When I first stumbled across artist Kassandra Leigh, I was, not surprisingly, surfing the web for new and cool Star Trek art. The photo (shown to the left) immediately caught my eye. I followed the image link to Kassandra’s DeviantArt page and found a wealth of incredible art mediums including her modelling, photography and digital art, as well as some great cosplay pieces. It wasn’t hard to notice all the attention to detailing that went on in Kassandra’s photography, from the elaborate wardrobe to the makeup and hair styling, most or all of which Kassandra does herself, the passion for her work was hard to ignore. GCE had the chance to talk to her about a couple upcoming projects, her inspiration and of course, some cosplay.
1. You are a quadruple threat. Modelling, photography, art and costuming. What is your favorite medium?
Nope, not falling for that one! You never say which kid is your favorite. I will say though, that I’m not terribly good at costuming. I’m more of a pro-glue-gunner. A wild west 6 shooter of molten glue and safety pins.
2. How do your mediums grow with you?
I used to live upstate in the boonies so I grew to be a pretty solitary creature. When I moved to Long Island I definitely did not fit in so I just sat around drawing things that captured my imagination or things I wanted to wear but couldn’t afford. One day I picked up my Dad’s old Kodak camera and started snapping photos for my DeviantArt ID and it sort of exposed itself as another visual medium I could have fun with.
3. Who was the first character you ever cosplayed?
I used to get compliments on my “cosplay” growing up and Id look at people like they were daft. So my day to day is pretty out there and some people seemed to think it was cosplay – if we go by them I wouldn’t be able to tell you! But intentional cosplay? It was a last minute rush to do Chi from Chobits. My first cosplay I was proud of? My Dark Elf Sorceress from Warhammer Online (see photo below).
4. Give us an example of your everyday wear?
My day to day wear is pretty much what you see in my photos. It’s easier to justify investing in all the crazy corsets, lolita style dresses and latex when that’s your jeans and a t-shirt.
4. How and when did you get into cosplaying and costume design?
I love time period inspired fashions. And Renaissance fairs. Thankfully, my mom could get behind that one interest of mine and we would make outfits to go up to the fair in. So I think that was my real introduction in “making it work” since we couldn’t afford fancy silks and we didn’t always know how to sew things properly. Nowadays I have amazing friends like Shannon, Nana, & Kaito Milk who are all very much into the cosplay scene. So it sort of brings me closer to my friends to craft and take photos…and go insane at conventions.
5. What more can you tell us about Manifest Fantasy? (Find the video here)
This is going to be my first foray into consciously taking inspiration from my artwork and bringing it to life in my photos. It is also the first time I put myself up to planning. That’s scary. If the project makes it’s minimal goal of two thousand dollars, it will fund not only the equipment that will release me upon the world, but it will also help fund the creation of garments, props and act as payment for local artists to get involved. In the end I plan on using the year’s worth of photos that come as a result of all this for my very first gallery showing and limited time release of my first ever art book. Any additional funds that come in beyond my goal will definitely help out in planning the gallery and just making everything bigger and better.
Interviewer Note: Since the interview, Kassandra has surpassed her goal on KickStarter. Congratulations!
6. Where do you find your inspiration when you are planning and designing a photoshoot?
You may or may not know this… but I am a deep sea crustacean. I walk around the house and just pick things up; bend, pin and paint things onto the head of whomever I’m taking photos of that day. It’s pretty organic and not often planned but the end result images certainly are influenced by fantasy motifs. Even normal shoots that may lack elf ears or fish tails feel like fantasy to me as a kid who just loves the romance of a dramatic gown.
7. Because we have to ask, if you had a super power what would it be?
Gozer: “[after Ray orders her to re-locate] Are you a God?” After I wish for the Power Cosmic- I might as well be! Lets face it, with that kind of power Galactus could be hella more fabulous. Just imagine what epic shoots I could do if I could teleport where ever with no travel costs or sickness, trans-mutate things into what I please, blow things up for instant “fog” effects in the background….rake in moola at the local pubs by reading their minds and cheating at cards? Yeah, a girl’s gotta dream big.
To see more fantastic photos of Kassandra Leigh, please visit (and like!) her Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/Unseelie.Allure
You can also purchase custom commissions for digital drawings or check out her character designs here http://unseelieallure.deviantart.com/
All photos copyright of Kassandra Leigh Photography and used with permission.