‘How can I become a successful cosplayer?’
‘Should I only cosplay someone if I have the right face and body for this character?’
‘How many likes do I need to get invited as a cosplay guest?’
‘What character should I cosplay to get noticed?’
‘Why do I get so few likes and comments. is my work not interesting?’
I see these questions pop up every day. As many of you know, I’m cosplaying now for quite some time – since 2003 to be exact. During all these years I saw the cosplay community grow, develop and change. When I started back in the day (I know I’m getting old), we were a small group of weird people who had fun dressing up in silly costumes two or three times a year. Today cosplay is a huge international community of passionate fans and artists. And while everything started out as a silly hobby, I noticed over time it got more competitive and therefore stressful. Now there is money to be made and fame to gain. More and more of us feel the need to create bigger and more elaborate costumes every year. We go all out, challenging ourselves, try out new things, spent more money and more time on our projects, just trying to find something that no one has done before. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with challenging yourself to become a better artist – when I get messages on Facebook and YouTube of people afraid to cosplay because they don’t want to handle the stress or the bad comments if they cosplay something ‘they do not have the face or body for’ – I feel like I should say something.
At what point does cosplay stop being fun? I get the feeling that some people tend to forget what cosplay should be all about. Fun and celebration of a thing you love. And that’s all.
When I started with cosplay, I didn’t care if my lose threads were visible, if my wig was properly styled (well, it actually took years until I tried my first wig on, I only used my real hair) or if my costume looked any good at all. I did not have photoshoots, didn’t even show progress photos in the beginning. I uploaded my pictures online so my friends could see them and I didn’t care if I did not get any attention for my poorly made cosplays. And I still loved it. I signed up to Facebook in 2010, so for 7 years I did not had any likes, shares or comments. And I didn’t really care. All I had was a blog which I used to talk to other people stuck in their basement building costumes.
I do realize however that I am now part of the problem. I make my living with cosplay so I am sure many people see me as kind of a role model. Or more like they see me and think ‘Hey, she makes money dressing up’. The problem is that they do not see the long way it took me to get to this point. I still do it for fun. We make our income primarily showing other people how to create costumes. I enjoy creating something with my own hands, experimenting with new materials and techniques and challenging myself. Crafting calms me down, makes me happy and let’s me sleep well at night. I feel good when I make something with my hands. I do not earn money just because a lot of people know me. A lot of people know me because they can see that I am having fun building things and because they feel the same way about crafting and creating.
Naturally conventions are the perfect place to present a finished costume and grab some photos. Way more important however is, that conventions are the best place to meet new and old friends, chat, hang out and get some good food at the evening. Yes, I earn money with cosplay, but that’s not the reason, why I do it. It was never my goal and I would still build costumes even if nobody would BUY MY BOOKS! I want to have a good time, enjoy my life with my husband and dogs and have fun. Life is short. I wouldn’t cosplay for 14 years if my reasons were different.
It doesn’t have to be crafting as well. You can have a ton of fun dressing up in a bought costume, just because you like a character and want to hang out with people who feel the same way! There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. I have a lot of friends who buy their cosplays, just to be able to goof around and enjoy themselves. Nobody says you’re required to make your own things to have fun. It’s just not the reason why I do it.
Yes, getting compliments and attention for your work and being talked about is nice, but it should not be the main motivation why we all do this. ‘Awesome costume!’ and a thumbs up feels good (as does every other dopamine boost), but isn’t it much more rewarding to finish a dress despite of you’ve never worked with a sewing machine? Don’t you prefer to successfully solder your very first LED circuit instead of getting a ‘thumbs up’ from a random person on the internet? And doesn’t it feel much better if a few of your friends cheer for you on stage instead of somebody you’ve never met before? At the end of the day, it’s your hobby and you creating something for yourself, not somebody else.
