To me, cosplaying is one of the most perfect acts of creative expression. We use so much of our brainpower to recreate or even invent a character to express who we are as people – and what we get nerdy about the most.
Me and my husband as our versions of Ygritte & Jon Snow (Game of Thrones) at the Pa. Renaissance Faire in 2014.
So much goes into a person’s costumed expressions. To recreate a famous video game character, for example, it’s not just about knowing her clothes. We have to know her inside and out – her history and her personality, as well as the materials she wears, uses, or would have access to in her world. We have to know what life she lives, so we can be true to her character. Is she a warrior? An adventurer? An oracle? A princess? A prize?
Sometimes, we might create our own character who lives in an existing fictional world. A generic orc or Tolkien-esque elf, perhaps. A new take on some famous character, like a female Link or a Renaissance-era Harley Quinn. Women are so pathetically underrepresented in nerd culture that there aren’t enough video game, sci-fi, fantasy, or comic book characters to satisfy all of us. Love “Tomb Raider,” but think Lara Croft is an objectified, one-dimensional character? Make your own tomb raider. You got this.
We’re playing writers, actors and costume designers all in one.
Corset I made from a dyed leather scrap and a few grommets. I like to use it to create a pirate, a viking or a khaleesi.
There are many ways to cosplay. Since I frequent Renaissance Faires, my tools tend to be leather, metal and thread. Others’ tools might be makeup, prosthetics, liquid latex or wearable technologies. I admire some of the professional cosplayers who really go all out on their costumes, but I don’t have that type of budget.
My costumes usually involve something upcycled or found, repurposing thrift store clothes or antique store finds. That means there are some practical limitations to authenticity. So, rather than trying to recreate a character exactly, I like to invoke for others something about a character, or a time period, or anything else I’d like to embody.
I’m thankful that creativity fills the emptiness that limitations create. I’m forced to think of how I can conjure images of a pirate, a viking, a khaleesi, or a 16th-century hippie with what I have already in my closet – with what I can easily find or create. I try to stay true to my guidelines for the character while making it my own.
But the best part about a successful cosplay? Meeting new people at the Faire or convention who get nerdy about the same stuff you do.