We all love to improve our skills. Our To Do lists are HUGE because we’re a
passionate, ambitious group of people.
But we don’t usually put a To-Do to improve our social skills.
Social skills are incredibly important! The Sailor Moon photo above couldn’t have been done without it! The awesome Luna (yellow dressed) cosplayer, @kittydelicious, gradually collected us for an awesome photoshoot, with The Curmudgeon Cosplayer as Sailor Scot, and Cloud Cover Cosplay as Sailor Uranus, and myself as Sailor Jupiter. You know you wanna check out these lovely people in the links.
Beyond photoshoots, social skills let you learn better, faster, and rely on a network of wonderful people to learn and collaborate with.
As a member of this community, I have seen many examples of cosplayers being wonderful and awful to chat with. Some are a pleasure to meet, while others, unfortunately, are more of a pleasure when they leave.
This article may be harsh, so please take this as straight-talk, blunt advice from an older sibling. I may be blunt, but like an older sibling, I say it because I love ya and this community. I only seek a better community.
I explain each problem, real world examples that I have actually seen happen, and then give some actionable solutions for you.
Cosplay colleagues, go check yourself on whether you need to break some of these commonly viewed
1. Engage with other cosplayers.
Seriously, make friends and chat with other cosplayers, online and offline. I see so many comments live and online that are all about “me! me! me!” and not the anime. We’re so excited about our costumes, that we get caught up in promoting ourselves and only talking about ourselves!
Online, here are the conversations I see between cosplayers:
Cosplayer A: “Oh, I see you’re going to con X! What will you be dressed up as?”
Cosplayer B: “Oh X, Y and maybe Z!”
Cosplayer B: “And this!”
Cosplayer A: “Cool!”
Notice how B showed no interest in A at all.
I see cosplayers posting in cosplayer communities posts like: “Do you love cosplaying with friends? Here’s (a picture) mah friend and me cosplaying! <3 <3 <3” with a
Clearly, the writer wanted me to respond to that with “Of course! Who doesn’t?”, right?
No, that’s not it. It’s just an excuse to promote themselves.
In person, when asked about your costume, you may get into 15 minute soliloquy. Yes, that’s 15 minutes of you talking. No dialogue or questions in between. Just 15 minutes of on person talking. That’s incredibly, way too much.
Even in situations where you haveto talk about your costume, like in craftsmanship competitions,
you usually talk between ~5/10 minutes max, and you haveto add time for questions.
I know you’re super excited. I know promoting yourself is important. People love talking about
themselves and what they love. But really, less is more. Don’t talk at someone, chat with
Share your passion for what you’ve made, but keep it brief first and gauge if the other person is interested. Do they ask questions? If not or they change the topic, they probably want to talk about something else. That’s okay.
Ask your own questions, because, everyone loves talking about themselves.
If they or you don’t have anything to say, don’t feel the need to. No big deal! 🙂
Here’s an exercise
When you talk to someone new, think about how you can help them. Ask
them what’s their next project is, and if they’re stuck on something, offer
some advice or general support and enthusiasm for what they do. Is there a workshop that you saw that might be of interest? Did you see a cool tutorial that may help them out? Do you have a friendly friend you can connect them with that did the same thing?
Show how much you love your community by taking even simple pictures of other cosplayers with
you! (if you can!)
Online, don’t be a self-promoter. Yes, share your work if it’s appropriate for the community. PLEASE read the community rules on self-promoting. Look at prior posts. What
kinds of posts does this community like? Communities are for dialogue, not about you. Support others, ask questions, and help people.
Speaking of talking
to other cosplayers…..
2. Don’t bash.
Yes, tell another cosplayer what you love about their cosplay. Say it may be your favorite. But don’t compare. There are entire videos on how to talk to cosplayers. Go check them up. This is my fave, thank you @nerdcaliber/site.
Even when in a capacity to judge a costume, like that as a cosplay judge, we don’t bash the competitors. When I serve as a cosplay judge, I will only give constructive criticism if the cosplayer directly tells me that they want it, and I do that individually. (If you compete, you should ask of that too!)
It’s easy to find nice things to say about someone. It’s the same with complimenting a random stranger. I do so with their cosplay, and ask about it, even if I do not know the series at all.
More often than not, I have not seen the book/show/game/thing, so I usually learn something. I usually say: “You look awesome! What series are you from? Tell me about your costume.”
And this tip goes triply so to younger or novice cosplayers, who need encouragement and a good welcoming to this community.
Now, when talking about who you’re cosplaying….
3. Be ready to briefly explain the source material/video game/show to show how excited you are about it, but keep it brief.
Don’t assume everyone in the world has seen your favorite shows. When asked “what are you working on?”, you may reply with “oh, Jean, Dean and Mako!!”. There are a bazillion people with that name. I also see posts like “I will cosplay this guy!!” with a link to
some image that I am not familiar with.
