Advice to Cosplayers From A Cosplay Interviewer
Hey friends! My name is Darth Mexican/DeAngelo, I started The Geek Lyfe in 2013 as a way to express my opinions and help other geeks with product reviews and entertainment. One of my main passions is cosplay, I have the talent of a pebble so needless to say I appreciate the art of cosplay far more than actually participating.
I followed various big name cosplayers for a long time but after a while, I began to grow curious about the person behind the costume. Who were these men and women who slaved away at fantastic costumes, poses. The same folks that would spend their entire paycheck on a plane ticket to a convention with a prayer that their prints would make a profit so they could be one step closer to turning their hobby into a full time job. So I began reaching out to cosplayers for interviews and despite having a blog with a humble reader count, many of them accepted! (Examples: 1, 2, 3, 4)
They shared stories with me about how they started, what their favorite memories were, most frustrating, and even their own advice to aspiring cosplayers. However, the advice they all gave to others were surprisingly similar. They mainly spoke about believing in yourself and never stop pumping out costumes, while this advice is sound I felt there were other pieces of advice that would help aspiring or even veteran cosplayers far more.
Again, these are more of guidelines than actual rules and this is all from my own experience interviewing cosplayers for the past few years.
This advice applies far more to women than it does to men, I have found. Often times to appear more appealing, some female cosplayers choose to hide the fact they have a significant other from their fans. This is neither a good decision nor a bad one as it has pros and cons to each side of the argument. Appearing single will generate more hype around you because everyone will harbor waifu fantasies and they follow like die hard fans for the speck of hope that he/she actually has a shot at dating said cosplayer. The downside is that it is incredibly easy to break a relationship in half due to neglect and jealously if the partner is not accustomed to having their significant other be worshiped and sometimes hated by followers.
On the flip side, openly announcing your significant other can have negative effects such as: Harassment, Judgement, and shutting down fan’s waifu fantasy. The significant other might not be ready to handle the amount of friend requests they’ll receive or threats if there are problems in the relationship mainly due to details of the relationship released online. Even worse, if you openly announce your relationship far too soon and you break up, the world knows and then may hold it against you. Never forget, there might be a chance of the Ex revealing your more intimate secrets if they are bitter or just a plain asshole.(Seen it too many times 🙁 )
My advice on the matter of significant others is to look at how much you value your cosplay persona. If it doesn’t matter too much to you, then post photos, videos, and other stuff with your significant others in it, answer no questions, and let on lookers keep guessing. If you take cosplay seriously, keep them secret, keep them safe, and explain to them that cosplay means a lot to you and in order to be in the relationship they need to respect your public appearance. Once they have been vetted and trusted to not use you for fame or will be vindictive if things go south, you can announce it.
Although Dodger is not a cosplayer, she is an online persona who has had her far share of crap relationships and backlash from the break ups. Check out her video on the relationship that she felt confident enough to announce to her fans and the same relationship that she is now engaged in!
Don’t Shun New Photographers
Having a good photographer can make your sub par costume look incredible and a terrible photographer can make even Cosplay Goddess, Kamui look bad. Keep in mind that top name photographers weren’t born into this world being an expert. They too stumbled, fumbled, and had bad sessions until they gathered enough experience and equipment to make them who they are today.
I highly suggest giving new photographers a chance, and here are my reasons: Cost effective, Flexibility, and Networking. New photographers may be a bit unpolished, and have sup par gear but they are learning just the same and by helping them, you’ll be (hopefully) forging a good relationship. They will begin to learn your style, strengths, and weaknesses and then how to enhance them further. Just make sure you never cheat them by cropping out their watermark because that is an incredibly tacky move and will be remembered.
When it comes to pricing, they will often times be far cheaper than big name photographers due to quality of photos. However, it’s a good way to get multiple costumes captured for cheap. You’ll be there with him or her as they grow so you should see an increase in quality along with knowing what you, yourself want out of photos. Over time, the money you put into them will turn into better lighting, lens, trips and so on. Not to mention they will remember who was looking out for them on the way up.
I want to also note that I have absolutely nothing against professional and established photographers, hiring a pro will give you pro results!
Your cosplay persona is your professional identity that fans come to know and love! Often times it’ll be completely different from who you actually are. You might be incredibly shy in real life but as a cosplayer you have no problem feeling confident and engaging with others. There are many personas like the sultry Ivy Doom Kitty or the graceful and ingenious Kamui. No matter what kind of cosplayer you wish to become, know that all forms are acceptable!
