Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Cosplay Interview Black&Nobo

I really enjoy it when I get an email from a cosplayer asking about an interview. I get double excited when it comes from a group like our next interview ~ Black&Nobo.

Now they are fairly new group, but have exploded on the scene with some dramatic and insanely difficult cosplays. Usually you will start out with something easy, get your feet a bit wet and a feel for the art of cosplay. Hell no, Black&Nobo go for the guts and glory right out of the gate.

You will see shortly that they have a stunning way of bringing out the best of the cosplay and the dedication to keep moving it forward.Without further delay, lets get to the interview!

Please introduce yourselves and let us know where do you reside?

Hello! We are the American cosplay team that goes by the name, "Black&Nobo Cosplay"! Individually we are Bllacksheep and Nobody and we are a couple that lives and works out of New York, NY. Additionally, we'd like to thanking you (Dan) again for interviewing us! We love sharing our hobby and it's even better when it's shared with someone who is just as interested and passionate about the anime/pop culture community! Thank you!

I have to ask, where did you both come up with your cosplay names and the spelling?

N: Haha! This is such an interesting question! People's username can often say a lot about the person. In terms of my username....I’ve used Nobody as an alias as long as I can remember. I believe I originally chose it because I liked the ironic postmodern twist it gave to the idea of a "username" being used at a tool to identify someone (It was the 90s, what do you expect? Hah!). It also has it's bits of humor - I get a fair share of snickers from my opponents when gaming online: "You've been killed by Nobody." Haha!

B: Bllacksheep is also a user name I’ve had for some time. The story about how I chose this alias is actually a nice metaphor for how I got involved in the anime/cosplay community. Nobody was the one to introduced me to anime/cosplay/video games - before that I always never too into that sort of stuff and thought it was a bit "weird".

When I first met Nobody, she asked me to play an MMO with her - not something I was too accustomed too. When I was creating my character, I didn't want to take it too serious and made the name "Blacksheep" as kind of a joke to tease people for having dark, angsty sounding usernames. However, as I learned to appreciate the anime/cosplay/video games culture and go to conventions, I found myself enjoying it much more than I thought I would. The name was meant to be critical at first, but now it is something I've learned to connect with. Now I'm not afraid to connect with that side of me that always felt like a bit of an outsider, and I think the name 'Bllacksheep' is an appropriate name to express those feelings. ....And the double 'L' in the name - it's just simply there because the name 'blacksheep' is usually already reserved, haha!

And to add another thing... we always thought it was funny how the ideas behind the names "Blacksheep and Nobody" sort of go together. As Black said, this general notion of being an "outsider" is present in both the names. I don't think either of us feel like we're completely outcasted, but we always thought it was ironic!

Was it a separate journey for each of you to start cosplaying or did you both want to do it at the same time?

N: As Black stated previously, his discovery of this community came much later than mine. Like many children of the 90s, I grew up watching anime and playing N64. In my early teens I began cosplaying and attending conventions. It was a natural transition for me, because I cosplayed purely because I was a fan. However, I lost interest in the fandom and the community, and I stopped going to conventions. It wasn't until 2010 when I reignited my interest in cosplay, as a sort of artistic craft and serious hobby. This is when I introduced Bllacksheep to cosplaying, and when we made our first cosplay together.

B: I had never been part of the anime community, but when Nobody introduced me to cosplaying and we made our Na'vi costumes together - it was a really good experience. Being a sculptor and propmaker, I enjoyed it from a craftsman's perspective. But furthermore, I came to really enjoy the convention-going experience, and began to delve into anime culture for the first time. Now, I'm totally immersed in cosplay and anime culture - and it's become a big part of my life.

Are there any challenges when trying to decide on what you both will be cosplaying?

Definitely. There are always going to be challenges when we come at new costume. However, deciding which cosplay to create is one of our favorite steps!

We place a lot of importance on figuring out which characters we are going to cosplay. To start, we always cosplay in tandem - we enjoy working together, and we are on the lookout for characters that work well as a pair. Beyond that, we pride ourselves on choosing off-beat and unusual characters - one's that you might not expect to see in a cosplay, or characters that are not widely represented. We think that the choice of character is a huge part of the overall impact, and works to please and surprise our audience. And as part of making interesting cosplay choices, we also try to extend our reach to characters that are not just from anime, but from video games, film, television, and popular culture.

A cosplay can come from anywhere, and we try to use this to the best effect.

I saw that you did the Shiva Sisters cosplay and this must have been a tough challenge. What was conceptually the hardest part of this type of cosplay?

It certainly was a challenge.... but that's what we enjoyed the most about that costume! The toughest part of this cosplay was figuring out how to make those huge hulking helmets without breaking our necks, haha! We knew right away this would take some serious consideration, so we didn't hesitate to create, recreate and improve upon our design/prop until it was perfect. We remade the helmets three times, making it lighter, bigger and just aesthetically more pleasing each time. Our first version was relatively small. It wasn't nearly the size of the massive headpieces that the Shiva Sisters actually have, but by the third and final version we were able to create the helmet as a hollow shell from fiberglass and bondo, that was the same size and proportions as the characters in the video game. We engineered a back brace that allowed us to balance the helmets properly, and in the end we were able to wear the helmets comfortably for three days at conventions, without issue.

