You may have seen her around the internet, traipsing around Los Angeles as a goddess of death of Queen of the Amazons. Or, you may have seen her at a con as Sylvanas, or Leila from Vampire Hunter D. Either way, Sylvia Vale, better known on the Internet as Sylvia Slays, is a masterful cosplayer, hand-building her own costumes and portraying her favorite characters – every kind from comic book characters to video game avatars – with grace and beauty. Her skills and experience make her an incredible cosplayer, and her personality makes her absolutely wonderful to chat with. Read on to hear a little bit more about who she is and what she does in the cosplay community.
Temple of Geek: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi, my name is Sylvia, and I am originally from Austria. I have always been very comic book obsessed, since I was little. My favorites were Asterix & Obelix and Lucky Luke, which most of you won’t even know. Only in the states did my nerdy side start to bloom though, and I started to cosplay and craft costumes recently.
TOG: What drew you to start cosplaying?
My passion for the Fallout video games. Their armor builds and weapon designs were unlike anything I had ever seen, and I simply wanted to create the weapons for myself in the beginning. But when I saw other Fallout fans at conventions, I had found my true family and started building more and more from the game,s and purposefully going to conventions to cosplay, predominantly from the game series.
TOG: How long have you been cosplaying?
I have been playing dress-up for years, but truly cosplaying only for a year now.
TOG: What was your first cosplay? First convention?
My very first true cosplay was from Fallout 3. I made a Vault Tech technician suit and built my very first weapon, which was a laser rifle. It was awful! But I still loved it.
My very first convention was when I was very little, in Germany actually. It was a very small venue and couldn’t even be considered a convention, to be honest.
TOG: What was your most recent cosplay?
Hela, goddess of death, rightful heir and true queen of Asgard, from Thor: Ragnarok.
TOG: Do you have a particular fandom or character that you specialize in? Or are you willing to do anything?
I will always love making cosplays from the Fallout video game series. I am obsessed with the games and the art design of it. Everything is gorgeous! But the more I got into cosplay, the more I saw possibilities in other areas, and I cannot wait to cosplay from Magic: The Gathering, for example, in the future.
TOG: Do you have a particular favorite cosplay that you’ve done? Why is it your favorite?
My Hela cosplay is my favorite at the moment, just because it’s so much fun to wear and run around with, even though I poke out eyes left and right. Haha!
TOG: What’s the most difficult/challenging cosplay you’ve done? Why?
The most difficult build was my first full body armor, which was my Assaultron cosplay from Fallout 4. I had never worked with foam to that extent before, and it was absolutely nerve-wracking. Every day, I went to work, came home after, started building 6-8 hours into the night, and slept 3-4 hours to finish it all in 2 weeks for a convention. The most brutal weeks of my life, but they paved the way for my life after that. And I couldn’t be happier that I did it.
TOG: What’s your process for choosing what characters to cosplay? Is it just characters that you love, or do factors like the complexity of a costume or being comfortable in said costume come into play?
I choose the characters based on my current obsessions and passions. That’s mostly because I get bored with a build I am not completely in love with, and procrastinate to no end and eventually start building another costume entirely. Comfort is never a consideration for me. I will suffer through any pain and just stand in one spot if I am obsessed with a costume design, but of course, building these myself makes it easier to make it more comfortable for myself. But I think all builds are challenging in certain respects, whether it’s sewing intricate patterns or detailing foam armor. It’s all art.
TOG: What’s your cosplay “build” process like? How long does it usually take for you to complete a look, especially with an armored cosplay like your Hippolyta or things like your Hela horns?
First, I look at the costume design from every angle possible and try to dissect the different layers of the build, as much as reference photos allow. That takes about 2-3 days usually. Then I start making patterns and cutting them into the foam. Then heat shaping them and gluing the pieces together, into different armor sections. Then comes detail work on top, either with more foam or worbla, followed by the primer, and paint. A build such as my Hippolyta with sword and shield, took me 2 weeks. 3-4 weeks would be ideal, if I wanted to be even more accurate and not in a time crunch, but apparently I like a challenge. Haha! Everybody believes that Hela’s horns took a long time to make, but funnily enough, that was only 2 days of work. And the whole build is incredibly lightweight because I made it from plastic reinforced styrofoam.
TOG: What’s your favorite thing about cosplaying?
The kids at conventions. Seeing their eyes light up and run up to me in excitement when they recognize my cosplays makes my day. I live for those moments.
TOG: What’s your least favorite thing about cosplaying/your cosplaying pet peeve?
I think it is the expectation that you have to be perfect and extremely accurate to be a great cosplayer. As much as I am a perfectionist, I don’t think people need to stress over minor details as much as some fans do. For me, it’s about the fun and getting together with amazing people to create art, to educate and share that knowledge with people.
TOG: Do you have a “cosplay bucket list” of characters you’d like to do someday? If so, what are some of the things on it?
My bucket list goes twice around the globe, it’s so long. Not only would I love to genderbend some characters, like Batman Beyond and Thor, but I also want to craft more weapons and full body armors, either from video games like Fallout or my own custom designs inspired by various comic book characters. I have so many ideas!
TOG: What are some of the best things you’ve learned about yourself since you started cosplaying?
I discovered that crafting costumes gives me an incredible sense of accomplishment that no other medium has ever been able to instill in me. The look and joy on children’s faces when they recognize a costume of mine is the best feeling on the planet. Also, building a costume from scratch with all its details is the best endorphin rush I have ever experienced. So, I can proudly say, I am a cosplay addict.
TOG: What are the three most essential things that you keep with you when cosplaying at a convention or event?
1.) Super glue, in case of costume malfunction.
2.) My phone, in case of a selfie emergency.
3.) A breath mint, in case I run into Henry Cavill. 💕
TOG: Do you have anything in the works that we should look out for?
There are so many builds I would like to accomplish in 2018, most of which are still very top secret. But I can tell you that the new Queen Hippolyta costume from Justice League and Black Widow from Avengers: Infinity War will make an appearance for sure. And there might be an “alien” surprise as well… 😉
TOG: What are your interests outside of cosplaying? Do you do anything else we should know about?
Other than creative endeavors, everything in my life revolves around helping humanity reach a higher purpose. I am an avid advocate for poverty eradication, and also an anti-war and animal activist. Helping organizations such as EA Global and Mercy For Animals is always a priority.
TOG: You’re a page model for The Real League of Justice, which is a group of cosplayers working to help children and families in need. What does that mean to you in terms of connecting it to your cosplaying, or connecting your cosplay to your passions outside of the community?
Cosplaying and crafting costumes already gives me such a tremendous sense of accomplishment, but being a member of the Real League Of Justice is a step towards truly finding purpose on my journey. I’ve always wanted to help people and make the world a better place, even if it is in small increments. By joining the Real League Of Justice, I am accomplishing just that, while being able to still work on creating things that I am truly passionate about.
TOG: Do you have any advice for those looking to get into cosplaying?
Don’t be afraid to start out with a complicated build. No matter if it’s foam or fabric, what’s most important is the passion you have for it. If you love the design and style you will succeed. Go slow, and if you mess up, don’t panic, just start over and you will get it right. The most fun is figuring everything out and making a plan of attack. Enjoy yourself! And follow Evil Ted Smith for more in depth tutorials on foam crafting. He is the one who has taught me everything I know.
TOG: Where can we find you online to follow your further cosplay adventures?
Be sure to follow Sylvia for more cosplay adventures, and let us know what you think about Cosplay Friday in the comments below!