Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cosplay 101: What is Cosplay?

COSPLAY 101: What Is Cosplay?

I talk a lot about this favorite hobby of mine, but I want to get back to basics! Over the next few weeks, I'll be putting out a series of Cosplay 101 posts to cover all the cosplay topics a beginner needs to know - and I'd love your input, too! If there's a topic you want covered, or if you have anything to add, feel free to say so in the comments section!

Today, let's start from the beginning - what is cosplay?

What is Cosplay?

The term "cosplay" comes from the Japanese portmanteau, "kosupure" (コスプレ), which combines "costume" and "play." In the US, this hobby has been traditionally known as "costuming," typically from historical or sci-fi materials. After anime and subsequently anime conventions exploded in the 90s and 2000s, the term "cosplay" became more and more popular.

"Cosplay" can refer to a character or idea from any medium - so Western comics, manga, anime, video games, fan art, books, television, movies... anything!

The word itself can be used as either a noun or a verb (I cosplay as Ramona Flowers! or, This is my Ramona Flowers cosplay!). Personally, I tend to say "cosplay" when I talk about the hobby and "costume" when I refer to the actual worn pieces.

Why Do People Cosplay?

That depends on the cosplayer! Some love sewing, crafting, or prop making, some love acting like their character, some love striving for perfect, 100% accuracy. I certainly can't answer for all cosplayers, but I love dressing up because I enjoy changing my appearance with wigs, contacts, and makeup, I love to embody characters I love, and I love to learn new skills!

Ramona Flowers, Envy Adams, and Todd Ingram

Where Do People Cosplay?

Cosplayers are most often found at anime, sci-fi, or gaming conventions. Sometimes, cosplayers will do photoshoots or other activities outside of a convention.

What Skills Do Cosplayers Have?

To put it simply, cosplay as a hobby can be as simple or as complex as you want! You can buy a pre-made costume and styled wig, or painstakingly hand-sew sequins to a homemade corset. Some of the skills associated with cosplayers include: sewing and clothing altering, patterning and pattern modification, jewelry making, resin casting, prop making, wig styling, modeling, and much, much more!

Ramona and LSP

What's the Difference Between Cosplay and Halloween Costumes?

Cosplay tends to have more craftsmanship associated with it than traditional Halloween costumes. Instead of purchasing a pre-made costume, cosplayers will make or modify much of their costume. Cosplay is also more specific and can be more detailed. A Halloween costumer might go as a generic pirate, while a cosplayer will go as Jack Sparrow, complete with a fake beard, wig, and contact lenses.

Of course, this doesn't mean that every costume is made from scratch or highly detailed, or that every Halloween costume is store-bought.

Don't Cosplayers Act Like Their Characters?

For many cosplayers, getting into character is a large part of cosplay. It can be really fun to act as your character at a convention or photo shoot. However, it's definitely not required! If acting isn't your strong suit, you are timid, or you just plain don't want to, you can still be yourself while in costume. I hop in and out - sometimes, I'll talk in character, especially if someone is excited to see my costume, but most of the time, I'm just me!

What would you like to see in the new Cosplay 101 series?

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