Pearl Bae Cosplay interview

Who are you?
I’m Pearl Bae, and I’m a professional costumer who likes to cosplay as a hobby, a lover of books, and just an all around nerd about a lot of things, like musicals, D&D, and anime!

Photo of Pearl Bae Cosplay as Fisher the Voidfish from The Adventure Zone. Photo taken by Sam Saturn.

How did you choose your cosplay name, Pearl Bae Cosplay?
Pearl is a throwback to when I made my first Maple Story character waaay back in the day; pearls were my favorite gem (mineral??) and so thats been a part of my url for years. As for Bae; it’s my last name! When I chose to make it a part of my cosplay identity it had very little relation to the meme, although now everyone thinks otherwise, and I get a lot of double takes when I have to present my ID for anything.

What was your first cosplay?
My first cosplay was from a manga/anime called ARIA. The character’s name was Aika S. Granzchesta and she was female gondolier on basically what was Venice on Mars, and was the main character’s best friend! It was a pretty massive undertaking for my first cosplay, but it wasn’t awful despite the mistakes that were made, like using white denim for the base material on a dress that was supposed to be worn for a summer convention.

How did you get into cosplay, and how long have you been doing it?
I wasn’t really aware of cosplay before I started to do it myself. I had gone to a couple of cons before and saw people dressed up, but I didn’t realize it was a Thing that people Did and that there was this whole community dedicated to it! The ARIA cosplay was actually supposed to be a group costume with some of my friends in high school at the time. It was the summer of 2010 and by the time the convention came around everyone else had dropped the group and I had a pile of fabric that suddenly had no use. A week before the convention I sat down and said HECK I’m going to make this anyways and have a good time!!! After that I just never stopped!

Favourite cosplay you’ve done so far?
This is SUCH a hard question to answer!! There are things I love dearly about every costume I’ve made and it’s so hard to pick and choose!!! I like the ones that are visually stunning (like my Voidfish costume) but I also like the silly costumes (such as the Ember Island players and the Secret Tunnel groups I was a part of from Avatar: The Last Airbender). And of course the costumes that I can interact in character with people easily (like Heather Duke or Jester from CR) are also up there near the top of my list!!

Any advice for beginner cosplayers, or people wanting to get into cosplaying?
Love yourself, love your craft, and love the character!! Cosplay is about loving who you decide to portray, not how you do it. Whether you make or buy a costume, in the end you are doing this because you love whatever series or game or character it is, and that’s what matters most in the end.  My general advice is to start small and break it down into manageable parts. If a costume is more complicated and out of your current skill level, take your time and be patient. Shop at thrift stores and modify what you find, commission fellow cosplayers online, ask for advice, look up tutorials! There’s a mountain of reference materials available made by the cosplay community that didn’t exist when I first started, and you should take advantage of that fact!!

How do you go about choosing which cosplays to make and wear?
I have several criteria when it comes to deciding my next project. The overall design has to appeal to my tastes, I have to like the character or the series it’s from, and it needs to click my creative buttons in the making of it. That’s it!! I also really like it when a character doesn’t have an official look because its from a non visual medium (like a podcast or a book), because then I can design a costume exactly as I envision the character to be, and there’s just something so satisfying and fun about designing and making your own things.

A lot of your cosplays are incredibly colourful. What draws you to such colourful characters?
I have a degree in Fiber Arts and in Theatre from the school I graduated from, and as a result I’ve been exposed to how color interacts with costume design and characters. In my professional life I tend to wear a lot of dark clothing backstage or in the shop, so as a result I’m drawn to using color in the costumes I make outside of work to wear.

One of your cosplays is Fisher the Voidfish, from The Adventure Zone. What drew you to making that character?
All of my friends were planning this big Adventure Zone group last year and I didn’t have a character I wanted to dress up as yet, since I was still behind in catching up to the story. There was a moment in the podcast where *spoiler alert* the Voidfish sings to one of the player characters, Magnus Burnsides, about their kidnapped baby, and that moment was so powerful to me that I sat up and thought, that one. I want to cosplay the giant space jellyfish. I knocked out a design right then and there and let my friend group know that I was going to do this crazy thing.

It looks to be an incredibly intricate cosplay. How difficult was it to make?
It was definitely a giant project to take on, and I had three weeks to do it!! I would have never have gotten through that stress without my roommate at the time (Automb on IG) who acted as a second pair of hands every step of the way, to hold things in place and cut up tentacles until we were both coughing up organza glitter. It’s less that it was a difficult costume to make and more that there were just so many different components to keep track of.