Why does it doesn’t matter if someone else made this awesome new character before you even had the chance? Why should you not create the same costume now? What changed? It’s not about being the first one and it’s not about making a better or inferior version of something. The world is huge and there will always be someone who made the same thing you wanted to do before. As long as you enjoy creating, all of this doesn’t matter.
You don’t need to look like Sailor Moon to dress up as Sailor Moon. You can have any skin tone, body shape or sex, as long as you have fun to portray her. Don’t compare yourself to others and set your own goals. You don’t need to create 10 costumes every year just because everybody on Facebook does it as well. You don’t have to cosplay a character from Overwatch just because it’s popular now. If you like a shiny armor from some kind of unknown Korean MMORPG grinder, then start crafting! As long as you have fun, just do it!
Cosplay should always be about yourself and your friends – always about your art and having fun. Don’t let anybody tell you how you should spent your time, which costume you should pick or how you should create a specific costume piece. And at the same time: Don’t be offended if somebody still does it. Sharing your work publicly means sharing it worldwide and to everybody. People who might like you and those that don’t. People with all kinds of different backgrounds and thoughts. Don’t take it personal. If you’re sure of the reasons behind your actions who are they to tell you otherwise? For every negative comment there are ten more people who like what you do but don’t write anything. Remember it’s easier for people to post their anger than their appreciation. That’s just human biology. Also people on the internet are anonymous. Whoever wrote that mean comment might just be an 8 year old boy who just hit puberty. And do you really care what this boy thinks?
Well, and finally I think I need to say: If you’re not having fun cosplaying – why force it? You don’t have to cosplay. At some point we are all tired, just want to play games or have other things to do in life. You have not failed anyone because you never became a ‘famous cosplayer‘. It might feel weird if everybody is crafting, posting amazing progress photos, go to conventions and finish one project after another. But have you ever attended a convention without a costume? It’s actually quite fun! I did it for the last two BlizzCons and I had a blast. Did you ever have time for all the things you always wanted to do, like safe money for a vacation? Actually, that’s pretty nice, too! For someone who makes her living with cosplay, I ‘only’ create around 2 – 4 costumes a year. I don’t do all nighters anymore and don’t try to hunt the next things no-one has done before. I want to pay my bills, but still have fun. I know this is a difficult balance to strike but we’re trying. I know I could easily do more, push myself harder and achieve more, but … why? I’m not happier because I have more likes, fans, followers or subscribers. Those are just numbers. I’m happy because I enjoy cosplay. I’m having a good time crafting, dressing up and sharing my passion with my husband and you, who reads all this nonsense that I write. For now I am totally happy with this and who knows what the future might bring. I’ll probably start writing bad teeny novels about smoking hot Corgi werewolves and get rich from the movie rights.
Ah, you young pups! LOL! I’m 50 years old and when I was going to cons in the 80’s, we dressed up. We didn’t call it “cosplay”, we just dressed up as characters from books, mostly. When cons were about books and comic books and not movies and TV. We made up costumes from left-over Halloween stuff and what we pulled from our closets. And we had a BLAST! And even won a costume contest once…I dress up now when I go to cons, but not as a specific character. It’s usually just something steampunk I pull together because no one can complain I’m not authentic. But I just bought the book bundle because I’d really like to make an armor set, maybe something from Dragon Age or Elder Scrolls. Something with full coverage — I don’t do skimpy! LOL!
Keep having fun, and realize that anyone who is THAT competitive isn’t having fun. Enjoy that you got a full night’s sleep and can actually have fun at the con instead of being tired and grumpy because you were up all night doing last minute hand-sewing…
I stopped cosplay for quite some time now, because of this. I didn’t feel like being in a community anymore. It was more like a “battlefield”, where every man/woman fought for him/herself. For likes. For attention. For fame.
I am not the most confident person when it comes to cosplay. I only cosplayed a couple of times publically, and I chickened out once.
