Cosplay is a big part of many people’s lives, allowing them a chance to step into someone else’s shoes and escape from everyday life. With the rise of conventions sweeping the world, Cosplay is becoming something more and more people are getting into. As a result of this, communities of cosplayers are sprouting up. Some who meet up at different Cons to band together as a ‘Star Wars’ garrison or meeting at a movie release to be ‘The Avengers’. Something that is incredible about Cosplay is the level of detail that goes into the costumes, some spending hours and hours on working out the perfect colours, textiles and even going so far as to include advanced electronics!
We have asked a series of questions to each cosplayer in the hope that we can provide you all with some ideas on how to get started or some tips on how to develop your own craft further!
In this edition of Let’s Talk Cosplay we talk to Hannah (Hearon) who is 23 from the UK.
- How long have you been Cosplaying?
Since high school; so around ten to twelve years. I found cosplay through anime/manga at the time and was inspired by cosplay groups on YouTube and deviantart.
- What inspired you to get started?
I was unconfident, and did not fit in at school. Becoming a character who was stronger than me, braver than me etc had its appeal. I’ve always been creative too, and it was a way outwardly show that – building a cosplay from scratch. Most of the time I used things laying around the house and there was such a sense of accomplishment when a piece came together.
- What would you say has been your biggest challenge to date?
Confidence and money. Cosplay is an expensive hobby, to say the least so not everyone will always understand – but it’s a worthwhile one. I’ve had to learn to create cosplay within my budget, which means sometimes it doesn’t come out exactly as I want it too, but that’s the challenge and gives me the drive to be better.
- Which is your favorite Cosplay you have done so far?
My Grey Warden from Dragon Age Origins. At the time, I’d just lost someone very dear to me in my life and finishing the cosplay got me up the mornings. I completed it in roughly three months, and I remember at the beginning I thought I’d never be able to do it; I’d never be able to figure out all the components. It was the first time I’d done armour. Since then I’ve used the cosplay five times (cons + photo shoots) and sadly it needs repairing, but I’ve also learnt so much from it.
- What has been your favorite Cosplay interaction you’ve had at a convention (if applicable)
There are many! But I shall tell you two of them. Both of them are during the con where I’d first made my Warden costume:
A young man came up to me with his carer, now being a carer myself, I was happy to talk to the young man who shook my hand and looked around in wonder. He told me he couldn’t believe how many things had come to life, or been brought to life by the talented people around us. And though I do cosplay for myself, that is also a driving force for me – to witness people’s reaction as they see a character they themselves love come to life, and I hope to inspire people to start too.
The second interaction was when I was waiting near the exit to leave, stood waiting with a huge sword on my shoulder and a white wig down my bag. (Very noticeable!) I saw an older lady staring at me, and I didn’t blame her – but instead of being confused as to why I was dressed up, she came over with her son who had to translate and asked for a picture. We took a selfie together, and she thanked me. It just proved to me that not everyone will judge you.
- What, if any, difficulties have you encountered?
At first? No one at the time understood why I was cosplaying. It was still kind of new in the UK and none of my friends did it. My family, bless them – got behind me because they got that it helped me and gave me an outlet by making/sewing which I already enjoyed and studied at school. Even now, there are people who do not understand. Especially at my age, when I have bills to pay – they often see the cost of my hobby to be a problem, but those people simply don’t get that it brings happiness and that, above all else, is worth the expense.
Another difficulty is skill; being an artist as well, I often get frustrated when I cannot create something to the polished level I wish to. But it takes time, and patience. Using a new material or trying a new technique will always bring with it the chance to fail, but you’ve just got to keep trying. Stubbornness, is a good trait to have in cosplay, I think.
- If you are happy to share, what future Cosplay do you have planned?
I don’t plan to ever give it up, though I don’t do it as often as some cosplayers. But I know my next costume will be Rey from the Last Jedi, and I’ve managed to rope my other half into being Kylo! I know many cosplayers out there will understand the excitement of finally finding someone who will ‘couple cosplay’ with you.
- What advice would you give to someone looking to get started?
Don’t give up. There will be tough times with it, but if it brings you happiness and a sense of achievement, then don’t give it up for anyone or anything.
Be sensible with it, of course – make sure you’ve got some food before you buy fabrics! But keep going, keep pushing yourself to learn and create. If it goes wrong, take a step back and think on how you can fix it, or do it better next time.
Watch tutorials (a given really) but you can find videos out there on so many cosplay techniques and it can make it a little less daunting if you’ve got an idea on how to complete a component of the costume.
Finally, be confident, be proud of your work and accepting of others – there are some in the cosplay community who like to judge, but really it’s one big family. No one is better than anyone else, all our efforts deserve to be applauded because it’s not an easy hobby.
- What items/ tools/ techniques would you say are imperative in a new Cosplayers tool kit?
I’d like to list a whole load of things, but if you’re just starting? Get the basics for the costume you’re doing. Your items/tools/techniques will grow with time.
You don’t need to splash out on the best of the best sewing machine, or expensive fabrics etc. In time, you will have the choice to improve your equipment, but don’t think you’re any less of a cosplayer if you only have a needle and thread! I hand sew all of my costumes.
If you’re struggling to figure out the shape of a costume, how to get it from the picture to the fabric then use a pattern – you can find them in craft shops and online. It’s not cheating to use them, or find one closest to what you need and alter it.
As for wigs; try to avoid the plastic fibre ones you get in party shops. If the one you find is exactly right? Go for it, but they’re almost impossible to style. (Especially the long ones. I shudder at the memory of those) – it’s best to research and find one with a fibre similar to natural hair. There are choices out there which are also budget friendly, so don’t think you have to spend a fortune!
That’s all from me, so good luck. And have fun!
Well, Hannah has really given us some wonderful and really practical advice that will be great if you are looking to get started in cosplaying. Hannah also makes a really great point, have fun! Don’t worry that it needs to be IDENTICAL to the original, you aren’t an exact copy of anything so let your personality shine through what you are cosplaying!
Looking to keep up to date with Hannah then you can follow her here: