A Junky Journey to Warhammer 40K Cosplay at Dragon Con 2016

Inquisitor Oriza, a Warhammer 40k costume. Image by Conography (Joe Hacker) for Blastr Media

Inquisitor Oriza, a Warhammer 40k costume. Image by Conography (Joe Hacker) for Blastr Media

With just 5 weeks to build a legitimate Warhammer 40K costume using only salvage and thrift materials (excepting corset and boots), I didn’t have a chance to try the whole thing on before taking it to Dragon Con 2016. That’s cool, though. I knew going in that there were some lingering issues and that the convention photography would reveal all. But the photos also revealed the best of it, too.

The response to the “Inquisitor Oriza” project was overwhelmingly positive and I’m especially grateful to every camera and phone that took a minute to record the result. I’ve gathered a few of these pictures here (with credit to the photographers) to recognize the compliment that’s paid every time someone takes time to craft your image in a photo. It’s sincerely appreciated. Every time. Thank you.

Photographer: Conography

Warhammer 40k Inquisitor Oriza (costume by Paige Gardner) Photographer: Conography

Image by Subversive Photography

Image by Subversive Photography

 

Image by Ethereal Visionz

Image by Ethereal Visionz

Original Image by Dan Gary

Original Image by Dan Gary

 

Image by Timothy Helbing

Image by Timothy Helbing

 

Image by Adam Felts

Image by Adam Felts

 

Photographer: Conography

Photographer: Conography

 

Image by Charles Felts

Image by Charles Felts

 

Image by Daniel Sharps

Image by Daniel Sharps

 

Image by Sally Shalett

Image by Sally Shalett

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Dragon Con 2016: Paige Gardner and Her Poor Feet

I’ve been invited back to Dragon Con 2016 as an Attending Professional, and I’m more excited I’ve ever been. Mostly because it’s the 30th Anniversary year. But also because I’ve had a difficult year personally, and really need to recharge my battery through close (crowd crushing) association with 60,000 of the best sort of people. I’ve made a new costume. I don’t know if I like it yet. But I did meet my goal of building a Warhammer 40K character entirely from re-purposed junk. I’m going to call that a win.

NEWS: My panel/event schedule includes some pretty cool stuff (including my first foray into the Art Track!). The high points are posted below with hopes that some of my friends may be able to come out and join me for one or two events.

FORECAST: Dragon Con has a HUGE footprint – and there’s definitely some aggressive walking that’s going to happen with this schedule.  I’m investing in TWO layers of squishy insoles. My poor feet.

See you very soon!

Paige

Title: Vintage Vogue Fashion Show: Historical Costumes Real & Imagined
Time: Fri 04:00 pm Location: Grand Salon West – Hilton
Description: Bringing historical fashion AND costumes from Alternate History to the runway, the timeline gets twisted at the Vintage Vogue Fashion Show. Join us for a stunning time-traveling costume adventure at Dragon Con 2016! (Show Manager)

Title: Steampunk Adventures in the Land of the Wonder Women
Time: Fri 08:30 pm Location: 204 I – Mart2
Description: Brett King’s popular alter ego Gustaf Danielsson takes you on an all-new interactive steampunk adventure with comedy, fantastic props, and wild tales of exploration. Join us as we go in search of the Land of the Wonder Women! (Panelist)

Title: Chosen Cosplay Pre-Judging
Time: Sat 05:30 pm Location: Offsite GA Aquarium – N/A
(Preliminary Judge)

Title: The Desperate Steampunk (Garb & Gear on a Budget)
Time: Sun 02:30 pm Location: 204 I – Mart2
Description: What’s a costumer to do without money or skills to build a top-drawer steampunk ensemble? Take desperate measures. “The Desperate Steampunk” is your insider intro to low-cost resources, costuming shortcuts, & innovative ways to craft Steampunk gear and garb with a minimum of skill and funds. (Emcee / Moderator)

Title: When Two ARTS Collide: The Intersection of Art Photography & Cosplay
Time: Sun 04:00 pm Location: Grand Hall C – Hyatt
Description: Come hear from experts in cosplay/costuming, art photography, and “geek-culture” publishing. Learn tips and pointers for raising your art form to the next level, and increase your chances of getting publicity and exposure for your work! (Panelist)

Title: Extreme Makeover: Steampunk Edition
Time: Sun 07:00 pm Location: 204 I – Mart2
Description: This game show follows three lucky individuals chosen by our “extreme team” of top designers as they are tasked to take leftover items and found objects to clothe our contestants top to bottom in a complete retro-future makeover, with the winner chosen by our panel of celebrity judges. (Judge)

Title: Something from Nothing: Reverse Engineering a Cool Costume Crafted from Thrift
Time: Mon 11:30 am Location: 308 – Hilton
Description: Resident recycling, up-cycling, and no-sew costuming expert discusses her creative process for creating award-winning and museum-worthy costumes out of the most unlikely of materials. Space is limited. (Sole Presenter)

Title: The State of Steampunk
Time: Mon 01:00 pm Location: 204 I – Mart2
Description: Find out where Steampunk is headed. Has Steampunk finally peaked? If so, what comes next? This round-table discussion panel explores the current state of the subculture and how it will evolve. Will other sub-genres become more prominent (dieselpunk, rococopunk, etc.)?

