What a wonderfully fantastical creature! There’s something delightfully bratty and clever about Cosplayer and drag/club kid, Josef Gargala. His looks delight and astonish. His art is sinister and mystifying. His makeup application skills spark envy in any girl, drag queen or makeup aficionado. As a cosplayer, Josef has found a most unusual and appropriate way to turn up the volume on his inner geek.
Cosplay is something most people have seen because of Dragon*Con; that time when tens of thousands of comic book characters, superheroes and villains invade downtown Atlanta in some of the most elaborate and inventive costumes to grace the city, even in a drag show. If broken down, cosplay literally means, costume play.
Most people enjoy the playfulness of the whole ordeal without much thought about the culture of Cosplay, or that it even has a name. And until I met Josef, I had no idea it could potentially become so beautiful, instead of nerdy. Scrolling through dozens of pictures of Josef, I was surprised, frightened but mostly impressed; impressed at the level of sophistication, skill and concentration he has to have to execute these looks. To couple all that skill with a surprisingly upbeat and humble personality, this just might be my favorite interview to date.
Until this assignment, I had never heard of “Cosplay.” Is that term accurate to describe your artistic expression, if not, how do you identify it?
Well yes and no. Cosplay better describes those who dress up as comic book characters and/or characters from movies, video games, or other things. Such as Batman, Megaman, Link from Zelda, or even Klarion The Witch Boy. Though I do cosplay as a lot of different characters, I also have my own drag/club kid looks. It’s all about self-expression and having fun. So, you could say it’s a bit of both.
How did you become involved in the Cosplay scene?
I became involved with the cosplay scene when I went to Dragon*Con for the first time in Atlanta. It was so much fun to dress up as my favorite characters. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been wanting to do it. To become a character you’ve always admired is a very fun thing to do!
After some research, I found that most Cosplay participants create their looks from outside sources (characters, anime, cartoons etc.), what sources do you pull from, if any? And if you don’t where do you get your creative direction/inspiration to create looks?
When I do a cosplay look, I mainly choose characters I admire. And those I know that fit my looks, stature, and personality! Most won’t fit your personality exactly. So, it’s a little bit like acting too. Personally, I always go for the villains. Even more so the more bratty ones. They’re a lot of fun to be. Besides, villains always have the best costumes too. I try to get my costume as accurate as I can to that character. However when I do my own drag look, it’s all from my mind.
What is your favorite and least favorite look that you have done?
Favorite past look in cosplay? I’d say Klarion The Witch Boy. I love dressing up as him. Klarion is a very bratty magical witch boy from an alternate dimension called Limbo Town. He’s fun to be because he is such a brat! There’s a lot of funny and playful quirks that he has. Like his love for anything strawberry. And his love of destruction and chaos!
My least favorite would probably be Tom Riddle from Harry Potter. The costume is VERY hot to be in. The entire costume is wool!
What future looks do you have in mind?
By next year, I hope to go to Dragon*Con as Beast Boy from Teen Titans. He’s a character I’ve liked for a long time. Also, Megaman is also on my list of future costumes to do.
Do you plan on increasing your involvement in the Cosplay scene? Is there room for growth?
Most definitely! Soon, I really hope to go to more conventions and have a lot more costumes. Dressing up while at conventions like Dragon*Con is the best! You meet such wonderful people. There’s always room to improve. Growth is what makes us all great.
How supportive are your peers/family with your involvement in Cosplay?
They are very supportive. In fact, most of my friends are also into cosplay and other nerdy stuff. It’s like one big family! My mom is very supportive. She sees it as artistic expression and encourages it.
How did you become so wonderfully gifted at makeup application?
Thank you! I’ve been doing makeup ever since I was about 14 years old. It all started with my fascination with Marilyn Manson’s makeup. It snow balled into what you all see now. I practiced day and night to get every little thing perfect. In makeup, like everything else, practice truly makes perfect. In makeup, there aren’t any rules at all. Wear what colors you want! If you want to go out wearing green eye shadow and red lips, you do it! No one is going to stop you from feeling good but you.
Any makeup lines, tips you want to share with the girls?
Sure! One good thing is always practice! I know that sounds silly. But makeup tips are pointless until you practice and learn. Always invest in a good set of makeup brushes. In fact, Loew Cornell paint brushes work quite well as makeup brushes. They’re a lot cheaper than most brushes and they’re very soft! I use them myself. The most important part of your makeup is the foundation. Make sure to really blend it into your skin with a foundation brush or makeup sponge. Never stop at the jaw line! Blending is your best friend in makeup.
One more tip, to help lipstick from bleeding, apply lip liner around your lips as normal then fill it in. Put lipstick on top. Blot it with a tissue. Then lightly powder on top with your translucent face powder. Go out and dance the night away! And look drop dead gorgeous while doing so.
On average, how long does it take to create, execute and put on a Cosplay look?
It all depends on how intricate the makeup is. On average about 3 hours.
What did you want to be when you were little?
Honestly? I wanted to be an Entomologist. I was really fascinated by insects and arachnids. I find a lot of inspiration from them in my own drag looks. No better source than nature itself.
What does your participation do for your personally/mentally/emotionally?
It’s the best thing I’ve ever gotten into doing to tell you the truth. It has sharpened my makeup and sewing skills. I’ve gotten to meet really outstanding people! Cosplay is all about having fun no matter who you are. Celebrating your nerdiness and having fun doing it! Live long and prosper.
And I plan on doing just that Josef, right after I go to Utrecht to pick up those Loew Cornell paint brushes!