Over the years writing for SciFiPulse I have managed to speak with and interview lots of different writers, producers actors and so forth, but have never interviewed an artist turned cosplay sensation until now…
For the last four years Visual Artist, Cosplay and Pop Culture enthusiast Elissa Tracy has not only gained herself quite the following, but has also carved out her own unique place within the world of Cosplay by bringing her own character and creativity to the world of GI Joe by becoming the Blonde Baroness. A character based on her love of The Baroness, but a character nonetheless that doesn’t exist beyond the realms of cosplay.
I was recently fortunate enough to speak with Elissa about this and her other work and as you can read below. We really got into it.
SFP: When was it that you first realised that you could make a living out of your art work?
Elissa Tracy: I started out in photography years ago. I have a natural eye for colour and lighting.
My Uncle was also a photographer and my Aunt was an artist. So I was always around it and completely immersed in it.
So it was really always around me. I started off with photography and I specialised in photographing models, musicians, actors and kind of moved on from that. Three or four years ago back in 2011 I did a painting as a gift for a friend and just knew that that was what I was supposed to be. I just knew by that point that I was supposed to be painting.
SFP: Much of your art work focuses on pop culture. Is there a particular part of pop culture that you find more interesting to paint as in a favourite subject matter?
Elissa Tracy: I lean towards the people I like.
I’m a big Jimmy Hendrix fan, which is one of the reasons I chose to paint him. Big fan of his music and think he was an amazing artist. I like Frank Sinatra and any of the 60s Icons and then it can just depend on what inspires me.
I kind of let the art guide me. I know that sounds bizarre, but things come to me.
I can be driving along and see something or have a dream and I kind of know what I’m going to paint every time.
SFP: Back in 2010 according to your bio you become very interested GI Joe and adopted your own spin on The Baroness. What is the fascination with her for you?
Elissa Tracy: The fact that there were not a lot of female characters in GI Joe and I liked the main character in GI Joe of The Baroness. She was the villain and I liked how she came across. I’ve kind of always rooted for the underdog in the movies and I liked her. She was the strong Femme Fatale, which kind of drew me to her.
I could tell that it was never going to be as big as say Star Wars, but GI Joe was gaining a lot of momentum with the new films and I just took an interest in it and she was a character. There was no doubt about that.
SFP: Since getting into GI Joe and becoming the Blonde Baroness have you looked into any of the old animated movies or comic books in order to become more familiar with the wider world of GI Joe?
Elissa Tracy: I have a collection of the comics a bunch of the figures and have a series of paintings I am doing where I put a quirky narrative with one of the characters.
Sometimes I paint them alone. I paint them like the 1980s true version and characters on the collectable cards, which always featured biographical information of tons of male characters and a few female.
I have a whole art series that I’ve done involving the GI Joe characters.
So do have a broad interest when it comes to my art and there are a lot of levels to it with GI Joe.
SFP: Would you say you were more interested in The Baroness because she was a villain and perhaps more outspoken or is there more to it than that?
Elissa Tracy: I liked her whole look. She was this strong statuesque character and I liked the way she looked. It wasn’t that I was just looking to ‘GI Joe’ for strong female characters. It was more because I didn’t see a lot of strong female characters when I was attending conventions and saw the Baroness and thought, “I’ll make a costume and go.” So I did and I wore a dark wig because she is a brunette.
I changed the following year by going as my natural blond and was immediately coined ‘The Blonde Baroness’ and it stuck.
I think with any collectors and fans that go to conventions. They always notice when you are not being true to a character and will point it out to you. So it was pointed out to me immediately, “The Baroness is not blonde.” they’d say and I just went with it. I started painting different things and just got really into it.
I’m a big sci-fi fan anyway so I get into all that stuff.
SFP: One of the things that interests me are the Pop Vinyl Figures by Funko with the giant heads and small bodies. I’ve not seen any of GI Joe and wondered if you have given any thought to getting hold or a few of the blank ones and painting them as GI Joe Characters as well as one of the Blonde Baroness?
Elissa Tracy: That would be kind of fun.
I’m actually working on a Blonde Baroness figure and have been in contact with a company in china who are doing me a prototype of the Blonde Baroness.
At this stage the Blonde Baroness figure is just in development. I was sent one of the figures and I’ve painted it, but once we get things moving forward with them. It would likely be sold as a limited run as a unique collectable.
SFP: How does Blonde Baroness go across with fans when you attend conventions?
Elissa Tracy: I put them all under my spell and they convert. They never say too much, but always want their picture taken with me. So I use my dark Jedi powers that way:)
- You can find out more about Blond Baroness at: www.elissatracyartistnews.com/the-blonde-baroness
- You can also look at Elissa Tracy’s other artwork at: www.elissatracy.com
Thanks go out to Elissa Tracy for generously taking time out to speak with us. A fuller version of this conversation will be available on scifipulseradio.com next Friday.
Written By: Ian Cullen
Ian Cullen is the owner of scifipulse.net. A wannabe musician. Ian is a legend in his own mind and when not working on the website host the hugely successful SFP-NOW Podcast he can be found skulking around empty corridors. A longtime fan of genre television and movies Ian was also a producer on the Reality On Demand web-series and has even been published in the official Star Trek Magazine.
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