Kat May has been cosplaying since February 2015. She was 15, going on 16 years old. Katsucon was her first convention.
Cosplay is the art of creating costumes of characters, celebrities, and the like from multiple franchises and brands- and wearing these costumes to conventions, or wherever one would like. This hobby (or career, for some) brings fandoms and people together, and allows one to express themselves as they wish without judgement. It is very welcoming to anyone and anyone who would like to participate.
Four cosplayers have volunteered to be interviewed about their cosplay, and convention experience.
First thing's first- can you tell your (preferred) name, pronouns, and a bit about yourself?
Ashleigh: My name is Ashleigh, she/her, and about myself- well, to keep it simple I'm a INFP, I'm 18 years old, my favorite anime is Dorohedoro, my favorite song is Seven Seas of Rhye by Queen, oh and I'm always sleepy.
Long John: For the sake of anonymity, let's go with my Highschool nickname; Long John. Or you can use my username. It doesn't matter.
I was born in Edwards Air Force Base, California- in the same hospital, delivery room, and by the same delivery crew as my older brother. I'm half Mexican American on my mom's side, and I have two brothers (both born on teh same day, but one is the oldest, and the other is the youngest, and a younger sister).
Eli: I'm Eli, I use she/her pronouns, and I'm a slowly growing cosplayer from Bulgaria who wants to create weird things.
Finley: My name is Finley and I go by They/Them/Theirs and He/Him/His pronouns. I'm 21 years old an I've watched anime since I was about 16 years old. I started cosplaying when I was around 18 years old with Levi Ackerman, and then moved on to other characters such as Jason Voorhees. I also struggle with PTSD, Anxiety and Depression- but I try not to let that all get to me.
When did you start cosplaying?
Ashleigh: Like 9 years ago I think, so when I was like 9 or 10.
Long John: I can't really pinpoint an exact time. It's more of an on and off sort of thing that's dependent on my financial status. But if I were to pick a time, I'd say... 2015? Because I remember going as The Joker to my local Library's little mini convention, and starting my first job on the next day.
Eli: As soon as I discovered such a hobby existed in the fall of 2018.
Finley: When I was around 18. Me and my ex went to S2F (Arkansas Anime Festival) and I decided to go all out as Levi Ackerman. I glued yarn on the back of a shirt to spell Levi and wore jeans, boots, and a wig. I also attempted to do makeup.
What got you into cosplay?
Ashleigh: Weird answer but probably David Bowie, I always found it fascinating how he dressed up even if it wasn't cosplay, I wanted to do something like that for a hobby.
Long John: See, I've always wanted to be an actor, and I figured that some Hollywood big wig will see me over the internet, and be like, "Hey! That kid looks jus tlike the person we need! Give him a job!" But sometimes it's out of spite. Like when the Thundercats Roar show was announced, I decided to do a Lion-o cosplay to show that fans can do better with the property, than someone who has no love for it. I am thinking about remaking it though to be more form-fitting.
Eli: The wide variety of skills and art forms it includes. I've always been a crafty person but could never settle for only one thing. With cosplay, every new project I take on includes something new and keeps me learning.
Finley: I've always wanted to dress up like characters from TV shows, movies, etc. But, I always used to think it was just a Halloween thing until I learned it doesn't matter what time of year it is. I could dress up as whoever I wanted, whenever I wanted and enjoy just being that character. It has helped me discover a lot about y gender identity and who I am. I'm happy that I discovered cosplaying.
What was your first convention, and when?
Ashleigh: London Comic Con 2013 I think?
Long John: I'd say the aforementioned mini convention in 2015. My first big one was in... 2017-2018, I want to say.
Eli: Aniventure Comicon 2018. I didn't realize it back then but it happened to be the biggest event in my country and really helped me feel in the right place.
Finley: My first convention was Arkansas Anime Festival in June of 2018. I met Jeremy Inman, some crew from the Arkansas CW, and had a lot of fun. It was a new experience meeting someone famous and meeting news/entertainment crew.