But what really hit me was an experience from a convention. Together with my wife, I participated in a cosplay contest, believing that “hey, this is not DCM or WCS, so it’s just fun”. It wasn’t. We were surrounded by people waaaaay younger than us, and we could here them whisper and laugh about us. It was absolutely horrifying. ANd having witnessed such things happening to other cosplayers as well, I lost my trust in the cosplay community alltogether and stopped cosplaying. I was only recently when I found my passion again. I’m not sure whether I will cosplay on conventions ever again, but what I definitely will do is posting images.
I would really love to see a change again, I would want to see the fun again…. nothing is more depressing and demotivating to receive negative comments for passionate work.
I hope that and other “more famous” cosplayers will make a difference in this scene. We need to open up again.
Hi there! I’m into cosplay since 2002 and I saw this hobby changing and developing through the years! I remember about Cosplay.lab and Cosplay.com, ACP, Cosspace, etc, I remember when we all had our bright and coloured websites and we all use to make link exchange, chatting on msn messenger and all the other things, and most of all when cosplay was picking up the charachters you like or that you were feeling close to you for some things, and not like today where cosplay has changed becoming something I cannot recognize anymore sometimes, where people choose the costumes to do not because they like the charachters but only for how complicated they are so to show to the others how good crafters they are and how famous they can become! How sad all this! But I still following the good old school picking up only the chacachters I like even if their costumes are not complicated! That’s the true cosplay!
P.S. I quit participating at competitions since 2005 cuz I dun give a fuck about prices and becoming famous since to me the best satisfaction is beeing recognized by the fans of my charachter/series!
I think it’s really easy to get caught up in the “likes and comments” of the whole thing and people forget that it’s just about having fun. Joining groups, attending events, even using cosplay social networks (yes, those exist now. look up cosmunity.) is all important to surrounding yourself with like-minded people who are having fun too :)
I do Cosplay for the pure and simple hell of it. Screw the body shamers, bullies, and other assorted idiots!!!
I use to cosplay, and started back in 2014, and have pretty much cosplayed the same character since… As people loved the character I cosplayed as, I made some fantastic friends through my time at con’s.
Now sadly I’ve decided to chuck in Comic Con’s altogether, no longer want to involve myself in it anymore.
Because I’ve got sick and tired of the drama from it, and recently certain cruel cos-players has tried to blacken my name in the community. I don’t know if through jealous or what certain views…
Comic Con’s can be fun and on the surface it’s all happy and positive. It’s always great after a day at con, uploading pictures and ton’s notifications and friend requests. However sadly their is a darker side to it.
People criticising costumes, body shaming, bullying etc… There is a lot of ego’s in the cosplay community, that people should be aware of.
If you’re going to share content from comic con’s on social media, I think it’s best to keep your communication with a small number of people you can trust. Quality over quantity..
Time and time again, I’ve seen on cosplayers profiles, posting screenshots and moaning about other cosplayers.
I’ve become victimized myself, and as somebody that doesn’t want to involve in this drama anymore… I’ve quit comic con’s. In the long run I guess I’ll save myself some money haha
You know I’m a terrible procrastinator. I always wait until the last month before a convention then start creating my cosplay. It’s a mad rush and I enjoy it, but recently I was stressing about completing an outfit and I stood back one night in my basement surrounded by fabric and thought…. “I’m not having fun.” I threw all the pieces of my would-be outfit on my workbench and stopped working on it three days before the con. I ended up just wearing a couple of my other outfits from *gasp* last year and I had a great time.
This is something that has been on my mind lately too, thank you for validating my feelings, I was worried I was imagining it.
I started cosplaying back in ’06 or ’07 I believe when I was about 20 – my first convention was Acen and I was stoked! I was nervous about cosplaying but bit the bullet and did it, with the results typical of one’s first cosplay(s). I struggled with feeling like I was confident and cool enough (XD) to cosplay the characters I really wanted to, but went for it.
