From the moment I happened upon her instagram account 2 years ago, I’ve been a fan of ItsLiviaChu aka Olivia Chiu. Her amazing makeup skills, prolific fun cosplay choices, and openly goofball personality have definitely helped propel her into her much deserved “Cosplay Senpai” status at Anime Expo.
I had the chance to sit down and derp around with Olivia during Anime Expo to talk more about what got her into cosplay, the cosplay community, and her experiences as a guest at Anime Expo 2015.
How long have you been cosplaying? What got you into it?
OC: I have been cosplaying for most of my life since I first discovered it in high school. I was the vice president of the anime club, and the members introduced me to conventions and dressing up as characters I loved.
What do you feel you’ve gotten back from cosplaying, whether it be emotionally, mentally, skill sets, or a community?
OC: I owe cosplaying a lot to what I have in my life right now. No matter what kind of crazy things that happens in my life, it always somehow leads back to cosplaying because I love the creativity aspects of it and working hard to bring things to life.
It also helped me a lot with my shyness and forced me to work on being a little more social and confidant. This lead to making some great friends and experiencing some crazy adventures with them.
To date, how many costumes have you done? How many are finished vs. unfinished?
OC: I really have no idea lol.
I have made most of my costumes, bought some, closet cosplayed some so much in my life that it’s hard to tell! Does halloween costumes count too? Halloween is my favorite holiday (more than Christmas!)!
I do have to say that growing up, I only had time to casually make one or two costumes a year, but now I am making more per year than before!
What type of cosplay/costumes are your favourite to make?
My favorite are from video games or anime that I am currently playing or are interested in!
I’ve also started to read more comics lately and would love to portray some of the strong female characters! I have so many varying interests that it’s hard to pick just one favorite thing!
You’ve done some amazing crossover and variant cosplay of well known figures in geek and otaku culture, what is your inspiration and/or creative process in making your own original variations on costumes?
OC: When I decide to create a character, I almost always will not stay true to the original design. These costumes are for me too and I like to put a little bit of myself into each of them.
I like to design and change things to my tastes and fit my body type! I try to make sure throughout the design process to stay true to the character enough that it is still very recognizable as who it is.
My favorite thing to focus on is adding interesting textures and small details so colors are not flat and are more dimensional looking. I think I draw a lot of inspiration from my various hobbies and use the knowledge from them to translate into my costumes like different types paints and material choices. I also research and experiment a lot to achieve what I envision how the costume should look.
Some of your amazing cosplay photos have gone viral over the recent years. What sort of advice do you have for budding cosplayers (posing, shooting, preperation, etc could be anything)
OC: Honestly, I don’t really pay attention to stuff like statistics or what is popular and upcoming. I focus on making a character from something I am passionate about and do my best to create something I can be proud of regardless if it goes viral or not.
It’s all about what you truly love, researching about it, challenging yourself to work on your weaknesses and boosting your strengths, and working hard to reach your goals. I think if you focus on that, everything else just kind of falls into place naturally.
For me, shooting and posing is really hard and still new for me. I will research poses the character does or practice infront of a mirror to figure out what is my best angle and work on facial expressions. It’s also really important to relax, be confidant (even if you have to pretend a little), and have fun. During shoots I always do derp shots to loosen up, be goofy, and scrunch my face around in between shots to relax the facial muscles. I discovered shooting is very much akin to acting, the camera will see all your emotions on your face so try to stay calm and confidant!
This year you were selected as one of the Cosplay Senpai for Anime Expo 2015. How was your AX 2015 experience in this role vs previous years as an attendee?
OC: Being an attendee and being a guest is considerably different experience! I have less freedom to do things and have to plan things around my responsibilities required as a guest. I don’t think I got to really wander and enjoy the con, but the positive experiences I gained from being on of the Cosplay Senpais was worth the blood, sweat, and tears. I met some wonderful people that stopped by to say hello to me at the booth and had the opportunity to do some crazy projects I never thought I would in a million years get to do! So I am very thankful and honored that Anime Expo chose me as one of their Senpais for this year! I hope it will not be the last time!
As a cosplay senpai/role model in the cosplay community, what sort of role model do you want to have (what sort of role model would you like to be for the cosplay community)
OC: I don’t know if I can be considered a senpai because I feel like I am just like everyone else, I’m still learning, improving, and trying my best to make things.
I am definitely not the best craftsman in our community and I make a lot of mistakes, but I do give my all to create something I feel good about. If I could ever become a role model, I hope the impact I would leave is for people to see that it is important to be kind, supportive, and not judgemental to others because I think people can achieve greater things together.
You and Vampy both worked with the Try Guys (Buzzfeed) this year to help them venture into and explore the anime and cosplay community, how was that experience?
OC: It was definitely an interesting experience. I didn’t realize how difficult it was to speak about the things that are important to me. I am sure I goofed up a lot since I was so nervous and shy and brain farted a lot during filming when answering their questions on the spot haha.
The only thing I’m worried about is people will think I’m a weirdo, but I am a weirdo, so I guess it doesn’t really matter HAHA.
These days bullying and body/racial diversity are both hot topics in the geek and cosplay community, what are your thoughts about the two subjects?
OC: I truly believe in doing by best to being kind. I think if you take the approach to being kind to even the cruelest of people, you can at least be satisfied in yourself that you tried your best to be a better person.
It’s also important to remember that it is your body, your choice, and if you are proud of what you have created, then all the other things don’t really matter. What is important is how you feel about yourself and the important people in your life. Don’t let a stranger that doesn’t even know who you really are, prevent and hold you back from moving forward in your life.
I have been called numerous things : tranny, too skinny, too fat, too short, too Asian, and stupid faced to cosplay as a character, but I am very happy with myself as a person and know that my choice of costume is very personal to me and my friends/family love it, so those haters can’t take that joy and drive to keep on improving from me. Cosplay should be fun and shouldn’t be taken so seriously! Just do what you love!
There are plenty of people who want to get into cosplay or make a career out of cosplay, do you have any thoughts/advice on that?
OC: Cosplay as a career is very hard and not as glamorous as you think. If you are not super passionate about it and willing to work crazy hard long hours with lack of sleep and lots of stress, then I would not recommend it for you. There are definitely a lot of positive aspects to cosplaying, so don’t be afraid to try it if you truly want it. No matter if you want to do cosplay as a career or as a hobby, it is important to make sure you are still having fun. I see cosplaying as something organic, if it happens it happens, and if not, I still enjoy and love what I do and will never lose that feeling.
Lastly, do you (or can you) share with us any current exciting cosplays you are working on or planning in the near future?
OC: I have no idea what the future will bring because I change my mind a lot and I kind of go with what I am obsessed with at the moment, haha! I guess you will just have to wait and see!
If you want know more about Olivia or see her cosplay progress, you can follow her on social media: