Love All Cosplayers

Tolerance, Love, Freedom, Laughter, Creativity

Cosplay, Makeup, and the Issue with “Race”

This article recently got brought up and made a huge commotion all over social media.

http://uproxx.com/webculture/2014/10/a-cosplayer-is-being-called-racist-for-her-blackface-michonne-from-the-walking-dead-costume/

This lovely cosplayer decided to cosplay one of her favourite characters from The Walking Dead. Sounds pretty normal, right? However, what isn’t the controversy is her decision to cosplay her favourite character, but cosplayed a character that was African-American. Her own skin complexion is white, so she did what most cosplayers do when putting on their costumes…her makeup.

She did her makeup to resemble that of the character, and African-American woman, and looking at it she did a fantastic job. However, there are people who are from the community and largely not from the cosplay community who are claiming that this act is racist.

 

“The moral of the story is that going in blackface is never OK unless you’ve been Iron Man.”

” it’s racist, plain and simple. blackface has too much negative history to be used, no matter the intention.
the character can be a costume! but their skin color can not.”

“Her heart may be in the right place, but knowing anything about history or what black face means to people of color (like the character she is portraying) she should know better. like others said, PoC don’t apply white makeup to our cosplay…we basically become “black(whoever we cosplay”…she would’ve been fine being “white Michonne”….the end

“Skin color isn’t necessary for cosplay, unless it’s an alien of some sort. Our ethnicity is not a costume, and there’s too much history on this to leave any sort of gray area. Her heart is in the right place, so I won’t call her a racist, but the blackface part of the costume is wrong. Period.”

But there is a notable divide in that there are others who claim that this is not racist, but a cosplayer wanting to honour her favourite character using makeup techniques.

“…and as far as this goes this is not really “blackface” this is costuming make-up.””

“White people didn’t freak out when the Wayans brothers dressed up as white girls in the movie White Chicks. How is this any different? I think it was tastefully done.”

“If anything this is what make-up artists do I respect her for doing this since I don’t have the guts to do this at all.”

“Not racist at all. If a black cosplayer can cosplay a white character and everyone thinks it’s awesome, then a white cosplayer should be able to cosplay a black character without a problem. No double standards! Cosplay is for EVERYONE and this is no more ‘wrong’ than any other makeup transformation. She loves the character and she did a good job. She’s awesome. And this is not ‘blackface’ it’s MAKEUP TRANSFORMATION”

“Seriously? What’s the difference between cosplaying a black character and a Japanese one or a girl cosplaying a male character and visa versa… Which happens all the time in cosplay…. I mean, the point of cosplaying is to become the character isn’t it?”

While there is definitely a fine line between “blackface” and “makeup transformation”, why is it that people are immediately jumping to the conclusion that this is blackface, or closely resembles it? More often than not, cosplayers are changing their skin colour to look like another character. Green for Gamora, blue for Nightcrawler. Cosplayers change their makeup techniques to resemble the anime characters who have notably Asian features in order to resemble the character. It is nothing new for cosplayers to do and not often something that all cosplayers think about when choosing a character.

“Should I change my skin colour to look like this character?”

A lot of times, the answer is “yes”. Because usually, the colour of the character’s skin has a lot of background and identity for the character. Take away Michonne’s African-American heritage, and who would she become? Certainly not our same Michonne? What about Gamora? Or Beast? Or Nightcrawler? Mystique?

What about Asian characters? People who cosplay as Ada Wong and are not Asian? Look at Yaya Han or Ivy Doomkitty, who have notably Asian features who cosplays characters who are notably Western like Catwoman (who is African-American in some renditions and Caucasian in others) or Ms. Marvel.

And sex! Cosplayers often change the appearance of their sex to crossplay. Females will painfully bind their chests to flatten them or stuff their panties to create a “bulge”. Males will wear support and use makeup and other strenuous techniques to have a lovely bust or corset for curves.

Cosplayers are not above and beyond these drastic changes to their image in order to achieve the perfect character. It is nothing new in the community.

It is important for our community to come together and not let race drive a wedge between us. If a dark-skinned cosplayer can cosplay a lighter skinned character or anyone can cosplay an Asian character (or mutants or aliens!), then it should be allowed for Caucasian cosplayers to cosplay dark-skinned or asian characters without backlash from the community. Sure we can not help non-members who do not understand the cosplay world, but that does not mean that we can not support one another.

What IS racism in our community then? What makes a cosplayer racist? Is it his/her makeup? Or behaviour towards others?

I think right now the issues revolving around racism is at an all-time high in the United States after the events that happened in Ferguson, Missouri. Protests are erupting all over the United States fighting for the protection, equality and rights of people of colour. We have a developed even more heightened sensitivity to these topics over the past year. Racism is not something that we should ignore, but it is also not something we should assume from everyone.

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My Costume! Get Your Own!

I’ve been going through my lists of “to talk about” and finally settled on this particularly juicy topic: ‘this is my character so don’t copy me cause I was here first’ and the ‘don’t cosplay a character cause they are pretty, cosplay them because you know the character and love them’ arguments.  These are interesting because you can really get a feel of the possessiveness and care that someone can have towards a particular character. But sadly, these arguments suck because it leaves a lot of people in rocky situations with friends or with other groups of cosplayers.

Let’s start with this one: ‘do not take my idea and cosplay MY character cause “I” did it first.’

This is quite a strong one in groups of friends who decide to do group projects, but also well seen among people who post things on the internet and suddenly find followers or friends doing the same things as them. There is a certain level of possessiveness and they generally are there for different reasons. One of those reasons is that that person may feel strongly about the character and wants to have that character spot in the group they are with. Another reason is that they want to be unique and stand out among the group or crowd because maybe they have a neat idea for the costume.  These are all understandable reasons, but what is not acceptable is when the catty, muddy cat-fights start happening among people all because they wanted to cosplay the same character. Or worse….when the horrible, behind your back gossiping starts…“Oh they stole my idea and took my character. I was going to cosplay that character…now I don’t know what to do…

What to do? Just keep swimming! Continue to do what you originally planned and rock your cosplay! At the end of the day, who cares who cosplays what? Chances are, unless it is an original character of YOURS that cosplay has probably been done before by someone somewhere. All you can do is give the costume your unique touches and just shine! 🙂

Now…there is something….Original characters…Honestly? I would be a bit upset if someone took my Nevermore and started cosplaying as him without giving  me some sort of due credit. Characters from famous games or shows or anime or movies or whatever are one thing…they are mass-loved and have tons of credit due to them. For example, Cinderella. Tons of wonderful Cinderella cosplayers out there. But when it comes to YOUR OWN creative liberties (unless you so happen to be Toboso Yana and have a manga out there in your name), it gets tough to see your private characters on someone else if they haven’t asked permission from YOU or at least given you due credit. In these cases, it is understandable where some anger can come from among groups.

Maybe they RPed together and created their own characters, and suddenly someone decides to cosplay their partner’s character even though they wanted to themselves? Maybe some frustration can come from this, though I hope in these cases folks try to work it out.

Now…onto the other argument: ‘don’t cosplay a character cause they are pretty, cosplay them because you know the character and love them’.

In my time at cons, on facebook and other social media I have noticed that there is a degree of…distaste….from some cosplayers towards cosplayers who choose to cosplay a character because of how they look rather than because they love the material. Understandably there are people who love these characters to a fault and love seeing others who do too. But there are also those who love to build challenging and elaborate costumes!!!  As a cosplayer, I love challenges. The opportunity to learn new skills is something that I personally can not pass up. There are plenty others out there who do this too.

Bottom line? Everyone has their own reasons for cosplaying, and no one should thrust their own definition of cosplay down someone’s throat. Everyone (for the most part) does it because they love to do it and want to be able to create or wear (or both!) amazing costumes. So what if they think a costume is pretty but know nothing about the character?  There is a belief that cosplayers cosplay because they love the character. While this is true in many cases, it is not in all. Though it is really common for cosplayers to fall in love with a  character AFTER creating their costume or while they are.

No one should hold any one person to their standards of costuming or ideals of costuming.

 

 

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Worbla Tutorial pt 1 and pt 2

WorblaTutorial1

Worbla Tutorialpt2

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What is Cosplay?

CosplayPledge

 

Certainly, we are just people in costumes. But so what? We are still a community of people who relate to one another through fandoms or costumes or similar interests and hobbies. There is a lot of negativity in the community that puts down others. This blog is not about being a SUPPORT to people, but about pointing out these negativities and showing that they come from all sorts of directions. Everyone should be able to ENJOY costuming, and while to some of you it is silly or stupid to read about these issues, to others it is important.

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CosFundMe

spool

I apologize for the delay in post! I have not forgotten anyone though! This time I would like to talk a little bit about an interesting phenomena that is happening in our community. It is a new movement, but is quickly gaining attention. Please understand that this post in general is not to call any specific person out or say that personal opinions are wrong. This blog is to exploit issues in the community for further analyzing and thinking by members of the community! I want us to take a look at the below situation and take something from it.

There are cosplayers who are making fun of other cosplayers who set up donation causes on websites. AC Paradise has set up a system in which cosplayers may ask for “donations”. There are numerous accounts that have been set up for the sole purpose of making fun or ridiculing this notion.

http://www.acparadise.com/acb/projects.php

Check out some of those pages on the link to AC Paradise.

Let me tell you a story about a cosplayer who recently had a duffle bag stolen from her car. She had two, beautiful commissions inside that she had planned on delivering as well as molds for the resin pieces, leather tools, molding tools, some cosplay accessories, and a bunch of other expensive and valuable stuff that totaled around 4k. She managed to recover some of her items back (a dress and gloves) but the rest of it remained missing.

This cosplayer received amazing support from friends and family in trying to get back the items or help replace. In the end, she set up a funding account asking for help from those who wanted to. Mind you, she was not begging for money or scavenging for help and cash. This amazing woman had a wonderful support system.

But what happened? I noticed that there were cosplayers who were taking things out of context. People were blaming her for getting the cosplay stolen in the first place. That it was “her own fault” that she carried it with her (though she was going to drop off the commission to the buyer) and therefore she doesn’t deserve the support she is getting. That it is “wrong” to ask help from friends, family and fans.  There are people saying that her costume quality was not worth the amount of value claimed; that they had seen “better” costumes or made “better” costumes with “better” materials.  Here are some of the comments I had found:

“There is NOTHING in those costumes that was stolen (before or after finding parts of it) that even comes close to what she is trying to raise. BOTH of those costumes wouldn’t cost what shes trying to raise even if you had to start from scratch. No matter WHAT she used. You want to charge crazy amounts of money for labor and find some sap to pay it, great. but don’t start a ‘fundme’ or something like that to help recover your loses. When you didn’t actually lose a damn thing, just some time, because of your own negligence.
“THAT costume didn’t cost $1825 to make, especially with the recovered pieces. A few pieces of armor and leather, no fucking way. I’ve built a higher quality Zelda and Link, and they combined didn’t cost that much in their entirety. Glass? Its called glass insurance. Labor is one thing, but that costume didn’t and will NEVER cost that amount of money in materials to make.”
“Honestly, funding for any costume is ridiculous. This is a f****** hobby. If she really ended up spending that much on a commission (the $1825) then I guess I’m not doing right since my cosplays combined don’t cost NEAR that amount. I’ve even start calculated how much my Zelda cosplay would cost and so far it may be $200 max.”
Impossible to make a costume like that cost $4k. I’ve built one, and we just dumped money into it, cost make $400 and that was with the over night shipping from Canada for the glass gems.”

 

“It’s simple if it’s your fault that the costume got stolen cause you didn’t leave it in your house then it’s clearly your mistake & you have to pay for it…. I’m not shit talking on the girl cause I feel for her that something that she worked hard on got stolen but if she want’s to commission she seriously needs be more careful with her products & doing this whole thing & getting people to pay for her mistake needs to stop because it is not professional at all.”

 

“I need someone to rob me so I can rob others emotionally.”

 

Someone who puts way more value on their worth than they should.

 “It doesn’t matter whether she’s big or not. We can feel bad that her cosplay was stolen but honestly that’s kind of her fault? I want to know why she would leave a $4000 cosplay commission all stuffed in one duffle bag and led unattended, even if it was in her car? Sure, she can go ahead and raise money but everyone is also entitled to say what they want about her here.”

 

“This is just as f****** ridiculous as this one chick who was begging money from her fans just so we could buy a d*** wig.”

 

“Guys, none of you are reading it correctly….she put her heart and soul into it, do you have any idea how much those things cost lately? Although I know a guy that can get you good souls for pretty cheap, she totally overpaid”

 

You might be wondering why I am highlighting some points. Some of these link back to previous posts about cosplay vs. hobby and the value we place on people who do commissions. We undervalue people based on our own perceptions of their work. These people are looking at pictures online of this person’s work and then claiming that the quality is crap. Firstly…looking at pictures online? Pictures often do not do anything justice. Saying that it was her own fault she got robbed? Saying she should have clearly kept the commission at home (though she was going to deliver this in person) constitutes that she was the one in the wrong?

This is just as bad as “she asked for it because of how she was dressed” as an argument for rape. How can people blame someone for being a victim of thievery? It isn’t like she had a sign on her car that said: “Hey! Bust my windows and steal my expensive costume making bag in the trunk!”  Come on. Let’s not be hasty.

This type of judgement and ridiculing can honestly ruin our community, guys. It puts so much hate onto one another and although we can judge (because we DO), we should not take that extra effort to humiliate. It makes you look bad. Seriously. It can lower the public’s respect for you. We don’t act and think and feel objectively in the world. What kind of world is being created through this kind of attitude and behaviour?

In the end, who are we to judge the prices of commissions and agreements between two or more people? These are effectively private agreements. Who are we to judge how much materials cost in a costume? Resin and leather are expensive. Thermoplastics are expensive. These people said that this costume was not worth anywhere near 4K (obviously since she did say that materials were also stolen!) or anywhere near the asking amount. This cosplayer asked for $1825 to help pay for materials to remake the costume and perhaps some of her time. There was hand embroidery, leather work, armour making, resin casting and sewing done for this costume. Is this cosplayer’s work and time not worth it?

Now…there are a few other things I want to address about this particular situation.

 

“The sad part is as long as the person who made it is hot of course they will get their money back plus more if they did a fund raiser.”

 “Don’t hate the hustler if they making bank and you’re not.”

 

“I’m sure you could get $4k for a costume. Just tell the buyer you’ll wear it first. Sort of like used underwear. That’ll add a couple thousand right there.”

 

 

Hang on a minute? You mean that there are bigger issues with this situation simply because she is a female cosplay celebrity??? You think she feels entitled simply because she is a cosplay celeb?

These are dangerous thoughts in our community because it sets up a stage for hobby-cosplayers versus elitist cosplayers. These negative stereotypes that we place on elitists is, in fact, a deadly notion. What exactly IS wrong about being a cosplay celebrity? So what if they are famous because of a cosplay(s) that they do? So what if they get attention? So what if they are female? Male cosplay celebrities do not get nearly the amount of hate that female celebrities do.

I want everyone reading this post to stop and think about this for a moment.Why do we treat other cosplayers the way we do based on social status? Why do we place negative connotations to certain “brands” of cosplay? Sure, we may not agree with what someone does because we may believe differently about our hobby, but in the end: WE ALL DO IT FOR THE SAME REASON. A person will not invent the time or money into a costume if they did not love it. Cosplaying is expensive.

I did reply back to some of these comments, and people of course told me off for reading what I don’t like. But if I didn’t read, then how would I learn the issues in our community? 😛 Sure, go ahead and tell me that I can’t say that these posts are “obnoxious” until I create a “white knight cosplay” first. The fact of the matter is, there are good people out there that are blinded by their own views. Rather than opening our minds up to the world around us we lash out in the most expected and unexpected ways.

 

There were some positive arguments too, and one particular comment that stood out for commissioners:

 

“Several in-demand prop builders start at 1k for a prop weapon. Just the weapon. If they do it full time for a living (need to pay themselves a living wage, especially if work comes and goes), and people with money like their work, the price is right. Too many costumers severely undercharge. Making yourself a cosplay is one thing. If you were doing it for a commission, and took a month to make it? You’d want to make enough to cover your month of expenses, extra to save, and materials. It adds up. If she’s got 10 people begging for her work a month? She can charge what she wants. Don’t like the price? Find another costumer.

Source: We do commissions and if people don’t like our prices (which I think are reasonable for the time and materials), they are welcome to find someone else.”

