Shelby Michael AKA Constantine In Tokyo is a professional make-up artist, designer, and costumer based in Los Angeles, CA. A former participant in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET), Shelby holds a BA in History and International Relations from Boston University and a Masters in Special Effects and Make-Up Artistry from Make-Up Designory. A dedicated visual artist, she enjoys creating costumes and images that draw from her love of comics, film, fiction, horror, and popular culture.
How did you get into cosplay?
I’ve been making costumes and sewing for about 14 years – ever since I was in junior high. When I was young, I really admired the work of other cosplayers online and enjoyed following their work; but I didn’t cosplay myself and focused most of my energy on college and learning Japanese. After I made the decision to move back from Japan, I started to get interested in the convention scene again and was really blown away by all of the changes happening in the cosplay community. The hobby is really about expressing your love for a specific fandom, series, or character through creative expression. I wanted to grow as an artist/designer and cosplay seemed like the perfect way to combine my artist interested with my personal hobbies. Now that I am working as an MUA in Los Angeles, I still frequently draw inspiration from comics, film, and pop culture and use many of the techniques and skills I developed as a cosplayer.
Who was your 1st cosplay and why?
My first cosplay – in the sense that it was the first costume I made – was Jesse from Team Rocket when I was a freshman in high school. My first costume as an official ‘cosplayer’ was probably Psylocke from X-Men in the summer of 2012. That said, I made several costumes in the summer of 2012 so there are quite a few costumes that I made and photographed during my ‘debut’ as a ‘cosplayer.’ I don’t have favorite costumes, to be honest. This is because I’m constantly moving in different directions as an artist and don’t have the patience to dwell on a costume after I have finished it. I have the attention span of a gnat and am only interested in making things that are bigger, better, and NEW!
What do you geek out about?
I live in an apartment that looks like “a toy store exploded inside” – as described by my friends. There really isn’t a lot that I DON’T geek out over. Like most cosplayers, I love comics, anime, toys, and pop culture. Unlike most cosplayers, I am obsessed with genre cinema and World War II. I know a lot about Japanese culture and military history and am really annoying to talk to.
When you’re not cosplaying, what do you enjoy doing for fun?
I’m lucky in the sense that my job and my hobbies are very similar. When I’m not doing make-up for a job, I’m doing make-up/styling a personal art project or sewing non-cosplay pieces for an upcoming photoshoot. To relax, I’ll read comics or watch movies. I also enjoy watching Lifetime movies and horrible reality TV with my boyfriend.
What would your dream job be?
I kinda feel like I have my dream job – working on make-up and costumes for film, tv, and print. I’m a very creative person and anything that allows me to explore that or improve myself as an artist makes me insanely happy. That said, I am never content and am always thinking about what I want to do next.
What do you enjoy most about cons?
Without a doubt, the friendships that I have made. I’m not a big ‘convention cosplayer’ anymore. I don’t stress about making or wearing new costumes to cons; conventions have become my fun times, the rare weekends when I get to see friends that live far away and geek out with the people I love.