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Interview with Calen Hoffman from Propcustomz

Interview with Calen Hoffman from Propcustomz


Article by: Geek Girl Jenn Marvel

Hey all, Jenn Marvel here, I got a chance to chat with one of my favorite male cosplayers/fabricators, Calen Hoffman from Propcustomz Beyond excited. Here's what he had to say!
GG: Lets start off with an easy question.  How long have you been a cosplayer?

Calen: I have loved making things for my whole life, but I have been into prop/costume making seriously for about 6 years.

GG: I have been a huge fan since you started out and everything you've done so far are fantastic! What was it that got you into cosplay in the first place?

Calen: Thank you!  Like I said, I have always enjoyed making things with my hands ever since I can remember.  I have always loved masks and other wearable art. So since those two things go hand and hand, it made perfect since. There is just something about making art from a pile of raw materials, that appeals to me.

Interview with Calen Hoffman from Propcustomz
Baird, Gears of War | Photographer: Self-portrait

GG: What so far has been your most challenging Cosplay/Commission thus far, and which Cosplay/commission has been your favorite to date?

Calen: The most challenging project I have done so far would have to be my Baird suit, from Gears of War Judgement.  Mainly because the whole thing was templated by myself with very limited reference. It also has a massive amount of detail over almost every square inch of the suit.  My favorite has to be....All of them!   For me, it is like trying to pick my favorite child.  They're all created with my passion and love for the characters and art. If I were to choose my favorite based on construction, I would have to go with my Left 4 Dead Smoker. I made it in 10 days with panty hose, batting, and acrylic caulking. I came up with the method on a whim and it turned out beautifully in my opinion.

Interview with Calen Hoffman from Propcustomz
Smoker, Left 4 Dead | Photographer: Self-portrait

GG: I am sure you attend plenty of conventions year round. What would you say is your favorite convention, and what has been your most memorable moment?

Calen: My favorite convention so far has to be Dallas Comic Con. I got to meet so many super nice people and talk with them about crafting and costume making.  It is absolutely humbling to see how something as simple as a costume can inspire and motivate people on an emotional level. My most memorable moment is when a young woman came all the way from Chile JUST TO MEET ME!  That is the most humbling thing I have ever experienced.  She came up to me crying and told me her story and gave me a huge hug and got a picture with me in my Groot.  It was a surreal and awesome moment.  

Interview with Calen Hoffman from Propcustomz
Groot | Photographer: Sight Photography

GG: What would you say is the most challenging thing about being a male cosplayer in a seemingly female dominated hobby?

Calen: It can be tough sometimes to be a male prop builder in the Cosplay world.  As we all know that some of female costumes are sexualized and they're noticed very easily and without a ton of effort. However I pride myself on my quality and craftsmanship in my work and I truly believe that if you love what you do and you share that love with others, that people notice and connect with that. Every person that appreciates and notices the tiny details in my work make it well worth it to me, and if I can even inspire people to create art themselves....well that is what it is all about.

GG: There are so many different skills that can go into costume building! What is one thing you want to learn or try that you haven't already?

Calen: I would really love to learn more about practical special effects and tricks.  It is so awesome to me what people have/can come up with. It really shows you that there is ALWAYS something to learn and you can always improve.

GG: There are so many different mediums cosplayers use to create their cosplays, if you had to pick one medium to call your favorite which would it be and why?

Calen: I would have to say EVA foam.  It is an absolutely wonderful building material.   It is extremely versatile and can be finished in so many ways to achieve difference outcomes. It is also very lightweight, which is paramount for costumes that you will be in for 8-10+ hours.

GG: Everyone makes mistakes! What would be your biggest blunder so far in costuming?

Calen: My biggest mistake in costuming so far would have to be when I had to mold my Captain America helmet 3 times because I made it to small the first time, then I didn't let the texture spray cure long enough and it inhibited the silicone from curing the second time.  Third time is a charm!

Interview with Calen Hoffman from Propcustomz
Captain America | Photographer: Chuck Mason

GG: We all started somewhere.  If you could give one piece of advice to new cosplayers or someone interested in getting into cosplay, what would it be? 

Calen: Realize that you WILL make mistakes and that you WILL have to do some things over. If you know that going in, it will alleviate a whole lot of disappointment in the future.  Costuming making is A LOT of problem solving and you sometimes have to figure out the ways that don't work before you figure out one of the ways that do.  I say "one of the ways" because there is never, ever "the right way to do something".  Experiment, try new things, adapt existing concepts with new variations to suit your needs.

GG: Cosplay has become a very popular in the past few years.  As the community grows so does the opinions, talents, and overall vibe of convention goers.  As someone who has been attending conventions over the last few years, what is your greatest concern regarding conventions and the state of the community currently? 

Calen: There is a lot of negativity and ridicule in this community unfortunately, especially online.  It is a sad an unavoidable truth.  The only advise I can give (which I know doesn't work for some) is ignore the negativity and feed on the positivity and constructive feedback.  Even if the positive is twice as much as the negative, the negative seems to have twice the impact.  Any negative feedback can almost always be directly derived from jealousy.  Try to let it roll right off of your shoulders as best you can and really grasp on the positivity and remembering that we are all doing this together because we love it and that it brings us together.

Interview with Calen Hoffman from Propcustomz
Founder Soldier, Bioshock Infinite | Photographer: Chris Dorsey

GG: A lot of cosplayers are inspired by the work and attitudes of others within the community.  Who are some of your favorite cosplayers and why? Or what inspires you when you decide to take on a new project? 

I have always loved seeing Volpin Props (Harrison Krix), his work is phenomenal and is always an inspiration.  Kamui Cosplay (Svetlana Quindt) is also a super awesome prop/costume maker.  I have actually had the chance of meeting her and getting to talk with her for a lengthy amount of time about building and our experiences.  It is always awesome to get to hang out with people who work you love and they also happen to be an awesome person.

GG: Harassment has become more and more in the community.  A huge misconception though is that it doesn't really happen to men.  What kind of harassment have you personally experienced in the community? 

Calen: This is a very sad thing and it really bums me out that is is even a thing. I have been fortunate enough to not have had to deal with this in a major degree. Mostly just things I have heard people say about me after they pretend to be a fan or friend to you face. However that doesn't even compare to the degree that some others have to deal with at cons or online.    

GG: The more time you spend in the hobby you come in contact with a larger diversity of cosplayers and fans within the community.  What is one thing you wish con-goers/cosplayers would do more or less of? 

Calen: I wish there was less of a stand offish mentality and being so mentally competitive to be able to just appreciate each other.  I know that when I see an awesome costume, I will make it a point to talk to that person about how they did it.  Often times that will lead to a lengthy chat about various building ideas, tricks, or ideas. It can be tricky sometimes though, with people wanting to get pictures...Which is perfectly ok...and awesome.  I wish there were parents joining in on the fun with their kids.  I do see it often, but it wouldn't hurt to have even more. It is always awesome to see parent and kids in matching costumes.

Interview with Calen Hoffman from Propcustomz
Calen Hoffman from Propcustomz

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April 01 2016

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