An Interview with Armaria Cosplay

“Do Not Go Far From Me”
-Liam O’Brien

Her Vax’ildan Cosplay, Legendary. Her Caleb Cosplay, Epic. It’s highly likely you’ve seen Armaria Cosplay’s work on any cosplay page recently and her work continues to get more amazing. We had a quick chat with her and talked about the birb boi, those wings and everything DnD.

1. Could You Please Introduce Yourself?
I’m Armaria Cosplay across all social media platforms, but I go by Micaila or Ari. I’ve been cosplaying for a couple years now and been playing D&D a little longer. I’m a 24 year old civil engineer so basically I’m an all around nerd. I love cosplay and D&D as my hobbies because they let me exercise my creative side, but I also was a lacrosse player for 16 years and still am active in the sport as a referee. There’s a reason I’m drawn to Jack of All Trades type characters.
2. How Were You Introduced to Critical Role?
I stumbled across the first episode on Youtube in late 2016/early 2017. I tried to watch it a few times, but just couldn’t really get into that first episode. Then I was on the subway to a con in March 2017 and overheard two other con goers talking about it and they encouraged me to try that first episode again. I started listening to the backlog when campaign one was in the late 80s. I started to watch faster as I started to notice Critical Role cosplayers at conventions and became close friends with the cosplayer who would be my Vex’ahlia, Turnfolio Cosplay. I got through most of the episodes while crafting my first two Critical Role cosplays and caught up just in time that my first live show was the Campaign 1 finale (with an mostly complete Vox Machina cosplay group in a hotel room the night before a con. We make good decisions).
3. How Did You Start Cosplaying?
Cosplay for me was a transition from theater. I did a lot of theater work in college in costuming, hair and makeup, and on stage acting. I realized that all the things I loved about theater I could do at once with cosplay. And best of all, I got to pick the character I got to play, not someone else. That origin is one of the big reasons I love to compete in masquerades both in craftsmanship and performance. I will always love the stage.
4. If you were to describe Critical Role to a friend, how would you do so?
Usually I start with Matt’s tag line, but beyond that, I usually summarize it as collaborative story telling with the funniest and lighthearted moments and the saddest and most emotional ones you will ever experience from a show. And then, if appropriate, I usually show them the “What is Critical Role? (PG13)” Youtube video by BrooklynnCalifornia because it’s an amazing introduction to Campaign 1 and the cast without spoiling anything major.
5. Everyone has favorite moments from Critical Role but do you have a moment that always stands out to you that affected you personally
This is such a hard question. There are just so many fantastic moments. There are amazing emotional moments that make me cry every time. There are moments that I can’t stop laughing at when I look back on them. There are all of the absolutely amazing moments I’ve had in cosplay. You’re forcing my hand to pick one though, so let’s go with the classic “I’m offering you an experience” moment in episode 109. That will never not make me laugh.  But seriously I have a list 10 miles long of my favorite moments. (Also shout out to the emotional moment of “What is my mother’s name?” I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil anyone who hasn’t gotten to that point.)
6, You clearly have a deep love for Vax’ildan. What is it about this character that speaks to you?
There is so much that speaks to me about Vax’ildan. When I first started watching, I just had this gut reaction connection to him, but it built over time. I have a real life little sister that we very much have a Vex/Vax relationship. I connect with that love and that willingness to do anything to save her. I also connect deeply with how Vax shows his emotions. He’s a very “heart on his sleeve” type person, something that I also am. Every quiet, emotional moment he was in, I felt the pain or love or whatever he was feeling. He gives his love out to many, never expecting anything in return, even though he receives love back. But he also tends to walk away when things get too much, something I tend to do. I see the way he deals with emotional situations, both good and bad reactions, and realize how I can improve my own reactions. There also many other smaller reasons I love him though. His pranks are hilarious and he has such a good sense of humor. His impulsive nature has gotten him into so many tough situations, but I love watching it, and it reminds me to be a bit more impulsive in my own life. Finally as pan myself, I really appreciate his openness with his sexuality.
7. Have you played DnD and which character do you currently play?
I have been playing D&D for quite a long time now. I started in Pathfinder, then 3.5, and now 5e and even have started DMing this past year. I have a few games going and a few characters planned for the near future. My favorite character I’ve played (although that campaign is done now) is my halfling rogue/paladin. No, she was not influenced by Vax, the paladin part was entirely accidental but happened saving the person she loves. My two other main characters are a tiefling bard, a gnome wizard, and soon a blind aasimar ranger. Yeah I love D&D.
8. If money was no option, is there a character from Critical Role you would love to cosplay?
It’s not as much a cosplay, as a cosplay shoot. I would love to get a Level 20 Vox Machina and friends shoot at a gorgeous castle with tons of elaborate rooms and just get all the amazing photos. And fights with animatronic dragons! That would be amazing! I know it’s not answering the exact question, but I already have the amazing privilege cosplay my favorite character, Vax’ildan.
9.  Do you watch any other DnD podcasts? if so, which ones?
I’m on the final arc of The Adventure Zone, The Stolen Century, right now. I also have a friend heavily recommending I get into Friends of the Table.
10,  If you could give a shoutout to any other critters or cosplayers who inspire you, who would it be? 
