January 14, 2014

Guideline approach: Cosplay decision process

Hello everyone!

Now -for a change- I'm going to write about how I personally choose my cosplay candidates - also known as "how I decide on who/what to cosplay?" :'D This is mostly just for fun and yeah, I am going to list my cosplay decision process generally; this is just my way of doing it and by no means am I saying that it's the only way or something! Everyone is free to cosplay and have their own decision approaches as they see fit and all that jazz that we should know by now but hey, now I'll tell you how it works for me! .. and it might work as a sort of loose guideline for newcomers to the hobby as well. Maybe.

Get ready, here it comes!

• First things first, number 1) I need to find a character to cosplay. How do I go about doing this?

It's obvious enough for everyone and their uncle's dog - I watch anime, read manga, play video games, watch movies or do anything else where you have characters that could make my "I like this guy" meter go up. No, not in that way. Oh, and if I'm honest sometimes I tend to pick what anime to watch/manga to read partly based on if there's any interesting character designs in the source material. :-D Yeah, that feeling when you watch/read something and then first you go "oh, this character looks cool, I want to know more about them" and then later have it evolve into "I fucking need to cosplay this character because their design is fabulous and so is their personality/story/whatnot aghdsjha;sgjh". In short, don't cosplay a character that you don't care about. You will likely regret it at some point; for example not having inspiration to work on the costume and you might even have your con experience suffering because of it in the end. So yeah, choose a character that you like! (and it doesn't matter if they are popular or not)

• When I have my eyes on likable character X it's time for number 2) Do I like this character enough to want to spend time/money on making the costume?

This should be obvious because cosplays don't get magically delivered to you from the sky by the Cosplay Gods sometimes you wish they would when you have decided on what costume to make. Either you decide on busting your ass off sewing, burning your fingers with hot glue and looking for the cheapest way to make that mega-armor-futuristic-super-samurai-guy come alive or.. you order the cosplay from an online cosplay store, hire a commissioner or buy/modify ready-made clothing parts. Whichever one you choose to do (or even a mix!) they are all good approaches to get closer to your cosplay. All these options have one thing in common -at least- and that's the sad fact that you will have to open that wallet of yours. Yes, the one that saw its grim fate approaching far too quickly after you started this wonderful hobby.. according to you, that is; I'm pretty sure your wallet has been crying and befriending spiderwebs in it's echoing cave since then. Money dear, I miss you, come back soon okay? It's cold and empty in here... *sob* The silliness aside it's pretty clear that if you don't like the character enough you won't be too happy about spending your hard-earned money (and limited time on this Earth) on making the costume or well, at least I wouldn't. I know I wouldn't be too keen on spending 500+ € or something on a cosplay that I would wear just once and then have it spending the rest of its life as just another dust collector in that graveyard-y part of the wardrobe. Brrrr.
So yeah, before I think so much more about how to make/get the costume I decide if it is worth the money, time and effort for me. And rage. 

Oh, and for the love of pasta, when you have decided that the cosplay is worth it then START WORKING ON IT IN TIME. Don't procrastinate for four of the five remaining months.. even though we end up doing it anyway because little pesky procrastinator goblins live full-time in us.. or well, in me for sure.

• Okay, character X is awesome enough to be worth the last of my last savings. But money isn't the only thing, so here comes number 3) Do I have enough skills in sewing/crafting/whatnot to make this costume? (only applies of course if I decide to make the costume. Duh. But in most cases I end up making the cosplay so I'm going to take it as the default on the follow-up "guidelines")

Sure, "you won't learn much if you don't try new things" in all its glory and all that but if I know where my current limits are I'm not going to jump straight into the massacre of Complicated Small Details of Hell.. even if I would love the character enough for it to be worth the eternal tantrum-cryrages it would take to eventually finish the costume. I'd rather take it a bit safer and build up my skills over time with more and more challenging projects. Also, I guess I wouldn't be all that happy if I made a complicated cosplay that cost me half my limbs and then, a few years later, want to burn the whole thing on a bonfire because it's falling apart of bad material choices or/and crappy craftmanship. And guess what, if I still loved the character I would maybe want to remake it with my improved current skills and well.. have to pay with my remaining limbs. Wonderful.
In other words - I'm going to pick my cosplay candidates based on current skill level in addition to the love for the character/design.. which means saving the hardcore costumes for when I have hardcore skills.

