This week we’re heading to the exotic Cosplay Climes of France, featuring an artist whose detailed armor and accessories are so stunning they look like the can fly… Or womp you in the face. Covering everything from 40k to Tomb Raider, fantasy to ferocity… Arboreal Keyboard has it all!
How did you get your start in cosplay? How long have you been creating your projects? What inspires you to work in the cosplay realm?
I attended my very first convention in 2014. For the occasion, I had thrown together a steampunk outfit using what I had in my closet, and I didn’t even know what “cosplay” meant at the time. The con was unsurprisingly crowded with cosplayers, and I was like “wow, these people are so cool, I want to do that too”. So I did.
I made and wore my very first costume in February 2015. Buying one had never come to my mind, because I was actually more interested in creating the outfit than wearing it… Getting to put everything on and walk around as your character is incredibly exciting, of course, but I guess I just really enjoy building stuff.
I’m mainly inspired by…others. I met A LOT of people thanks to this hobby, and I now love exchanging with everyone (I used to be really shy).
What do you do with your time outside of Cosplay? Any special skills or experiences?
Well…actually…I am a propmaker. Basically, I build stuff for other people, sometimes cosplayers, sometimes companies. So my hobby is tightly linked to my actual job. That’s why I’m always trying to improve, it is not just “for fun” (don’t get me wrong, I still have fun doing what I do !)
What is your strongest construction aspect?
Probably armor and props. I can do other things, but most people usually associate me with colorful armor and intricate details.
What is your favorite type of cosplay work to do?
I’m really into organic designs these days. However, I like to do a bit of everything. I’ve built fantasy armor, wings, tactical costumes with a lot of sewing, futuristic designs, organic pieces; I’ve used foam, latex, thermoplastics, resin, wood, 3D printing…
I am always eager to learn new things and step out of my comfort zone.
(Almost) all my projects have one thing in common though: they are always rather detailed.
What are your favorite completed projects, or your most popular?
I am not sure about my favorite… I tend to only pay attention to the defects on my outfit instead of just being proud of what I achieved. My most popular is probably my Glass Armor from Skyrim. It was my first “advanced” foam project (October 2016), and I learned a lot thanks to it. People still talk to me about it these days.
In the 40K community, I think a lot of people remember me for my Baharroth costume, even if the Visarch (still in progress) is starting to get quite a lot of attention.
What material is your favorite to work with?
EVA foam ! Nothing more to say. I love 3D modeling as well, but it couldn’t really be considered a material…
What are your favorite fandoms? Favorite characters?
I am really into The Horus Heresy. A bit too much maybe. And 40K of course.
I also love the Elder Scrolls series, and spend way too much time in Warframe. These are probably my three favorite universes.
Apart from that, I like others franchise like Bioshock, Halo, Uncharted or MGS, anime (Gintama, Psycho-Pass…). The (French) fantasy books I read as a teen also have a special place in my heart.
Don’t even get me started on favorite characters.
What kind of games do you play? Videogames? Tabletop? Wargames?
Mostly video games (I mentioned Warframe in the previous answer, it is just one among many others), and tabletop/card games when I’m with friends. I’d like to get into wargaming instead of just watching others play, but at the moment I can afford only one expensive hobby…
What conventions do you attend? Have you guested/spoken on panels/competed in contests?
Conventions close to where I live. I cannot afford to go too far, and I doubt I’ll be able to attend a convention outside France anytime soon.
I’ve never had the occasion to speak on a panel. I’ve done contests though (sometimes as a judge, sometimes as a contestant) and won a few prizes.
In France, a lot of contests are too “narrow-minded” for me. You are usually asked to respect an “official” reference image. I mean, the guy building a Space Marine isn’t going to cosplay the Ultramarine from the box art, he’ll make his own.
It is especially annoying when it comes to 40K/30K, I feel like it kills creativity. Let’s say I want to cosplay an Archon. To enter most contests, I would have to stick to an existing mini or an official illustration. Yet, anyone familiar with Drukhari would recognize my character if I were to make my own design.
