Across the world in a country called New Zealand lives a master cosplay/prop builder. His talent, skill and ability are unparalleled. Andrew Cook AKA Andrew DFT is a pioneer in prop making. He has labored for many years, honing his craft in a specific media. He is a gaming fanatic, dedicated to building away some of the most unbelievable props.
This self described “Kiwi” has developed a method for prop and costume creation which is taught on his YouTube channel and is now practiced as a norm across all cosplay communities. In fact, I’m even one of his students and have used his tips for prop building. Unlike the usual flightless Kiwi bird, this master craftsman is soaring high above the cosplay community.
Interview With Andrew DFT
RYNO: So, let us know who you are.
Andrew Cook: I’m just a super easy going guy from New Zealand who loves to make props and costumes from my favorite games, tv shows and movies. Running a small YouTube cosplay community where I can create tutorials to pass on everything I have learned is such a fun experience that has taken front and center in my weekly life for the past 6 years. Watching the cosplay scene grow and having a solid input into its international growth is an incredible feeling.
RYNO: You have digital design and special effects training. How did that help bring you to cosplay?
Andrew Cook: I always wanted to become an animator as I was in love with Disney films and Sci Fi CGI. So, I embarked on a 4 year Honors degree in Digital media. At the start of it I soon realized that I could make props and costume and then use Digital design and special effects to enhance props/costumes in the forms of photo shoots and short films. As my skills increased in one side it always ended up complimenting the other and became an integral contributor to creating a social media presence where everything is digital design.
RYNO: That’s great, how long have you been honing your craft?
Andrew Cook: Ever since I witnessed Star Wars, LOTR and many more amazing fantasy/ Sci Fi films I’ve always wanted to replicate the weapons and costumes. So from as early as age 10 I was dressing up and making cardboard costumes. It’s just evolved now 14 years later to become my daily hobby and passion.
RYNO: What was the first prop you created?
Andrew Cook: The first memorable prop/costume I ever created was a ring wraith from Lord of The Rings where I threw a black curtain over myself, painted my face black and used a picket fence beam painted grey as a sword. I was about 11 so I thought it was amazing ahahah.
RYNO: Haha, everyone’s got to start somewhere. Can you explain this awesome method you use?
Andrew Cook: Using Foam for costumes has been at the front of my design medium for two factors throughout my career. One, it is extremely cost effective which is perfect for younglings who only have a few dollars saved as pocket money, and two, because it is such a malleable material you can carve/shape and form it into any design you wish. It only takes a simple trip to a home department store for basic stationary and craft blades to get started creating your fav weapons/costumes.
RYNO: Do you get most of your material at hardware stores and do they often wonder what you’re up to?
Andrew Cook: Yes, everything I use and teach with has to be accessible by the general individual around the world and, thankfully, modern hardware stores internationally all stock the same items.
RYNO: What are some other methods you use?
Andrew Cook: Most of the time I stick to foam creations but on the side as personal projects I personally do some sculpting which came from my digital 3d .
RYNO: Nice, what is your favorite creation or build?
Andrew Cook: My personal favorite out of the 400+ hand carved props I have carved would have to be the Halo 4 Forerunner Binary Rifle. It is to this day my largest project yet and is an eye opener to any viewer.
RYNO: 400+? Wow! You have you made some amazing weapons, what was the most difficult?
Andrew Cook: I couldn’t give you a specific but when creating these props it’s always an easy task when you have reference material to pull information off. Most of the props I do I actually create prior to a games launch, therefore I’m stuck to building the design from blurry trailer screenshots and pre-release footage which is always a difficult task but by far the most rewarding when it turns out great and you shock the game developers on Twitter.
RYNO: Okay, I have to ask, who’s your favorite Superhero?
Andrew Cook: Batman always and forever, gadgets, muscles and money can’t beat it ahahahaha.
RYNO: Where can the world find your work?
Andrew Cook: My main go to point is YouTube as that is where I originated and all my tutorials, props and costumes are on display in videos for the public. That said, my Facebook fan page is a great little community where creators of all skill stages come together to share there project both from my tutorials on offer and personal projects.
RYNO: Are you actively at Cons?
Andrew Cook: Being located in New Zealand, we are very limited to Cons due to the small cosplay culture here so I attend what I can, but If I were in USA I would be attending them all every weekend.
RYNO: How do you separate time for your craft?
Andrew Cook: I use the day for crafting, video making and collaborating to make the most of the natural daylight and after dinner is my social and chill/gaming time until sleep. This is a great balance for me and allows me to maintain a level of focus and management in my time.
RYNO: What brought you to want and teach your method?
Andrew Cook: At the time I created my YouTube channel no one was actively out there teaching costume ideas with foam, then again the cosplay community was a lot smaller. So, I decided to just put videos up to raise awareness and pass on my knowledge and video after video the community grew as did I.
RYNO: Favorite snack?
Andrew Cook: Cheese and crackers are divine anytime of day. Actually have some on a plate next to me now as I’m responding.
RYNO: If you could inspire first-timers in cosplay or prop building what would you like to say to them?
Andrew Cook: Thankfully, I do everyday and get to meet them at cons and talk to them via messages online and it’s always a great conversation and amazing to hear how excited they are to have found this cool outlet and want to build the next thing.
RYNO: You hear that, world? Ask him questions and get to learning all you can. He’s on standby, ready to inspire!
Shout outs? Mentors?
Andrew Cook: My inspirations are George Lucas, Steven Spielberg as their director visions created amazing pieces of film and pop culture which without I would not be the same person. Also huge shout out to all the other leading and active teachers in the international cosplay community who show others how fun and enjoyable it is.
Make sure to keep up-to-date on Andrew DFT on Twitter @AndrewCookDFT
Have a great one!
RYNO-666 of RYNO666.com