This year marked our first year as cosplayers, and we started with a bang in San Diego during Comic Con. It was quite the experience, and one we hope to repeat in the future – and I’ve got to say it was quite the informative experience. Based on our experiences, we’ve come up with a few tips for those of you who want to cosplay, and those of you who attend events where cosplay is popular.
Do: Cosplay! But do it right: spend time choosing your character, getting to know your character, and practicing as your character. This is about more than just dressing up for fun – this is about portraying your chosen character to the best of your ability. Practice their unique mannerisms and figures of speech – if they have an accent try it on for size! And learn as much about your character’s history as possible.
Don’t: Be a slacker. That means no deciding to go in a costume at the last minute without any thought into the subject at all.
Do: Invest in your costume. The closer to the real thing the better, and there are some great sites out there that will custom-make your costume tailored to your measurements. If you can’t find that on-line, there are a plethora of other options from thrift stores to doing-it-yourself: a lot of the best costumes are the ones where people put their own time and love into them. Also, accessorize! The devil is in the details: if you’re going as Obi-Wan Kenobi – it’s awesome if you can get a quality replica lightsaber. Die-hard fans recognize that, and will appreciate your attention to detail.
Don’t: Skimp on your costume. That means no store-bought Halloween costume – this is about more than that. That means you accessories can’t be cheap pieces of plastic crap – they generally look bad, and people will notice.
Do: Put thought into how you will carry things around. We made the mistake this year of having costumes without that many pockets – it made it difficult to carry IDs, wallets, business cards, etc. around. If you can add pockets to your costume – great! Otherwise a pack of some kind may be appropriate – just make sure it fits what you’re going for in your cosplay.
Do: Have a repair kit readily available. This can just be a needle, some thread, some buttons – anything you may need to fix your costume on the fly in case of an emergency. We didn’t have any accidents this year, but I know of people that did and it seems like this is a Must Have for the future.
Do: Enter contests if you can find them! Who doesn’t love showing off their hard work for some fans. Even better – if you can find themed costume contests that match what you’re going as; we went as Jedi’s this year and were able to enter a Star Wars costume contest, and it was pretty fun!
Do: Take pictures with people! It will make you feel awesome knowing that your costume was appreciated, and it will likely make somebody else’s day. On the first day we went in our cosplay we had to have been stopped over 100 times by people wanting to take their picture with us, and the feeling you get when you make some child’s day because they got to have their picture taken with their hero is out of this world. If you feel comfortable doing it, and you have an accessory that makes this viable – offer to let a child hold it and pose with you: phaser, lightsaber, dragon, etc. – it will make the experience more memorable for them. Also, take pictures with other cosplayers! Same genre, different genre – it doesn’t matter. Make sure they know you appreciate the effort they put into it – because you did the same.
Do: Shower before and after each time you go out if you can, and use deoderant as liberally as possible. Most costumes can get hot, and people get rather ripe. If you’re going to be among a lot of people, don’t be that guy. Just make sure you are as presentable and hygienic as possible.
Do: Travel with a group if at all possible – there is safety in numbers, and as we’re finding out not everybody is concerned with having good, clean fun.
Do: Stay as even-keeled as possible. There will be people out there that don’t appreciate the art form we’re partaking in – that’s their loss. When people insult or mock you – just brush it off and keep on moving. You’re doing this because you enjoy it – don’t let anybody take that away from you.
Do: Enjoy the cosplay! There are bound to be people from all over the galaxy and alternate dimensions – just take it all in and appreciate the work that people put into their costume. Hopefully you’ll find somebody from something you care about and can get a pic with them.
Don’t: This actually applies to everyone – cosplayers and other – Don’t be a dick. Don’t mock people in costume or try to make them feel strange or stupid for doing it – it’s not cool, and it can hurt to have something you love torn down. Don’t denigrate people from other fandoms – respect their passion. Just in general follow the Golden Rule, and show a lot of respect for everybody around.
Do: Ask to have your picture taken with cosplayers! They worked hard on their costume and most of them are super-friendly, they would love to be part of your experience – just ask their permission: it’s awfully awkward having your picture taken “surreptitiously” by people.
Don’t: Be overtly physical. Some costumes are fragile/hard to put together and may break, and nobody likes having their accessories manhandled. If you feel that you must handle something – ask: chances are they may say “yes”, and if they don’t they will probably explain why.
Finally – DO: COSPLAY! Once you’ve been around it, think about it and see if it’s something you want to try. If there’s something you’re passionate about, c’mon in! This is not only a way to express your passion/love for something, it’s a way to escape the rigors of every-day life and be someone else for part of a day/week. There are tons of resources available, and it’s a great group of people. We promise!
Anyways, that’s about it for our Do’s and Don’ts of Cosplay – got any we missed? Please share with us!
~ J.T. Riles ~