As we gear up to the D23 Expo Aug 14th-16th, I’m looking forward to not only attending the panels presented, but also the creative costuming Disney fans have been planning and creating specifically for this event. So much work goes into getting a cosplay or “look” together for conventions such as the Expo. I had the pleasure of chatting with an extremely talented creator and artist, Anders Peterson. We both attended the Star Wars Celebration Anaheim a few months ago and I was thoroughly impressed with his costuming and fabrication skills. Anders was hard to miss as he sauntered through the convention center as a 7 foot tall bright orange X-Wing Fighter Pilot. I asked him if I could interview him so we could get an in-depth look at what he does and show off his awesome work!
Hi Anders! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and expertise on what you’ve been working on. I’ve enjoyed watching your progress over the last year or so as you put this whole thing together.
Can you give us a little bit of an introduction?
Well, I’m a builder and creator of things, an artist, hobby historian, mixed with a bit of geek, rock n’ roll, and soccer hooligan.
How did you get started doing so many creative things? Have you always been interested?
Well I have my parents to blame for that. My father has a masters in fine arts, and my mom was always hand making our costumes for Halloween, blankets, and even toys and stuff. Her hand made costumes were always better than the rest of the kids store bought ones.
What was your favorite costume as a kid?
It was a really cool knight costume. She also made an awesome E.T. costume, it was so good they wanted me to be in a school play.
When did you start making your own?
Well I started putting together costumes probably in the 5th or 6th grade. But actual making them would have been about the year 2000.
What were some of the first costumes (or characters) you started with?
When I was a kid I would put together soldier costumes, but as I got older they were pirate kits for when I started going back to the ren fair.
From pictures i’ve seen, you don’t just throw together a few pieces for these Renn Faires. You’ve put some work into the historical accuracy of Pirate Fashion. How many pieces do you think you typically wear?
Oh yeah the pirate and viking kits for the Renn Faire weren’t thrown together. Lol. Those were actually made. I have about 14 to 16 pieces on the pirate kits that I mix and match. That’s not including the earlier stuff that I made which is pretty bad, or any of the accessories.
What made you decide to go from Pirate/Viking to more Geek Culture?
Well even before I started making historical costumes I was looking into storm trooper armor, but unfortunately they are very expensive, and at the time way beyond my skill level. Having been a fan of Star Wars since I could remember, and wanting to join either the rebel legion or the 501st, I thought I would take what I learned doing historical kits and apply it to Star Wars costuming.
(since we talked Anders has ordered his Storm Trooper armor! So excited to see how it turns out)
For the readers who may not know what the 501st or the Rebel Legion are, Can you tell us a little bit about them and what they do?
Sure, basically to sum up they are a group of Star Wars fans who costume for various charities, the 501st represent the bad guys in Star Wars and the Rebel Legion represent the the good guys.
They’re both tough groups to get into, right? They want the most film accuracy possible?
Yeah, they have some pretty strict costuming guidelines and standards.
You recently attended the Star Wars Celebration Anaheim event a few weeks ago. What did you put together and how long ago did you start planning?
I put together a rebel x-wing pilot costume, and I probably started about a year and half ago.
With these strict guidelines for costuming and basically needing to be “Screen Appropriate”, where would someone even begin if they wanted to do the same?
They should check out either of the groups forums online. Very helpful people and most of the research is pretty much done for you. Also the RPF, the “Replica Prop Builders” forum is a really good resource as well.
What steps did you take to submit your work?
I had the chance to meet some of the members at celebration, who I had met online, and one was a costume judge. He helped me out by taking my submission photos. Although they do have very detailed guides online, on how to submit your work.
Do you think these types of costumes with submission intent into groups, is different than a typical Cosplayer?
To be honest I don’t really know much about any other types of Cosplay. Celebration was really my first go at cosplaying. I’m sure other cosplayers strive for authenticity, but I’ve seen some bad ones, at Celebration and costumes at Renaissance Fairs. I’m also sure there are people who don’t really care, they just want to dress up and have fun, and that’s cool too.
Any new stuff in the works or other places we might be able to catch you as a Fighter?
Well if I get approved by the legion, I’ll be going on troops with them. I’m doing some small stuff on my Viking kit, and I have the fabric for a new waist coat for my pirate. Also looking to do a new pirate coat. Oh, and some minor details on my Han Solo belt.
Is there anything else you can give as advice to anyone starting out?
If there is one thing I can’t stress enough to people wanting to start making costumes is research research research! The last thing you want to do is pull the trigger on a major purchase, or a big build, and find out later that it’s not authentic looking, it’s cheap, doesn’t fit right, or the fabric is too modern, etc. I learned the hard way.
That’s really good advice!
Can you name any of your favorite sites?
The ones I mentioned earlier for Star Wars and pop culture stuff. The Pyracy Pub forum has some good links around there for pirate stuff and for Viking, just google some Viking reenactors and you should find some good references.
You popped up in many Cosplay articles and photo blogs during and after the celebration, including an extra exciting closing video on the last day. What did it feel like to see your work literally broadcast alongside other costumers? What was your favorite?
It felt pretty awesome for the hard, but fun, work to get recognized. As a creative person I really don’t do well with compliments or praises, but then I to like the recognition. It’s kinda hypocritical and weird I know. I don’t like to flaunt the things I create and go “look at me, look at me.”, but I do like it when people see something I’ve done and say “that’s really cool” My favorite was the video, because I was asked by someone from Lucasfilm, that was pretty cool. But the coolest thing I got to do was the x-wing experience, even though anyone who waited in line could do it, but for 20 seconds I was in Star Wars and that was like a childhood dream come true.
Thank you Anders so much for chatting with me! Be on the looking for this guy (you can’t miss him!).
Have you been planning a cosplay or Disneybound for the D23 Expo? Let us know in the comments!