Slim Summers is digitally serving the Cosplay community with his own brand of design wizardry. Or as he would say…

“I don’t have a studio or lights. Most of my photos come from other places. The quality of them isn’t always the best. But that is what I love. And it isn’t just about making something pretty. Anyone can do that with the proper equipment. It’s about telling a story. If that means knocking out the background and re-making the environments, so be it.

Also, more than anything else, what I make has to relate to the character that is being Cosplayed. I see so many photos that have been retouched with gaudy colors and lighting effects that are basically irrelevant. You can find plenty of people who will do that for you. I want to do something meaningful.

I love working with Cosplayers, old and new. If you have passion for something, it shows in your work. For me, it’s all about context. Anyone can slap a digitally enhanced background behind someone and call it a day. For me it has to be related to the character. It has to matter.”



Jack Nickelz: Did you always have the desire for graphics arts or is it something that came to you later on?

Slim Summers: I have always been interested in art, but not unlike any kid who liked to draw growing up. When I got older, I taught myself Photoshop and would dabble on stuff here and there for fun. I guess you could say “graphic arts” came later on. It definitely wasn’t anything I went to school for.

Jack Nickelz: What set you on the path of a graphic designer?

Slim Summers: Honestly all of my work came from the subject matter. When I discovered Cosplay, it was like a light bulb went on in my head. I said, “Hey, these people – many of them good friends of mine – dress up as some of my favorite characters. I think I’ll do something to augment their creativity with a little of my own.” Honestly, that’s how it started. It was just for fun.

Jack Nickelz: Now you said in your profile that you don’t use green screen or a studio for the pictures you do. Why not?

Slim Summers: Well, first of all 95% of the images I work with are shot by someone else. I love Cosplay photography, but that is not my primary focus. What I love more than anything else is taking a photo that was shot in poor conditions, in a dimly lit convention hall or out on the street somewhere and turning it into something entirely new. Studio photography is amazing, don’t get me wrong, but I like the challenge of working with poor quality photos. You would be surprised — the captured emotion from candid or raw in-the-moment shots are so much more real and honest, in my opinion.

Jack Nickelz: What goes into the creative process when you get your hands on a photo?

Slim Summers: Cosplayers Cosplay characters they love. When I get my hands on a photo, it’s my job to put that Cosplayer in a setting or situation that makes that character come alive. To me, that is all that matters. It’s Cosplay, not fashion or import modeling, so the creative or design that goes around the Cosplayer has to tell a story. If you can replace the Cosplayer in a photo with a girl in a bikini and can’t tell the difference between the two, then you haven’t added anything, in my humble opinion.

I usually start with the Cosplayer. I remove the background from the original photo (unless I plan to use some of it). Then, I find new backgrounds and textures that are appropriate for the character in the photograph. So, for example, if it’s Cammy, then I want a battle arena or tranquil setting – something that is aligned with the character’s background or story. Once all of the elements are in place, then I will add to the photo as necessary. There is so much that goes into blending the pieces together. It’s more than just retouching or “fixing,” it’s also lighting, which is probably the most important thing. I have to say, though, everything flows from the Cosplayer. If her pose is powerful, then I create an extension of that. If it is a sexier pose or image, then I’ll focus on color and bringing out more beauty to the overall design. For me. Everything starts and ends with the Cosplayer.

Jack Nickelz: Do you just work with Cosplayers or do you do other graphic designs?



Slim Summers: I have other design outlets as well, but I primarily work with Cosplayers. That is where my passion lies.

Jack Nickelz: What is your digital set that you use?

Slim Summers: Photoshop.

Jack Nickelz: Have you ever Cosplayed before?

Slim Summers: I have, but very briefly. I plan to in the future.

Jack Nickelz: Who have been some of your fav. Cosplayers to work with?

Slim Summers: There are too many to mention! I try as hard as I can to work with people I respect as Cosplayers and as people. Meg Turney, BelleChere, Mariedoll, Toni Darling, Ani-Mia, Stella Chuu and Yaya Han, just to name a few. There are so many amazing, newer Cosplayers coming up that I love working with too. Folks like Cosplay Butterfly, Tarah-Rex Cosplay and Holly Brooke are amazing at what they do and have a great attitude about their work and the industry in general.

Jack Nickelz: Now you do a lot of amazing work. World we ever see you release like a calendar or a book of your work?



Slim Summers: First of all, thank you so much. It really shocks me to know anyone is paying any kind of attention to my work. I kind of keep my head down and just do what I love, so thank you. Yes, I am planning to do a calendar soon and some exclusive prints. A book? Maybe one day…!

Jack Nickelz: Are there any Cosplayers that you are dying to work with that you haven’t yet?

Slim Summers: Seems like there is a new one every day! I am dying to work with Enji Night and Eve Beauregard. Enji is super busy, but she and I have traded emails. Eve has her own crew down in Australia, but I really love her work too. Someday soon, I hope!

Jack Nickelz: Now…normally do Cosplayers get in contact with you when they need work done or are there times where you see a picture and are like…I got to do something with this?

Slim Summers: Both. Most Cosplayers are really shy about asking for stuff, so lots of times I have to convince them that I have the time to help them. I started taking commissions this year too, so I’ll get sent photos from Cosplayers who are looking for my help on prints or what not. It’s been great – I have met a lot of really cool people that way.

There are always photos I see on the web and that I absolutely have to work with. There are some amazing Cosplay photographers out there – I have a stable of them I always hit up when I see a shot they took that just floors me. I am always looking for new Cosplayers and new photos.

Jack Nickelz: What future projects can we be expecting to see from you in the future?

Slim Summers: I have some projects in the works to bring more attention to newer Cosplayers. I also plan on taking more of my own photographs when con season kicks up again in 2015. Stay tuned!

Jack Nickelz: Thank you for taking time out to do this. Is there anything else that you would like to say to the fans and readers?

Slim Summers: It’s my pleasure!

If there are “fans” of mine out there somewhere on the world wide web, thank you for taking this ride with me. With every image I create, I am exorcising my creativity through the lens of Cosplay. I adore my Cosplay friends and the commitment they have made to what they do. I just hope people enjoy the work we create together.

For more on Slim Summers, check out:

https://twitter.com/SlimSummersX http://instagram.com/slimsummersx

http://slimsummersx.tumblr.com/  http://www.flickr.com/photos/slimsummers/




Photo credit: Player 2 Photography, JwaiDesign Photography 

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