After an interesting conversation the other day, I wanted to write an article on the expense of cosplay.
We all know that cosplay takes patience, time and effort. It also, does not come cheap.
I have only gone to 4 events and made 3 costumes to date, but I have spent around £2000 so far on travel, material and tools.
Cosplay is an expensive hobby, and with cosplayer’s taking on larger and more complicated projects, it’s no wonder people care so much about the final outcome. Yes, a lot of us cut corners (I know if I make make something out of bottle tops and milk cartons I will!), but when you start fitting LED light systems, making silicone moulds for swords and buying wigs and hair extensions that even put the Jersey Shore group to shame that price soon soars. We need a way to pay for such an expensive hobby, but how?
Many cosplayer’s choose to sell accessories, jewellery and other nick knacks online. As they already have all the tools to get started, and a large fan base of similar thinking individuals, this is a great way to make a few pounds. If you love what you do,why not make money to fund your larger projects at the same time? It’s win win. However, this kind of craft is time consuming, repetitive, and cheap work. You won’t be giving up the day job any time soon.
Those of us who are master seamstresses may advertise our services on a larger scale – making costumes for newbies! This is a brilliant way for people to start cosplaying, especially if they do not have the time or know how to make their own costumes. With pre-made costumes ranging from as little as £30 up to hundreds, you can decide what level of commitment you are willing to put in to your commissions. In some occasions, one commission piece may pay for your next con visit in its entirety.
The problem with this work is you can’t please everyone. You may have come home from work, every day, and instead of relaxing had to pick up your needle and thread and work your butt off to complete a commission, only to be told it wasn’t what they imagined. After the expense of making the outfit, refunding this would set your own cosplay further behind. This is why most pre-made costumes are cheap and tacky, and never really fit the way they should. It’s risky work.
Some cosplayers are lucky enough to have achieved significant online fame. They sell their photos for articles, and get funded to travel all over promoting games and anime. When at this stage, many of them will be given costumes by their promotional teams and they will never suffer a sewing blister again. Personally, I believe when it gets to this stage you are no longer a cosplayer, but a promotional model.
Understandably, cosplayers put their heart and soul into making their costumes, and we all have our ways of paying for such an expensive hobby. When it comes to the cons that we work so hard towards, we will be the centre of everyone’s attention, Some cosplayers feel they deserve to be paid for that kind of work. There are more and more photographers charging cosplayers to have their pictures taken, more paid memberships into elite groups and more cosplayers keeping their endeavours secret so as not to share their process with the outside community. I for one, know I am a cosplayer today because of the open, friendly and encouraging environment I was offered at the London expo. Even though my costume was terrible, I received such praise I felt instantly welcomed as part of the family. Because of my acceptance into several free cosplay groups, I have learnt tricks of the trade that have strengthened my coscraft knowledge, and I have been able to pass on this knowledge to newbies myself. I have had my picture taken by some fantastic photographers, and in turn I have helped promote their talents among my friends.
My question is, if this kind of knowledge becomes sacred, and if our community distances themselves from the beginners, will this damage the cosplay image? Or do you think the conventions should be a way of self promotion in order to gain recognition?
I am interested to hear people’s opinion on this matter, so I hope you will comment with your thoughts.