Late last year, in the real world, Megan Coffey was getting ready to graduate from South Florida with a Masters in Biology. On the internet, however, she was fast becoming one of the most recognisable cosplayers on the planet.
Photo by JwaiDesign Photography
We talk a lot about cosplay here on this site, and about stuff around cosplay, but not often enough do we have a good talk with cosplayers themselves. So I figured I'd kick off a new series where we get in touch with the people behind the images and just... shoot the shit. Megan, fast becoming one of the most recognisable faces in the community, is helping us get things started.
Photo by Lou Carrion Photography
Coffey has been cosplaying since 2013, when she had an artist's booth at a convention that also happened to feature a lot of folks wandering around dressed up. This was her first exposure to cosplay, and it wasn't long after getting home that, freshly-inspired, she started work on her first costume. In the years since she's made over 50 outfits, which means she's crafting at the incredible rate of around one per month.
"When it comes to making costumes, I get pretty fixated so I end up making all or most of the costume in a day, if its just sewing," she says. "Armour takes me way longer because of all the waiting I have to do between steps/painting/et cetera."
Having begun her cosplay closer to home, Coffey has recently begun making appearances at conventions across the US, from Katsucon in DC to C2E2 in Chicago (indeed, she featured in our roundup gallery from that show twice), to the point where she now attends between five to seven big shows a year.
Photo by Gus Fredrick Photography
"Going to out-of-state cons always had a draw to me because of the photo shoot potential," she says, "but what I look forward to most is seeing the friends I made there, since I only get to see those people like one to three times a year."
This extra travel has introduced Megan to a wider spectrum of people from the cosplay community, many of whom she's now made friends with, to the point where she talks to them "nearly every day". "I have met wonderful people, and, even if we don't live in the same state and I only see them a couple times a year, I feel very close and comfortable with them. I'm a pretty shy person by nature so I think that's pretty cool."
Megan's increased exposure has in turn led to an increase in fans. Her images are now almost continuously atop the most viewed on DeviantArt, and she has quickly gone from a few thousand Facebook followers to over 100,000, though for someone who is not looking at making a career out of cosplay, that's not as big a deal as it may seem.
"After I reached over 100,000 Facebook fans a lot of people have been asking me about it, and to be honest it doesn't feel any different than when I had 1000," Coffey says. "Numbers are cool but they aren't going to change anything about you or really make that big of an impact in your life. I really want cosplayers who feel out of place in the community because of numbers to not worry about them at all. Likes don't determine talent or worth or anything besides how well someone markets themselves. People get fixated on it and it doesn't really matter all that much."
Photo by Kaze Photography
Instead, and outside of tending to her menagerie of pets -- she owns cockatiel, axolotls and geckos -- Megan is more focused on her other two passions: Science and modelling.
"I am definitely looking forward to getting a job with my Masters," she says, while admitting that "the post graduate job hunt struggle is quite real. I look forward to help making a change in the world."
In the meantime, Coffey also works as a model, something she's been doing for years, and says that if given the chance to choose between it and cosplay, she'd take fashion work. "I've been doing fashion modelling for so long, and its where a lot of my passion is," she says. "I love high fashion, artsy photos, emotive pictures. I love posing and getting hair and makeup done and getting dressed in outfits I can never afford (laughs). Seeing my photos in magazines feels pretty cool too. As much as I adore cosplay and sewing and everything that comes along with that, I'd rather cosplay stay a hobby and keep modelling as the profession."
Before we finish up, I asked Megan if she had any advice for people just getting started in cosplay.
"Just take your time, have fun, make some friends," she says. "Don't take it too seriously, its a fun hobby as long as you don't stress yourself out about it."
Photo by Ngo Photography