So, thank you Lucy for taking time out to write this! And now, I hand you over to Lucy (if you want to chat to Lucy, check her out on Twitter at @Lucy_Saxon or you could check out Lucy's CosPlay Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LucySaxonCosplay/).
If you ask a cosplayer why they cosplay, you’ll get any answer ranging from ‘because I love it’ to ‘help me, I can’t stop’. My response tends to be towards the latter end of the scale — I do love cosplay, don’t get me wrong, but for something considered a hobby it takes more money, time, and stress than just about anything else in my life, writing included! My friends always laugh at me for being more concerned and anxious over cosplay deadlines than I ever get over book ones. Cosplay can become an addiction; a quest to make the perfect costume, to get the perfect photos, to challenge yourself more and more with each costume choice. A fun addiction, but an addiction nonetheless!
For me, cosplay is all about expressing love for a character or franchise. In the same way that people create fanart and fanfiction, cosplay is a creative way to put yourself out there as a fan of something, and to use that to connect with other fans of the same thing, by forming cosplay groups or just going up to someone and saying “Hey! I love your costume!”. It’s a form of art, and it’s incredibly satisfying to wear a costume you worked really hard on, especially if you get complimented on said costume! The confidence boost is enormous, and there’s nothing quite like the feeling of becoming one of your favourite characters for a few hours.
Cosplay is a great hobby in that there are varying levels of commitment, so you can put in as much or as little as you’d like; if you want to spend ten months or more building some hugely extravagant costume that’s perfectly accurate and detailed and wonderful, go right ahead. Alternately, if you’d rather buy something off the internet or throw together a quick closet-costume and just focus on enjoying yourself while in cosplay, that’s cool too! There are no real requirements, other than that you consider yourself to be in costume. However, it can become a very slippery slope once you discover the joy that is making and wearing costumes yourself.
I tend to choose costumes based on how cool they look and how much I love that character, which means things like realism, practicality and my own skill at costuming rarely come into the equation until I’ve already decided I want it. Not the best way of doing things, I’ll admit, but it does mean I get to learn new skills and push myself that little bit further; with cosplay you can start small and build up until you get where you want to be, and then push yourself beyond that.
Of course, some costumes are more complex than others, and a lot of cosplayers will try and have both low-work and high-work costumes if they can. The more intricate your costume, the more things there are to possibly go wrong while wearing, and chances are it’s probably not all that comfortable! Sometimes it’s nice to have a simpler costume for one or two of the con days, to have a chance to relax. It’s surprisingly exhausting being in costume all day, having to be ‘switched on’ to be asked for photos at any moment, while wearing something that could hinder your movement or comfort a fair bit. In my Hyrule Warriors Zelda costume, I couldn’t sit down for the entire eight hours I was in it!
A huge amount of self-discipline is needed for cosplay, especially once you’re well and truly hooked. It’s easy to get swept up in it all; plan a dozen huge costumes and agree to a bunch of cosplay groups, then realise you have neither the time nor the funds to do most of it. I’m lucky in that I’m pretty flexible with the time I have to make costumes, due to working at home — most cosplayers have to fit it in around work, or school, or family. I’ve managed to settle into a pretty good routine for balancing cosplay and writing; I plan my costumes around a year in advance, scheduling out when I’ll make which costume and which convention I want to wear it to first. That way I can leave out blocks of non-cosplay time to write or edit, and if a new costume comes along that I absolutely need to make, I’ll switch it out with one already on the list instead of adding it on — otherwise I’d add a new costume every other week!
It’s hard to say exactly what it is about cosplay that gets people from all walks of life interested, but be warned; while we can offer a huge amount of fun, a brilliant community and an excellent skills-based hobby — your bank account and your free time may suffer in the process. Come on down the rabbit hole and join us in the madness!