André Knite, or as their professionally known, @knitecoser, is a cosplayer hailing from Australia who has been cosplaying since they were 13 years old and now has nearly 1.7 million followers on TikTok and Instagram combined.
They are in town for the 12th anniversary of Tokyo Street at Pavilion KL and are conducting a fan meet and greet for the first time in such a setting. Knite told us that they've been to Malaysia previously and interestingly they've been to Sabah twice for appearances in 2018 and 2022 for Sabah's Hobbycon.
We've covered popular Cosplayers before, most recently the sensation Hakken from Sarawak, but this is the first time we were given a one-on-one session with them. We spoke to Knite about the struggles of being a cosplayer in 2010, how their parents reacted to them wanting to cosplay professionally, and their advice to cosplayers today.
What came first, your interest in anime, or cosplaying?
My interest in anime came when I was maybe 5 or 6 years old. I was watching a lot of anime on television like Pokemon, Sailormoon, Digimon, One Piece, just by watching it developed a love for anime and around 2010 I saw in Sydney there was a local convention called Smash and I had no idea that convention and cosplay was a thing so just seeing a pamphlet of the event made me very curious and I wanted to go and I saw there was a lot of people dressing up and I wanted to try it for myself.
My favourite anime was probably Pokemon and Tokyo Mew Mew.
How did you get started with cosplaying?
Back in 2010 there weren't any shops that did sell cosplay I guess now because it's much more well known there's many shops popping up online it's accessible to get wigs, props—everything. But back in the day, these things never existed. We had to make everything from scratch back then. Before this I was already sewing, maybe 5 – 6 years prior to cosplaying. Because of that I had some skill in making my own costumes and props. Even wigs we could not buy online, so we had to go to the cheap dollar stores and buy a similar colour. Even if the colour wasn't right I'd try to colour it with markers or something like that.
To my younger self I'd say keep going, you'll get better and have a lot of fun. I think I was a bit harsh on myself but I think for a lot of young cosplayers just starting out it's quite normal to compare yourself to others with more experience. But everyone starts from somewhere. I'm very proud that I've come such a long way.
Is there a photo of your first cosplay anywhere?
I have it somewhere, but it's in my private library somewhere. I think one day I'll definitely love to—maybe one day when I've cosplayed for 20 years.
Which aspect do you most identify with in cosplaying? Costume creation, makeup, or characterisation?
For me it would be the makeup aspect. As I'm a professional makeup artist outside of cosplay so I'm very passionate about makeup and special effects. So I try my best to replicate the features of the character and the expression.
So you kind of have an alter ego as a makeup artist in the real world. Do people there know you're a famous cosplayer?
Some of my colleagues know that I do cosplay but I don't openly talk about it too much. Especially because the industry that I work in which is television and film, it's a very professional setting.
Any celebrity encounters?
I saw Chris Hemsworth on the set of Thor: Ragnarok! I wasn't his makeup artist I was assissting the extras for the films. He's very nice. He's so tall, the TV doesn't do him justice.
Can you share a bit about the process of a photoshoot and can you shoutout a frequent collaborator?
Well I always preplan my photoshoots before starting so I have a little journal that I write down my ideas that I want to portray in the photoshoot and from there I will ask my photographer if they suit this style of shooting. I'm very close with my photographers and we go back and forth on ideas and concepts together. It's a very collaborative piece we all of us work together on this project.
People I would like to shoutout would be Pireze and kamekoc10 who are photographers and shunsukecos who is a cosplayer and photographer. For me I think photographers, in my opinion, are putting in much more of the work. They have to make sure the lighting is good, they get the angles right and do the editing, grading on top of that to make the photo perfect. Without the photographer I would not be here today.
What was your parents first reaction to your pursuit of cosplay?
I've always been a creative person, I've always been into makeup and drawing. I was an artist before becoming a cosplayer. They kind of saw this as another creative outlet for me. But because I started to invest more time and money into cosplay, they were a bit worried because I was still in high school.
Cosplay was more a hobby for me at the start, just doing it during my free time. They were a bit worried because sometimes I would not prioritise my studies, but I thank them for pushing me to not forget about that. My first guesting event was in 2016, in China—they were worried at first becuase they didn't understsand the concept of cosplay. But over time they began to accept it.
I was turning 19 when I went to China so I was very young, it was my first time to travel overseas as well by myself.
Is it easier now to break into the cosplay industry?
I think its much more difficult nowadays because there are so many cosplayers that have come into the industry. I would say back then there wasn’t as many cosplayers so it was easier to push ourselves and be noticed.
What social platform is more welcoming to Cosplaying and gaining an audience?
I would say, TikTok. I've seen many new cosplayers come into the scene gaining followers through TikTok alone. I've been on Instagram since 2013 and now I have nearly 800,000 followers. I've been on TikTok for 3 years and I have nearly a million, so...
The algorithm is very good. So for newer players, posting on TikTok is very beneficial.
What are your thoughts about Tokyo Street and its 12th Anniversary?
I've been here a few years ago, but it's changed a lot. It's really become so amazing. I'm quite happy that we can share Japanese culture with everyone in Malaysia here. It's such nice thing to see.
I'm very grateful to have this opportunity to come here and attend an event like this. I would say this is my first public appearance like this in a shopping mall.
We also asked Knite if they have a secret social media account (they do) and what they like to do there—"shitposting" in their words. Speaking of future plans, Knite is preparing to announce their own cosplaying agency that will manage talent and events. Lookout for their announcement on their social pages soon.
Tokyo Street's 12th anniversary celebrations are on going from 27 July to 13 August 2023.
AniManGaki, one of Malaysia's largest animation, comics, and games conventions will be bringing competitions, runway shows, and captivating displays. Knite will be having a meet and greet on 29 July at 5pm to 7pm.
Follow AniManGaki for a full list of events and Pavilion KL for updates.
Cover Image credit: @knitecoser & @kamekoc10