Do you remember trick-or-treating as a kid on Halloween? You would put on the costume of your favorite superhero, cartoon or some mythical scary character to convince adults to give you some candy. For some reason, you believed that the better your costume, the better the chances of getting candy. So each year, you would try to do something different in an attempt to woo everyone.

Well, Cosplay is just like that, except you do not need Halloween to do it. It can be done anywhere, anytime and for no particular reason. Furthermore, unlike a Halloween costume, Cosplay takes things to the next level. People truly dedicate themselves to this craft and make some amazing costumes. The more complex the character’s outfit is, the greater is the joy in replicating it.

If this sounds something that you would enjoy, then read on, because this article will serve as an ‘Intro to Cosplay’ class. We will tell you why cosplay is such an attractive hobby, how can you develop your cosplay skills, and how to make the most out of this activity.

Background

The term “Cosplay” was coined in Japan in the 80s, when the trend of Anime conventions started emerging in Tokyo and the other big cities of Japan. Cosplay is a combination of the words costume and play. The reason for its popularity in Japan was the vast resource of Anime characters to choose from and people’s love for these cartoons/comics. However, since the 80s, this phenomenon has taken over the entire world. Thousands of Comic Cons are held every year across the globe, where people get to celebrate their love for comic books and characters.

But you do not need to have a convention in your town to enjoy cosplaying. It is a hobby that you can engage in whenever you want. It’s like stamp-collection or gardening, only it is much more exciting and rewarding. There are professional cosplay artists who do this activity for a living. They either showcase their work online on platforms like the Instagram, or they work for costume designing companies.

Why is cosplay considered great?

If you are into comics, fantasy literature or sci fi, then you probably get the appeal of cosplay right away. What sounds better than getting together with your friends and cosplaying as your favorite characters? However, if you are confused about the reason for cosplay’s popularity, then let us help you see why.

Cosplay is not just about putting on a Spiderman costume and going to some convention. It can be so much more than that. Serious cosplayers spend days and weeks designing their costumes, getting everything right. They take it to the level of art. Indeed, if you look up cosplay on Wikipedia, you would see that it is described as a type of performance art.

Why is cosplay considered great

A proper getup done by a cosplay enthusiast involves complex costume design, elaborate painting, intricate model-making, and elements of theatrics. That makes cosplay a great avenue to express one’s imagination and talent. Therefore, a lot of creative people are driven to this activity. In addition to their artistic skills, people can infuse other aspects of their personality into their cosplay. For instance, a lot of people choose to put a humorous spin on their costumes.

But it is not just artistic expression that attracts people to cosplay. Many people have stated how cosplay has helped them deal with mental health issues. Whether it is social anxiety or body-image issues, people have found refuge in cosplaying. Many have expressed that dressing up as comic book characters has helped them interact better with other people. There is an innate comfort one feels, when surrounded by other people wearing strange costumes. As one cosplayer put it, ‘it becomes easier to interact with people when there is a mask on your face or when you are ten feet tall.’

body-image

Additionally, people draw strength from the costumes they put on. Many scientific studies have found that dressing up as a certain professional, like a doctor, helped improve aspects of task performance. Therefore, when dressing up as a superhero, one feels the courage to fight his or her problems with the same ferocity as their idol would have.

How to cosplay

So cosplay sounds like a fun activity to you and you want to get into it. But how to go about doing that? Well, as stated previously, one of the simplest ways to cosplay is to buy a superhero costume and put it on. Technically, every time you dressed up for trick-or-treat, you were cosplaying.

But what if you want to get creative with this activity? The answer to that question really depends on how much time and budget you have. People often use humor as a way of making cost-effective costumes that do not take too much time and also garner praise from their peers. For instance, you can cosplay as Hodor from Game of Thrones by donning a tattered brown/grey shall and attaching a box of Bran corn flakes on your back.

How to cosplay

Other types of costumes require investment of time and money. You will need to learn how to sew, how to paint and how to model things. You will also have to invest in materials such as fabrics, body paints, wigs and props. Furthermore, you might need to purchase some camera equipment if you wish to take your talents online. We will discuss this later in the article.

If you wish to stand out at your next cosplay convention, then you can go about it two ways. One is to design an astoundingly detailed costume that grabs everyone’s attention. The other is to use some creativity and mix different worlds. A Batman costume with an Iron Man arc reactor in the chest, Thor in Ronald McDonald’s color scheme – these are only some of the creative ideas people have attempted in the past to get some spotlight at conventions and online.

cosplay convention

Another great way to stand out is to do a couple/group cosplay. Superhero teams are a common theme in fiction. So you and your friends can dress up like one of those teams and add a unique creative spin on it too. Do a couple’s cosplay as Snape and Lilly from Harry Potter or enact Justice League vs. Avengers if you have a big enough group. Go to Instagram or YouTube and follow famous cosplay artists for inspiration and tips. There are a lot of ways in which you can make your unique contribution to the art of cosplay.

art of cosplay

Comic book conventions

We have talked about Comic Cons in this article. Chances are that most of your cosplay activities will be related to these conventions. Thereby, it is best to know what exactly happens at these conventions, if you have never been to one before.

Comic Cons are held in major cities across the globe to attract fans, artists, actors, companies and basically anyone associated with the fiction entertainment business. Many Comic Cons have cosplay competitions. These attract a lot of people and are a great way to make your name as an artist.

These events are a hotspot for social activity so there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  • When cosplaying, always make sure that you have a touch-up kit, in case anything goes wrong with your costume.
  • Do not compromise your mobility while designing your costume. If it is too big, then have a friend go with you who can help you move around. Also, be mindful of the weather.
  • Your safety is paramount. If an attendee is doing something inappropriate, for instance taking a picture without consent, then contact convention security immediately.

Marketing your cosplay

Say you are part of that elite group that is very passionate about cosplay. You want to do it for more than just Comic Cons. In that case, it would not be a bad idea to make some money out of it. One way to do so is to find a job in the costume design industry. Another would be to go online and popularize your art.

We have written an entire article on how you can better market your artwork on Instagram. Basically, social media platforms like TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook are great ways to get your work recognized. The few things that you need to keep in mind are:

  • Invest in a good camera and lighting equipment to produce high-quality content.
  • Interact with your fan base and if possible, fulfill requests to increase engagement.
  • Follow other cosplay accounts and artists, both for inspiration and recognition.
  • Try to collaborate with other artists to build off of each other’s fan base.

Cosplay is an immensely exciting activity that can be very rewarding. Designing a costume can be hard work sometimes, but the feeling of having your art appreciated surpasses everything. Cosplayers, as a community, tend to be a supportive and wholesome crowd. Sharing your work with them will result in a lot of praise and encouragement.