[Cosplay Q&A] "It took me 638 hours to craft": How BlizzCon 2021's cosplay winner brought Bovar Fordragon to life

Source: Hartigan Cosplay

Jimmy Gilis is a sculpture professor by day and Hartigan Cosplay by night. The Belgium native recently took first place at the first-ever BlizzConline cosplay contest. His prize was two tickets to the next BlizzCon, meaning Blizzard fans will get the chance to see his cosplay in person when conventions return. 


Hartigan Cosplay's most recent creation is mindblowing — a work of art. It's even more shocking when you find out he started cosplaying in 2016. Even though he's new to the cosplay scene, Hartigan Cosplay is an expert sculpture. This came through in his first prize cosplay and the cosplay community can't get enough. 



What got you interested in doing cosplay? 


I started cosplaying in 2016 after my finishing my sculpture studies in 2014. Though, I’ve tried to craft armor from World of Warcraft when I was 17 years old, around the launch of Wraith of the Lich King — the second extension of WoW. But I gave up at the time. I was trying molding techniques that I didn't know too well at the time so my clay modeling got trapped in a bad plaster mold. I remember being pretty mad that day! 



My first cosplay was Jack Morrison from Overwatch. I learned to use EVA foam for this costume. I used this in my BlizzCon costume as well for the armor parts and weapons. 

I always loved sculpting stuff and I've played video games since I am young. So the cosplay is the perfect mash-up of my two biggest passions! 


How did your first convention go? What were your thoughts on the cosplay community?


I am quite shy and quiet — I'm a bit of a hermit!  So I do not do a lot of conventions. I think I went to four conventions while wearing cosplay, two with my Jack Morrison and two with my Death Knight. Though, I’ve met a few really nice people who become friends.


What made you decide to do a cosplay of Jack Morrison? Are you an Overwatch fan? What about this character spoke to you?


Overwatch was new at this time and I was playing it a lot. In fact, I wasn't even playing WoW at this time — I needed a break!


Jack Morrison has a really cool aesthetic. I really like his military style and his Captain America spirit. In fact, looking back, I wonder why I started with this one. I was already obsessed with the Death Knight armor at that time (which ended up being my second cosplay). I think that I was afraid to start a bigger project and this one was doable.

I have to say that I had collaborated with a stylist friend of mine, who sewed the coat. I am really bad with fabrics!


What is your favorite part about cosplaying? 


Crafting! As a sculptor, I am always sad when I've finished something. There's always a taste of nostalgia when it's done. It pushes me forward.

Do you feel that men in the cosplay scene get enough attention from the gaming community? 


Yes, I am a pretty good example! 


Stepping up the cosplay creations

Your Death Knight cosplay is a bit more intense and more detailed. What made you decide to go after such a complex cosplay? 


I'm almost obsessed with the lore around Arthas the Lich King since Warcraft III. So the launch of the second extension of WoW was a great time for me! I loved almost everything about this extension, especially the gameplay and the aesthetic of the new heroic class: The Death Knight. I found the blue set from Acherus super duper cool. So I HAD to do it in real life… Five years later. 

It was a really great challenge for me. It was the second time I’ve worked with EVA foam in a personal creation (I had several commissions between my first and second cosplay) and I really loved working on this build. I am a sculptor but I never learned foam at school. Learning new materials and techniques is really the thing that pushed me forward.


What was the hardest part about getting the look together? How long did it take? 


The hardest part about this costume was to read the in-game model and to interpret it in the right way. Because it is a really old model, the boots and thighs were really flat! So what you can see in my cosplay is an artistic interpretation of those parts.


How long have you been playing World of Warcraft? What do you like about the game? 


I've been playing WoW since around 2007, the middle of Burning Crusade. I like the lore and the epicness of the game.


How has the WoW community been about your cosplays? 


The reactions were pretty good with the Death Knight, but Bolvar Fordragon totally nailed it. I’ve read a ton of positive comments all around the internet, from people who just can’t believe that this is a cosplay and not CGI. I am surrounded by positivity!

I didn’t expect so much feedback and reach (my Dress Up video has 120,000  views on Youtube at this time. At that time, I don’t think I realized that I had won BizzConline yet.



Bringing epic cosplays to BlizzCon (finally)

Have you attended past BlizzCon events? 


No, never! I am from Belgium, and I never had enough money to fly to California for the event. But I would love to. With the first place at the BlizzConline, I’ve won two tickets for the next BlizzCon. So If I can pay the price of the plane ticket next year, I’ll surely attend with my girlfriend and daughter.



How did you feel about BlizzCon being online this year? 


I feel that the "online-ness" of BlizzCon allowed me to be part of it. Because of this, I was able to be one of the contestants and even win this. So I would say I am pretty happy about this.


How was the online cosplay contest format? What was the process like?

We had to send Blizzard two pictures and a video of the costume. Blizzard needed to see the costume correctly with good lighting and a neutral background before January 4th. Before February 20th, I had not heard any news from Blizzard. But then I saw myself on-screen during the Community Showcase. I was really stressed until then! 


Were there any other cosplays at BlizzConline that you liked? 


Wozniak's Chen Stormstout was an amazing build. Lady Icellina did an outstanding job with Cydea. 


How did you choose what you would dress up as for their cosplay contest? 

My Bolvar cosplay was finished since the start of October. I had to rush it because Warcraft France had asked me to participate in a photoshoot with my Bolvar costume, which I had only started — and I ended up doing that. 

Osangine Cosplay and Cindery Cosplay pushed me to try the BlizzConline cosplay contest. It was a really good idea!



Tell me about the construction of this amazing cosplay. What went into creating this look? What are the materials? 


I’ve mainly worked with foam. The body is made with upholstery foam with brushed latex.
The head is made with latex and foam too, but differently: First, I modeled the head with Monsterclay (an oil-based clay), then cast it with plaster (ultracal) and then cast latex inside the mold and flexfoam in a way that would allow the mask would perfectly fit my face.

The armor parts and the weapon are made with EVA foam and foamclay. I created the platform shoes with foam and worbla, making me 15 centimeters taller.

The costume is full of LEDS (1000+ of them) and with three smoke machines.

It took me 638 hours — more or less — to craft the entire costume. 



Are you able to move inside the cosplay? 


I can move, of course! I just can’t do some wide movements. Like I can't scratch my chin (although when I am in this suit I don’t even feel my chin anyway)!


How did you feel about winning BlizzCon's costume contest? 


Amazing! I shouted in victory and my cat went crazy (poor beast)! I would never have expected that I'd win a few months ago, before knowing the BlizzCon would be online. It was out of my reach until then. I won it in my living room in the same pajamas I’m wearing right now.

How has the reaction from the cosplay community been?


My social media accounts were on fire. I've received a ton of congratulations, compliments, and love.


What are your future cosplay ideas? 


That’s a secret. [laughs]


Do you have any advice for people looking to get into cosplay? 


Just do it! There are no mistakes, only learning. Start small. Not especially with a small costume, but a small piece of a bigger costume if you want. If you are in love with a character, just go.


The internet is full of amazing crafters who share what they know. Check out Kamui Cosplay, Punished Props, or Evil Ted on YouTube! 

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