Cosplay has become an increasingly prominent concept for the general public over the last few years. People have always known that attendees of comic-con go as certain characters, but the actual word ‘cosplay’ would have been much less likely to be uttered by your average Joe. So, with increasing numbers of costumed customers swarming public monuments and convention halls, people might be wondering what exactly cosplay is about.
Cosplaying is a hobby like any other
The first thing to remember is that cosplay is a hobby just like any other. Cosplayers can catch some flack for being ‘nerds’ that participate in what some call glorified dressing-up, but this is just ignorance. We ask you to consider for a second, fantasy football. What’s that all about? A group of guys gather each week to simulate fantasy characters doing battle, accompanied by painstaking statistical work and a near-religious dedication? That’s just tabletop gaming, and it’s no less nerdy because the people you imagine throw a pigskin around, rather than the head of an orc. The fact is that cosplayers are the same as any other hobbyists, and they want to be left in peace to enjoy their hobby like anyone else.
Cosplayers are extremely dedicated
The highest levels of cosplay take unbelievable amounts of effort – some cosplayers spend months and months making a cosplay perfect for display at conventions, striving to get every minuscule detail of a costume down. A majority of cosplayers make their costumes themselves, working with numerous different materials and techniques to get their look right. All of this is done for the sake of self-expression, and the sheer technical and artistic effort it involves. While there are cosplay competitions at conventions – and conventions explicitly for cosplay – which do offer prizes, most cosplayers might never enter competitions, and those that do tend to be more interested in demonstrating their hard work than winning a prize. It’s possible for cosplayers to make money from merchandise, appearances, and sponsorships – but the number of cosplayers who can make a living off this alone is very low. It’s a labor of love.
It hones your skills
Cosplay is a fantastic way to pick up different skills, especially in areas like costuming and construction. Making their own costumes means a cosplayer needs at least a basic level of knowledge of crafts. For some cosplayers this only goes so far as learning basic costuming techniques – however, the more complex the outfit, the more skilled a cosplayer needs to be. This can range from incredibly intricate and complex tailoring work, to high-level prosthetic and makeup work – and even mechanical and engineering expertise, for costumes with moving parts and lights. Not only is this extremely impressive in and of itself, but a lot of cosplayers also end up turning into the ultimate handyperson, due to their experience with design and building.
Cosplay is almost infinite
A lot of people might think that cosplayers only dress up as comic book characters – but there are as many cosplays as there are stars in the sky. There are comic book cosplays, certainly, but there are also costumes based on anime, video games, TV shows, Films, literature, board games, merchandise mascots – and that’s without counting the numerous cosplays that are crossovers of any of those things. In addition, it might be expected that cosplayers would only dress up as main characters, but they will portray literally anyone or anything. If there’s a character who only existed in the background of one comic panel, expect a cosplayer somewhere to have spent 3 months on a perfectly authentic costume.