Welcome to the second long-delayed episode from A-Kon 27 in Dallas, Texas!
Ryuu Lavitz is a cosplayer, judge, panel moderator, and even a Twitch streamer. Ryuu started by cosplaying at Anime Boston and soon branched out to other conventions since May 2014. She does her own costumes, photography, and has been able to use those skills (which spun off of her mother’s craftiness) to create a career that allows her to travel the world. If you’d like to find more of Ryuu Lavitz online, you can find her at her website, her facebook page, Twitter, Twitch, and finally her Patreon site. She is everywhere online and I’m sure that I’m still not listing all of the ways you can connect with her!
We asked lots of questions, but for those that we didn’t cover, Ryuu Lavitz has a nice FAQ page detailing other common questions that she gets.
My Geek Confessions: Alright everyone, we are here with our next interview, and I will let you introduce yourself.
Ryuu Lavitz: Hi, my name is Ryuu Lavitz, I am 23, from Boston, Massachusetts, and I do a lot of artsy stuff, like photography, and crafting, and sowing, and drawing, so it’s my schtick.
MGC: It’s a very good schtick, apparently. And I guess that goes right into our first question: how did you get your start?
RL: I used to do photography in high school, because I really wanted to be a photographer, and I’d done a lot of self-photography. So, I got bored of just taking pictures of all my normal clothes, and decided I was gonna start making stuff based off of characters. I started with Pikachu, and I was like, “Oh, I’m just gonna do some ears and a tail, and throw in a yellow shirt.”
RL: The next one up was Lara Croft, and I was like, “Why not? I know a place with some giant rocks, that’ll be fun.” I didn’t think anything of it, and then the internet started calling me a cosplayer, and I was like, “What is that?
MGC: Ahh, the rest is history, then?
RL: The rest is I had to go on the internet and google it. Now I know I’m a cosplayer.
MGC: Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?
RL: Yeah, it was cool! I was like, “Alright there’s this category of people doing the same thing as me, I can get down with that!”
MGC: Okay, and obviously that’s kind of brought you a lot of different things along the way. It was saying in your kind-of bio that you’ve done judging, you’ve done all these different things. How’d that kind of come about?
RL: Oh, I started doing cosplay the first year, and then the next following year I had this little, tiny convention going I’d never heard of in Florida called Omnicon. And they were like, “Come down here and guest for us!” And it wasn’t really a guesting gig as much as they were giving me passes and having me pay the rest of my way in. I paid a lot of money to be there, and it was a really tiny con. But, I think that’s where it started, because that’s where I got my first judging experience. I read a couple panels, did some photoshoots, and it was my first real professional setting, and I think I learned a lot from it and how to go about guesting in general. And then from there, it kind of snowballed getting smaller gigs here and there. I did a lot of main conventions, and those are also very tiny, but very friendly people. Learned a lot from them, did some panels and stuff there. I’ve judged a lot of contests, I saw some really unfair things going on. I decided I was always gonna try to be a judge when I could to ensure people would have fair judging.
MGC: Oh, very nice. Do you mind if I ask what kind of things you were seeing that were not that great?
RL: I had this girl that I was judging with, and she’d be more favorable towards her friends she knew, and, y’know, she’d judge people more harshly if their parents would help. And I was like, “They’re 14, and they did a lot of the work on their own. You need to judge based on what you’re seeing, not on who you like.” There were a lot of unfair judgements. She’d tell me, “Oh that person can’t win, because his paint is chipping just a little bit.” Somebody missing a whole chunk of his outfit would score higher, and it just didn’t make sense to me.
MGC: Okay, that makes sense. So, as far as those types of things, have you been able to do this as like, a full-time thing? Were you still kind of doing that? And, I know you mentioned things like Twitch and like that.
RL: I do a lot of this just for fun. I mean, I could make this a full-time thing if I wanted to, but I feel like it’s not a real job. I understand there’s a lot of opportunities to be had. It could open many doors. People like Nigri, who has her own voice-acting gigs, and Yaya Han,does her own clothing line, material line, and sowing pattern line; there’s a lot of things that could happen for me, but I’m not treating it like it’s gonna be my career, because it’s really not a career. It’s gonna come and go someday. I do have a job doing interior designing – basically like fashion for houses. So it’s kinda where-
MGC: That’s a way of putting it!