I got older and the friends I con-ed with did too. Some out grew it, some just didn’t have the money or time. I took a break for several years, got into other hobbies. Recently, I made a friend at work who got me back into cosplay and cons and I was super excited! I have like, 4 totally new characters I want to do and I’m remaking my old favorite. Then I made the mistake of going on the internet to see what was going on in the cosplay community… The sheer amount of negativity, hostility, and importance put on attention (and who actually receives it) really shocked me. I have had a lot of misgivings now about getting back into this, especially since I’d like to actually cosplay a couple female characters for once and that seems to garner the most criticism.
Regardless, I’ve decided to power through, just like in the beginning. The community may have changed, but I still enjoy the feeling of accomplishment, the panicked all nighters, and the chance to step outside of myself for a few hours to be someone else. I can only hope that more people remember/discover that the enjoyment of doing and being something you love outlasts the excitement of being the latest “flavor of the month” online.
It’s all in who you meet nowadays. I’ve noticed as things like Anime, Video Games and Comics become more popular we old timers (my first con was back in 2001) are seeing a weird shift in convention culture. Back in the early 00’s I remember meeting and making so many friends and now days its like I need to be a full time social media warrior. Everyone has shifted from being open and friendly to being closed and sticking with their group.
When it comes to cosplay though I say the best people are the ones that put in the time to appreciate the craft aka other cosplayers. Talking shop with real people and avoiding the internet at all costs is the way to go. :)
I relate to this so badly. I’ve been doing cosplay for so many years, and at the start, it was all about having fun. No matter where I went, who I met that day, how my costume was made, at the end of the day I returned home always happy.
With time I wanted to become better, challenge myself with contests, and armour (that meant you were a pro), use new materials, it wasn’t about the character anymore it was about you: how good looking are you, how good are your skills, and then on, how many followers you have.
I was so happy to show myself how I’ve grown, how my skills become better (I am actually a good maker and now I am a Costume Designer thanks to cosplay), but now I just don’t enjoy it anymore. I can’t get back to that carefree state of mind.
I know that there will always be a better cosplayer out there, that is famous, rich, and better looking than myself. I don’t enjoy going to a con because it has become such a stressful environment, the pros, the VIP, the guest, and I was never part of that although I tried so hard.
I still make cosplays but never finish them. I have millions just half way there. Money spent on what? And I just want to go back to that fun part of it, failing constantly.
I’m just barely 18 and have been cosplaying for 5 years. The last couple of weeks where so stressful, because I’m working on my newest Cos… which is quite risque… and I’ve developed unhealthy thinking habits and so on worrying about how others will receive the Cos. This should be about fun… not about what others think or anything like that. Still- sometimes you are exposed to the pressure so much you can’t help it, right?
That’s a really great topic. Hits the nail center. It is about having fun. I can never forget my firsy comiccon. It was full of joy.
I feel bad for some of the experiences where i can feel it’s more about the money than the cosplay fun. Where a cosplayer see me as a customer rather than a fan. Not the same!
Like anything in life, when you can earn money from a hobby people tend to forget the “fun” part of it. Especially when it becomes popular over the years.
Like someone mentioned in another comment, now it’s all about the perfect body type, like a beauty contest. Let me give you an example.
A couple of months ago I went to a convention in my town, and there was a cosplay contest. A guy had a very impressive Hydralisk cosplay from Starcraft, I don’t know much about cosplays, but it had A LOT of work hours into it. Well let me tell you he lost to some girl who was half naked, I don’t want to disrespect the girl’s costume, but it had a lot fewer hours of work.
Anyways, I am no expert on the matter, that was just my honest opinion, once again great article!
