10 Tips From a Cosplayer
Okay, so I’ve been doin this nonsense for about 8 years now and here are my 10 biggest tips for anyone else doing this sadistic hobby (This is a bit geared towards people who make costumes just FYI. I will post another more geared for beginners or those who buy later)
1) Remember Why You Do This.
Maybe you showed up to con and were 1 of 74 Jinx’s. Or maybe your costume wasn’t as accurate as someone else’s. Or maybe it feels like everyone else made theirs and you bought yours. So what? Did you have fun? Did you meet friends, and/or bond with the people you came with? Unless you’re in the contests, remember that it ISN’T a contest. And even the contests are meant to be fun. Alternatively, don’t let any elitist fans ruin your fun.
2) Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously.
Remember that being a cosplayer doesn’t make you ‘more’ of a fan than someone who doesn’t. Remember that you do this for your own enjoyment and that is all that matters. Spend as long or as little as you want on a costume, end a con with 20 silly selfies and some new friends, compliment that other cosplayer in the same outfit because you clearly both have something in common, don’t think of them as competition.
3) Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help.
Parents, siblings, teachers, friends, neighbors, craft store employees, theater teachers, art teachers, people online. There are tons of people who could offer help with even little things like what glue to use on foam that needs heatshaping(non-flammable x-treme elmers glue is nice) , what paint to use on leggings (apparently fabric paint stretches with it just fine), ask your grandma what stitch is best for rounded edges on cotton (idk), ask a JoAnn’s associate what thread to use. In my experience store associates are extremely helpful, even with things like a second opinion on matching colors.
4) Use Coupons.
Seriously. If you can, set up an email just for coupons. Going to Michaels for a 2 dollar little thing of paint? Use that coupon they emailed you and now it’s 75 cents and you have more money for other things like fancy fabric or idk food. Check if any stores have student or teacher or senior discounts if that’s applicable, then you’ll have a discount even without coupons. Especially good for big purchases. If you’re buying everything at once there is almost definitely some sort of 5 off of 30 type of coupon out there. If you are able, this is a good way to set up a savings for con or your next costume maybe, just look at the receipt, see how much you saved and set that much (or a part) aside for food/hotel/gas/merch.
5) Look at your Source.
No matter how well you know your character or your design do not go very long without looking at the source. Working on a wig? Have a picture in front of you the whole time. Maybe sketch out the different angles beforehand. Going fabric shopping? Stare at the original. If you print out a reference pic know that it may be slightly off. If you’re doing a costume where the color seems different in every shot (like Rey from Star Wars) then pick the one you like. If you can, consider coloring or painting a swatch of the color on an index card and bringing it with you to compare. Seriously. Keep checking the source when working. It’s equivalent to “measure twice cut once”.
6) Measure Twice Cut Once.
Even in crunch. I know, it’s stressful and scary and frustrating but you know what is more frustrating and scary and stressful? It being 8pm the night before the con and you just cut that last bit of fabric too small. Or your wig too short. Seriously. Just double check yourself.
7) Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself.
Outdated meme but useful tip. If you’re getting anxious to a difficult level, or exhausted physically or mentally address it. Take a break. Take a nap. Eat a meal. Go for a walk. Watch an episode of that show you’re trying to cosplay. Play that game. Watch cosplay videos if you’re scared of losing motivation. Just don’t push yourself too hard or you risk messing up parts of your costume and more importantly, you risk hurting yourself. Don’t work until you accidentally stab yourself with a hot iron and have a panic attack. Would you rather spend 15 minutes playing with your cat or crying and bandaging yourself?
8) Use It.
Found some fabric you love for that SnK skirt thing, but it’s infused with glitter?Who cares, use it. Every cosplay you have seen of Red Hood has a lot of leather and cargo pants but you want skinny jeans and suede? Use it. The costume is for you. Make it how you want. To quote the great Hilary Duff “Why Not?” Also, go listen to that song if you need encouragement.
9) Enjoy The Whole Process.
Maybe it is redundant at this point but seriously. Have fun. Not just at the con, party, photoshoot, meetup etc. Have a wig styling party. You finished that jacket? Nice, wear it out shopping and be proud. Make a playlist for each character you work on or general motivational music. 8-tracks.com is great for this too. Test those seams/that hairgel/ those shoes/ flexibility by putting on your jam and dancing around. Send snapchats to your friends when you test your make up. Skype your aunt to show off that circle skirt. Put your hat on your dog.
10) Procrastination isn’t Great.
Probably don’t put off making your costume by making a list of tips for other people.