Congrats on the win, Kazul! Who is Hogger, and how did the concept happen?
Hogger is an NPC from the World of Warcraft. He is the first elite mob that human characters encounter in Southern Elwynn Forest. Hogger has the reputation for being particularly dangerous and deadly because new players aren’t expecting him to be so strong. I chose this character because the unique body shape offered a good challenge, it was my goal to make this a very animated, highly mobile costume so that I could put on a good performance. I documented my process using #WantedHogger so people could catch up and see my progress quickly, anyone who stumbled upon one WIP, could quickly get caught up on the story of what was going on. I also have a few youtube videos that go into depth about the whole concept, design and build. I have plenty more footage and more parts to cover, more videos will be coming very soon.
I started building in April 2017, through some life challenges and an across the state move I was able to finish and attend Blizzcon 2017 and take first place in the costume contest.
Can you talk a little about what Blizzcon is, and was was it like to win there?
Blizzcon is my favorite convention of all time! It’s like a big family reunion of people who love Blizzard games, the passion and excitement in the air is palpable. I would say the cosplay community at Blizzcon especially feels like family. Everyone chats with each other over the year, encouraging and offering advice. The competition is top notch, everyone brings their A game, but it remains friendly. I love the cosplayers at Blizzcon, I have mad respect for them all. Winning there was incredible, it had been a goal of mine for so long and then it finally happened, I feel like I am on top of the world!
Can you talk about your ambitions with Hogger, cosplay, or anything else you do?
My goal when building Hogger was two fold: Movement and Finish. I wanted to make sure he was very flexible and mobile so that I could put on an unrestricted performance. I also wanted to have lots of sympathetic movement, things that moved without my input directly (like the flowing tail and mane, the bouncing ear) to give the illusion that he was more alive. Then on the finish, I wanted to focus on doing plenty of weathering. I wanted hogger to look like he smelt like a wet, dirty dog and I wanted all his clothes/armor to look beat up, worn and dirty to match him. Gnolls aren’t known for cleanliness.
With all my work I strive to make convincing characters. When I hear people ask “how is it moving like that?” “How is a person inside that?” when I know that I’ve tricked their brain well enough that they can only see what is in front of them as a real creature, that’s when I win.
How about yourself… how did you get into doing this, and what do you do in animation?
I have been creative my whole life, I always have a sketchbook with me and I can get rather grumpy if I don’t have a project to work on. My mother was a seamstress and taught me sewing, my grandmother was a sculptor and painter and taught me a few things as well. I have always had a high drive to accomplish things, my parents noticed from a young age that I could and would do anything I set my mind to. When I was 6 years old the movie Toy Story came out, it was the first 3D animated feature film. It was so incredible to me at a young age that I decided that was what I wanted to do when I grew up. So I worked hard all through school, got a BFA in Animation, and I worked as an animator in the video game industry for 5 years.
With Blizzcon, ever since my first time competing in the cosplay contest in 2013, it has been my goal to win 1st prize. Each year I pushed myself with more complicated designs and challenged myself to learn the techniques I needed so that I could win.
How is the cosplay world different from what furry readers may be familiar with? Is this inspired by furry stuff or adjacent to it, and do any parts show your own unique creativity that furries don’t ordinarily do? Do you have any good words for creative furries?
I did start my costume making career in the furry fandom. There was a lot of tutorials and resources out there that helped make it approachable. The skills I learned and the connections I’ve made with other fursuit makers and artist in the fandom are very valuable to me, but I felt at one point that the fandom was holding me back as an artist. I didn’t think I could make anything more than the cartoony suits that I had built, and I thought no one would appreciate my work if I tried something else. I finally let myself take that step outside the fandom and my work has greatly benefited.
My work is far more influenced by sources outside the furry fandom. I love the cosplay community in particular because there are so many varied sources of inspiration, so many different techniques and materials. I love movie monsters, and practical effects have been a strong influence on my life. Finding the Stan Winston School of Character Arts was a game changer for me and how I build. I love video games, especially Blizzard’s games. I have been playing Blizzard games since I can remember, so I absolutely love the designs in their games.
With Hogger I brought in a lot of my love and admiration of puppetry into the design. If I had any advice for creative furries it would be pursue the things you love, let yourself admire and pursue things that aren’t in the ‘furry aesthetic’. Open yourself to a broader sphere of designs, aesthetic and techniques, and you’ll find you can do more than you thought. Also if you put real passion and effort into your work, that will resonate with an audience. I love creatures and animals, that’s what brought me to the furry fandom in the first place. But now I’m not so concerned about trying to fit in to a particular ‘furry’ label, and I find myself more free to pursue exactly what I love, and that has opened a lot of doors.
Thanks Kazul – hope to see much more good work from you. (Here’s some more fun stuff for readers).
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