Cosplay – You’re Doing It Wrong!

Have you ever seen ‘sexy cosplay’, ‘meme cosplay’ or ‘crazy skillz enters all the masquerade’s cosplay’ and scoffed at it like a bad, untouchable smell has just wafted past you? Or have you felt this shouldn’t be ‘included in the community for X reason?’

If so, you are doing cosplay wrong and here’s why.

Ice Cream Party

Sexy Cosplay

Jeni Mew Cosplay, who is perhaps more well known for her intense detailed craftsmanship than ‘sexy cosplay’ recently added ‘Alexstrasza’ a notoriously recognizable character for skin, to her costume repertoire. What should also be highlighted here are difficult costume elements. She has recently enrolled herself onto a Costume Design & Making degree course (at Nottingham Trent, the Winner of University of the year award!) to continue developing her costume skills – and quite frankly looks beyond incredible as Alexstrasza.

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Let’s start by looking at the costume…

“There are little foam ‘earrings’ hanging from the horns. I made the cape attach to the shoulder pieces so that all goes on at once.”

“The engraved details and battle damage are done with a soldering tool.”

“The claws are worbla attached to fabric gloves.”

“The ‘panties’ are fabric with vinyl details!”

“The shoes were modified with worbla armour pieces, there’s also a pair of purple footless socks underneath everything.”

How did you start creating this and how long did it take?! 

I started the costume in 2015. I’d completed my first few cosplays that were mostly fabric based, and I wanted to venture into the world of foam armour builds. Alexstrasza was a dream character for me. Although I started in 2015, I wasn’t satisfied with the standard of my work, so stepped back and worked on other costumes, after several months came back to it, re-made a few pieces, a lot of which I broadcast live on Twitch. I finished it in April 2017!

The second part to this comes with the physical and mental nature of costuming this character – how did you prepare your body and mind for actually making an appearance as Alexstraza?

I think for me both aspects are as important as the other. To be able to step out in what is by far my most revealing cosplay. I needed to feel comfortable in my own skin and confident in the way I looked. Not something I have been great at in the past! So, for me this meant taking extra care to look after myself in the run up to the event. I found paying some attention to physical things like moisturizing regularly, practicing the makeup and wearing the headdress, going on the occasional sun bed, and eating right along with some exercise made me feel mentally ready to be so exposed.

Did people judge you?

IMG_20170417_215528 (1)I knew people would likely judge me for wearing it, even though I was just being accurate to someone else’s character design, but having been bullied in the past for the way I look it doesn’t affect me. I even did a little test with a friend at a convention where he walked a few feet behind me in this costume and observed the crowd’s response. I think it was equal measure impressed and disgusted! Sadly, I believe most of the negative responses were from other women, and I’ll take this opportunity to say it’s really important to lift each other up, not put each other down.

If I’m walking along in killer heels, wearing a costume that takes about 2 hours to get into, took months to make, includes blind contact lenses, a long wig, gloves and claws that mean I can’t really use my hands, it’s a huge shame that all some people can manage is that look of ‘what IS she wearing’.

All that said, it felt amazing to bring the character to life by wearing this costume, and truly become her for a time. Alexstrasza the Life-Binder is the leader of the red dragonflight, and repeating that and remembering the lore behind the character when you’re out there means more than anybody’s looks can. So go be that badass Dragon Aspect you want to be!

In short? Sexy cosplay needs to be okay again!

Meme Cosplay

funksterWhat about that ‘meme cosplay’ that’s just exploded over the internet. You may say to yourself – oh attention right? But let’s have a look at that a little closer!

Funkster has been cosplaying now for about 4 years.

“Knowing nothing about it and then being told I was boring, I went out and bought a 7ft minion costume and got mobbed. Sort of went from there and now I have a small collection of costumes.”

 

So we’re talking Bob Ross and Deadpool here?

I can’t really remember HOW I know about Bob Ross as he is more of an Amercian icon. I can only think I must have stumbled onto when they showed it on BBC/ITV late at night when I would come home from a night out. Deadpool for me is a recent thing. I loved the movie and the 25276251_1675367435846624_1459794360_ncostume and the freedom it gives as a character. I try not to stray too much into Douche-pool territory, which you do see at conventions quite a bit. 

Your costume became viral, it became a ‘meme’ why, how, WHAT? 

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I honestly didn’t know how many people would have seen the trailer in the 3 short days before MCM or how many in the UK would know who Bob Ross was. As a Deadpool cosplayer we are lucky that Ryan Reynolds and his team like to create little viral videos to promote the movies. The teaser trailer for Deadpool 2 dropped on the Wednesday night before Birmingham MCM and I felt a great need to try and be the first to do it at a convention whilst it was still fresh in people’s minds.

And people ADORED you!

I think people just appreciated how quickly I was able to get it together and how close to the costume I got. I had a friend of mine who’s a model maker make me a replica of the paint palette. Lots of people really found it funny that I was actually painting, rather than just standing next to an already painted picture. In 4 hours I managed about 4 paintings of questionable quality.

 

Do you feel this work is accessible to others and does it deserve the ‘cosplay definition, why?

