I was delighted to see a new news article on DeviantArt that was relevant to my interests, shown here about how cosplay can translate into identities, virtual or otherwise.

The author poses questions for cosplayers, and I figured to answer it here. The questions were taken from the  article, so please feel free to answer, regardless of whether you’ve cosplayed or not.

1. Which elements of the Cosplay movement would you like to see highlighted?

I’ll break this down into the two components of “cosplay”: costume + play:

Costume: I believe the technical aspects of it need to be highlighted. To pull off these costumes involves not only costuming, but arts and crafts, metalwork, engineering, electronics, and much more, not to mention lots of trial and error. Regardless of the body type of the person in the suit, execution of the costume involves much skill, effort, and expertise in a wide variety of field, and should be admired for that alone.

Play: A secondary and important element is acting. It’s always disappointing when you see a well executed costume but the person behind the suit isn’t playing as their character. To master this involves lots of training in improvisation for those moments when you meet another cosplayer, public speaking, and research into the character. Writing and storytelling are also important to execute amazing skits and plays that happen in masquerades, cosplay contests, and the like.

2. Which deviants in the community might be best to contact for an interview about their process?

There are far too many to count. There are many cosplayers that I admire, so it’s hard to pick just one. In this community where a wide variety of expertise is needed, we share from each other. So to pick one person who helped me out and inspired me versus another is pretty difficult.

3. Are there any elements in Cosplay that never seem to get mentioned that you feel need to be brought to the forefront of the conversation?

Cosplay right now isn’t in the most positive light, as can be seen in many forums that talk about it. Some perceive it as poorly constructed costumes with actors that don’t fit the body type. But, one can be said for art in general, even here in DA. You may see 10 crappy pieces of fanart for every one good piece of art, but those artists that make the crappy fanart are practicing to make the good art.

Others see it as a completely nerdy endeavor in a negative light. The kinds of reactions I may get may a slightly raised eyebrow at best and may think I’m insane or anti-social for wanting to be another character outside of Halloween. Dressing up like a football player covered in face paint on a bus is seen more socially acceptable than wearing an anime costume.  My perspective is from the United States, but people would think I’m crazy if I dressed up in my costumes in public.

What counts as cosplay? 

Is it the costume? Is it the play? As an amazing cosplayer once said “If you wear a ninja headband and calling yourself Naruto, [a major anime series], I would agree”. But others may not.

Do we mix it into our various personas? If so, how? 

We are all students, professionals, mothers/fathers, and children. A handful of people in the world make cosplay their job, so the vast majority of us has jobs, classes, and other endeavors. How would our friends/colleagues treat us if they found out about that we like to dress up as fictional characters? There’s a whole audience of colleagues in my life that I choose to not tell them about my cosplay hobbies because I want them to respect me in my professional life.

What sounds more socially acceptable, that in my spare time I like to go bowling, or that I like to dress up as fictional characters outside of Halloween? There’s still a big stigma about this, and I have received mixed answers as to whether to mix my cosplay persona with my professional or social persona, and if so, how to mix it properly.

4. In your opinion which Cons represent the best that Cosplay have to offer?

Amazing cosplay can be found anywhere. Though, the best of the best compete at places for the World Cosplay Summit, or at very popular cons with well-run cosplay contests. Well-run means that all contestants are pre-screened beforehand and pre-judged depending on presentation(the costume aspect) and the show(the play part), preferably each separately, since craftsmanship and acting are two very different skill sets.

6. While dressed up in a costume, is there a difference between people who role play versus people who don’t embody the traits of the character?

Yes, there is a difference, but it really depends on the context on whether it’s needed. Acting/role-play seems to not be called for in a costume craftsmanship contest, for example.

In the convention scene, it is apparent who carries themselves off as a character or not. Acting the character is half of cosplay itself, and deficiencies in craftsmanship can be masked by a fantastic performance.

Again, it’s not required to have acting skills, but it’s something to be aware of and respect equally along with craftsmanship.

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