Do you travel for conventions, or stick with local ones?
Ashleigh: I travel, I plan on going to San Diego's Comic Con in the upcoming years.
Long John: I mostly do local. I don't have a vehicle, so I can't go any father than what's within walking distance.
Eli: So far I've stuck with local ones only but I'm looking forward to going further.
Finley: I try to stay local but I would totally love to travel when I can!
What was your first cosplay?
Ashleigh: Either Miss Pauling from TF2 or Pokemon-related.
Long John: The Joker! I may revisit it once I have better makeup supplies.
Eli: I made Yang Xiao Long from the RWBY series... like most first costumes it had its flaws, but while wearing it I made my first cosplay friends.
Finley: My first cosplay was Levi Ackerman from Attack on Titan.
Do you make your own cosplays, or purchase them?
Ashleigh: A mix of both.
Long John: I make my own. There's a sense of pride, and accomplishment in it. There's always a challenge, and work-arounds to everything you do just to get it perfect! That, and they don't allow premade, purchased cosplays in competitions.
Eli: I've always done everything on my own and I believe I'll keep it that way.
Finley: I buy some pieces but I mostly try to make my cosplays when I can.
What is your favorite cosplay that you've worn?
Ashleigh: My Lucy Steel cosplay.
Long John: Probably my rendition of the Mighty Morphin Green Ranger as he would have appeared in the 2017 movie. I wore it to a convention one time, granted- incomplete, and it started to fall apart on me onstage. I got most of it finished now, but I still need to replace and add a few parts.
Eli: Ironically, it's from the same series but a fan art twist of the main chracter that turned them into a creature of grim.
Finley: I love my Jason Voorhees cosplay! I'd have to say that's my favorite.
Are there any cosplayers you look up to?
Ashleigh: Not really, to be honest. I just do my own thing.
Long John: One off the top of my head would be Mangoloo, or Casey Sanders if we are going by her real name. I remember her saying that it's ok to go in an incomplete cosplay, and that advice really stuck with me when I did my Green Ranger. That, and I'll admit that I think she's pretty.
Eli: Yes, probably more than I can name and not get boring. But, to give you an idea- if their build can amaze me, they know more than I do and this gives me a chance to learn something new and get even more inspired.
No, I don't follow the community like that. Though I'm very happy for and pround of everyone who cosplays! It takes a lot of courage and hard work.
What do you mainly cosplay (anime/manga, movies, TV, celebrities, etc)?
Ashleigh: Anime, although I hope to do more game cosplays.
Long John: A little of everything really. I have a whole Rolodex of cosplays in my melon that I want to do spanning across multiple mediums of entertainment.
Eli: My main focus has been on animes and occasional original characters. I plan on switching more towards games and movies in the future but as long as a costume can spark my interest, the source really doesn't matter.
Finley: I mainly cosplay anime/manga, but I also cosplay a range of characters! I'm hoping to cosplay Spiderman or Deadpool within the next year, and go to a local convention as one of them.
Which of your cosplays has taken the most time to prepare?
Ashleigh: Definitely Guts from Berserk.
Long John: I'd say to put on would be the Joker. It takes about an our to do the makeup alone. I expected the same amount of time, maybe a little more, will be said when I finally do the makeup for Lion-o. To make- so far, has been my Green Ranger. I'm always adding and replacing stuff to it, so it's taken several years to get it just right.
Eli: That's a little hard to estimate with the lack of deadlines during the past year. However, if I were to remake my longest builds I believe Grim Ruby would still take the longest.
Finley: My Uraraka cosplay, but only because I had to wait for everything to ship to me and find parts at local thrift stores.
What is con-crunch time like for you? Do you have any con-crunch advice?
Ashleigh: Oh I get things finished months before cons, although recently I've had to buckle down and it's so stressed. My advice is not to procrastinate anything unless something happens.