• But we are not done yet! Number 4) I like this character, I have the money and the skills to make it.. what am I missing? - It's called your own comfort zone, dude.

At least for me it is a rather important thing to consider how comfortable I would feel/be in the cosplay when I finally get to wear it. It doesn't always have to be about pure physical comfort (I get it, we've all probably had that cosplay with the shoes that killed our feet..) but mental comfort as well. The most common example would be if the character is wearing an outfit that you might not feel perfectly at ease with, for example too high amount of skin showing or having their hands constantly bound or something. Sure I know some people find it more of a challenge to actually go past their comfort zones but personally I'd rather stay in mine.. for now, at least. Thing is, I've had a few instances when I cosplayed a character that I liked and everything was all fine and dandy.. until the con morning when I had to wear the costume to a place where people would be looking at me and then realize that, well, I wasn't actually at ease with how some parts of the costume looked on me or whatnot. It can be anything, really. Sometimes you just don't realize how much some small things can start to eat at you after a while. Then again, I do try to figure out what the costume will look like on me before I start working on it but sometimes you still get these not so funny "surprise, motherfucker!" moments when you just go self-conscious for reason Y and Z and, well, you are already at the con so not much you can do. Not like I've personally had a bad case but there are maybe a few costumes I've made I wouldn't wear again just yet because of comfort issues.
Make sure that the cosplay you are doing won't make you feel too uncomfortable when you actually have to wear it. Focusing too much on what is bothering you can take the fun out of wearing it - no matter if it is uncomfortable shoes, the sixpack that is shining with its lack of presence or a part of the cosplay that you think just looks unflattering on you. 

Sometimes you can fix the issues but then again, most times people won't even care/notice the smaller things that bug you as much as you do.
*lifts index finger* Not to mix things up but remember - never let things like age, gender, height, weight, skin color or anything else that you have little to no control over affect your cosplay choices, everyone can cosplay and screw the people who say otherwise!

• Guess what, guess what? We actually have another one! Bonus final number 5) With all the brainwork done, all the sewing/crafting/online shopping/waiting/thrift storing/whatever done and the cosplay is ready and the con is closing in. What now?

Okay, so you are dressed up as probably one of your favorite characters from whatever fancy you have for the moment and ready to show the world what you've accomplished and you've likely been severely sleep-deprived because of last minute sewing through the last night, but let's pretend cosplay is always wonderful, okay? So, the con is this weekend and you know that soon it's gonna be one hell of awesomeness with friends and fellow cosplayers. There's only one thing left to do - wear your cosplay with confidence, enjoy your time and remember to be a good peep to everyone else!

And when the con is over and you've survived the post-con lag and possibly depression then it's time to roll over and start anew with another cosplay to put on the table of creative.. creations. If you want to make another one just yet, that is. It's just as fine to be green in this hobby as well - recycle your cosplays as long as you find the sparkle of joy in wearing them.

Now I've told most things that I can think of for the moment and I've spammed you with Pokémon gifs and whoever actually read it all gets a virtual cookie from me! :'D I might have missed something but I'm too brainfried to think any longer and I'm freezing to death. Oh well ~

Oh, one last thing! If anyone's interested I could do a follow-up post to this one where I write more personally about what kind of characters/series appeal to me cosplay wise and make me inspired to cosplay them; personality traits, clothes, weapons and stuff like that. :'D Shout out if you want to read about this in the future and I might make it happen!

Live and cosplay guys! <3


Hasaki Tsuki said...

Woah. Now I feel like I don't think enough before going like ZOMG I WANT TO COSPLAY THIS CHAR!!!
Well. This is helpful anyway, thanks for sharing (and spamming with pokémon gifs hoho). I'll do more thinking about my cosplays from now on.
And I'd like to read about your personal experience as well! Please? :3
And thanks for the virtual cookie *runs away with it*

Psycho Cat said...

Oh this is really good reading, also make me thinks, that it totally not folloe your way when I choose my cosplay. And I may be shall start to do it or some part of you plan. But still I would like to read a follow-up if you do one with pleasure.

Jäätynyt Enkeli said...

Great post bro! And dem Pokémon gifs <3

I´d love to read a part 2 of this! And true, all those points are equally important to consider when making a costume. This goes for me as well ~

Ukyo Sakamaki said...

This is a fantastic guide. I will recommend it to friends who struggle with choosing a character to cosplay. :^)