This week's Student Spotlight is all about Yu, level 4 Comic and Concept Art student and 1/3 of the new Cosplay Society Leader team! We dive into how Yu’s creativity is intertwined throughout their university work and their cosplay hobby, as well as what exactly inspires them.
Students’ Union: Hi Yu, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us today, let's kick off with what kind of work you produce?
Yu Zhou: I don't have a consistent way of working but I enjoy experimenting and cosplaying characters I love.
Students’ Union: Do you have any people or characters that inspire you in particular?
Yu Zhou: Akiakane is a Japanese artist who creates ethereal illustrations and unique characters. I love her work because they tend to be extremely colourful and her compositions within her illustrations are really fun. Another person that inspires me is Hikarin, she is a cosplayer and model from Singapore. She is one of my main inspirations for getting into cosplay. I really like her photos and how she portrays the characters she cosplays. She does her makeup in a natural way which gives a realistic quality to the characters.
Students’ Union: Oh I’ve not heard of either of those people before, I’ll have to check out their work. Do you find they inspire your working process or messages behind your work?
Yu Zhou: Depending on what I'm working on there might be a certain meaning but most of the time, it's just work centred around the characters I love and original characters I've created. In terms of cosplay, unless there's a photoshoot planned with a theme in mind, it's just a fun hobby where I can mess with makeup, costumes and other crafts.
Students’ Union: It sounds like you have a very fluid and open working process, it’s nice to hear that your passion about the characters you love is the driving force behind a lot of your work throughout your multiple creative outlets! Is there a time when you feel most creative?
Yu Zhou: I feel most creative when I’m listening to music and doodling. I stream my favourite albums from artists centred around the genres of J-pop, Vocaloid and other electronic artists. Yoasobi's The Book album, Niru Kajitsu's Norman album, and In Love With A Ghost's Gay Story album are a few of the many albums I listen to. Although I like individual songs more than others, I enjoy listening to the songs in order of how the artist intended us to listen to them. It's like a story told by their songs. I also find it to be relaxing to listen to something repetitively because it helps me concentrate.
Students’ Union: Thanks for the recommendations, music is definitely a great motivator to set the tone when you’re working. You’ve spoken about who and what inspires you and why, it’s great to hear such passion! What would you say drives you in your own work?
Yu Zhou: To improve and feel happy about my work, I struggle a lot with confidence in both my art and cosplay. More often than not, I end up comparing myself to others instead of focusing on my own improvements. Because of my lack of ability, I'm eager to learn and improve my work and craft. I hope to reach a level where I'm satisfied with what I produce but still have room to learn more.
Students’ Union: Wow thank you for being so open, as they say, comparison is the thief of joy! It’s nice to hear that your goal is to feel confidence in your own work and practice, when you are your own biggest competition it’s easier to really flourish and recognise the special qualities in your work that only you can create. Finally, what is the last piece of work you created for yourself and how did that make you feel?
Yu Zhou: I haven't had much time to work on stuff outside of uni work but I'm proud of my progress so far. I hope to create more personal pieces during the summer. In terms of cosplay, I feel proud of how I've found my own way in doing makeup. Because of my eye shape, I cannot follow the usual way of how people do their makeup but after years of practice, I think I've found a method that works for me. I consider cosplay as a hobby so I don't do anything too special but I
want to experiment with makeup more and have different photoshoots centred around them.
Students’ Union: Thanks so much for joining us today Yu, it’s been a pleasure to hear about your practice, is there anything else you’d like to add before we wrap up?
Yu Zhou: Just to consider joining the Cosplay Society! We meet every Wednesday at 4 pm in the Students’ Union and we would love to have as many members as possible. We aim to create a safe space for people who would like to find out more about cosplay or connect with other cosplay connoisseurs!
If you want to check out more of Yu’s work then you can find her @yu_tsukii and @starkiyu for her cosplay. If you’re interested in joining the Cosplay Society then sign up here to be added to the mailing list!