RL: Actually, being good at cosplay and doing my own photos and all this stuff for this has actually shown the person who hired me, I’m good at patterns and colors and putting things together. He hired me on the spot by seeing some of my photography and was like, “Wow.”
MGC: Wow, so it’s really transitioned for you, then.
RL: Yeah, so it really worked out. I have no experience designing houses, but here I am doing thousand-dollar bathrooms and kitchens.
MGC: Is that something you would like to continue on as you go forward?
RL: Interior designing?
RL: It’s fun for now. I’m sure someday I’ll be tired of it, but for right now it’s making the bills get paid. So, I’m doing that and he’s actually very flexible with me. I actually got hired for weekends only, and I was like, “Hey, I do my own thing on the side, and the weekends are kind of what I need.” I kind of got my foot in the door for a while and showed him I was a good worker, that I was capable of doing the job he wanted. And then I was like, “Hey, could you bend with me every once in a while and let me do these conventions?” And he was like, “How about you take the weekends for yourself?” And everybody in my company was upset, because they were like, “We never get weekends!”
MGC: Oh, wow! Okay!
RL: “The new kid gets weekends!” But, I just had to prove I was worth keeping, and he really wants to keep me, so he bends with my convention schedule. And that’s why I’m here this weekend.
MGC: There you go! It’s worked out for us as well. Okay let’s go on to some of the other questions you had. I wanted to ask, what was your favorite cosplay that you do?
RL: That’s kind of like asking someone what their favorite kid is. I mean, it’s kinda hard to pick your favorite.
MGC: Hey, you know, there is that, you always know that sometimes there is actually…
RL: Alright, so there’s two answers. If you want “What’s my favorite that I’ve done so far,” I did a Punk Peach, a very grungy-like Punk Peach – Princess Peach from Super Mario. Or, I liked the white mage I did for Final Fantasy, because it makes me feel like a princess. But, my second answer to that, if you wanna say, “What’s the most fun to cosplay,” it’s definitely Harley Quinn, because you can be as crazy or as somber as you want, and it all works.
MGC: I know there’s some cosplayers that will, you know, they’re just kind of visual element only, but do you go into full character, too?
RL: I definitely do, yeah, definitely.
MGC: Okay so, with Harley Quinn, are you kinda just all over the place and mess with people?
RL: It kinda depends on my mood that day. There are people I will purposefully photobomb just to be a dork about it.
RL: There are people I’ll be like, “Hey there puddin’!” And be all like into character. It really depends on like, who I’m talking to. Some people you can tell that don’t really feel like digging the character schtick and they just wanna take a picture and move on their way, and that’s totally fine with me. Definitely like all them people are all like “Oh my God, Pikachu!” And I’m like, “Pikachu!” I get all into it! It’s all exciting! And he thinks it’s the best thing ever.
MGC: Well, there you go. I think that sounds like it’s a really fun time.
RL: I definitely pick characters that I identify with in some way, so it’s easy to just hop into a character, rather than just pick something that looks good, because I have to understand a character and really feel for the character before I can make an outfit for it.
MGC: And that goes for pretty much all the characters you do.
RL: Every character I do, yes.
MGC: Okay! Okay well, we talked about this a little bit before, but, you know, dream cosplay, dream photoshoot location, and I guess, does that tie into the ones you identify with, as well? So, is there one you identified with more?
RL: Well, I play a lot of Starcraft, I like playing the Zerg race. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the game.
MGC: A little bit, yeah.
RL: But there is this character called Sarah Kerrigan, and she also has infested Kerrigan, and she’s this big, buggy, alienesque-looking babe, and I wanted to do that cosplay so bad that within that within my, like, first year and a half of doing cosplay, I forced myself to pump out this character. I’m not 100% happy with how it came out, because it was obviously my very early time doing it. But, I’m satisfied enough with it that I don’t feel the need to do it again. And, it was actually really tedious to wear the big wings and everything, so I really don’t wanna do that again.
