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.
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.
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?
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!
What 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 costume 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?
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.
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?’
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.
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!
Alright so you DID start out just like everyone else, go on then, how do we ‘get good’ at this cosplay shindig!?
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.
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?
This sounds like a lot of pressure. Why do you enjoy entering masquerade’s and making costumes to this 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.
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!”
‘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.”
‘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!”