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Life and Work with Shannon O’Connor

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shannon O’Connor.

Shannon, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve always sewn things with my mom while I was growing up, I honestly don’t remember a time when I didn’t know how to use a sewing machine. My favorite part was always Halloween costumes. Every year, my costume was handmade by me and my mom, and I was always so excited to have something that no one else had! Flash forward to my high school life, when I started working in a comic shop and occasionally we would travel for comic and anime conventions. At one of these conventions, I found out about the world of cosplay. It was an amazing combination of the media I love and my favorite hobby- there was no turning back! My entire life I’ve been picking up different art skills – I even went to college and got a BFA in Intermedia! I just love finding new and different kinds of art to learn about and try, and cosplay provided the perfect setting to combine them all together.

Has it been a smooth road?
I wish I could say it’s been so easy, but it takes quite a lot of confidence to walk around in public like a cartoon character or superhero. I didn’t start right away. I was too afraid to put myself out there because I was “too fat to cosplay” in my mind. It took a while, but eventually, I realized that was silly! Cosplay is about showing your love for all the stories and characters that so many people love. It’s an easy way to find people who love the same things and meet new people. It doesn’t matter what you look like at all. What matters is that you have fun and it makes you happy. People can be mean, and the internet has only made it easier for people to be negative towards you. But! It’s also given people a platform to express themselves and people to find common ground. More often than not, you’ll find people are more supportive than try to tear you down! I’d like to pretend I’ve gotten over the mean and careless comments people make still, but sometimes it’s hard to push through. It’s always great to remember the wonderful friends you can meet through costuming and try to remember there’s more to life than anonymous comments.

Please tell us more about what you do, what you are currently focused on and most proud of. What sets you apart from others?
Using weird fabrics and materials is my specialty! When I was in college, I loved using any and all types of media I could get a hold of. It can be hard to pick up new material and not instantly understand how to use it, but using it in a way that’s unintended can make some amazing results. Sewing and drawing have been skills I’ve used for so long, but getting to apply those skills to new things is so interesting! I’ve recently started working with foam, and I have no idea how it works at all. But taking what I know of patterning and trying to translate it into foam is such a challenge! I’m always up for the challenge of new puzzles. But that’s what I want others to know- this is something that everyone can join in and learn! I spend a lot of time trying to build others up and answering as many technical questions as I can. If I don’t know the answer, I send them to someone who does. The cosplay community is unique in the fact that it’s very positive and supportive. Cosplay is for everyone, and anyone can participate!

Who have you been inspired by?
I know it’s kind of cliche, but my mom is such a huge part of how I’m able to do what I do. She may have taught me the technical skills that got me started, but she’s also been a huge cheerleader for all the weird ideas and projects I’ve started (even when I don’t finish them).

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