The biggest indicator that comic convention is rolling? The endless posts on social media of cosplay construction panic.
I started creating outfits for cosplay about five years ago. My first inspiration came from World of Warcraft. I enabled my friends to become addicted to WoW, and we created our own guild: the Boba Brigade. Since we were all going to head to a Long Beach Comic Con together, I decided to make each of us our own tabard, with our logo on the front, and our profession on the back (mine had Warlock on the back). This began the first of many misconceptions I had about how easy the project would be. It seemed simple; I thought it should take me a week.
It took me three weeks, endless tears of frustration and burning my fingers on the glue gun, and hours spent Googling to create the tabards. They were a mess. I was thrilled to complete them. My friends were sweet enough not to remark on how itchy they were or how lopsided. That was the last time I created outfit for other people. I decided that if the creation was going to be a wreck, then I wasn’t going to make someone else wear it
Since then, I have created cosplay outfits for Eleventh Doctor (based off on Brian Kesinger‘s artwork), the super hero Pinkie Pie, and White Mage Rikku. All of these were sewn, designed, and created by me. Let me be clear on one thing: I do not have the ideal body type for most characters. Focusing on college and the effects of life have left a toll of neglect on my body (Neglect that I shall be correcting for soon with the help of Nerdstrong Gym). Commissioning someone else is way out of my budget, so I encouraged myself to learn sewing. Thanks to a coworker who gifted me his sewing machine (on the promise that I stop listening to negative voices in my head and never stop creating), I was encouraged to take a beginning sewing class at Sewing Arts Center in Santa Monica. With that and with all the wonderful YouTube videos I’ve discovered, I am slowly working on my craft.
Why is this blog post attached to Wondercon? It was Wondercon 2014 that sparked a new awakening to cosplay creation. A friend sent out a call through social media to join her cosplay group inspired by the Avengers. Eager to try something new, I joined. When I realized who the rest of the group were. I was immediately intimidated. These were high profile cosplayers with amazing skill levels and resources. I was an absolute noob.A scared noob. Doubts that I would bring aesthetic down, doubts that I would be crappy at it plagued me for days.
It was the first meetup when I met the girls. I was seriously star struck. These were women that had graced gazillion websites in their outfits, and then there was me. I felt sucked right back into high school where I was the shy girl standing outside the drill team trying not to cry. When one of the women asked how I was doing, I took a deep breath and showed my sketch. Endless amount of support flooded in my direction. All the doubts fled and inspiration kicked in. For weeks afterward, I reached out on out secret online group for tips and advice and was given so much information. I made friendships with people all thanks to cosplay. Wondercon arrived and so did the Bombshell Avengers.
The ideas for group cosplays never stopped. I created the Avengers and Whendonopolis Poodle Skirt. I have been involved with Disney Princess mash ups. Wondercon 2015 represented another ambitious weekend: Three different cosplay groups (details down below).
Five years later, I am still creating outfits and enabling my friends to join. Why do I do it?
* It is no secret that having a hobby, even if the hobby itself can cause stress, is essential for a fulfilling life style. Whether you draw, build, paint, sew, knit, or crochet, there is an indescribable pride in creating something of your own.
* Cosplay enhances the comic convention experience. It is a huge ego boost when someone compliments your outfit or asks to take your picture. It is even more fun to chase other cosplayers wearing the same character and take some creative poses. Just like wearing a mask, wearing a costume can be so liberating. Running around at a comic convention surrounded by people who share the same interests and passion as you do is already uplifting. Cosplay is the cream at the top!
* Being part of a cosplay group has it’s definite pros and cons. It makes for great photos, definitely encourages me not to procrastinate, and it’s fun to work together. On the downside, some people can flake, or stress may cause tensions.
* One of the things I love is reading about the surprising materials that people use for their props. Cosplay is crazy full of creativity. I love asking people what their props are made out out of. I love props so much. One of these days, I am going to make a road trip to Riverside and take a cosplay workshop at Vocademy (I really want the death ray from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog)
The bottom line is: cosplay takes alot of work and dedication. I view my own creations as my own pieces of art–Pieces of art that have pieces of memories forever attached to them. Some outfits will bring automatic smiles, cringes, or groans. They are all mine.
Wondercon 2015 was full of cosplay and I am so proud of my groups.Here’s a fun brief breakdown of what went down. I hope this inspires people to get into cosplay or inspires people to rethink what cosplay is. Given all the recent negative attention in terms of “sexy” cosplay and how that invalidates the person as a “true” fan: please stop. There is no”true” or “fake” fan. There are just fans. We are all crazy enough to spend a weekend waiting in line for Seth Green or to get that newest Lego set. Cosplayers are fans showcasing their passion for their fandom.