I find it particularly frustrating. Some contests are starting to allow personal designs to enter though, so at least the situation is evolving !
What projects are you working on in the future?
I’m currently working on two projects: the Visarch, and Valkyr (Warframe). Once these two are completed, I’ll probably upgrade my Baharroth (he will get a new armor and some props).
As for future new projects…I have no idea.
What conventions are you attending this next season?
They are all in France, so most readers probably won’t know about them…
Who are your cosplay inspirations? Whose work do you admire or aspire to?
I admire…well, pretty much everyone I follow. You can always learn new things from others, and I couldn’t mention just a few.
What are your favorite movies/shows to watch or music to listen to while you craft?
Since I mainly work with foam, I spend most of my crafting time creating dust in the backyard and cannot watch or listen to anything while doing so. I do watch movies or TV series while painting though, and there is nothing better than the extended edition of the LoTR trilogy during rush time. Oh, and Powerwolf’s “Sanctified with Dynamite” has become the official con crunch theme for some reason.
What message do you have for people wanting to break into cosplay? What have you learned in your time working in Cosplay?
It’s hard to answer this kind of question; I’m usually like “do whatever you want as long as you do not touch the varnish while it’s still sticky”.
Seriously, do not touch it.
I want to say, “cosplay is just about having fun”, even if it is not exactly true in my case, you’ll see why at question 15. Just do it your way ! You want to get store-bought or commissioned costumes to dress up at cons ? Fine ! You’d rather spend hours researching materials and making experiments to build the best costume ? It’s fine as well. You want to become a professional and start your own business ? Still fine. I do not know about the situation in the rest of the world, but in France, willing to make money out of cosplay is frowned upon.
I have learned that stepping out of your comfort zone is the best way to improve. Each project I start represents a new challenge, and I always try to push the limits.
I have also learned to not touch the varnish.
Anything important we’ve left out that you want to share?
I really like Night Lords. I know, nobody cares.
What are your social media/website links? Where can we find you?
I am everywhere.
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CephalonArKe/
On Instagram (I post a lot of progress pictures in stories): @arborealkey
On Twitter: @arborealkey
You can sometimes find me wandering The Replica Prop Forum or Obscurus Crusade.
Image Credits (in no particular order):
-“baharroth_front”: Phoenix Lord Baharroth (Warhammer 40.000), photo by Elkashir (https://www.facebook.com/Elkashir/)
-“baharroth2”: photo by Scorpio (https://www.facebook.com/scorpiophoto.fr/)
-“bolt_pistol”: Night Lords bolt pistol (The Horus Heresy)
-“dovahnudist”: Dovahkiin (Skyrim), photo by esby (https://www.facebook.com/esby.photo/)
-“elder_scroll”: Deathbrand Armor (Dragonborn), photo by Elkashir (https://www.facebook.com/Elkashir/)
-“glass_armor_skyrim”: Glass Armor (Skyrim), photo by Tenhaku (https://www.facebook.com/TenhakuPhotographie/) Could this one be used as the cover photo ?
-“glass2”: Glass Armor (Skyrim), photo by Tenhaku (https://www.facebook.com/TenhakuPhotographie/)
-“lara”: Lara Croft (Tomb Raider Legend), photo by esby (https://www.facebook.com/esby.photo/)
-“legio_custodes_pauldrons”: just some Custodes pauldrons (The Horus Heresy)
-“lelith_hesperax”: Lelith Hesperax (Warhammer 40.000), photo by L’escargographe (https://www.facebook.com/Lescargotgraphe/)
-“post_apo”: Post Apocalyptic creation, photo by Grey Man (https://www.facebook.com/greymanphoto/)
-“power_axe”: Space Wolf Frost Axe (Warhammer 40.000)
-“stalhrim_skyrim”: Deathbrand Armor (Dragonborn), photo by ABL (https://www.facebook.com/ABL.Photographie/)
-“vexilla”: Custodes Vexilla (The Horus Heresy, in progress)
~Join us next week for more Cosplay! Coverage~
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