 

Next thing. This particular cosplayer in this story had a “cosplay consultant” perk for donations.  It was just a little optional something to help out cosplayers who wanted to donate and they would still get something back. Let us assume that this cosplayer is super busy. She was willing to help out with anything. This included personalized tutorials. This opened up an entire slew of “anti-fundme” comments and jokes from people who did not take consideration for what was actually happening. Let us look at a few of them:

 

“No way. “Dirty it up” and “make it look used ” is not consulting. Literally the only things you say.”


“But when you feel you’re that special, you can call yourself a consultant.”

“What the heck is a “Cosplay Consultant?” Honestly. What’s wrong with people? #TheFameThirstIsStrong

 

“Pay me $250 and ill tell you alllllllllll about it. and then we can talk more about me.”
“OMG, let’s start a Cosplay Consulting Firm! We can dress in power suits with Ray Bans and look important.”

 

“Wtf is a consultant? Is that like an internet troll? A “slut shamer”?”
“Always kind, and willing to help people out. But when it comes to consulting friends, it’s gonna cost you.”

 

WAIT THIS IS A THING NOW? I’ve given out sooo much advise. D***, I would have been able to afford to do my whole future cosplay list by now. :/”

 

“Shes doing a great job helping the homeless person by offering 5 whole measly dollars. Would you like to try to explain that one? Because I see NO reason for that bullsh** other than just feeling like an entitled a**. #willcontinuetocomplainaboutit

 

What about stopping and thinking for a moment that it isn’t consulting services that people are paying  for, but people are optionally helping her out because they want to and she is offering something in return. I highly doubt that she pays friends for tips and cosplay advice. Come one. Get real gaiz. This was an individualized and isolated situation. Is bashing her so horribly necessary?

Moral of this post? Cosplay Fund Me pages and Cosplayers should not be ridiculed or frowned on simply because you don’t agree with it. You don’t agree with it? Fine. But don’t tell others that these pages make them something “lower” or “foul” in any form of words. Because what do you know about it? Is it really exploiting fans and friends and family if they legitly want to help sponsor? Who are YOU to say that they shouldn’t? Is it exploitation if donators legitimately WANT to help put towards a costume? Keep in mind that these donations are entirely optional and no one is forced to do them. People would not donate if they did not think it would be worth it. You don’t like it? Don’t do it. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but how we act defines us and our community.
Just give this a thought.
(*Note that I use the term ‘elitsit’ and ‘elitism’ as meaning that cosplayers who do not cosplay just as a hobby, but as a business too. In no way am I referencing any of the negative connotations or stereotypes that have been placed on the words ‘elitist’ and ‘elitism’ by cosplayers in the community.)

 

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Consent to Cleavage. Dehumanizing Because you Feel it’s Okay Based on a Costume

blogpic

Hello hello! Post-Spring Break post coming up! I have been trying to figure out what topic I wanted to write about while waiting on some interview responses and putting together questions for other cosplayers and groups, when I found some lovely gems waiting for me on a fabulous cosplayer’s page.

“People are more than welcome to comment on her boobs showing if they’re out there. If she cosplays one character that wears outfits like that, fine, but multiple? Boob-related comments are fair-game at that point.”

This comment? Pisses me off. Not because it is someone who is entitled to their own opinion and stating it, but because it reeks so bad that a rotting, smelling skunk stench is something I’d like to wear as a perfume.

Yes, this cosplayer has amazing boob-shots in her pictures and focuses heavily on sex appeal. But she also pumps out freaking amazing cosplays too. This comment was obviously written by someone who knows little about the cosplay world, and probably follows this cosplayer for her looks and not her work.

Fellow cosplayers. It is not an excuse to sexualize and dehumanize. It does not matter what kind of characters he or she cosplays. What matters is that they put hard effort into their costumes and rocked it and enjoyed it!
So. Before I get too sidetracked, let me fall back some.

If a cosplayer “puts their boobs out there” and you have a comment you want to say about them…please think first before you speak (or write!). Even if the cosplayer enjoys that sort of attention, it is still disrespectful and undermining. Call this my own opinion, but just like these people, I’m sharing it. It is about having respect for one another as human beings, not sex objects.
“People are more than welcome to comment on her boobs showing if they’re out there. “

What!? NO! Just because they are “out there”, does not mean you get to throw in nasty, sexy comments just because you like them (or the other extreme that you degrade the person for showing so much flesh). Have you stopped to consider that maybe the costume is SUPPOSED TO HAVE CLEAVAGE!? Perhaps that cosplayer DOES like that character or costume design. Come on. Have some respect.