Title: Embellishments for Costuming
Time: Mon 02:30 pm Location: 302-305 – Hilton
Description: Sometimes a few beads, a gemstone or two, or some fringe is all your costume needs to look stunning. We tell you how to use them and how to get them to stay attached. (Panelist)

Rendezvous with Subversive Photography

DragonCon 2014: It was 3:00 am Sunday morning, and I was still wearing the “Abbey” costume from an event hours earlier.  Making my way back to my room across the (much less crowded than usual) lobby of the Hyatt, a gentleman with a camera politely approached and asked for permission to take a few photographs.  It’s always a kindness (and a compliment) when someone asks, so I stopped and joined him for a few photos. He took his time setting up the angles and finding just the right perspectives. And I watched him work. He thanked me for my time and I thanked him for his interest and the kind attention. I hoped that after the event, we might reconnect so I could see the resulting images – but with an event as chaotic as DragonCon, you just never know.

Warhammer inspired Stained Glass "Abbey' photographed by Subversively.com

Warhammer inspired Stained Glass “Abbey’ photographed by Subversively.com

His name was Lievan Leroy of San Francisco-based Subversively.com and his image of “Abbey” DID pop up later that month. And it kind of exploded on social media. I saw Lievan’s image begin trending on Tumblr. And when my CostumeArt Facebook Page suddenly acquired a thousand followers overnight, I tracked that growth back to Lievan’s lobby photo of Abbey, which had been picked up (thanks to Galacticat) and shared by the Replica Props Forum Facebook page. The response was overwhelmingly positive. I think that both the photographer and I were surprised that our impromptu collaboration in the wee hours of DragonCon would find so many eyeballs. What a great compliment!

DragonCon 2015: I got a message from Lievan asking if I would like to meet up at DragonCon for another photo opportunity. I had a new costume project with me, and while it was not complete, I was very excited to see what Lievan would do with it.

After some text tagging and missed connections, we finally met again in the drive-thru at the Marriott Marquis. Crowded with people and cars, the odds of finding any spot with solitude was unlikely. So we opted to back up against the fountain and try our luck.  Even with the odd lighting and distracting environment, Lievan turned all of his attention to crafting images of “Merry McQueen”, an original CostumeArt project inspired by the work of Alexander McQueen.

When I got to see the images from this DragonCon shoot and I’m simply AMAZED at his ability to create the impression that we were isolated while making these photos.  With his lighting and perspectives, he’s crafted images that almost evoke a sense of desolation.  In truth, there were tipsy cosplayers and loud crowds just a few feet away from us, cars and vans were cycling behind Lievan as he worked, and the lip of the fountain was just inches behind my heels. He created an eye in the storm and produced these lovely photographs amid the madness!

Thank you Lievan Leroy of  Subversively.com for sharing your talents with me again. You, Sir, are made of magic. (We have to keep meeting like this!)

Paige Gardner Costume Merry McQueen Steampunk Subversively Photography DragonCon 4

“Merry McQueen” photographed by Subversively.com at DragonCon in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

"Merry McQueen" photographed by Subversively.com at DragonCon in Atlanta, Georgia.

“Merry McQueen” photographed by Subversively.com at DragonCon in Atlanta, Georgia.

Paige Gardner Costume Merry McQueen Steampunk Subversively Photography DragonCon 3

“Merry McQueen” photographed by Subversively.com at DragonCon in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Stained Glass Costume Project: “Abbey” at DragonCon

Photography by Marcus Taylor | DragonCon 2014

Photography by Marcus Taylor | DragonCon 2014

Starting with a stack of thrift store coloring books, the “Abbey” costume project is easily the most labor-intensive and difficult task I’ve taken on.  So much…coloring. Seriously, I colored like manic five-year-old for weeks. Now, just the sight of a child’s crayon-ready placemat at Denny’s gives me the shivers.

Inspired by the outsized world of Warhammer 40K Adeptus Ministorum and influenced by Art Nouveau style, this costume evolved with my traditional tool kit of thrift store elements, no-sew shortcuts… tiny investement but lots of persistence.  It’s worth noting that I actually measured some things for this project (with a real measuring tape), which I consider a significant leap forward on my “things I can do” list. I’ll be posting the build background on the “Abbey” project pretty soon.

Abbey stepped out for the first time at DragonCon in Atlanta on Labor Day weekend.  And I had a fantastic time with this costume!  Convention-goers, friends and photographers were very kind – and happily, there’s a pretty good photo record from the event of her progress. The following images are Convention photos taken at DragonCon and I’m especially grateful to the photographers credited here (pros and amateurs alike!). Thank you to everyone who took a minute talk with me and help preserve the memories!

