativity!

Why cosplay is important to you?

Cosplay is an important part of my life because as mentioned before – it helped me find myself, understand myself, find the people that are one of the closest people I have when I always thought I won’t be blessed by that, but due to the miraculous sequence of relating events provided by cosplay, here I am! Cosplay is important to me because it’s a way to express myself and share my creativity, show my skills to other people! Learn new things every time and gain new knowledge with every new project. And then when you hear people say something that you do out of love helped somebody, motivated them, dragged them out of an emotional pit or pain; it brings a newfound meaning to the craft and the work you put into it matters. It’s a motivation to get up and get to it. Cosplay covers so many life aspects that sometimes it even feels unreal.

What are the three main things that cosplay has taught you?

Cosplay has taught me so much! Or, rather, because of cosplay I had to learn many things! Picking three isn’t an easy task but here it is:

  1. Always finding solutions for problems that arise as quickly as possible, a quick reaction. Because during making of cosplay, some things just won’t go as planned and since it’s such versatile thing that has to cover many aspects of art and not only that, sometimes you just need to learn how to adapt fast.
  2. Going out of my comfort zone and not being scared to try out new things. Because to move forward and broaden your insights, you have to gain new knowledge as well as experience new things.
  3. Of course, various new skills in making, crafting, sewing, performing, ways of expressing creativity. And also giving a kick to level up skills you had before.

If you had to choose one character to cosplay for the rest of your life, who would it be?

I am terrified of such a commitment HAHAHA~ I find this question scary. But if I must answer – probably Hisoka or Donquixote Doflamingo… But for now I will stick with Hisoka From Hunter x Hunter. Technically, I was already committed to Hisokas design in my day to day life a while ago, because I enjoy the look of blood-red coloured hair, which I maintained for quite a while.

What would you consider to be the biggest achievement in you cosplay career?

Career is a big word. But I am so happy that I am capable to have gathered knowledge to be able to help other people and share that knowledge with them first and foremost. Then, I would add all the winnings in cosplay performance competitions as much as I usually avoid mentioning it.. It is not the most important thing in cosplay but it is an achievement that would make all of us proud of ourselves in one way or another~.

If you could go back in time to the beginning of your cosplay career, what advice would you give to yourself?

Don’t be afraid to try things out! If you like something even if you fail or at the end of the day, end up not enjoying it; at least you will know! Break out of the shell quicker, no need to wait for something or someone else to break it.

What advice would you give to the people who want to start cosplaying, but are afraid or just don’t know where to start?

 I totally understand the fear because cosplay looks and sounds like a very broad, big thing but just think about it – people have to start somewhere and the first attempts usually never go well or the way they were planed for anyone! What you see now of others is a project they were working on for a while that had many errors and many lessons learned. So we all go through that! And one day you can become that person who will be looked at as an example and become somebody’s motivation! First, you have to do it for yourself, to have fun, and learn something new. Cosplay will always be about things you love and enjoy! It’s about fun, even if it gets difficult!

Last but not least, are you looking forward to Comic Con Baltics 2023?

Ah! I am looking forward to Comic Con Baltics so much! And this time for me is also a new experience! I used to be a regular attendee and contestant from the day I started cosplaying and now to have a chance to experience the other side, support all of you without stressing about myself first ahaha~

I truly want to wish you the best of luck and I can’t wait to see you all!  Let’s all have fun and enjoy this amazing once in a year experience! See you all at Comic Con Baltics 2023!