Undoubtedly one of the most recognized faces in the Philippine (and global) cosplaying scene is Jin Joson. With almost 9.5 million page views on her DeviantArt profile where all of her cosplay photos and journals are kept, along with thousands of followers on Facebook, Jin’s passion for anime, manga and all things Japanese are undeniable.
But despite her, surely, busy schedule..
we were able to talk to Jin and get to know our fellow JapanLover!
Time for Introductions! Let’s Meet Jin Joson.
Hi, I’m Jin! That’s my real name, and you’re welcome to call me by it. I’m not one for formalities!
I’m an all-around visual artist. I wish I had a better name for it! My work projects include digital illustration, photography, graphic design, installation layouts and even traditional canvas painting.
I really enjoy food! I dislike waiting for food to be served. Hahaha!
Jin’s JapanLover Origin Story
I think my first brush with traditional Japanese culture was in elementary. My teacher randomly picked me to represent Japan for United Nations Day. I learned about kimono and some dances. Apart from that, I think it really started with how I grew up watching anime!
From a young age, I was already very much into anime, and that led to me being exposed to other forms of visual art from Japan. My art is largely influenced by ukiyo-e, and I also greatly admire the works of Yoshitaka Amano and Takato Yamamoto.
Talking About Jin’s Art: Was it influenced by Japan?
Absolutely! They are interconnected interests which complement one another. For example, my love for Rurouni Kenshin had led to my interest in traditional Japanese clothing and parts of history like the Shinsengumi. That knowledge helps me plan out my costumes to be as historically-accurate as I can manage. When we did a cosplay photo shoot for Rurouni Kenshin, we were challenged to try and learn new things with photography to try to capture the look and feel that we loved so much in the anime.
This knowledge from researching for fun even carries over to our cosplay of other series sometimes, such as our cosplay for Hakuouki Shinsengumi Kitan.
In terms of my illustrations, of course sometimes I just enjoy making fan art of my favorite series!
Talking About Jin’s Art: Inspiration, Themes and Development
I often look to nature for inspiration. There are so many beautiful forms and colors in the natural world, I cannot help but feel a sense of wonder when I look at them. I end up pondering how so many little things had fallen into place to create such perfection.
I am always working to improve my skills as an artist, as well as strengthening my heart and finding my way to be a better person. I would like to hope that apart from learning new techniques to make my work better technically, I will also make my way to creating images that speak to people’s hearts.
When it comes to my personal artwork, a theme I often to back to is a sense of peacefulness. There are times when I close my eyes, even for just a moment, I see glimpses of a world within my imaginings. Maybe it is the place I visit when I’m contemplating. I hope to share pieces of this world with others. I want them to get a feeling of peace and clarity, even for just a moment, which is especially important during times when life is so chaotic.
Jin’s Cosplay History
It was about 8 years ago that I started cosplaying. It started when I saw pictures of Final Fantasy cosplayers while browsing online. I had no idea what cosplay was then, and I found myself wondering why there were these real people who looked so much like the beloved characters. Somewhere on the page, I saw the word “cosplay” and looked up what it meant. I then discovered that there existed this hobby which involves many of my interests, and I excitedly told a friend about it and we went on to plan out our first cosplays.
I might just bore you with a list of characters I’ve cosplayed–there are so many! But if you would like to have an idea, you could check out my photo gallery.
My characters are often from Japanese anime and manga but I’ve also done cosplays from movies such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter and Mulan, cartoons like Adventure Time, books like The Little Prince and Alice in Wonderland, as well as video games like Mega Man X.
Two of my more well-known cosplays are Naruto Uzumaki from Naruto Shippuden, and Kenshin Himura from Rurouni Kenshin. They also happen to be my two favorite characters to cosplay. I love those two characters a lot, so I always immensely enjoy portraying them. Perhaps that is the reason other people are drawn to these two cosplays.
Naruto and Kenshin are two characters who inspire me the most when it comes to accepting myself, fighting for my dreams, and valuing my bonds with other people.
Jin’s Cosplay Process + Do’s & Don’ts
My friends and I often read or watch the same series, so whichever we are most immersed in at that point in time usually ends up as the series we cosplay. Luckily we never have to fight over who gets to play who, because we all have the different types we are drawn to.
I usually pick the character I can identify with the most. When I have strong feelings for a character, I am more inspired to do them justice with my costume and portrayal. Other times I will also pick someone because I find their costume design interesting and I welcome it as a challenge.
After picking my character, I gather as many references as I can of the outfit from as many angles as possible so that I don’t miss any details. I use these references to hunt for the right fabric to use for the costumes. My group is very particular about fabric. We take into account not just the color but the weight and texture of the cloth. We just love fabric. Sometimes when we find nice fabric, we just gather everyone to feel it and we treat it like a cute pet. Hahah!
After acquiring the materials, my friend Charmie usually sews the garments for me. We discuss the design and figure out ways to go about it. And when she’s done with the clothes, I add in the other details. I also style my wigs and make small props and accessories by myself. Miguel helps me with more complicated props.
