For "SuperKayce," a local designer and artist, cosplay (or costume play) is a way of life. Her actual name is Kayce Super. However, for cosplay persona, she goes by SuperKayce. "Cosplay has truly changed the person I thought I would be for the better," says Super. This unique type of performance art, where the costumes and accessories represent a specific character or idea, has gained in popularity since the early '90s, when costumed players first began to attend comic book conventions around the world showcasing their unique designs. For SuperKayce, who emerged on the cosplay scene in 2009, attending a Gen Con is a summer highlight, whether it is serving on a costuming panel, playing a new game or working a booth. It is also a chance to give back to the community that has given her self-confidence.
SuperKayce's creativity and handcrafted designs have inspired other cosplayers. This year she will serve as a judge and host on several panels, including "Costuming on a Budget," "How to Start Cosplaying" and "Maskbuilding 101."
As a cosplay designer, she uses this creative outlet to "let out her inner child." An operations manager for a local event company by day, SuperKayce uses pop culture and her favorite comic characters to inspire her fashion designs. Because each design can take up to 135 hours to complete, time management is a challenge. All the time and effort are worth it for SuperKayce, who believes cosplay helps her "be more creative and outgoing as well as confident and brave."
SuperKayce has gained opportunities as a result of her unique garb. Designing and crafting a costume is no easy task. Intricate and handmade designs take planning and dedication when creating a complete cosplay ensemble. Her designs use a mixture of ready-made and handcrafted materials. With with an array of supplies from local craft stores at her fingertips, she goes to work on each pattern. She uses thermoplastic material to craft a handmade mask and completes her ensemble with handmade accessories. Once a new design is complete, SuperKayce reveals it at conventions, on social media, or in a cosplay photo shoot. With more than 33 costumes to her credit, she definitely knows how to make an appealing creation.
Super is also an avid gamer, so another favorite part of Gen Con is playing demo games new to the industry and competing in magic tournaments. "I've made more friends cosplaying than I could ever imagined," says Super. Spending time and effort on design featuring a favorite character, and meeting new people from different backgrounds and areas of the country is a great way to have fun at conventions while being creative.
As a well-known designer on the cosplay scene, SuperKayce already has a slew of fans. Some of her most rewarding experiences have been the interactions with her youngest fans who "want to talk about Toothless or Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon." Her passion is undeniable when she meets a fellow cosplayer who shares her love for a character. For her, "that is one of best feelings in the world."
"Don't worry about your size, race, gender, age, etc.," says SuperKayce when I asked for her advice to newbies. "Don't be afraid to start because everyone can cosplay!"
While her imaginative costumes have given SuperKayce an avenue to help others be more creative, she has also earned several awards, including three individual competition awards for her handcrafted designs and a feature story on Project-Nerd.com. She's currently working with a national cosplay magazine, where she'll be featured in an upcoming issue.
Where to see more: Gen Con costume parade and contest
When: Aug. 1, 3 p.m.
Where: Indiana Convention Center
Tickets: Various prices, gencon.com