Many in the cosplay community look down upon cosplayers who choose to cosplay characters who wear little of anything because they believe cosplay should be more about the costume than the sex appeal. Other cosplayers believe that the only way to cosplay is to be sexy and thus show as much skin as they can despite wanting to do an armored cosplay but dislike how little attention it gathers. Trust me when I say that cosplay, at it’s core, is about choosing a character and playing around in their costume. That’s it.
If a character wears a revealing outfit, then cosplay in that revealing outfit. If a character is fully armored then feel free to dress in the full suit of armor. No one has the right to judge you or your choice of costume, even if it’s an original rendition. I have to sift through hundreds of cosplayers for interviews and become numb to the cosplayers who all look the same, but the one that catches my eye is the original concept or gender bent etc. Something unique that stands out from the crowd is beautiful and incredible, not because it is any better or lesser than the original design but just because it exists. I don’t care if it was all commissioned by someone else or if you did it yourself, all that matters is the final product. (Proper crediting gives them major points in my book though)
My point with this is be true to which kind of persona you’d like to be. If you want to specialize in sultry costumes or full armor, if you want to have all original renditions or be conservative then go for it with all your might and never ever sacrifice your self interests for someone else’s approval. There is only one you, and you are wonderful, why hide it from the world?
Networking applies to many aspects of life, not just cosplay, as it allows you to meet with your peers, photographers, blogs(Like us!), and even conventions! To put it simply, you need to establish yourself as a cosplayer, something that separates you as a person and you as a cosplayer. Personally, I use social media as a sign that a cosplayer wants to establish themselves as a professional.
There are many kinds of social media platforms but the three I recommend are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Facebook because it’s a great long form platform that is saturated with fellow geeks who can find you easily despite the algorithms. Twitter is a great short form platform where you can communicate with your fans and friends easily. Instagram is completely photo based, which is exactly what fans want from their favorite cosplayers. Using apps or built in sharing programs make it easy to post to all three mediums at once.
Although social media users might hate hashtags, I highly recommend using them to attract your target demographic. A simple #Cosplay or #GeekGirl always brings new fans for our instagram and twitter as they often search those terms when looking for new users to follow. Some believe that saturating posts in hashtags will produce better results but in my humble opinion, it looks tacky. Keep the hashtags tight and neat.
Post regularly to your pages once you have them established, even if it’s not your own content, you can use the opportunity to promote a friend or idol and in return they might also do the same. Not to mention social media is a great way to get in touch with others for assistant on costumes, get togethers, and even group cosplays! Another alternative is hosting your own Ask Me Anythings or simply asking your fan’s opinions on a subject. Encouraging engagement and keeping to a consistent schedule are keys to success.
This might be the most important piece of advice I can offer to aspiring cosplayers. With every year that passes a new generation of cosplayers emerge onto the scene to make a name for themselves, often fresh out of highschool. While they might have the advantage of youth and beauty, if you act immature, attempt to cause drama, or pretty much try to be a douche, you will not go very far.
As an adult who is still learning the ropes I can give you these tips: Respect everyone, Give others the benefit of the doubt, and Be honorable. These might sounds cheesy but hear me out.
Respect. It doesn’t matter if you see a chubby cosplayer wearing a tight outfit, someone wearing the same cosplay as you, a gender bend cosplay, a super popular cosplayer, sultry cosplay, intricate cosplay, or anything else, you always act with kindness and appreciation. Support others, encourage them, be their friend and if someone rubs you the wrong way don’t put them on blast, just keep it in mind and continue being awesome with others who are also awesome.
Benefit Of The Doubt. To quote one of my favorite philosophers, Socrates, “The only thing I know, is that I do not know anything at all.” adopt this way of thinking and assume the best in people. If a photographer is late or a cosplayer cancelled on a group cosplay just roll with the punches because you have no idea what might have happened. It’s always best to thank everyone for their time, apologize for things not working out and be open to working together again in the future.
Honor. Honor is a word used mainly in films and novels set in old times usually with knights and samurai but it’s all too real. If you say you’ll do something, then either do it or cancel in advance. Nothing puts a sour taste in the mouth of others like not being a man or woman of your word. Keeping your word and considering others in your decision making will produce strong bonds with your peers. There have been many situations where my name alone resolved concerns or issues due to those who have dealt with me in the past to know I always have their back. An honorable name is worth millions.
Cosplay can be a wonderful profession that will inspire countless others and make a name for yourself. The road to success can be rocky and there isn’t really one way to become viral or famous but I’ve found that many of the cosplayers I have interviewed have followed almost all of this advice and I hope it helps you out as well! At the end of the day, we all want to be happy and see our projects succeed, strive to be a positive force in your community and good things will come.
All photos taken Photo Arcade