The art of cosplaying carries many stories, each different from the next, telling the stories that mould us to become who we are. These characters shape our childhoods/ lives and have made us who we are. Talking to Shantia Dobson, aka Wynterr, this past week, these are some of the things I was reminded of when we spoke about her cosplay adventures. Shantia is a cosplayer born and raised in South Carolina but has lived in Texas for the past three years; She goes by the cosplay name Wynterr, originally her pen name from the beautiful poetry she writes. A K-drama inspired her name, Wynterr; a long time ago she watched a show that she loved so much that contained a character called General Winter. She then adapted the name to her style by adding two "r's" and a "y".
Shantia is a reasonably new cosplayer clocking a year in her cosplay journey in September, but in such a short time, she has brought to life many characters in her unique way of creating. Since moving to Texas, her roommate, who is a cosplayer, has been slowly introducing her to the world of cosplay, which is where she got the idea from
The 26-year-old cosplayer creates this art form as stress relief while she works for an international company as their social media support strategist; she also uses cosplay to grieve and feel closer to her mother. The loss of her mother in 2021 drove Shantia into cosplaying as a way of coping with her grief, as she thought it would be a lovely way to honour her mother, who's a big part of her life. She said: "My mother loved dressing up; she expressed herself best through the clothes she wore, so to feel closer to her, I began dressing up, and cosplay was my way of making it mine." Her cosplaying was a way of keeping in touch with that part of herself she thought was lost and connecting to her childhood through the characters she recreates.
Shantia primarily does closet cosplay, using things she has in her closet to create costumes of character and sometimes creating her own costumes by upcycling thrifted items, "As a plus size creator getting things in my size, especially when it comes to commercial costumes can be difficult because I have specific measurements and we all know outsourcing custom made costumes can quickly run up, so I choose to thrift my items, for now at least," she said. She emphasized the importance of being resourceful because you may not always get what you want. "As a creator, you have to make something out of nothing; it's all about how you present what you have," she said
When asked about what keeps her motivated on her journey, she immediately said it was her love for cartoons; she loves how they made her feel and how they continue to make her feel. The other reason was people's reaction to her cosplay; she said, "Every time I cosplay a cartoon character, I get messages from people thanking me for bringing back her childhood with the cosplay; it's definitely one of my favourite responses".
Shantia has a powerful and amazing circle of friends and support system who are incredibly supportive of her cosplay and the things she does alone "my siblings from the beginning along with others from my hometown have been the biggest support of my cosplay so fast", she said.
Some influences that continue to shape her cosplay are Cosplayers like her roommate Petite Magic Girl Cosplay, Saray blue, and Evensyaxo, as they all put their amazing individual flares to characters we know and love.
In almost one year as a cosplayer, Shantia has recreated some unforgettable characters; when asked about her favourite, she referred to her cosplay of the anime character Saika, an Antisocial Psychic just trying to blend in. One of the reasons this cosplay is so unique to her is that she feels she can relate to the character in specific ways; the adaptations she made to the character allowed her to express her blackness, and people received it so well.
Her love for anime goes beyond this character as she's also a massive fan of Dragon Ball Z, dedicating an entire wall space to all things Dragon Ball, even seeing the latest movie three times since its release.
Cosplay has continually shown itself as an art form for self-expression and an outlet for emotional expression, and that is definitely something that fuels Shantia as a cosplayer. The journey is just beginning, but she's making the most of every moment; it's amazing to see one infectious laugh at a time.