It’s rude to assume that everyone is
fanatical about the same things as you are, no matter how popular a show is.
One of the reasons why there are not many copyright suits over cosplay is that we are free advertising to the media. Many of the video games, anime and shows I have seen
are because a friend has cosplayed it. If you can explain why you love a series beyond an unhelpful “is da best!!” and explain why you love that character, then you’re more likely to convince someone to check it out. This applies to even original characters for your writings too!
Though, like in advice #1, don’t give them a 10 minute story of the show and talk at someone. Chat with someone. If someone is not into horror shows, don’t give them a 5 minute story of how great your fave horror show is. You’re wasting their time.
Here’s another example of how to describe the show Attack on Titan, and not provide helpful information: “It’s this super special awesome show where people are killer badass soldiers and there’s these titans and they’re bad and the main character, he hates them, and this girl is such a silent badass and she’s so awesome, it’s the best show ever and omg“, etc.
How is anyone supposed to have an in-depth conversation with you over something they have not seen/played/read? That’s talking at someone.
Always cite your source material. Include character name, costume variant, and show. When you chat with someone, always assume that no one knows about your series, and be ready to give a few sentences on why this series and this character has captivated you to pour hundreds of hours into making that
costume. I know you have an awesome reason or two. Share it.
I do not care if the game/show/thing is the hottest thing right now, the most top-rated, multi-award winning thing ever. Chances are you will run into someone that does not know about the game/show/thing.
Keep it short. Keep it a sentence or two. Briefly mention the genre plus a sentence or two of why you like it. Again, chat with them, not at them.
Example: When I wear an Attack on Titan costume and I get asked what show am I from, I say it’s an
addicting suspense thriller where people live surrounded by walls in fear of huge titans, and I dress up as one of the top soldiers sent to protect them.
Come up with one better than mine, and keep it just as brief. I know you can. 🙂
If you find a cosplayer who is does the same character as you….
4. Love your twin cosplayers.
This isn’t the prom where wearing the same dress is a bad thing. Your twin loves the show just as much as you do. You clearly love the same character and same series. Why are you not instantly friends??
I know you want to be “da best”, but if there’s anyone who understands
how much you love this character, it would be your cosplay twin. I made a ton of friends when I dressed up as Korra and saw other people as Korras too, and it’s wonderful seeing the creativity that other people have with the same character.
Seriously, all of you love the same thing. Go be nice!
Go pose with them, take pictures with them, exchange tips on how they
made certain parts. Compliment them! Take selfies! Go exchange social media/cosplay pages! Network and talk with them!
5. Be a professional.
You may have heard that anything you say online will stay there forever. It’s true. And it’s all easily searchable. You don’t know who will look at your stuff online. A potential recruiter? A future boss maybe?
I don’t need an example for this behavior because bad spelling, inside jokes, incomprehensible blurbs, mean comments, are all online. This can apply in person too though.
Word spreads fast. If you acted like a sore loser at that competition, everyone will know. If you act rude, inconsiderate, disrespectful to others of them and their time, it shows.
Here’s an exercise:
Go ask some parent/relative/trusted older person to check out your cosplay art, whether online or through photos. Ideally, it should be someone that has no idea of the media you’re making costume for. What do they think? Can they appreciate the work you’ve put into your projects without understanding the video
game/book/show that it came from? Is it professional?
As a cosplayer, the outside community (non-cosplayers, people who don’t even know what that word
means) may think of us as foolish rabid fanatics. It’s our responsibility to
introduce people to the things we love. We have a ton of negative perceptions in our side. It’s up to us to change that.
You can still be a pro, have fun, be goofy or silly, hang out with friends and have a wonderful time. You do not
haveto be dull or change yourself. It means being respectful, considerate, and ready to show off your work, meet new colleagues, and learn from others.
Act like a professional. Write real words in your online stuff. Use a spell checker. Organize your pictures so even someone clueless to the media you see, can see your pictures and be impressed.
Write with no assumptions about what your reader knows. If you can help it, please don’t add inside jokes. Be polite and considerate.
I love this community. You all are clever, wonderful and talented in what you do.
These upgrades are relatively simple, yet improve your ability to connect with people. Since we humans are social animals, these tips can apply to beyond the hobby, to school, friends, work, etc. Be nice, respectful
and considerate, whether to each other or to people who have no idea about cosplay. Chat with other cosplayers, especially your twin cosplayers, who love the show/game/book/thing as much as you do. Don’t
talk at people, chat with them.
These are all little upgrades you to be a socially better cosplayer, expand your cosplay friend/colleague network with amazing people, learn from your amazing network, and best represent our awesome hobby to the world.
Stay crafty everyone, and see you at the next con!