“If she cosplays one character that wears outfits like that, fine, but multiple?”

Okay, so maybe this is the beginning of an argument. At least there is backup argument for this belief. However, maybe the cosplayer likes many characters? Honestly. Come on. A lot of Marvel and DC female characters show cleavage. A lot of anime girls have large breasts. Is it fair to say that a cosplayer can only like one character with cleavage or else she’s a sex object? NO FAIR.
COSPLAY IS NOT CONSENT.

“Boob-related comments are fair-game at that point.”

Nope. Never. There is no justification or excuse for “Boob related comments” just because said cosplayer has cleavage.
I am also wanting to point out the same thing to male cosplayers. The same thing happens to male cosplayers who show a lot of muscle or package. It is never okay.

But also, we should not assume that someone posting a comment about cleavage or package or muscles or other body parts are meaning to be dehumanizing and sexual. Sometimes it IS meant as an appreciation, but could be worded poorly or easily misread and misinterpreted.

Please understand that I am not intending to generalize this comment. I just would like everyone to stop and take a look at these sorts of things and then think about your own. 

 

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Support Your Fellow Artists

fabric

This is a particularly special topic, and sadly one that needs to be brought up.  What is it these days, about cosplayers not wanting to pay for commissions???  You are paying for unique pieces, good quality and you are also supporting an artist who probably is relying on these commissions to pay their bills and keep doing what they love. So why is it….that people anymore don’t want to put forth money into a good costume or prop???   I was shocked during my interviews with fellow cosplayers who do this for a living, that they often get customers who want to pay only a small portion of what the costume or prop actually costs. Just pay for materials? What is that? NO! When commissioning, you pay for materials, labor, time and quality.

A lot of times, it seems that people are looking for the cheapest way to make a great costume and save money that they probably don’t have in this dying economy. Well…here’s the breaking news: a good costume will cost good money and there is no way around it. You pay for what you get (in most cases. I have seen some EXCELLENT stuff be sold for much cheaper than it should sell for!).  Do not be so shocked when you are billed at $500 for an elaborate lolita dress. You paid for materials, the artist’s time and definitely good quality. If you want to commission someone, EXPECT TO PAY.  If you don’t think you can afford their asking price, then maybe you should save up a little more. An Iron Man suit made of crafting foam or eva foam is not going to be cheap. Its an IRON MAN SUIT. Come on, guys! A Chii (Chobits) dress with all those frills and lace and layers is not going to be cheap. That is a lot of lace and lace is EXPENSIVE. It is not up to the artist to have these materials on hand, and even if they did, they still have to pay for those materials.

What happens if you ask a commissioner to go down on price? Firstly, you are devaluing that artist. You are basically telling them that their time and effort are not worth your money. Instead of asking for a commission right off the bat, look around and budget yourself. Talk to the person you want to make your piece and tell them what your budget is. They can then tell you what they can do with that budget and what the difference is in materials, etc. But remember, good quality materials cost money.

I am so tired of seeing people commission something from someone and only pay for materials and refuse to pay anything more.  If that is what the artist asked for, fine. I know people who have been like, “I can pay for the materials. So if you have time then can you make this for me?”  Gah. At least expect to pay a commission fee if the artist is not charginyou by the hour.

Good costumes are expensive. It is expensive to create a costume yourself too. There is just no way around expenses.

Every artist charges differently. Some are by the hour, some have flat fees, some charge based on the difficulties of the materials.

I wish people would stop whining about how expensive so and so artist is….cause honestly?  Isn’t their time and hard work worth it? These people spend a lot of time for you, thinking about you,  bringing your dream to life for you….should you not think that they are worth it?

I have been seeing more cosplayers who make their own stuff commission others in order to support them. 🙂  It always makes me happy to see this.

Bottom line?  Budget. Plan…budget more… Expect to pay for quality…And respect and support your fellow artists! Commissioners are like the bread and butter of cosplay. Without people who make costumes, who would be able to wear costumes!? Whether we choose to make it ourselves or buy…we are buying from SOMEWHERE.

In fact, if you are someone who takes commissions, please feel free to send me your info and I will make a list of you all here on this post!

