The cosplay community seems to get larger and larger all the time as the convention circuit grows every year. From one day cons to cons that last a whole week. It is nearly a guarantee that you will run into a familiar cosplayer at every one of these events. “But what is cosplay?” you might ask. Well, for each individual person it has a different meaning. For most though, it is a chance to be something they are not. Having been to many a convention, I have seen things from Ents standing up to 8 feet tall, realistic looking Links, a Sailor Moon with a beard, and even Transformers that actually transform. Cosplay can even be an original idea.
Recently, I had a chance to go and brush elbows with a few cosplayers in my home town of Reno, NV, and ask them some questions about cosplay. While the main thought behind it is that it is fun, I also got some insight to why these cosplayers are doing what they do. Each person I talked to had a different insight to it.
Two cosplayers by the names of Shawna and Joanna, who had their picture on our website for the Sands Reno Comic Con article as Groot and Rocket Raccoon, were present at the meeting. Shawna was playing Castiel from Supernatural and Joanna was playing Sebastian from Black Butler.
When asked why they cosplay, they both came out with different answers. Shawna stated she got involved in cosplay through the theater and Halloween. She loved the feeling of knowing that what she was wearing was something she made or owned. Shawna also was quite happy when someone actually recognized what character she was playing as not everyone would get it. She remembered her first cosplay lovingly with a smile coming across her face. She had played Queen Elizabeth the First, which was a costume made by Joanna.
Joanna told me that she had started cosplaying when she was 5. She would watch Labyrinth and dress up as Sarah, running around like that for the whole day. Joanna loves the ability to express herself and to make her own costumes. She told me that her favorite thing about cosplay is that “even if it is the worst costume I have ever made, no one in the community judges”. She finds that she never feels envy over another costume. “Though I may want the costume, I never find a reason to think negatively about it,” she added.
While walking around the cosplay event, a couple of costumes caught my eye. The first one was a woman by the name of Emmy who was dressed up as adult Link. Emmy was friendly and glad to talk about her costume, which she had made entirely by hand. She had also made the sword and shield herself. When I asked her to take a couple of pictures, she was more than happy to pose for me but, I could tell that she was a little shy about it. She made a comment to a friend to hold her glasses, as she almost always forgets to take them off when she gets pictures taken. When asked what she felt was the best thing about cosplay, she answered that it made her “feel like she belonged and brought new friends into her life”. I asked her what her first cosplay was and why she chose it. Emmy laughed for a second and told me her first cosplay with Kagamine Rin from Vocaloid and that she had chosen her because she was the cutest in the show. She shook her head and smiled, stating that it seemed pretty silly now.
While I continued to be amazed at the costumes around me, I was approached by a man named Sean, who asked if I would take pictures of him. Sean was dressed as Big Boss from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. As a photographer, I am always more than happy to take pictures of people who walk up to me in cosplay. Sean had found a nice bushy area for him to look like he was sneaking around, and I happily obliged. I asked him a few questions while he posed. Sean mentioned that he loved the funny reactions people give him when he was cosplays. “I love the community, it’s the easiest way to find people with similar interests.” Sean’s first cosplay was Roxas from Kingdom Hearts 2.
Cosplay opens its arms to everyone. It may take a while to find what fits you best, but you can. As for me, I am excited to try cosplaying. Being at this meet-up inspired a few ideas of my own, and I am anxious to try something new. The next time you see someone cosplaying, go and talk to them. I am sure they would be happy to take pictures with you and have a conversation. Maybe it might inspire you to try it yourself!
Till next time,