Photo by Richard LaMarre | DragonCon 2014

Photo by Richard LaMarre | DragonCon 2014

 

Photo by Angry Dog Studios | DragonCon 2014

Photo by Angry Dog Studios | DragonCon 2014

Photography by Marcus Taylor | DragonCon 2014

Photography by Marcus Taylor | DragonCon 2014

Photography by Jessica Stansel | DragonCon 2014 | Stained Glass Costume by Paige Gardner

Photography by Jessica Stansel | DragonCon 2014 | Stained Glass Costume by Paige Gardner

Photography by David Leo | DragonCon 2014 | Stained Glass Costume by Paige Gardner (with Doctor Q)

Photography by David Leo | DragonCon 2014 | Stained Glass Costume by Paige Gardner (with Doctor Q)

Photography  by Thomas John Spanos | DragonCon 2014

Photography by Thomas John Spanos | DragonCon 2014

Photography by Richard LaMarre | DragonCon 2014

Photography by Richard LaMarre | DragonCon 2014

Confessions of a Middle-aged Cosplayer

temp dc logo 2014Even though I’ve been a panelist and presenter for years at Dragon Con, I’ve never received the distinction of being an “Attending Professional” until today. I got the official word last night and am truly excited to be included with all the other attendees who have put the years into their craft. I also understand that there may be a ribbon attached to the badge and truth-be-told, I’m really stoked on that front. I never seem to get fluttery ribbons on my badges. This is an important development through my lens.

More importantly, this news arrives just as I approach a personal milestone.

Photography by Argo Road Images

Photography by Argo Road Images

I’ll be turning 50 in mid-August, right before Dragon Con 2014. While I am definitely in the mind-camp of “age is just a number”, my age had MUCH to do with my drive toward mask-making. When I finally decided in my 40s that I would take my costuming public and into the convention world, I fretted about my age. I was so concerned that I might be perceived as ‘too old’ to cosplay some of the edgier looks, that I decided to focus on masked costumes; costumes that would hide my face, my skin, ie. hide my age.

I literally hid my identity at conventions crowd for the first couple of years. And it was grand. Stepping behind a mask allowed the focus to remain on the work, the costume itself. I moved freely among crowds with an unselfconscious anonymity that let me admire others’ costuming and prop work (without obviously creep staring – ha!). I love crafting masks and truly revel in the wearing of them, but the initial impetus toward hiding my aging face was simply a fear of being harshly viewed by the much younger majority of individuals who cosplay.

 

Photography by Dim Horizon

Photography by Dim Horizon

But over time, as I settled into the costuming and convention world, the mask came off with more frequency. I started making masks that showed my eyes (crow’s feet and all). I began to accept invitations to serve on costuming panels – with my real face – and I eventually become a Guest at select events. My early fears of being marginalized due to my age proved unfounded as I found the warmest welcome, the most rewarding friendships among this tribe of all ages. Despite some of the drama to pops up here and there, the cosplay world is truly an open-minded, supportive and wonderful world of artists.

I decided last year that I would start driving toward my 50th anniversary on this earth with a mission. I resolved to take on big projects that challenge my skill set, to learn new things. I resolved to travel/Guest everywhere I was invited. I resolved to not hide my age, but rather celebrate it. And it’s been a whirlwind of awesome since then. In the past year, I’ve crossed the country from Comic-Con International in San Diego to Contemporal in Raleigh with a host of adventures in between. Middle-age is rocking so far!

Dragon Con was my first convention back in the day. Dragon Con is where most of my volunteerism goes. Dragon Con is the big deal that’s close to home. Dragon Con is the pilgrimage event that my friends and I point our hardest costume work toward. Dragon Con is the event that is so energy building it requires – nay, demands – a daily countdown from its fans. That said, in the larger scheme of things, my new status for Dragon Con 2014 is really just a small ripple in a very big pond of talent. It is, however, important to ME as a very welcome and important milestone in my Year 50 journey.

It feels a bit like I’ve finally arrived.

The truth is, I’m just getting started.

Yours truly,

Paige

PGS photo william mcleod

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m also @CostumeArt on Twitter and Facebook, if you want to see what an old lady does on the weekends! Here are a few m

Dieselpunk inspired version of "Siri" - from repurposed phone parts and salvaged electronics | image by Dim Horizon Studios

Dieselpunk inspired version of “Siri” – from repurposed phone parts and salvaged electronics | image by Dim Horizon Studios

ore examples of an old lady in costume 😀

Warhammer inspired Stained Glass "Abbey'

Warhammer inspired Stained Glass “Abbey’ | image by Lynx Pics

"Trolloc" inspired by Robert Jordan's 'Wheel of Time' book series

“Trolloc” inspired by Robert Jordan’s ‘Wheel of Time’ book series | image by Dim Horizon Studios

Aiel Maiden inspired by Robert Jordan's 'Wheel of Time' book series

Aiel Maiden inspired by Robert Jordan’s ‘Wheel of Time’ book series | image by Dim Horizon Studios

Darth Nihilus | image by Dim Horizon Studios

Darth Nihilus | image by Dim Horizon Studios

Steampunk Bird Hybrid | Costume by Paige Gardner Smith | Image by Dim Horizon Studios

Steampunk Bird Hybrid | Costume by Paige Gardner Smith | Image by Dim Horizon Studios