Your Lady Gaga / Zombie Boy cosplay was extremely detailed. What did you use for the body pain to get such awesome accuracy for this? How long did it take you to apply it and then actually remove it?

We're happy to hear you say so! To be completely honest, we were on a tight budget for this cosplay and chose to use very cheap materials! We weren't sure if we could pull it off but wanted to give it a shot and sort of "test our ability" to use materials that were more than unideal. We used basic cream makeup and makeup crayons that you can buy at a Halloween or party store for like $2.00 (The ones with the cheesy clown face printed on it, haha).

Even more unconventionally, we used sharpie to lay down the basic outlines and get the fine details. The marker was actually really great and gave us some harsh, sharp lines. And because of the cheap makeups, we made sure to carefully study the tattoos of Zombie Boy (Rick Genest) and keep the design as accurate as we were able too. In the end it obviously wasn't exact, but we were pleasantly surprised with the results. We each applied our own makeup and overall it took about an hour to apply..... and only minutes to wash it off (with a little bit of scrubbing to get rid of the permanent marker)!

Bllacksheep actually documented the whole process here if you'd like to see the work in progress: Makeup Tutorial.

Usually people new to cosplay, start with simple characters. That has not been the case with the two of you. Why did you choose the characters you did for what would seem to be a large undertaking?

We often wonder the same thing sometimes...hah! But really, our initial interest in cosplay came from two aspects: The craft and the performance.

We both come from an art background, so large sculptural or artistic projects are something we actually enjoy very much and wouldn't want to sacrifice. More conceptually, we both really like bring characters to life that...well, to put it plainly, are far from reality! Breathing life into a character that has unrealistic proportions or is drastically otherworldly for example, is very exciting for us! Making the unrealistic, real, is a good way of putting it.

However, as you pointed out - these costumes are often a big undertaking and require a lot of work. Luckily we enjoy setting ambitious goals...hah! It makes us all the more prideful in our work when we're finished!

What are some of your future ideas for cosplays and where can we catch them at?

We tend to work slower than most cosplayers - making about one large costume a year and then two or three lesser ones that same year.

Currently, our major project is of Dante's Inferno (video game/animated movie). We will be creating Dante the damned crusader and this lover, Beatrice the Queen of Hell. To say the least, we are very excited for these costumes! We are both absolutely in love with the creepy visceral roman aesthetic the video game has... the design is beautiful (Check out some concept art here)! There are some big props in these costumes and we're playing with adding some special effects that that should be really fun if we can pull it off! We're also planning to debut the costumes at Anime Boston this May and then hopefully hit up a few more major east side conventions like Otakon and New York Comic Con.

When not cosplaying, what do you do?

Career wise, the both of us work in the film industry. We both recently made the choice to stay independent (vs Hollywood) and started up our own production company. We're excited to see where it takes us and are currently in pre-production of our first animated series. Beyond that, we spend our time like any geek and art enthusiast: Video gaming, film buffing, etc. Nobo spends a lot of time doing digital art for various freelance projects and Black has a secret passion for growing mushrooms (cooking, mushroom XD) !

For any aspiring cosplayers, a little shy to take the plunge, what words of wisdom do you have for them to get started?

B: Just dive in! We taught ourselves most everything we know about making cosplays, just by looking up tutorials and information online. Anyone can do it, as long as you don't bog yourself down with hesitation and doubt. And for anyone who is nervous about dressing up, and showing their costume in public - just remember that the anime and cosplay community is probably one of the most supportive environments and a good place to gain confidence in yourself.

N: Black is right. As far as I see it, shyness is the only obstacle when cosplaying. In reality, you don't need to make your own costumes, or look just like the character.... cosplaying is just like Halloween, and no one gets embarrassed or elitest when dressing up for Halloween! I first cosplayed when I was 13.

For me the hardest part was going to the convention in costume - walking up the doors all done up in costume was nerve racking. I thought to myself: "Will I the only one dressed up? Do I look stupid? What if I see someone I know?" However, the instant I walked into the convention center - all those worries faded away. If you think you're the only whose going to be dressed up, you can think again. If you're still nervous however, I would suggest to go with a friend. Dressing up with another person helps take some of the pressure away.

And like Black said, I've never seen anyone at an anime convention bluntly make fun of someone else. You'd more likely gain friend with this community. :]

What sites do you have for our audience to visit to see more?

Thanks for reading! If you want to follow us, we'd be honored!
We have quiet a take your pick! :D

Bllacksheep: deviantART  |  Coscom

Nobodyyyy: deviantART   |  Coscom  |  World Cosplay

Together:  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  YouTube  |  Tumblr  |  Blog

Here is a Shout Out to our Photographers:  Henrickson 

Some Additional Cosplay Photographs
I want to thank Black&Nobo for taking the time to write to me and to the Photographers for the great photos that you get to see here today.

Want to be my next interviewed COSPLAYER or know someone that you want to recommend? Drop me a line a bluedrakon (at) gmail (dot) com!


  1. Some of the cosplays gave a gothic feel and the Shiva Sisters cosplay are most impressive!

    1. I am very impressed with what they have done so far. I can't wait to see what they cosplay next!!!

  2. wow...what's up w/that Bike!!!

    1. That is the Shiva Sisters Bike from Final Fantasy. It is one of the coolest mods as they combine to form a motorcycle. I have only see some of these cosplays and combos which they did an awesome job on.


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