Cosplay is whatever you make it. I’m at the accuracy end, but if you’re having fun, then what does it matter? Bob Ross Deadpool isn’t going to win any cosplay competitions, but it made a whole lot of people smile at MCM including me. If someone takes a picture of me and it brightens their day, then that’s great. If they follow me or tag me in stuff even better.
If you wanna do a mash up then, just do it. I’ve seen amazing cosplays that cost very little, except time. If you love something then do it. There’s plenty of information out there on how to do stuff.25188138_1675368699179831_1378190426_n

I have almost zero talent when it comes to making stuff. I am however good at spotting details on costumes and then finding really talented people to replicate them for me. On the Deadpool belt for example there are sections that come off the buckle that look custom made. So I got loads of reference pictures and commissioned them from a model maker. He now sells those on his Etsy store.

But most importantly it really opens the cosplay hobby up raw and pushes it back to its humble roots – of being a fun way to connect and express a deep love for fandom!

Ready for ‘Crazy skillz enters all the masquerade’s cosplay?’

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WELL what if I told you these skills are obtainable, it just takes a bit of practice?

So you’ve always been super awesome, famous ‘everyone loves you’ right?

Peer pressure from a friend made me want to try perfect my Cosplay, she always put me down about how I looked in costume even though she didn‘t dress up herself. My first ever Cosplay was actually shop bought, I however didn’t have the right boots or wig, and I really didn’t think this was a problem, and it wasn’t when I first started cosplaying.

I made my second Cosplay, but again being spoken down to told it wasn’t good enough. I had a few technical difficulties with wings I couldn’t figure out how to make them and money was tight so Shun’ou from Bleach never even until this day has made it into a convention.
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It wasn’t until my third Cosplay (Elite Canthan Armour from GuildWars) when I realized I would have to create characters I love by myself, or buy and modify, did I finally take a Cosplay I made to a convention. I had so many struggles, mostly the collar and pattern making as it was an unusual shape, and I still hadn’t looked into wigs at this point in Cosplay either, cutting my own hair to suit the character. My staff was huge and a struggle to take to the con, but I did it, Head held high with my staff made from chicken wire and paper mache!

I have had bad feedback from my Sylvari, Posts again on the internet “eww whats that big fat pink thing” “urgh that didn’t deserve to win” and “HAHAHA! FAT CONDOM!” It crushed me. My friends spent weeks picking me up after I found out, but I remembered there are millions of people in the world, and some just are cruel, the ones that matter when it comes to the Masquerade, are myself, my friends and the Judges, nothing more. Anyone can hide behind a screen and say nasty things, but they don’t know who I am, and they’re judging me on my personal looks not my costume, not who I am and not how much work I put into my cosplay. It doesn’t matter where you go in the world, there will always be someone like that. So you ignore that and press on with the good and the constructive.

Alright so you DID start out just like everyone else, go on then, how do we ‘get good’ at this cosplay shindig!?

I think realistically I focused mainly on trying to make the costume as accurate to my references as possible, no matter what it took, or how I made it, and improving on my own skills each time. Even now I still draw and break down parts of the costume before I even look at materials or buying anything for my Cosplay. For instance, my Aion Spiritmaster has 7ft wings, her gemstones glow and her armour has shiny fabric aspects.

 

I drew each element on paper, the wings, her ring above her head, the patterns and markings within her outfit. I even took screen shots from the game as I was playing the Character to get a feel for her and the way the fabric flows.

I would then go to my fabric store with my references and drawings to get a good idea of the materials I can buy and what would suit. Nothing beats being able to see the fabric in motion. I have even taken a video before, the shop assistant looked very confused but loved the idea.

Doing this also helped me learn fabric types, and I soon learnt that when the internet says “don’t use satin or cheap polycotton for Cosplay, it’s so noob” they can actually be very wrong. My Sylvari won first place in the Masquerade along side Silantres Necromancer, and I used basic Craft foam, cardboard and cheap polycotton! I learnt a lot, I feel, from just trying to focus on trying to improve myself each time and trying to make it as accurate to my references. I even learnt the start of electronics and the use of LED’s and all these things come with time and practice.

 

During my time as a cosplayer I have also received advice from others who have had similar experiences, I always find it good to listen to this constructive criticism. My Aion electronics kept falling apart and had several moments they just wouldn’t light up. Thanks to an older con goer who gave me advice to get more secure and tighter connections during our conversation, this hasn‘t happened since. Cosplayers like that really make my day! It’s advice like this that I think really helps. I try to encourage positive Criticism within Cosplay to help myself and others improve our skills. Id rather one constructive comment than a thousand comments that say “Nice Cosplay”  because at the end of the day I’m just trying to improve upon myself. I love the fact people like it, but I also love those inputs to help me grow.

 

Yes but now you are the ‘bees knees’, SURELY those times you don’t get those time when you feel you aren’t good enough anymore?

