Those who follow me over on GeekOut South-West will be very aware of the fact that I’m a cosplayer, a rather vocal one at that. This is a short post about the types of challenges that I face as a cosplayer and what I do to get around them.
I love the process of making costumes. From start to finish, it’s a blast…But they don’t always go well. In fact, a vast majority of them end up being failures because I have a huge imagination that sometimes needs to be quelled. “Nevermind”, I say often, “I will just do it another time”. Other times, I end up having a problem in a social scenario thanks to my costumes. This article then is a list of what types of challenges I face and what I try to do to get around them. You never know: Perhaps my methods will be useful to you if you’re a new cosplayer or even an expert?
A cosplayers biggest failing is usually on time management. The amount of Facebook and Twitter posts I have read which say, “Oh if I can do this in time.” It’s rare I see a post that says the cosplayer has all the time in the world to make a costume piece and the reason for that is that no one really has all the time in the world.
An issue with time is that we all have jobs, school, or university. You name it, we’re all busy people and if we’re not busy, then we’d probably procrastinate. It’s typical as a human to want to procrastinate, so therefore you need a way to keep on top of your projects. As such, I can’t recommend Trello or Cosplanner enough. If you like things to be visually in front of you, make some realistic time scales and schedule your cosplays around your time scales. Then, whenever you press onto one of those apps, (Both can be found on smartphones, but Trello is also a web based application), you will feel bad if you’ve not kept up with your costume.
I’m a huge advocate for Trello overall, so if it’s something of interest to people, I might see if Kevin here wants me to do a post on the website. It’s great and it can help you to manage projects easily. Alternatively, Cosplanner needs little in the way of a tutorial, as you add a costume in, put the name of the character in and start adding in details as to what you want to do. You can add in pictures along the way and boom, it’s like a journal and planner for cosplays of sorts. So far on my Cosplanner, I have 4 outstanding and 6 complete. Not bad!
I’m not the most prolific of cosplayers, even though I am quite a vocal one. I’m proud of what I do and often I will try to get around to making and sharing more of what I do in the near future. In 2016, I’m making myself a better cosplayer and even better at my own time management. But with that said, there’s another aspect of cosplay that is often forgotten about: The times when you buy a piece that isn’t quite right.
Often, I’ll buy a wig and it just doesn’t fit right. Or I’ll buy a shirt for a specific costume then realise “Irk, it doesn’t have a lapel” or anything of these sorts. In fact, a lot of times, what I need is incredibly specific to my character and it’s hard to tell what to do in the situation. I have to use my ingenuity to come up with a solution, but sometimes a solution will fail me.
I’ve ranted about this website over on GeekOut South-West, it’s called Cosplay Tutorial which is a fantastic name! As it suggests, it’s a website that covers tutorials for cosplay. It’s pretty detailed too, with sources all over the place: From a written tutorial, to a YouTube video, to a DeviantArt image. You name it, it’s probably got a tutorial set out with it. It’s an incredible website that has been put together as a community project, so really do go and check it out. Most of the tutorials even explain where to find specific things you’ll need for the tutorials.
Travelling in Costume
Those who know of me quite well will have seen the pretty face above before, this is Oskar, my semi-original character. He’s a funny guy who wants to be the greatest thief in all of France and he’s also a little bit spooky to look at. As such, he’s the perfect accompaniment to a Halloween party… But wearing that costume in public, even for a Halloween event, proved to be a little problematic from a social standpoint.
I went to London and attended an event called the Nightmare Festival. Now, a lot of cosplayers will go to an event in full costume and I’m no exception to this. I went to the Nightmare Festival completely in costume, ready for the event. Funnily enough, on the train itself no one batted an eyelid. It wasn’t until I got to Camden Market did things get a bit weird for me. I got off the train and a bunch of kids said “Oi mate, it ain’t Halloween any more” (Nightmare Festival was the following day, so perhaps the kids didn’t know of it?)
Weirdly, as I got off, I was surrounded by a relatively large group of very drunk men. They started to question me about the costume before the ringleader decided he wanted to reach for my bag to see what was in there. To which I pulled out a t-shirt and said “Clothes. Nothing else”. I quickly walked away from them and I’m very lucky to have not been hurt. I was alone in Camden Market that day. If I weren’t a stocky guy, I bet I’d have been in trouble.
Cosplay in numbers. I cannot stress this enough, if you are going to travel in your costume, please be extra careful as people still don’t fully get it. Some people just think you’re dressed up because you’re strange or different, but the sooner these people realise it is they who are the strange and different ones, the better. It’s a long, uphill battle, but cosplay in numbers for your safety. I’m happy I got out of that unscathed.
I went to BristolCon last year and I had a staff I made up for a wizards costume. BristolCon is a Sci-Fi and Fantasty convention based in Bristol, England. It’s a great fun event which I’ve attended three times so far and am thinking of going again. It’s smaller, it’s quite expensive, but it’s nice being able to chat to authors and join in with their panels. But there are several problems with large props:
People like to hold props for themselves – So they’ll ask to hold it, to look at it, to ask you about it.
This much is fine. The staff was nothing special, but it was my home made prop. As I was on my way home, a group of people were chatting to me about my get up and they asked to see my staff. After that, one man proceeded to smash it against a wall several times until it snapped in half. It only took me a few hours to make, but my time and effort were then in tatters. I was naturally quite upset. The morale of the story is, if you let others see your props, make sure they’re trustworthy and don’t show people things outside of a convention or event. During a convention/event, if anything bad happens to your stuff, let the organiser know and they’ll help you. If you’re away from the event, you’ll be unable to do anything about it.
This was just a small post about some of the things I’ve had to put up with as a cosplayer. Hopefully none of the bad stuff will happen to you. Stick to your event, show your fandom off with pride and spread the word about cosplay. However, please be careful… The world isn’t entirely ready yet. You’re awesome, keep up the amazing work and let me know what you think in the comments below. Cheers!