At C2E2 this year, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with cosplayer Foamsmeef. He has an impressive list of accomplishments, including several Best Prop, Craftmanship, and Best in Show wins at various cons, the most recent being of his League of Legends cosplay at this year’s Pensacon. He was also kind enough to sit down with me for a few minutes to talk about cosplay.
It was actually about 2 1/2 or 3 years ago when I was stationed in San Angelo, Texas. I had just gone through a rough patch and my friend was like, “You know what? We should go do something. I heard there’s a comic con down in San Antonio, Texas,” because it was San Japan. I was like, “I don’t know what comic con is” so he started telling me about comic con and how everyone dresses up and it would be really cool because he knew I liked anime and stuff like that. So he said we should dress up, and everyone’s going to do it, and we would have everyone who was going with us dress up like Naruto. So I spent the next weekend and any free time I had in my little dorm, when I was 2 feet away from someone else sleeping, with a little cardboard box gluing craft foam scales to it. I ripped up a t-shirt to make the wrap for this sword prop. I ended up having blue makeup and everything – I went full-out. When I got downstairs that morning, I get to the car and everyone else is already in the car and nobody else was in costume. I was like, “Okay, guys, cool.” So I was like, “This is stupid, I’m not going to take it off.” So we parked really far away from the convention and we’re walking there, and within 2 seconds of leaving the parking lot people were already like, “Oh my god, it’s Kisame from Naruto!” And I was like, “Yeah, that’s me!” It was so much fun, and since then I just got addicted.
Do you prefer to do armor-based or sewing-based cosplays, or is it just based of liking a certain character?
The way I choose is definitely based on thinking I like this design and I think this could be a challenge for me, so I’m going to do it, and that’s how I usually choose my cosplays. I would definitely prefer armor-based or construction-based cosplays to sewing because I can sew, but I don’t like sewing. But I can do it if I have to do it, haha. Sewing takes its own skill set.
You said that you choose characters to cosplay based on it being a challenge. Do you ever feel like you have a personal connection – like do you see yourself in this character or this is something you would like to be like or emulate?
So yeah, it is kind of almost half and half when I go for a character. Like Archangel, I’ve always loved. He’s always been my favorite X-Men character, so I was immediately drawn to that when I watched the Apocalypse movie, which is why I did cosplay him this weekend. And the same with Dorian Pavus from Dragon Age. But the other characters, I guess I had a connection to them, but it was more because of design aesthetic and challenge. I really do like to challenge myself every cosplay, and do something different, something next level, and something I’ve never done before. So I can see myself in the character, but for some of the characters, like Aatrox or Elderwood Heckarim from League of Legends, I can’t see myself being a giant winged god or some sort of centaur dude, but those are definitely purely challenge and design related. But when I when I do cosplay characters based off of likes or a connection to them, I definitely feel more in tune with the character than just when I’m in the bigger armors or bigger cosplays. Instead of feeling in tune, I just feel like a badass. So that’s fun too.
If you could cosplay any character, regardless of the skill level required to make or construct it, what character would you do?
Doctor Strange. I know that sounds weird, but the sewing involved in a movie-accurate Doctor Strange outfit for me is almost impossible. Like I literally have all the fabrics to do it, but they’re just sitting there and I haven’t picked them up because I am just very afraid of sewing. I know I need to do it one day, but I do have all the stuff to make it, so I guess I would say Doctor Strange. It’s just the skill level required to make those garments is just not in my wheelhouse yet.
What is your favorite thing about the cosplay community?
I was just talking about that today. My favorite thing about the cosplay community and conventions in general is that everybody is so accepting and so complimentary. They’re so nice. Like “nice” is the ultimate term I guess you could say. You can just hear it. When you’re just walking through the aisles, you’ll just hear behind you, “Oh my gosh, look at that. It’s so cool.” “Oh my gosh, their outfit is so neat.” “Oh my gosh, it’s that character.” It doesn’t even have to be anything big, just the fact that they see a character is just so exciting and everyone is so nice. Sure you’ll get the occasional jerk comment once in a while, but overall I would say everyone is overly helpful, overly accepting. You don’t see people getting upset while walking through the convention. More times than not, if someone stops in front of them, they wait, they look around. Oh someone’s taking a picture, let’s stop and let them finish the picture. You know, common things that you wouldn’t experience elsewhere, like if you went to a theme park, people would walk through your picture. But everyone here is so nice and so accepting.
While there is that accepting side and accepting nature, I also think everybody is very in their heads and thinking, “How does mine look in relation to theirs?” Everyone is very comparative when it comes to cosplay. If that’s something that fuels you to get better, or do more, or learn more, then great, but if it’s something that brings you down, or tears you down or takes you to a place where you think you shouldn’t dress up, I think you should avoid that completely. It doesn’t matter what your level is because you’re doing it because it’s fun. It’s cos-PLAY. The play fun is very important, which I think people forget a lot. Once you stop playing in cosplay, then I think you might need to re-evaluate things and bring back the fun.
In attending C2E2 for the first time, what has been your impression of the con and would you like to come again?
It was awesome. It was easily my next favorite con to DragonCon and best believe I will be back next year.
Where you can find my social media? Haha! Shameless plug. I don’t know, I love talking about my recent achievement unlocked in my life, which is the opening of my business and being able to distribute cosplay supplies to cosplayers at a fair, if not cheaper than everyone else, cost that cosplayers can afford. You go to these hardware stores and you’re picking up supplies that aren’t made specifically for cosplay and you have to alter them to make them work for you because they’re cheap. Or you go to these art supply stores or other places that distribute cosplay supplies but they make them so expensive that it defeats the purpose. Nobody can afford that. And, yeah, it’s perfect for cosplay, but it’s also an arm and a leg, so I’m trying to meet in the middle where you have the perfect supply made for cosplay, but also at a hardware store price where it’s cheap enough that people can buy it.
And does your business have a name?
It does have a name! So everything right now is under Foamsmeef, which is my online handle – don’t ask where the name came from, it’s a really long story – but eventually once I open up the actual brick and mortar store it will still be under the Foamsmeef brand but it will be called The Foam Forge.
It’s not that bad of a story; it’s just one of those things where I was doing a panel and I’d had zero hours of sleep. I was super tired and it was really hard for me to public speak when I first started, so I was just stumbling over words and instead of saying “foamsmith” I don’t remember what I was thinking and it came out as “foamsmeef”. And someone was just sitting there like, “What is that?” I was just like, “Oh, foamsmith, foamsmiths, foamsmeeths, foamsmeeth, foamsmyths.” I was trying to figure out the plural of foamsmith, and at the end of the panel the person who wanted to know what a foamsmeef was just said, “That should be your business name,” and it’s just neat and it sounds interesting. That’s what I ended up choosing, but nobody knows how to say it when they see it unless I put a little hyphen between them because they always put an ‘s’ on the end of foam. But that’s why for the actual shop it will be The Foam Forge which is easy to get.
Be sure to follow Foamsmeef online and social media!
* Photos courtesy of Foamsmeef