The following is a cosplay veteran who has been doing it over twelve years now and recognized as an ambassador for cosplay. Yaya Han was born in China and raised in both Asia and Europe, crossing the ocean to live her dream as an artist. For over twelve years not, Yaya has been creating full costumes and accessories in the United States, also being one of the few cosplayers to build a business in the cosplay world. Yaya has made a multitude of costumes in the genres of anime/manga, video games, sci-fi, comic books and original designs, being invited to over one-hundred conventions around the globe. Yaya is fluent in Chinese, German, English, some Spanish, Latin, French and Japanese. She currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia but has lived in China, Germany, Arizona and Las Vegas and has a dog named Captain Nemo. Yaya originally lived in China for the first few years of her life and then moved to Germany where she got to travel because her stepfather was a Flight Attendant with Lufthansa Airlines and visited many exotic locations. In her free-time, Yaya loves to watch movies, read epic fantasy novels and go shopping. She also enjoys singing and photography, but her biggest passion is definitely art, but has regret in it slowing down while pursuing Cosplay.
Yaya originally got into cosplay when she went to a con and saw it in action, becoming hooked shortly after. She has been an anime/manga fan since watching Saint Seiya at age eight and by 1999; Yaya has read and watched tons of anime as well as being an avid artist while living in Arizona. She learned of an Anime Expo through a local anime club and decided to attend in order to sell her artwork, finding photos from the Expo’s previous years and instantly became attracted to it. With the help of a friend, Yaya made her first Cosplay and wore it to the next Anime Expo and continued making costumes after that, experimenting and learning by doing, as well as reading sewing books. “I continued making costumes, experimenting and learning by doing and reading sewing books,” says Yaya. “I think a lot of the fun in costuming lies within problem solving. In 12 years, between costumes for myself and friends, I have made well over 200 complete costumes. That’s not counting costumes and accessories made for customers.” In addition to Cosplay, Yaya also models when she can, “However, in the end my passion lies with costume design, so modeling will probably always stay a semi-hobby to me,” says Yaya.
She continues by saying, “I really enjoy it but I would be bored as just a model hired to wear other people’s clothes. The photo-shoots I love are the crazy artistic concepts where I can be creative and be involved in every aspect of the theme.” Originally after entering contests as a regular attendee, Yaya would perform dramatic skits, but she eventually became worn out from working on them so she just decided to Cosplay in the halls at cons, as well as beginning photo-shoots outside cons in costume. Yaya is noted to be one of the very first cosplayers to do location and studio photo-shoots in costume, which is now an intricate of cosplay. In 2001, Yaya became the first cosplayer to be invited to a con as a Guest of Honor and since then, she has appeared in over one-hundred conventions worldwide as a guest, panelist, speaker, host and/or judge. “It’s hard for me to believe that I have been to so many conventions, let alone contributed to the programming and events,” says the cosplayer. “I am proud to be able to say that I help lay the foundation for many other cosplayers to be invited as convention guests today, and I have helped set the standards for cosplay the way it is viewed in the convention circuit today.”
Due to cosplay, Yaya has been able to travel to several countries and noticed some key differences between US cons and others overseas. “It is under my impression that Mexico, Brazil and Italy seem to take cosplay very serious at their events and put a lot of effort into assisting cosplayers.” states Yaya. “For example – the contests often offer nice cash prizes, cosplayers sometimes have a dressing and rest area, and even receive discount or free badges at certain events. I’d like to think that foreign conventions want to nurture cosplay. Heck, even mainstream media also seems more interested in conventions and cosplay in general. For stage performances, some foreign conventions allow live steel, pyrotechnics, and other special effects that are strictly forbidden in the US. I understand the safety issue, but those rules definitely limit what we can do on stage locally. I can honestly say that some of the best skits I have seen were performed in other countries.” One thing she has noticed though is the fact not everyone may speak the same language, but the love for anime and cosplay is shared. If you would like to see more of Yaya’s work, just click on the following links: Facebook or YayaHan.com