The cap lights up, which is an amazing touch. How did you go about make the cap do that, while keeping it light enough to wear?
I have a writeup available on my tumblr that has details on the cap and other parts of the costume! When I finish up a new project I like to gather up all my WIP pictures and make a massive info dump on my blog on what I made and how I did it! I find that it helps a lot of other folks out and it’s much easier to keep track of instead of spamming in multiple parts. 

You’ve also done Jester from Critical Role. What drew you to cosplaying her?
Jester was one of those things that clicked all those boxes I mentioned before; my friend Sarah (Harvcosplay on IG) literally just messaged me and said, you need to listen to Critical Role, and you need to cosplay Jester, sent me her character art, and I was INSTANTLY sold. Then I actually started watching the show and ten minutes in I was DOUBLE SOLD. She’s everything I love in a character when it comes to personality and design, so there was no chance of me not doing her!!

With Jester’s skin being blue, can you tell us how you replicating that in your cosplay? If you use makeup, how do you prevent smudging and leaving makeup everywhere after touching things with your hands (with Jester usually going without gloves)?
I’m no stranger when it comes to bodypaint and turning my skin into crazy colors!! I’ve had a lot of experience with it in the past from cosplaying characters from Homestuck and Steven Universe!! You can use armsocks or colored gloves, but I like having my fingertips free to access my phone while I’m in costume. The trick is to seal your makeup, and do it well!! I use Ben Nye Liquiset to apply the paint on my hands, and I’m currently working on a video tutorial to show my makeup process in more detail.

How did you come across Critical Role, and get into the fan community?
I got pulled in by Sarah and it was just freefalling from there!! We cosplayed together in a full Mighty Nein group and I made new friends through her, and got an amazing response from CR fans the first time I wore Jester, and every time afterwards! The critters have been such a welcoming community and so kind and I’ve just been blown away. It’s inspired me to actively participate in a fan community once more, rather than just watching from the sidelines like I used to do. I have a CMV in the works collaborating with some of my buddies and future cosplay plans with other critters that I’m super looking forward to!! There are so many talented and creative folks out there and its been a joy to be a part of it all.

Which cosplayer would you love to work with?
There’s a lot of cosplayers I respect and look up to that it’s hard to pick just one!! For craftmanship it would have to be msmajorsam on IG, and for creative works it would have to be itsginnydi on IG/twitter, because she’s contributed some amazing fanworks for the CR community!!

If someone wanted to do a cosplay collaboration with you, what would be the best way for them to reach out?
Just shoot me a message!! I’m always open to talking with folks and making new friends in the community. I have a fairly busy schedule from balancing work life and convention life, and I can’t always attend a con or commit to every single new cosplay that someone wants to do with me, but if the stars align then I would love to!!

Any group cosplays you’d want to do (eg Mystery Inc, Sailor Scouts, Avengers, X-Men, etc)?
SO MANY GROUPS!! More Critical Role of course and I’ve always wanted to do Sailor Scouts!! I’m planning my con schedule for next year and we have some big groups planned, namely a Clow Card group from Cardcaptor Sakura!! I’m also super into musicals and books, so I always want to do those as well, but its hard to find people for those kinds of groups!

Are there any cosplayers you think deserve more attention/coverage?
So many of my friends are so talented and definitely deserve a shoutout!!
Ivorivet (IG/twitter) is one of those people; she’s a talented craftsperson and amazingly kind and beautiful human being, and I am blessed to be her friend. She explores a lot of new and interesting techniques, is always ready to give advice, and is just so inspiring to be around.
Giraffe_cos (IG) is a versatile and talented human bean who does a mix of amazingly intricate fancy dresses and cool video game characters, and then some seriously goofy things mixed in. She’s super chill and super talented and I adore her to bits!!
Sam_Saturn (IG) is another cosplayer friend who’s crazy talented. Her main passion is photography and is one of my favorite people to work with in order to document my work. She’s a true artist with the camera and cute as a button in her own costumes, and the most fun girl to be around at a con!!

Where can we find you online (social media etc)?
I’m basically everywhere under similar urls! It aggravates me a little that I don’t have the same URL across the board but thats what happens when your last name is a meme.
Tumblr/FB/Youtube – PearlyBae
Instagram – pearlybaecosplay
Twitter – pearlbaecosplay