Over the past few years, Geek culture has become immensely popular among Sri Lankan youth. With the growing popularity of events such Lanka Comic Con, young people in Colombo have more opportunities to express themselves creatively, by cosplaying as their favourite fictional characters.
Aishwarya Tennekoon has turned his passion for geek culture into a hobby. Last year he opened up the Tenai Workshop where he creates handmade collectibles, sculptures, costumes and props for cosplay, inspired by popular superhero comics and fantasy films. Currently, he is also studying architecture at the University of Moratuwa.
1) What inspired you to get into sculpting and cosplay?
It all started back in 2004. I watched a video on the making of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. And in that video I saw how they used small props, sculptures and terrain pieces to make the movie. I was really impressed and I wanted to make props and sculptures like that—even though I didn’t have any knowledge about materials needed for sculpting.
So I started making small terrain pieces using cardboard and paper mache. I was 12 years old at that time. Since then I have made several props and terrain pieces. After I completed my ALs in 2015, I started making a sculpture of the fortress of Barad-dur from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I displayed this sculpture at the very first Lanka Comic Con that was held in the same year. That was the turning point for my sculpting and prop-making.
2) Which sculpture and cosplay costume did you find most challenging to design, and why?
The most challenging sculpture that I did was the one of Barad-dur; because there were so many little details that had to be incorporated into the sculpture. It took me nearly three and a half months to complete. The most challenging cosplay costume I made was the armour of the Elf king Thranduil from The Hobbit trilogy. Again, it was challenging for me to create because of the details.
3) Did you choose architecture because of your love for designing and sculpture?
Yes. I was always interested in choosing a career where I can design and make sculptures, models and terrain pieces. I also like to design buildings, which is why architecture was one of the best choices.
4) Are there any professional artists and sculptors you admire, and why?
Yes. There are a lot of sculpture artists in the West I admire; Simon Lee is one of them. I watch their videos on sculpture in order to improve my skills. I admire them because of their talent at making these creations, and watching their videos helps me to motivate myself.
5) Which piece of work that you have created is your favorite, and why?
My favourite piece of work so far is the sculpture of Barad-dur. Like I said before, making this sculpture and exhibiting it at the first Lankan Comic Con was a turning point in my life, because many people became interested in my work and started to give me commissions to make sculptures and props. That’s how my passion turned into a business.