comic conventions

What Is Cosplay?


For some, cosplay at is the highlight of a great Comic-Con weekend. Cosplayers are everywhere at conventions. Some have turned their hobby into a full-time job. But if you’re new to the Comic Convention scene, you might not actually realise what it means.


So, What Is Cosplay?

Cosplay is a shortened form of “costume” and “play”. Simply put, it means the act of dressing up as a character for fun. At Comic-Cons, a considerable chunk of the attendees will dress up as their favourite characters. Cosplayers bring to life characters from Film, Comics, TV, Anime, manga and more. Often cosplayers will painstakingly handcraft screen accurate costumes.



Ginny Weasley cosplayer


What Is A Cosplayer?

A Cosplayer is a person who partakes in cosplay.

There are casual cosplayers, professional cosplayers and famous cosplayers. If you love cosplay, you’re a cosplayer.


What Is The Purpose Of Cosplay?

Cosplay is about having fun. And people’s definition of fun varies slightly.

Some cosplayers love to act out their characters. Deadpool cosplayers are most known for this. They will go round, causing chaos individually or in a group of Deadpools.

Many cosplayers find that cosplay gives them confidence that they haven’t had before. They can wear things they would never normally wear. Or talk to people they would never usually approach due to shyness.

Cosplay is about having fun and enjoying yourself.


Do I Have To Make my Cosplay?

Not at all. Cosplay is about having fun. If you love making things, then creating a costume will be rewarding. If you hate making things or don’t have time, then there are loads of outfits to purchase or “wardrobe” cosplay characters to try. There are so many amazing fancy dress and cosplay shops for you to buy your costumes.

Many cosplayers will hand-make various aspects of their costumes.

Some create costumes from patterns and fabric.

Others alter pre-made clothing to suit their character.

Some will handmake armour, either with foam or thermoplastics like Worbla.

Other cosplayers might buy beautifully made costumes from the internet.

While some may spend high amounts of money on their costumes, other cosplayers can create stunning outfits for under £100. Charity shops and auction websites have low-cost clothing and materials. Primark and New Look are goldmines for basic cosplay items such as vest tops, hats, glasses, skirts, shorts, hats, socks and accessories. Costumes really don’t need to be expensive.


How Do I Learn How To Cosplay?

Learning how to do cosplay can be tricky, but the best way is to start!

First, start off with something simple. Pull something together with everyday clothing, and add creative twists to it.

Then you can move on to creating more complicated costumes.

There are two main parts to cosplay:

Sewing and Fabrication.


Sewing

Learning to sew isn’t 100% important as you can buy many components.

That said, basic alteration skills are a must! Being able to tailor outfits to fit you better, adding buttons and attaching new elements will save you a lot of headaches.

In terms of learning to sew, there are hundreds of classes, courses and tutorials dedicated to the craft.


Fabrication

Fabrication is the creation of items from foam, metal, clay and other materials.

You’ll probably need to make armour, jewellery, chain-mail and other items at some point.

When learning to fabricate IT IS VITAL THAT YOU PAY ATTENTION TO SAFETY INSTRUCTIONS!

Serious. Listen.

Many cosplayers have become seriously ill from breathing in chemicals and dust from cosplay materials.

“How bad can it be?” You might say.

“A trip to A&E or even intensive care” We will reply.

Be careful. Wear safety equipment. Use proper ventilation. Follow ALL instructions.


Resources

We have a whole category dedicated to learning how to cosplay. So keep an eye out for more tutorials! Another great resource is YouTube. There are hundreds of cosplayers with tutorials for many popular characters. They will walk through specifics of how each bit is made.


Cosplayers


So, You’ve Got YourCostume, And You’re At A Convention. Then What Happens?

People love seeing people in costume. Many people might want to take your photo. There will also be “cosplay meets” where cosplayers from the same media or universe will turn up at a pre-decided place and time. Usually, there will be a few photographers who take group and individual shots. Typically, the photographers will let you use the photos for free as long as you credit them. Check with the photographers first to see what their terms are. Again, if you don’t want to be in photos, you really don’t have to.


Do I Have To Have My Photo Taken?

No, not all. In fact, most conventions have rules against harassing people for photographs.

People have the right to say no.


Making Friends

Cosplay is also a great way to meet with people who like the same things as you. It’s unlikely that a cosplayer will dress as a character they don’t like. Be brave and use the costume as an icebreaker and conversation starter. You might end up with a new friend.


What Are Famous Cosplayers?

Over the past few years, cosplay has escaped the boundaries of convention centres. “Famous” cosplayers are springing up everywhere. They can make a living by taking advantage of online income streams such as Patreon, Youtube and Affiliate schemes. Many have racked up hundreds of thousands of followers on social media channels. Following cosplayers are a great way to get inspiration for any costumes you plan on making—many upload progress photos and tutorials to help you learn.

Can You Get Paid For Cosplaying?

Technically yes. And there are a few ways to do it.


Become An Influencer

You need to build up a social media presence. Then you need to monetise it. You can do this through adverts, sponsorships, YouTube Ad Revenue, Twitch or Patreon subscribers or selling products.

If you’re going this way, be true to you. Show your personality. Do what makes you happy. Don’t feel pressured into being someone you’re not.


Cosplay Commissions

If you don’t fancy being in the limelight or want additional income, then you might want to look into cosplay commissions.

Set up shop on Etsy or other market places. You can then take custom commissions or sell accessories you make or don’t need any more.

As your skills grow, you can take on more complex commissions and charge more for your service.

Always remember to charge enough to cover the cost of items and your time. Don’t feel bullied into charging less than you need. For every “Choosing Beggar” there’s at least 10 people who are willing to pay full price.


Costume As A Career

You can turn your love of costume into a career. Costume houses usually handmake costumes. They love to use cosplayers in their workrooms as cosplayers are known for faithfully reproducing outfits and attention to detail.

Many costume houses run apprenticeships, internships and training, so it’s worth using these to get your foot in the door.

Aside from that, fancy dress shops, dry cleaners, theatres and production companies often need alteration assistants and wardrobe people to help out with necessary alterations.


Top 4 Cosplayers To Follow On Instagram


4. Yaya Han

Yaya Han is best known for her incredibly detailed costumes. She’s written books and has her own line of cosplay materials, patterns and accessories.

Follow Yaya Han on Instagram

3. Artyfakes

Tabitha Lyons is a talented cosplayer, who makes a lot of her cosplays herself. From simple clothing to complex fabrications, she’s covered it all.

She has a vast variety of characters, from games, TV, film and more.

Follow Artyfakes on Instagram

2. Alyson Tabitha

Alyson Tabitha is a makeup wizard. She can turn herself into any person and any gender. She can go from being a spitting image for Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent to being identical to Captain Jack Sparrow.

Follow Alyson Tabitha on Instagram

1. Maul Cosplay

Maul Cosplay has some insanely detailed costumes. Our favourites are Darth Maul (obviously) and his Zane (Borderlands 3 costume).

Follow Maul Cosplay on Instagram


That’s cosplay in a nutshell. It doesn’t matter where your costume comes from, or how much it costs. The only “right” way to cosplay is to have fun. So, costume up for your next convention! If it’s something you would like to have a go at, take a look at our Cosplay hub for more information.


Written by Lydia Carrick

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