Normally, I try to write-up my own bio for these interviews, but SkyPirate Creations’ Sílvia’s self-written bio was so moving that I’m letting her tell you her story in her own words:
I’ve started my way into art at very young age. Since my family was really poor, all I had to play with were notebooks and colored pencils. I handmade all my dolls, and also invented my own type of dolls made with thread. Then I started cutting and customizing my clothes in my teenage years. I had tons of notebooks filled with fashion designs but didn’t want to engage on the really competitive fashion world. Although I won a little fashion contest just before high school, my designs always were very alternative, and so I gave up my dream to be a fashion designer. Went to high school to study graphic arts, and found a job as a photographer at the age of 17. I still didn’t finish high school. During the following 10 years, I worked in a lot of things… Photography, restaurants, supermarkets, bakeries, cleaning, painting inflatables, a salon etc… but all of them left a huge void inside me. I always knew I wanted to be an artist, but got lost in the way, and spent many years wondering how I could possibly fulfill my dreams and make a living with my art. After customizing a couple of accessories for steampunk events, a few friends suggested that I could make some to sell, and so I decided to take a shot and open my own online store. I bought my first sewing machine, made a logo, opened my Facebook page and started selling at Ebay. The first thing I sold was a leather pocket belt, and I actually cried of joy when I saw it! I couldn’t just believe someone liked my stuff and was willing to pay for it! The first sales were just very emotional for me… Only a few months later, after seeing my stuff being sold, I created my Etsy Shop. During the early stages of Skypirate Creations, everything I did was by trial and error. I also made (and still make) all the patterns.
Things started to grow very slowly from there, and I was able to survive from my work in less than a year later! On the 3rd year, my boyfriend Ronaldo decided to join me in this adventure, after making an armour and selling it just for fun. There have been a lot of setbacks and difficulties along the way, and it’s definitely not an easy path, but when we are fighting for ourselves, we fight twice as hard. We still have a long road ahead, but always hoping to grow and bring joy to those who wear our stuff. It’s really fulfilling to be able to make happy costumers!
What brought you into the world of steampunk?
“The first time I saw the word ‘steampunk’ was back in 2007 through some images that were circulating from Megan Balanck ‘Goth (Stereo) types.’ Steampunk was included with a full description and it surely got my attention. A couple of years later I made a little steampunk photoshoot and a steampunk birthday card. Then steampunk meets and events started to appear and I didn’t miss any of them. Steampunk is still not very popular in Portugal, but the community is slowly growing.”
How did you learn the sewing and leatherwork that goes into your designs?
“It’s all self-taught by trial and error. I made my own dolls since I was little and was used to handsewing clothing for them. It took me a lot to have the guts to try to make them in human size, but I’m glad I did! I am still starting, though. The leatherworks started by basically buying a scrap of leather and tools and giving it a try!”
You’ve created some amazing pieces—dresses, bracers, harnesses, holsters, even winged steampunk armor for a guinea pig! Where do you get your inspiration?
That’s something not very easy to explain! Well, the majority of the stuff we’ve made started like ‘I want to have something like that for myself.’ Sometimes is something we dream about and wake up in the middle of the night to sketch it, sometimes we make our own version of stuff we see that we feel that is ‘missing something.’ My main influences are Post Apocallyptic fashion, Victorian, Gothic, Visual Kei, Mori/Dark Mori/Strega, Pixie/Hippie/Fairy and High Fashion. Ronaldo’s are more on the Medieval, Celtic, Viking, Dieselpunk and Post Apocallyptic.”
You’re based in Portugal; where’s the farthest you’ve sent one of your creations?
“Hmm not sure if Japan or New Zealand! But the weirdest country so far was Brunei! I didn’t even know there was a country with that name…”
Do you go to conventions dressed in your steampunk designs?
“Yes, we both do! The latest was the EuroSteamCon in October.”
What’s the best part of making your steampunk pieces?
“When we put it on the mannequin to make some pictures… and we get to appreciate all the hours of work! The other is making our costumers happy! It sure fills us with joy to see their reaction when they see the stuff they wanted and succeed to bring to life their ideas.”
What’s the longest amount of time you’ve spent working on one of your designs?
“Three straight weeks working on a coat!”
What are three items you consider essential to any cosplayer’s closet?
“I guess it depends on the cosplay you are trying to bring to life… But generally, you need wigs, weapons, and makeup or body paint!”