 

 

 

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Character Accuracy

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Throughout this blog so far, I have been establishing cosplay as a form of art, a way for artists to express their (our) art in whatever way we choose without being condemned for our choices. This post is going to focus a bit on taking creative liberties with characters. What do I mean by taking creative liberties? I mean that every artist has their own interpretation of a character and that every artist will do a character differently (and should!).

Every artist has their own style or preference when it comes to what is created. In regards to cosplaying, this could be fabric choices, colour choices, gender bending, change in hair style, etc etc. What I have noticed, is an increase in hate towards cosplayers who deviate from an original design. I’ve heard: “She did not have the right colour wig,” or “that Harley is the wrong shade of red!” I’m sorry, but who cares? Does the overall costume look like a lot of hard work was put into it?! Does it look like the person wearing the costume is having fun!? Then who cares? It is not up to you to judge that costume based on changes to it.  However, if a cosplay contest suggests that you should be as accurate as possible to the original design (such as the contest rules for Cosplay Summit), THEN judges have a right to discuss the accuracy of colour, style, etc. But as a general rule, all cosplayers get to take artistic liberties with their costumes.

Shiny fabric? Maybe there was reason they chose that fabric. Different hair style? Again, maybe there is a reason for it. But honestly. Please stop whining about inaccuracy to the character and that by being inaccurate cosplayers are not doing that character justice. If you have that big of a problem with it, then by all means do the costume yourself. But it is not appropriate to put down another cosplayer because of these silly little personal preferences, because that is all they are: personal preferences.

We should not force our personal preferences on other people. You would not want anyone to do it to you, but you (not YOU in particular, just “you” in general)  do it to them? Careful now. That is close to hypocrisy. 😦  There is a lot of that going around the community in so many different forms that it is not even funny.  Let’s try to eliminate some of this that is going around the community, shall wel? 🙂

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Tango for Two: Controversy with Cosplay Idols

I am seeing more and more hate directed towards cosplay “idols” or cosplayers who are popular through the scene. I can’t help but feel that sometimes this hate is directed towards a large number of cosplay “idols” who do not deserve the anger.
There are a lot of reasons I have seen people say for being upset with cosplay “idols”. Many of these include “self-righteous tendencies”, “entitlement”, “back stabbing”, “business-attitudes”, “egocentric attitudes”, and so on and so forth. The list continues on and on for a long while.
My thesis’s topic was on the division of the cosplay community based on hobby vs business, and how the line between these two groups grows larger and larger based on stereotypes and the breaking of cosplay culture norms. The initial cosplay culture was a bunch of people out to have fun in costume with a bunch of friends, but quickly this has been developing and opening other doors for people to find business in the hobby. I see the argument that “cosplay is a hobby, not a business!”, but nowadays that is not necessarily true. We see musicians make money from their hobbies and artists and actors and welders….so how is cosplaying not a great way to turn something you love into something more? To do for a living?
There are people who argue that there is no such thing as a “professional cosplayer”, only a model or seamstress, etc. But…let’s look at cosplaying as a whole: Cosplaying encompasses modeling, acting, sewing, wig and hair styling, makeup art, prop making, armour building, welding, wood working, script writing, photography, digital image editing, special fx makeup, and so much more. How is it fair to say that a cosplayer can only be a title this or title that? That is a lot of titles if they do more than just model or more than just sewing or wig styling. The term “Cosplayer” can be referenced to a person who does more than just one or two of these things. And sure, “professional” can be considered a self-entitlement but if you think about it…these cosplayers have done a lot to get the title they have. It is not easy to gain thousands of followers or get a name in the cosplaying business. Yes, I say BUSINESS, because whether you decide to take your hobby to another level or not does not mean that others have not.
I am now going to say this: there are cosplayers out there (famous and not famous) who ridicule other cosplayers or put down others. I see a lot of cosplayers who are not thousands of fans famous put down idol cosplayers. WHY!? Honestly. Look at yourselves and look at the posts you make about cosplay idols. You get angry for them putting you down but at the same time you are putting them down. Sure there may be those out there who act all high and mighty and it IS disgusting. But you also have simple fellows who do the same thing.
It is not the cosplay idols alone who are spreading hate in the cosplay community, but it is also those of us who put them down.
You have every right to be angry if another cosplayer is rude to you, rude to their fans, puts you or their fans down, acts better than everyone else, etc….but by blatantly displaying anger in a manner that is a form of bullying in a way, it perpetuates a growing problem that our community faces.
This post is not here to call anyone specific out, but BOTH groups are guilty. As a good friend of mine put it, “Both sides are firing shots. WE should judge people not based on their status or how they cosplay but how they act as human beings.” I would like everyone here to stop and think about what is going on with the cosplay community. We love pointing fingers. It’s human to do so. However we also should analyze what finger pointing does. We blame television depictions of our wonderful community for slandering what “cosplay is all about”. We blame idols for misrepresenting the community even though everyone is different and everyone has their own tastes and styles and personalities. We blame hobbists for holding back the community from the greatness it can become. Well let me tell you something….We are already great. We are unique and fun and open-minded and creative.

