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Featured Cosplayer: Jacqui Shook a.k.a PepperJaq

Meet Jacqui Shook a.k.a Pepperjaq from Hayward, CA. Jacqui is the definition of creative arts with her background in graphic design, web design, crafting, prop making and of course, cosplaying. Jacqui surely is a master in her craft from incorporating fine details into her cosplays to constructing stunning props. If you attended the most recent San Francisco Fan Expo in November, you may have met her as one of their six master artist guests. We've had the pleasure to shoot content with Jacqui multiple times and her cosplays never cease to amaze us. Here is more about Jacqui Shook and her cosplaying lifestyle!

How long have you been cosplaying?

I've been cosplaying and attending cons since 2017, but I've always put a lot of effort into my Halloween costumes and props.

What sparked your interest to join the cosplay community?

I saw the cosplay community as the perfect place to meet like-minded people. I'm not really into loud parties because it's hard to talk, and I haven't been into drinking either. So most of the places you'd normally go to meet people I struggle with. What's not to love about a gathering of people who are down to talk about all the things I love too, crafting, gaming, anime, and movies?

Seeing Yaya Han and Jessica Nigri make a career out of creating and wearing their own costumes was a huge inspiration for me. It took me a while to discover that cons existed, and once I did, I was in 100%. I just needed to make a space to start crafting.

What was your first cosplay? How long did it take to make? I believe it was Catwoman, I threw on a body suit and a mask for San Francisco Comic Con. It was really simple, but fun to participate finally.

What is your most recent cosplay? How long did it take to make? The Mad Hatter. I've had this cosplay in my imagination forever and I finally gathered all the fabrics I felt inspired by. I sewed everything and made the props around my work schedule from mid-October up to Thanksgiving.

What is your favorite cosplay to model at conventions?

I feel best walking around as the giant, Diane, the Serpent Sin of Envy from Seven Deadly Sins. I identified with her character so much, especially the high school version of me, being a giant and dealing with unrequited love. I'm 6' tall normally, but throwing on 4in platforms feels even better! I especially love carrying around my giant hammer too. I'm proud of how creative I was with the materials that went into making it and I hope it inspires others to push their creativity.

Since entering the world of cosplay, what is your top 3 conventions to attend?

#1 - Fanime - It's where I was introduced to some really awesome and welcoming people. I also participated in my first big masquerade and learned what I would need to put into competition builds in the future.

#2 - Sac Anime - It's affordable, comfy, and also a great place to meet other cosplayers.

#3 - SiliCon with Adam Savage - I'm sad to see it go. I loved how STEM and maker-focused it was, and I really got a lot out of the panels they offered.

What are some cosplay tools/pieces of equipment you need in your cosplay emergency box while at conventions?

I bring a whole kit to cons now, since I drop off commissions, I want to make sure everything fits while I'm there, and I've helped a few people repair their gear. Safety pins, super glue, spirit gum & remover, sewing kit, nylon strapping and buckles, glue gun, electrical tape, black and metallic paint, or paint pens.

Understanding that you are a prop builder alongside cosplaying, when did you start prop building for other cosplayers?

I actually started taking commissions just this year. A friend of mine acted as a test case and it went really well, and after that, a few requests came in. I definitely prefer the prop commissions over sewing an entire costume. It's harder to work with other people's measurements when they aren't around the whole time, but I've done a couple so far.

What was the most accomplishing prop you’ve built so far? Was it for yourself or a client? How long did that prop take to make? I'm most proud of my Vader build for a client. Thankfully, it was for the full suit and cape without the helmet. It made me jump into resin printing with my hand-me-down printer. After a lot of trial and error, I managed to put together the chest and belt boxes, with LEDs. It also pushed me to be creative with fabrics that would be more lightweight and forgiving during hot conventions, while trying to follow the 501st guide. It took me a couple of months to get it ready. I learned A LOT about attachments from this as well.

What are 1-5 tools you recommend each cosplayer have in their toolbox?

5 is too hard! Glue gun with alternate tips, heat gun, pliers, dremel, wood burning tool, exacto knife kit, and fabric scissors.

Where do you usually purchase your cosplaying materials?

I actually gave my first panel on budget shipping for cosplay. I'm at Joanns and Michaels at LEAST once a week to use a big coupon or shop the remnants section. And Amazon is a daily thing for me. I watch my wishlists for price drops. I use Etsy for 3D files and sewing patterns mostly. Temu has been great for silicon molds and other interesting trinkets, especially for my Hatter cosplay.

Do you live an active lifestyle outside of the cosplay world?

I used to row in college, basketball before that, and I really enjoy playing sports, but I've been dealing with back problems for a decade. Hiking around Point Richmond is my favorite thing to do lately, and I'll be getting into pilates and physical therapy a lot more to help strengthen my core for my back.

Who is your favorite fictional hero and why?

That's really hard, I have so many! I'll go with two that I've been discussing recently:

1. Yami, Captain of the Black Bulls from Black Clover - I'll try not to spoil anything, but the fact that he pulled together this amazing, inspirational band of misfits who seem to be the most powerful, says everything about him. That show has brought me to tears so many times every time a character finds their confidence. I'd love to see the potential in people the way he does, all while being a down-to-earth and accessible person. He's also just hilarious.

2. Miles Morales from the Spiderverse films - He just feels so real with all the complex emotions he's going through. I love any time reality meets being a superhero. (Why I really love the series, The Boys.) They captured his loneliness and stress, having others give up on him before he's had a chance... He has to believe in himself and do his own thing, and that's so powerful to see. And when my little cousin from Kansas says he's his favorite Spiderman and dresses up as him, it just absolutely melts my heart. Representation matters and there's the proof.

If you were to give some advice for a first-time cosplayer, what would it be?

Just do it! Try all the things, watch and soak up all the tutorials, fail, and fail again. (Do it safely though) Everyone starts somewhere. Do what YOU are going to enjoy, try not to base your happiness on anything that can be taken away. Do it for yourself and you won't disappoint anyone. And be patient with yourself! Future you is going to get better and better. Also, reach out to others, you'll be surprised how many people love talking about the craft and are dying to share things with you... Oh and try not to melt your foam pieces, test out adhesives and paints first... it's a cannon event, but maybe I can prevent it.

Are you currently accepting any commissions for prop builds?

Commissions are open. I have a few on my plate for the end of the year, but my DMs are open to discussing ideas and I also have a commission form in my link tree. I always appreciate longer deadlines hah!

Any events planned for the remaining of 2023 or any events planned for 2024?

I'll be working on said commissions and getting ready for Sac Anime Winter in January. Looking forward to seeing a lot of peeps there.

Anything else you want to share with the cosplay community?

Please come say hi if you see me and my husband, I swear we are very comfy people and want to blab about all the nerdy things! I also love seeing everyone's furry "helpers" and "assistants." Joining the Cosplay Community

Jacqui has been a joy to work with and we truly appreciate all her insight into cosplaying and the cosplay community. If you're new to the cosplay world, looking for some inspiration or have cosplaying questions, we highly encourage you to go follow her on all her social platforms and if you're seeking out a master artist, Jacqui is the artist to hire!

Jacqui Shooks Platforms:

Youtube: Click Here

Commission Request: Click Here

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Photo Credit Diane Cosplay: Jazmine Lashae Photo

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