A rookie cosplayer’s guide to getting started

I’ve mentioned in my Summer Activities post that my friends and I will be taking a trip to Montreal this weekend. We’re going to Otakuthon (an anime convention held there) as well as doing some sightseeing. I’m particularly excited for Poutineville! Anyways, I’ve been inspired to share an incredible creative outlet with you guys- cosplay!

But first, what is cosplay?

The word “cosplay” is the combination of “costume” and “roleplay”. It’s the art of dressing up as a character. And essentially, you are that character when the costume is on.

But why do people do it?

It could be for appreciation of a character or series, a hobby to do with friends, or making a business out of it. The main reason I cosplay is the creative freedom. It’s a process I’m 100% in charge of. Every detail is purposeful to me. Being my own visionary, boss, and maker is a liberating feeling.

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A couple of my friends are planning to do their very first cosplay this year. There is so much I can say, but I’ve narrowed it down to five points.

Choose characters you are attached to

It doesn’t matter if you’re making your own costume or ordering online. No matter what, you will be putting time, money, and energy into this. So make sure you like this character enough.

The first character I’ve ever cosplayed was Emperor Nero. I liked this character’s design, but I had no connection to them. I still had fun cosplaying at Anime North. However, there was something missing.



Cos-test cos-test cos-test!!!

“Costest” means testing out your cosplay. I cannot stress its importance enough. As you’re making the outfit, make sure to keep trying it on. Once you get the wig, make sure you’re learning to style it. Make sure you’re playing around with different makeup looks.

This way, you’ll be prepared when the day of the convention rolls around. You’ll already know exactly how to get ready and how much time it’ll take. The first two times I cosplayed for Anime North, I was fumbling around in the hotel room last minute…because I didn’t costest!



There is no right or wrong

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Cosplay is such a personalized experience. You don’t have to look exactly like the character. And you don’t have to look exactly like your reference images.

So if you want to change certain details, by all means, do it! This could be anything from making a jacket longer to genderswapping your character. Did you notice I’m the female version of Kacchan?

As long as you are recognizable are your character, anything goes. And if anyone tells you “heyy…you’re not doing it right”, I’ll gladly give them a grenade to the face.



If you’re able to, book a professional photoshoot

This is a minorrr point. Personally, I feel like I won’t get the full experience of cosplaying if I don’t do an actual photoshoot. It’s great to take pictures at the convention, but there’s nothing like a private photo session with edited photos. Credits to Tyrone Islington Photography for my pictures of Kacchan!



Your first versions won’t be the best ones

This weekend, I’ll be cosplaying Noctis with the Trident of the Oracle. At first, I felt pressured to make every last detail perfect. I felt like I was being held to very high standards.

I had to tell myself that this is my first time cosplaying Noctis. And this is only the third cosplay I’m actually putting effort into. Of course, it’s not going to be my best work ever. The first time you cosplay a character won’t be the last time. Remember that you can always “level them up”.

When I cosplayed Kacchan at Anime North this year, there was a huuuge improvement compared to last year’s.



My closing remarks are to have fun, run wild with creativity, and don’t take yourself too seriously!

Hugs and kisses,

~ Jin

You can also find me on my personal blog

Author: Jin Cao

I am a multi-faceted designer, fashion blogger, makeup enthusiast, lover of cats, and connoisseur of ramen! Writer of LeggingsandLacquer.com Main fashion writer of Onahjung.com Find my work at Jinmartini.com

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