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The death defying Sapphire Nova

by Buck Hardcastle 10 months ago in cosplay
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The lovely cosplayer is willing to take on danger to get a great shot

Sure lots of us would like to just go around being awesome as a career, but few of us try to actually pull it off. Below is my conversation with the talented Sapphire Nova.

First, how did you get into cosplay?

I've basically been wearing costumes all my life - you couldn't get me out of my princess dresses as a child - but I started making costumes to go to midnight movie premieres, so I could dress up like my favorite characters. It was seeing Lord of the Rings that truly inspired me to start cosplaying. After that I discovered that there was a whole world of conventions that meant that I wouldn't have to wait for the next movie to come out to get the chance to dress up. It was finally having a community of like minded people around me that cemented my place in the cosplay community and drove my desire to do it professionally.

Cool . I've always been impressed by cosplayers who go out and do shoots in the snow. What was that experience like?

Cold! Really cold! I'm from Arizona so I like the heat and don't do so well in the snow! We had a little tent with a heater set up in it, so I would try to jump in there every few minutes to try to warm up. After a while, even that didn't cut it so we had to go back to the car, blast the heat, and run to the spot for photos. Yep, you heard that right, I ran in the snow in heels! Shooting in the snow is my least favorite type of photoshoot, but the pictures always turn out so beautiful that I'm always down to do another one! I will always prioritize getting a great picture over all else!

They did come out great. Was that the most difficult shoot you've done?

It's definitely up there but not the top. The most difficult (or at least the most scary) shoot I've done was at Horseshoe Bend. It's a beautiful location in Northern Arizona that is at the top of a 1,000 cliff. I shot there as both Lady Death and Gamora, who both have completely white eyes so I wear specialty contacts to create the look. I took pictures in some pretty precarious places and I couldn't even see well. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. One of the spots I climbed down to was a tiny ledge with sand on the ground. We got me down there as safely as possible and I had a death grip on the cliff, but in addition to limited sight, I was wearing 6 inch stilettos. Not a great combination!

Oh wow, no thank you, I can't imagine doing that. How about what cosplay was your favorite?

I have a lot of favorite cosplays for a lot of different reasons. My all time favorite is Lady Death. I have always loved her comic books and I absolutely love her strength and passion. I love cosplaying strong women because it helps me feel more confident in my own skin. Red Sonja, Starfire, Gamora, Vampirella, and Majin Buu are some others that are at the top of my list.

Red Sonja is a favorite of mine. Do you think there's any value to her armor?

There is always value in style!! Haha! As far as it's practicality in battle, it leaves a little to be desired in the way of protection. That being said though, there is a lot of benefit in not being weighed down by heavy armor and being able to utilize her flexibility and speed with the minimal armor she wears. In the version of hers that I cosplay, she has some additional armor on her wrists and hands, so it has a lot of value in blocking if she can't dodge! 😍

I know you're a fan of conventions, you must have a few good convention stories

Where to begin! I have been a featured guest at over 150 conventions in my time as a pro cosplayer, so I do have a story or two to tell. I have seen fist fights, proposals, medical emergencies, fires and evacuations, and so much more.

Could you give me one specific story? Please 😅

Sure! I was at Katsucon the year that the Fire Nation attacked. Just kidding! There was a small kitchen fire but it was enough to set off the fire alarm and cause the whole convention to be evacuated. Katsucon is held at a hotel with a convention center attached, so every single person had to leave the building before the firemen could release us to go back inside. The big problem... Katsucon takes place near Washington DC in February, and it was -18 degrees that day! I was in my Captain Moon cosplay (a mashup of Captain America and Sailor Moon) so I was only dressed in a very thin dress with a short skirt and no sleeves. It was so cold that we ended up hiding out in the stairwell of the parking garage! It wasn't heated but at least it blocked off the wind. My friend was cosplaying Superman so I spent most of the time hiding under his cape! It was definitely one of the crazier experiences I have had at a con!

Do you have any advice for other cosplayers?

I have three pieces of advice for other cosplayers. The first is to always keep improving and keep growing. Challenge yourselves to new techniques and don’t be afraid to get it wrong the first time (or first several times). The next is to give yourself way more time than you think you need to finish a costume. If you think it’s going to be a quick 1 hour job, give yourself 2! It will always take longer than you think and no one likes con crunch. The final piece of advice is it’s ok to alter the design of a character to make yourself feel your most confident. If the character has a skirt and you feel better in a pair of pants - change it! The costume doesn’t always have to be a perfect recreation of the drawing on the page. Sometimes a little change can make a huge difference. And if you feel your most confident, it will definitely come off that way to everyone else!

Be the cosplay you want to see in the world. How people can support you?

They can follow my work by looking up @SapphireNovaCosplay on pretty much any social media platform and they can see prints and costumes for sale @SuperHeroesUnlimited and


About the author

Buck Hardcastle

Served in the Peace Corps in Ukraine, 2005-07.

Viscount of Hyrkania and private cartographer to the house of Beifong.

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