MGC: Well, that brings up another question then, too. How often do you revisit, or like redo, costumes to be able to improve on it?
RL: It really depends on the character. Like, there’s this character, Rikku from Final Fantasy, that I’ve done once in the very beginning. Then I was like, “Hey I really like doing that. I wish I could do that a little bit better.” And I went back and I remade the skirt, I remade the top, and did the weapons differently, and I definitely was happier with it the second time around. And I do find myself being like, “Hey I really wanna remake the boots and the top again.” But depends on the character. Some characters I won’t ever touch again. I did Ryoko, and I was like, “Mm, nope, done with that.” Came out too big, didn’t like it, sell it off to somebody else. Did Annie from Legal Legends, had no personality for the character whatsoever, because somebody asked me to do it. And so I was like, “Never doing that again.” But, you know, if I really like it, and I feel like it could be done better, I will keep redoing it to make it better.
MGC: Oh, that’s nice! Okay.
RL: But I have Catwoman, and Black Cat, and they feel pretty basic, you know, and I’ve improved a little bit on, like, small accessories, but overall it’s all kind of the same when they look the same. So, I do try to improve when I can.
MGC: Do you ever do ones where- I know you mentioned, like, the Punk Princess Peach and everything. Do you ever do, like, the different types on the same character over and over again?
RL: Oh yeah! Harley, I’ve done at least five or six different renditions. Some original, some accurate to character, but it depends like, you know, like I said Peach, like I really wanted to do a ballgown Peach, but I was like, “I don’t wanna drag around a giant ballgown all day, so I’m gonna do something more relatable to me! I like being very grungy and punky and spiky and dark makeup, so I was like, “I’ll do that.” And I did that for Harley, actually last week, so I might break that out on Sunday if I have some time.
MGC: Okay, well hopefully we’ll see her around!
RL: I have a very punky Harley, yeah.
MGC: Well, okay, so the other thing is then location. Do you have a favorite location you’ve always wanted to go to?
RL: … I really want to go to Japan.
MGC: Good answer. I think that’s an answer for a lot of people, so it’s definitely good.
RL: Yeah, at least here it is. My mom always goes, “Japan? Why do you wanna go to Japan so bad?”
MGC: Hey, if it makes you feel any better, my parents did the exact same thing. And I finally was like, “Let me go!” And then I did, and it was great. Alright, so, what about your inspiration? Like, you said you kinda fell into doing costuming and everything like that. Was there a reason you started to do that, or would you find inspiration for the different characters that you can identify with?
RL: There’s a few different answers for that one, too. I find that from my past history with my mom growing up, my mom did a lot of crafting. She showed me how to sculpt.. sculpty clay. And we would make these little figurines all the time. She showed me how to, like, do all these little artsy-crafty things throughout my childhood – making accessories and jewelry and all of that. So, kinda transferred into, “What do I wanna do? Photography. Okay, how do I make this more interesting? Use the skills my mom gave me.” She taught me some basic sowing and stuff, and I started making stuff. And she was like, “What are you wasting all your money for? Making costumes, and then never wearing them again. Wearing them for one event and doing photos one time, and then putting it in your closet.”
MGC: You gotta love parents like that, right?
RL: So I kept working on it, and my parents kept watching me crank out all this stuff. And over time I’m starting to learn about other cosplayers, and I really like Vampy Bit Me. She’s here this weekend, and I’ve seen her at other conventions. I’ve never had the guts to go up and say hi to her until this weekend. I was walking by and I was like, “Don’t say anything, don’t say anything, play it cool!” And then I was like, “Vampy Bit Me I love you!” And it was really awkward. I was like, “No!”
MGC: And how’d that go?
RL: She was really friendly! It was great! Unfortunately, like, there were a lot of girls that I did look up to in terms of, like, my early time in being in cosplay. And it got really disappointing when you meet them, and either they’re really snobby, or they’re really rude, and you’re like, “Oh, I’m so sad.” So I stopped having quote/unquote inspirational people, but Vampy has never let me down in that aspect. She’s always been very friendly, especially in her posts, and, you know, she’s great. I always see her smiling.
