Cosplay 101: Tips from a Seasoned Cosplayer

If you're not familiar, the term "cosplay" literally means "costume-play" and is the practice of dressing up like someone from television, film, a video game, or anything else you might draw inspiration from.

If you are thinking about trying cosplay, improving your cosplay, or even figuring out what it is, read on. I decided to seek some answers from someone much more experienced than myself in this field. This is my post to educate, entertain and maybe inspire some of you to give it a try! This is Cosplay 101.

I think biggest misconception I see is when people assume that cosplay has to be difficult. In no way does cosplay have to be made yourself, intricate, or even a known character to be considered a cosplay. Cosplay gives you the opportunity to use your creativity in brand new ways and to see yourself as a different person for a day.

I've been interested in sewing, crafting and creating basically all my life. Recently, I've gotten more interested in theatrical makeup and I've done a bit of cosplay with friends, mostly drawing my inspirations mostly from Disney or musicals.

I am in no way a cosplay expert--I've only done it very casually for a couple years. When Kathryn suggested I make a cosplay post, I immediately thought of my incredibly talented friend Veronica. We actually did a group costume together as Elsa and Anna from Frozen!

Veronica is 23 years old and a talented cosplayer from Seattle, Washington. I've compiled a list of cosplay related questions that she was kind enough to answer for me!

Q: Why did you start doing cosplay? And when did you start?

A: I first started cosplay when I was in high school. The leader of my school's anime club thought it would be a good idea to have a trip to our local anime convention called Sakura-con and encouraged us to all cosplay.

Not one to be left out, I threw together a Karin cosplay from Naruto out of my old band shirt, some volleyball shorts and socks, belt and glasses borrowed from my mother. Even though the costume was a mess and nobody recognized me, I had an amazing time and was immediately hooked. A week after the convention I was already planning next year's costume and looking for other local conventions I could attend.

Q: What is your biggest inspiration for picking a new project? A: I find the characters I want to make from the various media I have access to, but it's my fellow cosplayers that drive me to choose a costume and take the challenge to attempt bringing it to life. I love the creative process of taking something that wasn't created to exist in the real world and making it into a physical costume. The challenge and suffer is just part of the experience and makes it all the more satisfying when I'm finished.

Q: Would you say your cosplay hobby has gotten you into other interests or hobbies? A: Craft-related or otherwise? Definitely! When I started cosplay, I knew nothing about art, sewing, crafting or makeup--cosplay has gotten me into all of these out of both necessity and curiosity. I started painting in high school and now I enjoy sewing original clothing and working with makeup/hair as well as doing simpler crafts.

Q: Is there anything you don't like about cosplay or the community associated? A: First thing I would have to say is that cosplay is not a cheap hobby--it takes time and money and effort. That being said, it's much easier nowadays than a few years back when it wasn't as mainstream.

Second, whenever you are involved in a hobby as visual as cosplay, you are going to have a few iffy experiences with people who have different opinions on what "cosplay" is and should be. I've been lucky enough to not have any terrible memories of that, but I can't deny that there are people in the community that I do not agree with as to how should I enjoy my hobby.

Q: What was your favorite costume you've ever done? How long do you generally spend creating? A: This is a very hard thing for me to answer; I have many costumes that I spent hours upon hours working on and poured all my energy and love into. However, there are two costumes that I keep revisiting over the years and will always consider my favorites. Axel from "Kingdom Hearts" and Fran from "Final Fantasy" are both "first" costumes for me (first time making a costume, first prop, first wig, first heavy makeup job, etc.).

Axel I have remade pieces of more than a few times, and Fran I am completely remaking this year after first crafting her in 2011. Both costumes will never be done and both I will most likely keep wearing until the day I stop cosplaying.

Q: Do you have any advice for people entering cosplay? A: Best thing I can say to anyone who wants to start cosplaying: you do you!!! There's no one way or best way to cosplay. Find what you enjoy most and as long as you're not hurting others, you go for it! Casual and fun? Awesome! Elaborate dresses? Yes! Closet costume thrown together day-of-con? Heck yeah! Giant mecha suit? You go gurl!

The community is great for learning and making lifelong friends. I can safely say that without the help/friendship of other cosplayers I wouldn't be where/who I am today. Share, learn and enjoy!

You can find and follow Veronica on her cosplay Facebook page: Veronica Luna Cosplay.

A million thanks to my friend Veronica for answering my questions and hopefully offering some insight into the cosplay world!

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