My boyfriend will tell you he is constantly telling me “NUNS” Its our little saying it means “Not Useless, Not Stupid” I will always put myself down over my Cosplay, especially if something doesn’t go right or doesn’t go how I feel it should. For instance; Worbla. it’s the biggest named thermoplastic out there, popular and expensive. I will admit I am not the best person to use it, no matter how I try I can’t seem to get it right. I burn my fingers, I get bubbles, it warps, my primers never work.

 

I beat myself up about it all the time telling myself that I’m stupid because I can’t do something that another big named cosplayer with 100k likes on Facebook can. It didn’t help when I read on an online tutorial “You are bad and shouldn’t be able to use Worbla if you cant do this!” There’s so many places online that put you down if you don’t have that skill instantly, but you never will unless you try.  People need to know that Just because you’re good at something and use a material but someone else can’t immediately, doesn’t mean they’ll NEVER be able to. You aren’t their mother, you aren’t a law enforcer for Cosplay. Cosplay is for everyone and anyone can use what they want.

 

My example for this, I saw an AMAZING Blitzcrank Cosplay from League of Legends, it looked like the real thing. 100% cardboard and just yellow paint. You wouldn’t have believed it they even made the mechanics from card and rubber bands it was amazing! I think now its become a lot harder to be proud and confident with your cosplays because of peer pressure and social media. You wont get as much people look at you if you don’t have those picture perfect photoshoots on your page or use the most popular material or have many likes. I think realistically people need to forget about that side of Cosplay and focus on having fun, which after all is what Cosplay is really about.

 

This sounds like a lot of pressure. Why do you enjoy entering masquerade’s and making costumes to this level?

 

I love it because it is an experience, and I get to have fun in character on stage, something I would never get a chance of doing elsewhere, there is such an adrenaline rush when you first step out into the light that I can’t really explain, you have to experience it.

 

I get stage fright mostly because I feel there are thousands of eyes judging me, when really they aren’t. Actually, there’s only 1 or 2 people who really don’t matter.

 

Cosplay to me is a big creative outlet, I’ve always been into craft and art, I even went to college and University doing Art and Graphic Courses. it’s a great outlet and keeps your mind off things you just don’t really want to think about. It gets my mind thinking and the creative juices flowing. And at the end of the day you have something to be proud of and say “hey, I made this.” Nothing feels better. After taking time out of Cosplay because of life I am so eager to get back in explore areas I’ve only touched on before and create something I am so passionate and excited about. That feeling is really something I can’t describe, it’s an experience everyone should give a go, no matter their skill level.
“If we dream of making cosplay a true, free art of expression, if we’re going to make cosplay a safe space, ANY (and I really do mean any) kind of cosplay needs to go back to being okay again without quick cast judgements made. In certain circumstances I agree various ‘types’ of cosplay need to have rules and boundaries – BUT we shouldn’t rule out anything entirely.” – Luna – Fantail Cosplay.
Next time ‘don’t be a dick’ comes up in cosplay? Feel free to fire this at them to explain WHY this is a rule – they’ll very likely shut up when looking at the struggles, talent, effort, intelligence and beauty that goes into and ‘behind the scenes’ of cosplay 🙂
Our extreme thanks and gratitude go out to all the cosplayers that kindly took part in this project, takes a lot of guts to stand up and do something like this so please do like/sub and support etc;

 

Featured Cosplayers:

Jeni Mew Cosplay

‘Sexy cosplayer’ who used extensive portfolio of costume work to enroll in a university course (work in progress and many portfolio pieces viewable on Jeni’s facebook page.)

“I got ALL of my costumes out at home and filled a small suitcase with some samples of my best work, I took some pieces of Alex’s armour, my Harley Quinn bodysuit, Alice, Umbreon, my old graphic design portfolio and a sketch book where I’d got my own designs. I just remember mid interview when I got out the Alice costume the interviewer said she’d seen enough! I think I am most proud of Alice because not only are there some beautiful details in the design and fabric choices; I made it in 6 days! I am honestly so proud to have been accepted and after completing my first project received a high 1st grade, I’ve already learned so much and can’t wait to see what next term holds!”

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JeniMewCosplay/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jenimew
Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/jenimew
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Jenimay8
Tumblr: https://jenimew.tumblr.com/

 

Funkster Cosplay

‘Meme cosplayer’ who generated viral status through quick costume whit, excellent sourcing ability and the desire to make convention attendees smile.

“I belong the UK Garrison which is a part of the 501st Legion so our costumes have to be as close to accurate as possible. This is great for my attention to detail OCD, but can be a drag when you’re trying to find a particular buckle.

Currently I have Deadpool (which I’m in the process of upgrading to the DP2 version) a Spidey from Amazing Spider-Man 2, a 501st approved Darth Vader, a War Machine from Iron Man 2 and a walker/zombie.”

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Funkstercosplay/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/funkstercosplay

 

Fantail Cosplay

‘Crazy skillz enters all the masquerades cosplay’ who worked hard from the bottom up, facing every challenge and criticism. Still learning cosplay to this day.

“I saw an AMAZING Blitzcrank Cosplay from League of Legends, it looked like the real thing. 100% cardboard and just yellow paint. You wouldn’t have believed it. they even made the mechanics from card and rubber bands it was amazing!”

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fantailcosplay/ 

 

 

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