Most important of all: cosplay is all about having fun!
Most seen cosplay:
Harley Quinn,Elsa,, Slave Leia…or mash ups of all… Big hero 6
Cutest cosplay trend: Family cosplay, poodle skirts, older cosplayers(hurrah!)
The breakdown of my cosplay groups:
These were very lofty and time consuming goals. All thee outfits were planned and started about 6-8 months ago. There were lots of trip to the thrift store and using coupons, and lots of hours on Pinterest and Facebook.
Three different days…
- Cosplay day 1: Poodle Skirt Thor
Poodle skirts have been popular and I’m not surprised. Poodle skirts are flattering to most body types. They are cute, feminine, and really fun to create. This is my third poodle skirt creation and here’s my tip: the skirt has to be felt, and there has to be a petticoat. Other wise, the aesthetic falls apart. The headband was inspired by a tutorial by Glitzy Geek Girl. The vest was entirely made up as I screwed up the collar from the pattern. This is the final result after 3 attempts.
- Cosplay Day 2: Studio Ghibli Group: Sheeta
This was my least favorite creation, and I tore off the outfit after taking pictures. This group was created to involve a college buddy who was driving six hours from up North to join us. We all loved Studio Ghibli so the group was created. Mistakenly believing that Sheeta’s from Castle in the Sky was the simplest, I chose her. Midway through the project I realized two things: There are no obvious closures to her shirt, and the fabric I bought was not stretchy. Plus I am shorter than I thought so the harem pants pooled at my feet. This was the least flattering cosplay I wore, I was not in love with it but that was not the point. The point was giving my friends a chance to try out cosplaying for the first time and they rocked it. I am seriously proud of them!
- Cosplay Day 3: Suit Up, Disney! Ursula
This was group that I created with love and so much happiness. After losing my job, binge-watching How I Met Your Mother for the first time kept me sane and from falling into depression. I have a complete adoration for Neal Patrick Harris so when his character Barney broke into a song on how everything is better with a suit, I agreed. Coming immediately off of the Disney mash-up group, I created Suit-Up Disney. This took a lot of planning and lots of tinkering but it came out so well! I was walking on clouds when this group debuted. This was also my first time using face makeup. After lots of advice and tinkering, I chose Paradise Face Makeup. I have oily skin so the makeup stood very well but I still left purple stains on various clothing and chairs. About 90% of the outfit was purchased from a thrift store (shout out to Helping Hands for Animals thrift store). Flotsam and Jet were painted on the suitcase by my talented boyfriend. The tie was painted by me. The wig was given by a friend very last minute (I hate buying wigs).
Some resources and tips:
* use Pinterest. That is a bulletin board heaven for tutorials.
* If you are sewing, I recommend the Professor Pincushion.
* For professional looking wigs, check out Arda Wigs.
* If you live near a Joann’s or a Michael’s, download their app, sign on to text alerts, or email list for coupons.
* Joann’s has occasional pattern sales. Keep an eye on those.
*Threadbangers YouTube channel has some great DIY ideas
*Speaking of youtube channels, one of my favorite cosplay music videos to watch is by Dustin Young and his cosplay videography series. Watching these videos boosts me up when my energy and motivation is low. It also induces high levels of jealousy.
* If there is a cosplayer you admire, follow their social media. Chances are they have wonderful tutorials and tips for cosplay making.
* If you have no idea who to follow, I suggest the following cosplayers for inspiration:
– Dustbunny – who was also a finalist for 2014 Geekie Awards
– Constantine In Tokyo– amazing outfits, a wonderful effects artist
– Castle Corsetry -She has amazing corsets and even more amazing cosplay groups inspired by corsets. Check out the recent group that she debuted at Star Wars Celebration: Star Wars bunnies!
– Cosfluff 101– a Facebook page dedicated to all the plus size cosplayers.
– Lonstermash– a popular figure at comic conventions and a dead ringer for Hugh Jackman, Lonstermash is one of the best people to follow on Facebook!
–Siryn– one of coolest and most amazing plus-size cosplayer I know. Also a wonderful makeup artist!
– Birds of Play– this trio of women are noted for their amazing portrayal of the Hocus Pocus sisters.
There are too many cosplayers to mention all! These were just the ones that popped in my head immediately.
So, did I inspire the cosplay itch in ya?
Many thanks to the photographers who contributed these photos. Thank you Justin Davidson Photography and Robert Torres. I highly recommend checking out their photo galleries for even more amazing photos!