Wow, da kann ich einfach nur zustimmen! Schade nur, dass sich immer weniger daran halten…
Ich mein klar, es klingt zwar prima, von seinem Hobby leben zu können, aber ich glaub, dass sich dann viele auch zu sehr unter Druck setzen, um wirklich möglichst viele Kostüme zu entwerfen, nur um irgendwie Eindruck zu schinden. Doch dabei geht doch irgendwann wirklich der Spaß verloren. Sicher ist es ein tolles Gefühl, wenn man von den Leuten beachtet wird, das kann ich nicht abstreiten (hatte ich bei der letzten Manga-Comic-Con selbst erlebt), klar. Irgendwo gibt es einem ein tolles Gefühl. Doch das beste Gefühl ist eigentlich, finde ich, gerade bei selbstgemachten Kostümen, zu sehen, wie es nach und nach zu dem wird, was einem doch vorher nur im Kopf herumgespukt ist oder was man nur als 3D-Figur gesehen hat.
Ich bin vor einem anderthalben Jahr durch deine Tutorials auf YouTube darauf gekommen, meinen eigenen Charakter zu cosplayen. Ich hab aber eigentlich selbst nicht einmal die richtige Größe oder Statur für sie, doch das ist mir egal. Mir macht es einfach wahnsinnig Spaß, sie zu sein auf Conventions oder zu Fotoshootings, da juckt mich das nicht. Jetzt gerade bin ich auch an meiner zweiten Rüstung dran. Eigentlich hätte ich sie gern zur letzten Manga-Comic-Con fertiggestellt, aber ich wollte nicht hetzen, nur damit es von den Leuten gesehen wird, denn dann wäre es nur halb so schön geworden, wie es jetzt langsam wird. Und ich möchte eben Freude an dem Kostüm haben.
Auch sind diejenigen, die eben nicht die perfekte Figur für ihren Lieblingscharakter haben, aber trotzdem Spaß an ihrem Cosplay haben, zu beneiden, denn sie machen es richtig. Sie haben einfach Spaß an der Sache und…das zählt einfach. Cosplay ist immerhin kein Modelwettbewerb und hoffentlich wird es das nicht einmal gänzlich.
Deshalb ist es aber auch schön zu hören (oder lesen ^^), dass du da auch so bodenbodenständig geblieben bist. Das find ich einfach nur klasse. ^-^
There’s so many things I agree with here. The only reason I cosplay is for fun. <3
Recently, I've been posting some of my stuff on Cosmunity and it's been cool to get some good feedback on there, but I don't really care all that much about how "good" my cosplays are, ya know? I just like doing it.
You’re right. It’s about having fun.
Loved what u saaid
Thank you so much for that blog entry, Kamui.
I too sometimes wonder if it’s all still worth it when I see how long it takes me to finish some of my costumes, and how slowly the number of facebook likes is increasing. But then again, I’m like: “Who cares?! I’m having fun, and I’m doing things on my own pace, and just because this cosplayer or that cosplayer is doing xx cosplays a year or is doing every single detail by his/her self, I don’t need to do that too!”. I bought the suit for my D.Va cosplay a while ago, and although it is “only a bought costume”, I had the most fun I’ve ever had wearing it to a con! So to me too, cosplay is mainly about having fun, and it’s amazing to hear that from someone as well-known and successful as you are :)
this is all really true and your amazingly leveled up with your skills Kamui but one question , did you felt that your not fine with the cosplay or felt your uninterested in all? I feeling this almost every cosplay when i begin with…. and when im not uninterested then i felt that my costume is not okay, while the others are saying your doing good , still my mind saying something is not right not fine whit the look and cant say what is still missing, and these are when i try to create an OC character
This is a really important message! I think with any creative discipline, if you strive for success it might not find you. But if you pour your heart and soul into what you create, success can follow. Putting your passion and enthusiasm into what you make comes through your work naturally, and people enjoy it (success!). I think this applies to cosplay too – but at the end of the day it’s just dressing up for fun, and how much effort you want to put into that is entirely up to you! Thank you for a great article <3
Thank you very much for writing this! Sometimes I wonder why I still keep cosplaying because the concept has changed so much since I started doing it in 2002. I tried to evolve with the times, but ended up worrying too much about only cosplaying characters that fit my appearance and getting likes and RTs. When someone said something mean, it hurt me so deeply, and I ended up with only negative feelings about everything related to this hobby: exhaustion when working on them, sadness when somebody says something bad about my cosplay, sadness when I don’t get the attention I think I deserve.
