being a “good” cosplayer
Posted February 8, 2016on:
A few summers ago, my husband and I went to an Anime Con in Chicago. It was a blast. And holy cow, the cosplay! The costume contest was the highlight of the weekend for a lot of attendees, and people waited inline for hours to get into the contest. I had a great time enjoying a Chicago summer afternoon and photographing people who were in line. The costumes were beautiful and very elaborate. There was everything from Disney princesses to Anime characters to steampunk interpretations of characters to mechas to Star Wars, to Gothic Lolita and American Superhero outfits, there was everything. The wigs, the props, the dresses, the spandex, just WOW. it was glorious, and it was intimidating. Nothing I could make with my skill set would ever come close to any of these outfits. The generic anime schoolgirl cosplay I was wearing was a button up shirt and a necklace (it’s the middle of the tie) I owned, and about $20 worth of stuff from Goodwill. Maybe there was a reason no one was complimenting my outfit. Who the hell did I think I was, I wasn’t even wearing a styled wig! Maybe successful cosplay just isn’t for me.
More than once, I’ve described myself as a “bad cosplayer”, because I am intimidated by the very elaborate costumes. I don’t have the sewing skills to make a beautiful dress, I don’t know how to style a wig, i don’t know how to shape boiled leather or make something approximating armor. I don’t have the patience for any of that stuff. All those “easy” projects that require something to be done outdoors because of poisonous fumes are a challenge for us apartment dwellers who don’t have a garage or back porch. Could I learn how to sew? Certainly. But I am also very impatient and not all that interested in developing a lot of costuming skill sets (did you not see my blog post earlier this month about having zero free time?). First and foremost, cosplay should be FUN. And to me, FUN means easy. FUN means as little stress as possible. FUN means using the skills I have, such as papercraft and glue, iron-on interfacing, and hand sewing. FUN means fun, not stress.
My Sabetha Belacoros cosplay cost about $100 for fabric, supplies, and other sundries. This cosplay wouldn’t have been possible with my friend Sara, who wanted to use her sewing skills for good. I bought a simple dress pattern, we made a jacket without a pattern, and I built the famous (and totally bad ass) four cornered hat and satchel out of plastic canvas, grey polyester, window sheers and black seam binding. The hat and satchel are all hand sewn, and the satchel has a false top so I can use it as a purse. It’s the ultimate hipster cosplay – I’m cosplaying a character you’ve totally never heard of.
This year, for ConFusion, I wanted to cosplay Sabetha, but I also wanted another cosplay that was fun, funny, and purposely done on the cheap. A cosplay that maybe slightly more people might recognize.
The outfit started with this:
That’s a purple hoodie I already owned, 3 bags of purple balloons, some purple ribbon, and a yellow star made of yellow gift bags purchased at the dollar store and a piece of elastic. Total investment? About $10. and that includes the bottle of Elmer’s glue for the yellow stars.
The outfit took about 20 minutes to put together, in which I enlisted the people sitting near me at a breakfast event to help me blow up balloons and tie them all over my be-ribboned torso:
within an hour, I was greeted with “Oh My Glob!”. People knew who I was! I stuck my tongue out, made funny faces, smiled hugely when parents told me their kids got a kick out of my outfit.
My Lumpy Space Princess was the opposite of everything I’d seen at the Chicago Anime Con. It was ultra cheap, involved zero wigs, required no skills what-so-ever, and I didn’t actually look anything like the character I was cosplaying. I was wearing something ultra cheap that I’d put together that morning. Instead of wearing a purple wig, I braided my hair back and stuck it under the hood of my hoodie.
But for the first time ever, I felt like a good cosplayer. I had fun, I was comfortable in my own (purple and inflated) skin, people smiled at me, people recognized who I was dressed as. People “got” what I was doing.
The outfit didn’t last as long as I wanted it to because after a few hours I realized how challenging sitting down was. Ladies, remember how hard it was to use the bathroom while wearing your wedding dress? This was a little like that. Next time I cosplay LSP, I’ll invest in a hula hoop for the bottom of the balloon frame. It’ll basically be a hoop skirt covered in balloons. Still cheap!
I guess that’s the trick to being a “good” cosplayer. Enjoying what you’re doing, enjoying what you’re wearing, and enjoying the interaction you have with people who appreciate what you’re doing. Because being a “good” cosplayer? It’s all in your head.
Will I still wear Sabetha? Oh Hell Yes. I fucking LOVE that outfit, and she’s very special to me. But no one knows who she is, and that hat is a pain in ass to wear correctly. Will I be LSP’ing all over the place, and thrilled to be wearing what I’m wearing? OH YEAH.