Sonia Kolasinska, Software Engineer on Modelling and Cosplay

I think Cosplay is something that lets people use their imagination. It lets you fly away from what is sometimes a not-so-colourful reality. You can play a role of your favourite character from a video game or movie. To me, Cosplay is a thing that brings real joy into my life. Without it, I would be a very unhappy person. I feel that modelling also gives me that freedom of being who I really am. I can express my inner self in front of the camera. I feel my body, how it moves, how it presents. I do what I really love without having to worry that something could go wrong, embracing the beauty of my body and being really free.

My name is Sonia Kolasinska, and I am Senior Software Engineer at Artomatix, the computer graphics company. Before, I worked in High Frequency / Low Latency Trading (aka HFT) firm. I spent around 2 years writing complicated post-trade analysis algorithms. Then, I spent 2 years on creating a core platform for the main HFT solution: I designed ultra-low latency architecture combining software controls over hardware solutions, where every nanosecond counts. I also have released a number of Open Source projects: UTGS (The C++ library for video games and multimedia applications), PyDotnet (A module for Python), and Light and Geometry (A 3D ray tracing program).

I always loved computer graphics. When I was a teenage kid, I used to spend a lot of time with computer graphics software, both 2D and 3D. It was a lot of fun, and I was thinking that my future career would be related to computer graphics. Then, I started studying computer science and I learned the maths and programming behind computer graphics and multimedia. In November 2000, I joined the Danish video game company Interactive Vision. I was their core architect, and I supported all the engineers with my knowledge and skills in the domain of the C++ programming language and software architecture. When I had this opportunity to join Artomatix, I was immediately excited about the fact that what they do is computer graphics software, which is targeted at a wide range of customers, including video gamers. I have been working here for over a year now, and I think my presence has had a tremendously positive impact on our product and on my team.

I truly love the arts. I love dancing, music, photography, graphics, modelling, alternative fashion, piercings, and tattoos. My interest in Cosplay seems to be a natural consequence of that fact. The characters I love to Cosplay are Harley Quinn from Suicide Squad, Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, and Sonya Blade from Mortal Kombat. During Halloween, I dress as each of them. There’s one character I would love to play – Jinx from League of Legends. She’s quite similar to Harley in the way she’s dressed; I just need an oversized, blue Minigun!

When I Cosplay, I always go with my imagination. I take clothes from my closet and see what can I use to create a certain look. If I feel that something is missing to complete the look, such as an accessory or a piece of cloth, I might decide to go shopping, but first I try to find some piece of cloth that I don’t wear anymore or that I simply want to sacrifice; sometimes I sacrifice quite an expensive piece to turn it into something I need. I very often mix and match to create my own imaginary character. One such creation I named Miss Fuchsia. I prepared it for Pride and I used her in Transgender Pride as well.

My interest in modelling began because I always liked photography and I always liked being photographed. In September 2016, when I came out, I realised that I am a very beautiful woman. It was all a new experience for me. I had to learn how to be a woman in all situations that life brings me. I started practicing makeup, matching clothes and shoes, doing hairstyles; I like when colours and style play with the background in photos. I wouldn’t have any particular style – I just let my creativity decide. My favourite fabrics include velvet and leather, and my favourite colours would be black, red wine, deep purple, pink and magenta.

When it comes to challenges in the modelling industry, I think there is a very tight race between people who really want to get the modelling job. They can be unhappy about things like weight, height, skin colour, age, or anything else that makes them feel insecure. If I was in that race, I would feel insecure because I’m transgender. But I’m not in that race; I just enjoy life. And if it happens that some photographer wants to take pictures of me I’m just happy, and if not, then nothing happens. It was a huge surprise to me to see my picture in The Journal in the article about this year’s Pride and as the main pictures for articles about Trans-Pride. To me, that was huge.

In my experiences, I have learned that modelling is not easy at all, and you need to spend a lot of time practicing to have full control over your body. I feel that I’m still very amateur and I need to learn a lot. But I still love taking photos of me. I love posing. I love creating my look, my hair, my makeup. As I am a transgender woman, all my life I was forced to play the role of someone who I wasn’t. When I finally got to be me, I finally realized what I really love. I became an engineer before I came out, so I got plenty of experience and skills in that domain. Maybe that was my way of trying to not think of who I really was, to focus on engineering. But eventually it happened, and I’m a woman, and I knew that fashion and modelling were things that I always loved.

I believe my endless passion with art of many kinds is very important to my mental health. Since childhood, my life was filled with art of many kinds. I can’t even imagine how I could possibly live without art. In regards to art and fashion, I also think that you can wear everything you like as long as you feel comfortable with the way you look. People will admire you if you are confident with what you are doing. My advice for others who wish to take up modelling is to not give up. Practice, practice and practice. If you really love it, then do it.

It doesn’t matter what other people say, just do it for your own self.

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