First of all, there are so many amazing people in the Critical Role community that I could never list all of the amazing people. Even the Critical Role cosplayer shoutouts I have in my story highlights don’t cover everyone. But there are some Critters out there who I definitely do need to shoutout. First of all, the Vex to my Vax and the Nott to my Caleb, @turnfolio (IG). She’s been there since the beginning of my Crit Role cosplay adventure and I can’t imagine it without her, not to mention she’s an amazing cosplayer. I also need to give a big shoutout to @hearthsinger (IG) who I met through Critical Role and has become a close friend and inspiration. Plus she makes an awesome Keyleth and Yasha. A huge shoutout to @calliflowerphotography (IG) who has been by my side taking photos of my crazy antics as I cosplayed Jester in the snow, Vax in the freezing cold, and Caleb in the sweltering heat. Another shoutout to @caketastropecosplay (IG) who is an amazing cosplayer who also puts up with my over dramatic cosplay moments and is right alongside me in them. There’s a reason they cosplay Molly, Ophelia, and soon Scanlan. I’ve also gotten some great help from cosplayers like @magdamagma (IG) who helped me with bodypainting tips for Jester and @vadaweep (IG) for the inspiration for my Caleb wig and hairstyle. I could go on forever, but I’ll finish off with a huge thank you to all the cosplayers who do Critter Cosplay shoutouts, especially @elphingirl_cosplays who is a daughter of Sarenrae herself.
11, How difficult were those Vax Wings?
So I’ve made two versions of my Vax wings. Version 1 was a lot simpler and made in 3 days in time for PAX Unplugged last year. I finally got around to making my new wings that I just premiered at NYCC recently. The new wings are a lot more complicated. My friend Jon, @proppedupcosplay (IG) who is really skilled in electronics, 3D printing, and other really cool skills, and I teamed up to create a pair of motorized wings that would open and close at the push of the button. We used the tutorials of The Crooked Feather (she has her own website under the same name or is on IG) who is a master of wing making. Jon modeled and made the aluminum frame and backplate as well as took care of the linear actuators and all the wiring. I did all of the crafting, sewing, and assembly of the feathers. There are 50 long fake feathers, over 1500 individually sewn on “goose” feathers, and around 150 “turkey” feathers glued on. The entire piece took a while for the two of us to make, but it also takes a while to assemble. Most of the time, I can’t travel with it assembled, so for NYCC, I assembled it for an hour and a half with power tools up in their cosplay area. Disassembling took less time thankfully. while they’re very heavy, the hardest part of wearing them is just inconsiderate people. Even with our politest and best efforts to stay out of the way and make space, people still ran into them a lot (and occassionally deliberately). But for as many rude people as I encountered, I also encountered at least ten more people who were amazed at them and loved them. Seeing their joy was definitely worth it.
12, If you met a member of the cast, what would you tell them?
So I’ve actually met most of them, but every time I just freeze up in awe. It’s hard for me to put into words how much they all mean to me, so what I would most wish is that one day I will be able to put that into words. They’ve had such an amazing influence on me creatively and also created this community in which I have met some of my best friends. I have never felt more included and loved as I do within this amazing community of Critters, and that’s all thanks to them.
13, What was your best Natural 20 or Natural 1 in a DnD session?
So I apologize, but this needs a slight bit of backstory to understand how awesome it was. So this was with my halfling rogue, Phin. Her (super summarized) plot was that 15 years ago, she left her wife and son because she was putting them in danger. The events of the campaign made her realize she needed to find them again to protect them better. When they finally found her wife, Ashe, one of the party members turned on them and tried to kill Ashe. Ashe was knocked unconscious late into the battle and about to perma die, actually it was supposed to be a perma death, but I quickly realized I had a health potion that no one knew about from months prior. The DM let me do a Sleight of Hand check to see if I could administer it in time, telling me it was going to be a very high DC. NATURAL 20! And that’s when Pelor came down and blessed Phin to help her revive her wife and how Phin multiclassed into paladin.
14, Has Cosplay taught you a unique skill you’ve been able to use outside of conventions?
Cosplay has taught me a lot of things, both through the crafting side and through the actual convention personality side. Even though I’m an extreme extrovert and need to be around people, I’ve always had trouble talking to strangers. Cosplay has taught me to be better about putting myself out there and talking to people I’ve never met, which has introduced me to many wonderful people that I may not have reached out to otherwise. In terms of crafting, I’ve gotten a lot better about starting projects early and managing time better to get cosplays done without con crunching too hard. Of course that doesn’t always work out when I run into complications, but I’ve gotten much better.
15. If you could impart some cosplaying wisdom to someone at the start of their cosplay journey, what would it be?
My biggest advice I always give is that everyone starts from somewhere. You can’t, as a new cosplayer, compare yourself to someone who has been cosplaying forever. I look back on the first cosplay I’ve made and I’ve improved so much. Every costume I make I learn something new and become happier with what I create. And remember, the cosplay community is just a group of nerd who all love getting dressed up. We are here to help, so don’t feel afraid to ask out with questions. And most importantly, have fun!
Thank You to Armaria for taking part. If you’d like to see more of her cosplays then you can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
PHOTO CREDITS:
1: Vax’ildan by Desmond Gayle
2: Vax’ildan by Calliflower Cosplay
3: Jester by Vander the Generalist
4: Caleb by Calliflower Cosplay
5: Vax’ildan by Roxas Studios
6: Caleb by Calliflower Cosplay
7: Jester by Brooklynn Marin

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