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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Exclusive with Linn Eriksson for upcoming Närcon Winter 2016

NärCon is Swedens largest cosplay convention with about 8000 visitors and participants every year (170 the first year, 2002) in SAAB Arena in Linköping. One of the greatest moments of the three day convention is of course the Swedish Cosplay Championhip. This is a prestigious  contest, obviously, and the cosplay quality of the finalist is always high.
NärCon is famous for its cozy, friendly atmosphere where everyone is welcome, regardless of gender, sexuality, politics or how familiar you are in the culture. The event is completely drug and alcohol free.

If you are attending NärCon Winter 2016, you will not be unoccupied. NärCon will provide you with shopping, exhibitors from all over the world and special areas for you as a visitor to entertain yourself and your friends. There will be an Arcade hall with all the classic and new arcade games, AMV(Anime Music Video)- and CMV(Cosplay Music Video)-Contest and in the Artist Alley area you can buy and get inspiration from cosplay artist showing their own work. You can also visit lectures about anything from how to be a voice actor to cartoonist or a cosplayer.

NärCon Winter 2016 is aired in its full on SVT24 in Sweden and it is the first cosplay contest in the world to be aired live on TV.
I have had the honor to speak with last year's winner and reigning champion of Swedish cosplay, Linn Eriksson (Mayo-chan) from Stockholm. Enjoy this warm up for the Swedish Championship 2016 this upcoming weekend!

Photo: Shila Forsman Photography

Hello there Linn, how is everything?
—It is all good!

Last year you won with a character called The Emperor from the game Final Fantasy 2. This year you will compete with Margaery Tyrell's weddingdress from Game of Thrones. A little different than what you did before, what was appealing with this character?
—I have made the character before in other versions and this costume I was of course interested in doing when it was shown in season 4, I think. When I saw it in reality in an exhibition two years ago, I became really in love with the design and the amazing detail. For example, the roses on dress is all handmade and there are about 400 of them. It takes 15-20 minutes to make a single rose. The fact that Game of Thrones is a rather new show, the material still is available get hold of and I have used the same fabric, the embroidery thread, the same beads and so on provided you spend the detective work to find them, and I have now done that for the last two years.

How many hours have you put down, and will you be ready in time?
—I'm at the "crunch time" now and I have spent at least 1,000 hours on this costume. The last few days are basically about detail work that will not affect anything in the competition itself.

You are directly qualified for the Swedish championship this year since you are the reigning champion. Do you feel pressure to deliver even this year?
—It's a little toned down because I entered several times before, even if the competition is aired live on TV now. But I feel a little bit of pressure even if I don't think I will perform better than last year.
It's really about doing something that I think is fun and something I can feel proud of and keep my own high standards and not underperform.

The pressure comes from yourself you mean?
—Yes, the only one I compete against is actually myself.

Photo: Shila Forsman Photography
It feels as if the armor is the hardest to do when you cosplay, what do you think is the most difficult part?
—It depends a little bit on what the design looks like. I think sewing is in many ways more difficult, even though I have been doing it all my life. Regarding armor, it's fairly easy to correct mistakes if you work in plastic. With sewing it is more how different fabrics behave and less forgiving if you cut it wrong from the start.

How do you sculpt props? I'm doing a mask that I sculpt partly in clay and then make a cast. Then I use fiberglass for the mask itself.
—Clay is usually a pretty good solution because you can quickly see how the outcome will be and it is easy to correct mistakes. I've had a lot of sculpted details of the armor and similar things. Many times I  have sculpted from different types of foam. The best thing with cosplay crafting is that you can work in a great variety of materials and everything that works is good. Fiberglass is very good.

How is the cosplay community in Sweden do you think? I get the feeling that it is very humble and everyone knows everyone. Internationally it feels like the atmosphere is a little tougher. Do you think I have the correct image?
—It's a little hard to say. Sweden is quite small and there is a tight community, and I think  it means that most behave
reasonably well among others in greater extent. You have to be concerned about your reputation as well. This has probably a lot to do with the fact that Sweden has no cosplayer who is internationally known yet. It gets pretty drama-free here and everyone is a little more at the same level.

What would you say is a good beginner's tips for those who want to start with cosplay? 
—The best is always first and foremost to do something you are motivated by. Not just because something is cool, but also because it's a character you like. Motivation comes from two directions,  because it is fun to do and it will be cool. Should you not combine them, the fun is lost in a way.

A big good luck for Linn this Saturday the 13th in her efforts to defend the title!
Linn is also the first contestant to enter the stage.

Later, awesome nerds!