Once we are done with our costumes, we plan out photoshoots. We think of places that would suit the locations of the series we are cosplaying. For example: a forest area for Naruto, an opulent mansion for Kuroshitsuji, a beach for Pirates of the Carribbean. Sometimes we go to the location in advance to see if it is suitable, and if we can obtain permission to use it. And then we gather reference images which we can use as inspiration for poses and compositions.
I actually wrote up a guide with basic tips that might help people regarding cosplay convention etiquette! It also includes some advice for posing for pictures at events. You may read it here.
A question I often get from people who want to start cosplaying is, “Who should I cosplay?” The answer is: Only you know the correct answer to that. You should choose someone that YOU like and would like to dedicate your time and effort into portraying. Cosplay to enjoy yourself and not to impress anyone else. Don’t let it bother you if maybe your first attempts aren’t your best. Everybody starts somewhere! And it’s great to learn from mistakes.
If you are afraid of how people will perceive you, you are also welcome to read my blog entry on misunderstandings about cosplay.
An Insight into Cosplay
At my first convention, I was very nervous. i wasn’t sure what to expect and if people would be fiercely competitive even though I had no intention of trying to win the competition. I just registered because I thought everyone in costume was required to. I ended up taking home the Champion title for the Novice Division. My friends and I had fun and were just happy to be meet other people who shared our interests!
I think I have been very lucky, because I can’t think of a time when I had very unpleasant experiences with other people because of cosplay. My parents are very supportive of this hobby as well. I guess there are sometimes the rude comments online here and there, but they are easy to ignore because even I can see that cosplay isn’t something absolutely everyone will appreciate. Sometimes I try to level with the commenter just to advise them not to have better manners, because their attitude might get them into bigger trouble in the future if they aren’t reprimanded. I figure that if there is a chance that for a bit of my time, I can prevent someone else from getting hurt, it is worth the trouble. I’m happy to say that a number of them had the sense to apologize for their behavior.
I don’t consider cosplay as a career because it’s just something I do for fun, but I think that the time that people really started taking notice of my cosplay was when I found the group of friends that I treasure the most. It was around the time that we did our Death Note and Bleach photoshoots. We started doing group cosplays together, and I feel that our chemistry as friends helped give a certain dynamic and believable quality to our photos and cosplays. We also had such a good time together at photoshoots that we ended up with so many funny behind-the-scenes pictures. I enjoy writing down good memories and sharing pictures on my blog, so I just did it so I could have something fun to look back on and read when I felt like it. I never would have imagined that so many other people would come to find my page and enjoy reading these glimpses at our adventures as friends. I soon found myself with more followers and page hits than I would have ever imagined.
Has Japan and Cosplay Changed Jin’s Life?
Absolutely! I can honestly say that I have learned things through anime which have made me stronger and wiser as a person. I am very grateful to authors/mangaka such as Masashi Kishimoto for sharing their stories that teach us to fight for our dreams, to cultivate understanding for others before judging them, and to turn pain into kindness. I met some of my best friends through our shared love for Naruto, and I honestly don’t know where I’d be without them.
Cosplay is also an amazing hobby that has brought me more than I could have ever imagined. It has helped me reach out to people all over the world, and share my work and my thoughts with them. They have also thanked me for bringing inspiration to their lives as well.
Messages from Cosplay Supporters + Message About Inspiration, Passions and Dreaming
I am so thankful that they take the time to write to me regularly. I often get the sweetest letters and often I cannot help tearing up as I read them. I don’t always get to respond because I feel like nothing I could say would express how I feel, but I hope they know that it’s things like that which keep me going. I carry their words with me, maybe more than they will ever know.
Perhaps one incident I cannot forget which continues to stand out in my heart was when I was at Fanime, which was my first convention in the US. I didn’t really expect anyone to recognize me but this girl approached me and simply said, “Hey Jin, I just wanted to tell you — Thank you for being you.”
Even if other people consider things like anime, manga and cosplay as something childish and immature, never be ashamed of your love for it. As long as your feet are planted firmly on reality and you’ve got your priorities straight, being able to find that much meaning, joy, and inspiration in fiction —stories that teach us about bravery and friendship and hope and laughter— is absolutely nothing to be ashamed about. I don’t know where I would be if I decided I was too embarrassed to celebrate and share things that make me happy. And always keep dreaming!
What’s Up Next for Jin?
My friends and I are working on a cosplay project that will require a substantial amount of time and a bit of traveling to prepare. We hope you’ll watch out for it! Apart from my usual work projects, I will be also working on some personal illustrations and paintings, and a potential art exhibition if all goes well.
Connect with fellow JapanLover, Jin!
My main page for cosplay is at www.behindinfinity.
On Facebook, I post daily at www.facebook.com/Jin.
I write about my process and thoughts on my artworks on www.jinjoson.com.
I like to exchange short messages with people through www,twitter.com/skybluedays.
I often post snapshots on Instagram www.instagram.com/jinjoson.