We want to work on fixing some of the issues our community has, but we must look at the community as a whole rather than seeing a specific group of people. Cosplay idols can just as easily point to hobbyists and say that “well they are telling me I am an attention whore because I show a lot of cleavage in my costumes”. In a way, this is kind of mean because who are we to judge what another cosplayer decides to wear?

Yes, the cosplay community is drastically changing, but it is up to US to make the changes a good one. I see so many wonderful cosplayers on a daily basis whether it be online or in person. Everyone has so much wonderful potential and I love seeing each and every one of you I get to know grow. It is sad that there is so much hate going around everywhere. Idols acting high and mighty and lacking a nice dose of “humility” and hobbyists who get angry and lash out at those who attack them.

Regardless at how the community is dividing (hobby vs business), we can still be united and appreciate and accept one another.

🙂 We ARE good people. We ARE a great community of accepting people. Some of us could stand to be more humble or more outgoing or more polite or bold. We are a community of PEOPLE, and there are many different kinds of people. 🙂 Let’s try to understand that no two of us will be exactly alike, and no one will have all of the same beliefs or views.

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Real Cosplayer?

I want to talk a little bit about the cosplay community and representation. While I think that cosplay idols are not a bad thing, I feel that the majority of the cosplay community is either misrepresented or invisible. You see mostly on sites that are for “cosplayers” pictures of idols or pictures that have been photoshopped and taken professionally in a paid photoshoot. We do not often see cosplay sites represent cosplayers who are not as well known or do not have professional photos. To me, this is a bit of a lie because most of us cosplayers come from this invisible or ignored portion. Cosplay.com focuses a great amount of effort in their showcase to cosplayers who do have amazing costumes, but spent a lot of time photoshopping and/or have had a professional shoot. Not everyone can afford a professional shoot or do not have the resources or connections to have a professional shoot done for free. So, despite having amazing costumes, these others are tossed aside in favor of the cosplay idols.
Idols get more recognition while the rest end up having little recognition for their work.
Bottom line is, everyone should be recognized for the work that they do. Creating costumes is hard. It takes a lot of time and patience. Even commissioning costumes is difficult because you are still left with design and characterization. You still have to wear that costume and show it off.
What is a “real” cosplayer? Cosplayers are cosplayers regardless and honestly I have a distaste for the argument of “a real cosplayer does …..” No. Sorry.  A real cosplayer does not make their own costume or buy their costume. A real cosplayer does not refrain from selling prints or sell prints. A real cosplayer is not a model or is a model. A real cosplayer does not put down others who creates something differently. A real cosplayer is a person enjoying what they do and loving the costuming hobby whether for fun or for business.  So what if he/she bought their costume? They still rock it! So what if he/she is making money from something they love? Musicians and Actors do it too! Let us not judge others in our community (or out of our community! ~_^)
Cosplay is not just anime/manga, Japanese video games, comic books, other games, etc etc…It is a particular and creative form of costumery. I see things on my facebook feed about how cosplay has changed from just being anime and manga to being comic book characters, and I also see how some argue that comic book costumes are not real cosplay because cosplay is Japanese culture based. I think this is an unfair assessment because what the hell is cosplay exactly? A high and creative form of costuming. That’s it. There is no dictionary definition of what cosplay is becuase it is individual. Sure, cosplay is an important sub-culture in pop-culture Japan, but that does not mean it is Universal in meaning.
So when you see pictures of cosplayers in professional shoots or pictures of cosplayers showing off their costumes outside of professional shoots, let us admire all of them.

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