Long John: Con-crunch for me would be a two week rush. Maybe even less. To avoid it, I'd say to know your deadline, what you want to wear, and how much you are willing to spend at a time on it. You don't need to bankrupt yourself months ahead of time, and not be able to make rent. And it's always okay to go in an incomplete cosplay. But just make sure it's complete enough to be recognizable. You don't want to be a headless T-Rex, and have nobody know you are Grimlock!
Eli: Oh, I had one a couple days ago actually. For me it results in a finished costume and a very messy room which is not all that bad. Some advice would be to keep the setting similar to your normal crafting to not freak out, play music in the background or listen to a podcast if you prefer. Also, make sure to keep your brain going and if you feel like leaving the project because of the part you're working on right now, just change to something else.
Finley: Con-crunch time for me now is finishing up any last-minute preparations and packing my convention bag. I definitely recommend having a backup cosplay or a sewing kit in your convention bag. You never know what can happen at conventions!
How have the events of 2020 and 2021 affected your cosplay schedule, conventions, and plans?
Ashleigh: The only thing that's affected me is actually positive, I've now had more time to improve my cosplay skills, had time to work on my Paleontology work, and have more money for cons in the future.
Long John: Not much, really. They did cancel, or outright retired, the conventions around here- which really ticked me off. Granted, I wasn't really in a place financially where I could cosplay. Now I live within the city limits, and within walking distance from where I work! There are two conventions happening later this year that I'm looking forward to, though! The library's mall branch will be hosting the mini con this year, and the big convention that got retired is getting replaced with an all new one- and Santa is going to be there!
Eli: Threw them out of the window, I have no idea what I'm making next and will probably only try to attend events from next year when everything is a bit more organized and clear.
Finley: The events of 2020 and 2021 effected me mentally and financially. I had to go inpatient last year, but I'm doing better now. I'm hoping that soon I can get back on track financially and start cosplaying again. I'm also hoping that I can attend some local conventions once they reopen.
What is your favorite part of going to conventions?
Ashleigh: Annoying people. Just kidding- my favorite part is meeting my favorite artists at Artist Alley.
Long John: Competitions. Although, I will say I did get envious when people were stopping my sister to take pictures.
Eli: Definitely the atmosphere and the people. Every day just being at a con are probably the best days of my life.
Finley: My favorite part of going to conventions is meeting other cosplayers. I like meeting other members of the community and talking about the cosplays. I even sometimes act like the character if I feel like going all out.
Do you have advice for other cosplayers?
Ashleigh: You don't have to wear makeup. Always choose comfort over looks.
Long John: There is always more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to cosplay. Don't have foam? Use the non-greasy side of that pizza box you got there! Don't have a printer for templates and patterns? Take the image(s) you have into either Microsoft Paint, or a grid app on your phone, make the dimensions 8" x 11", draw the same grid on printer paper, and boot leg it! Dont' have a heat gun for your foam? Then use that magnifying glass you got from the arcade, and some sunlight- or a candle when it's dark. That sort of stuff.
Eli: Do what you love, never forget cosplay is for fun, haters are not even a criteria, and be careful with power/heat tools.
Finley: That's a difficult question! My main advice is if you love a character and want to cosplay, then do it! Your body shape and size shouldn't matter as long as you're happy in the cosplay. Just have fun and be you!
Where can one find and support your work on social media?
Ashleigh: On Instagram (@ashslilcottage) and Tiktok (@ashs.cosplay).
Long John: Mostly on Amino. Here is the link to my profile: http://aminoapps.com/p/h8gf5a7
Eli: I mainly use instagram and occasionally Tiktok by the name @cursed.optimist
Finley: One can find me on YouTube using the name ECosplays. My Instagram is @e.cosplays_. I don't have a lot on my social medias, but I plan on posting more in the future.
A huge thank you to all of the cosplayers that were interviewed in this article. To them, all the cosplay and non-cosplay readers of this article- good luck in all future endeavors is wished, and happy cosplaying!
© 2021 Kat May