MGC: Now is that something that’s fairly common in cosplay? Like, as far as, like, the professional ones, where, you know, they’re sometimes not that great?
RL: I feel like people let it get to their head. I like to play it humble, I don’t like to tell that I do this and they have to find it out on their own. I find that a lot of girls tend to brag about it and treat other people differently, like “Oh, your numbers are lower than mine.” And I find that there’s a lot of competition in terms of Facebook likes, which to me is a little silly, because it really doesn’t mean anything, unless you’re putting the work into it. A lot of girls just wanna ride out the Facebook likes and all that. But, you know, you do find some good eggs in the whole bunch, so it’s not just a bunch of snobby girls. But there are a lot of snobby girls.
MGC: It’s unfortunate to hear that. Well, I guess since we may have an awkward transition to this next one, I guess. What is your favorite game you like to play? Because you do have your Twitch channel and everything. What kinda stuff do you like to..?
RL: I’m seen playing Starcraft a lot. I’ve played Starcraft for, like, four years running, and I’ve recently kinda burnt out on it a little bit. I’ve kinda switched over to some things with my friends. We’ve played Borderlands. We’ll play random RPGs and stuff, but it really depends on my mood that day. I used to play a lot of Don’t Starve, which is a basic survival game, if you haven’t played it before, and I got my mom into that. My mom never played videogames. My mom plays videogames off-and-on, like on Playstation, but she saw me playing this game on my computer one time, and she goes, “What is that? It looks really fun.” And I’m like, “Oh, it’s Don’t Starve.” “What is it about?” “You run around, you pick up food, you try not to die.” “Oh, okay.” She’s been playing this game nonstop for the last year and a half.
MGC: So, you’re a bad influence, too.
RL: Oh my god. I bought her this $8 game, and I see her playing it every day just like it was Farmville. And I’m okay with that.
MGC: It’s probably better than Farmville.
RL: It’s a lot better than Farmville. Everything’s better than Farmville. But I do feel a lot better seeing her play a game that she can play with other people – they’re real people, and she’s running around doing this chat thing, and she’s having fun with it. So, I feel good she introduced me to Playstation in my early years, now I can introduce her to PC games. And this is a good transition to some simple PC games – some simple puzzle stuff. That’s what she likes.
MGC: Well, and I know you mentioned before we went on air that you’re not really currently playing anything, so what kinda things are you doing as a replacement to them? Are you binging on Netflix, or what kinda things are you watching right now?
RL: For the last year and a half, I was really crazy about pumping out all these costumes, playing all these games, entertaining the masses, and I’ve kind of been like, “Wow, I’m getting really burnt out. I need a break for myself, hang out with my friends, go out and find good food, go to the movies, go out dancing, do some different things.” I do watch a lot of TV and be a couch potato quite frequently. While I’m at work, I’ll just go home and crash on the couch and watch TV. But, eating is a huge hobby of mine. I do a lot of cooking recently.
MGC: Favorite food?
RL: I like buffalo wings, pickles, kind of random foods. I like artichokes, too.
MGC: Oh, good choice, okay. So, are you taking a break from, like, promoting your Twitch channel, as well? Or, what kind of things would you do to help promote and make that a success?
RL: For Twitch specifically?
RL: I just kinda post on my Facebook whenever I’m streaming. I don’t really care about being a partner on Twitch, and a lot of people are like, “Aw, you can make money from it!” But really, I play on Twitch to entertain my fans who ask about it, because I figure I’m playing games anyways, I might as well just link it when I’m doing it. But, I really don’t push it that hard unless I’m actively playing something.
MGC: What kind of advice do you have for people who are wanting to get into cosplay, or wanting to do Twitch, or things like that? What kind of career advice, I guess?
RL: I mean, a lot of people expect everything’s gonna go right the first time you try it, because you know what you’re doing. But really, you have to have the patience to start over two, three, four times sometimes, and you have to accept the fact that it’s not gonna come out the way you want it to. And, really give it time. Like, you can’t rush something out two days before a convention, because that’s how things get bodged, and you get really frustrated. You don’t ever wanna pick it back up again. You wanna do a different character. But, if you like that character, give it the love it deserves. And, really like, spend time planning it out, figuring out what material- even material. Like, I’ve made dresses that I’m so happy with, except for the material type, and I wish I splurged for a little bit better material. So, if it’s something you really care about, spend a little bit more on it. But, if it’s just a quick throwaway thing, who cares? You know, try not to be too critical on things, because you’re gonna see all these mistakes, but not everybody is going to. So, just simple stuff like that. You know, a lot of patience goes a long way, and always compliment each other. So many people are into ripping each other apart. And, I’ve spent a lot of time going through these conventions, walking by people, “I like your outfit! I like that what you did there!” Boosting each other up is what’s gonna make this community a strong community, instead of tearing everybody apart. And, I know this nerd, this “nerd-dom” I guess I’ll call it, is getting to be a fad, so you kinda have to pick out, like, who’s the real people who enjoy their stuff, and who’s just here just to see what’s going on? And so, we all gotta kind of, like, work together, instead of against each other for fame, because it doesn’t make sense in a world where we all play dress-up as adults.
MGC: Yeah, makes sense. Well, I guess that kinda goes into our last question which was to, like, end on, which is: Have any general life advice? Something to be able to help people, that you think they’d be able to have a better life hearing, that they’d put into practice.
RL: You can’t care about what everybody thinks about you. People say a lot of rude things. “You’re too skinny.” “You’re too pale.” “You’re too short.” All this stuff. You know, people wanna cause drama, and hate on you, and all this stuff. Just forget about it, because they’re obviously dealing with their own stuff. And, it’s easier just to forget about what people say and go about your business, and care about what the people you care about say about you, instead of, you know, worrying about everybody else. Because, at first I was like, “Aw, man, people are making fun of me for my teeth, or my hair.” Whatever. In the long run, it really doesn’t matter, because I don’t even know these people. So, you know, in general, don’t let people get to you, do what makes you happy, and hope that it goes somewhere, and if not, find something that makes you happy. People tell me all the time, “I hate my job,” or, “I hate where I live.” Well, do something about it.
MGC: Okay! Is there anything that you, you know, you mentioned your interior designs and everything. Is there anything else coming up that you would like to pimp out, or anything like that?
RL: In terms of..?
MGC: Of whatever you would like.
RL: I guess I’m going to this, it’s called “Freaky Fest” in Argentina, and I’m pretty excited about it.
MGC: Wow, okay!
RL: I am pretty excited, but also pretty nervous, because that’s really international. I’ve been to Canada, but I’ve never been, like, out of the North American area, and I’m really nervous about that. But, I’m doing that. I put a lot of stuff on Facebook. You can follow me at facebook.com/ryuulavitzcosplay. I do put a lot of stuff on there all the time. I have a DeviantArt page with the same name. Other than that, I mean, it’s cool.
MGC: Well, it sounds like it if you’re going to Argentina!
RL: Follow me. If you see me, follow me. If not, whatever.
MGC: Okay! Well, thank you very much for joining us, and taking the time for this interview. And, we wish you the best of luck in Argentina and the rest of the convention.
RL: Oh, thank you! … I don’t even speak a lot of Spanish, so it’s gonna be kinda hard.
MGC: Ah, point at things, I guess.
RL: I mean, it’s funny, because I took four years of Spanish in high school, and you’d think I’d know a lot of Spanish, but…
MGC: No, you never do.
RL: Nope, I learned Japanese in a year on my own on some playbooks, and I know more Japanese than I do Spanish. So, I’m pretty nervous about trying to figure out where I’m going. People always ask me if I’m Hispanic, and they’re like, “Do you speak Spanish?” I’m like, “No.” “You look like you speak Spanish!” I don’t know what that means!
MGC: Okay, well, thank you very much. Have a good weekend, and good luck.
RL: Thank you!