You’re completely right, this should be about the fun and nothing else. By spreading this message, I think you’re helping the balance inside this hobby. Thank you, I really mean it! :3
What a blast reading this article… excellent point of view Kamui, I am going to share this within my geeks friends and my websites, I support your way to see this cosplay thing 100%… greetings from Costa Rica :)
That comes from heart and is really what people should keep in mind when cosplaying. For me, its the best way to keep in touch and enjoy time with precious people I met at cons and hang out whenever I can.
Sure its nice to be recognized but its nothing at all in comparison to the time I enjoy with my friends at cons and meeting people who share the same love for the characters/novels/games/mangas/animes and whatsoever.
I sincerily hope people will learn to enjoy what they have instead of lusting after progress others may make.
May people find enlightenment in your words.
Wow, I didn’t think many other people felt the same way. It’s to have this a reminder. Thank you again. :)
Thank you for that text. If you don’t have fun while cosplay you shouldn’t do it (I stopped because most people I was connected with at cons stopped or didn’t remember who i was after i took a break for univerity so it felt pretty weird. I still love crafting and all that incredible new materials. Every time I see your latest cos I feel the urge to start again ;) so please let me see tons of your work in the future)
I actually really needed this today.
I woke up wondering why I even bother with the hobby after all this time.
I don’t feel like I’m getting any better and seeing how people I know are a bizzilion times more talented don’t get the attention and love they deserve and it sucks.
And it isn’t fair and I don’t want to be in a hobby or a community where the only way to be considered talented is to expose myself to strangers on the Internet.
And I’m stuck because this was a hobby that was just needs dressing up and it’s become warped and ugly and gross and I don’t know if I want to be part of it anymore. It feels like masses have defined and completely changed what the craft is about.
I have a Facebook page and I don’t even know why!
I’m just so angry and jaded about it and I hate this because I loved this hobby and today I woke up with this…
I think I used to just enjoy it and slowly made it about the fame and I hate that.
It started as “OMG I love this character I wanna be her” and now I’m like “How genuine am I being really? Do I care or I just want more likes?” It’s a beauty contest now and it’s just so discouraging for someone like me who has a darker skin tone and doesn’t have the PERFECT body type.
I hate that I’ve become someone who thinks that likes and pages and comments are necessary.
I forgot why I did this and why I loved it and this post really helped.
Thank you so much and thank you for being the kind of person who comments and encourages others. You’re the best and a light in the community.
I want to express my deepest gratification and the timing of this post couldn’t have been more perfect. Recently I’ve been troubled as a guy in the cosplay world. I’ve learned to make my own boomboxes, I’ve learned to make chailmail, I’ve learned to resin cast. And lately it all felt like it was for nothing. I stopped celebrating the characters that resonated with me. I stopped going to conventions and being the embodiment of my character. I started getting frustrated that I could walk next to a friend of mine and people would ask her for pictures and and I would fall to the wayside despite both of us being from the same game.
I think I needed someone else to tell me what I try to tell myself. That I’m cosplaying for my character and myself. Not the thumbs up, not the follows, not even the pictures on the floor.
THIS IS WHY YOU’RE MY COSPLAY MOM. All of this stuff needed to be said. Even if you’re intending for cosplay to become a career you should still go after it because you enjoy it, and fuck the haters.
I’m so happy to read this now, and that the person who posted it, it’s actually you. I needed it and didn’t even realize how much. Thank you
That’s a wonderfull text !
How many people stoped having fun cosplaying because they are in competition with the others ?
I never stopped dreaming and having fun cosplaying, I hope that’s never gonna change :)