Cosplay as an art form is a magical thing. The crafter reimagines a two dimensional image as a body fitting three dimensional object. As a knitter, I can recognize the craftsmanship that cosplayers put into their costumes. Whether it’s a few hour to a few days to a few months to a few years, each piece is conceived in the person’s mind and then becomes a tangible reality.
Over the last few years, I have tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to create my own cosplays. Based on conversations with my other cosplaying friends, I have concluded there are three types of cosplay. Each represents a different level of crafting skill and intensity.
1) The Curator: the curator manages to find premade costume pieces in a variety of locations from thrift stores to costume shops to Old Navy. This person is not the craftsman, but more like a museum curator. She carefully scours the world and the internet for items that replicate the source material as closely as possible. This is the most casual of the cosplayers. She wants to be a member of the community but is unsure yet how to go about making her own items. She wants to have fun and be engaged in the con experience. This is the gateway cosplay. If you enjoy this, you will inevitably want to delve deeper into the world of cosplay because it would just be easier to find exactly what want if you make it yourself, you will find yourself sighing in exasperation.
2) The Abstractor: I tend to fall into this category. I like to find mashups or quirky ideas. One of my all time favorite cosplays was the DragonCon rug cosplay. So smart. So hilarious. So excellent. A few of my abstracted cosplays were the Glow Cliud from Welcome to Nightvale and my all time favorite Lego Minifigure Bioshock Elizabeth. These tend towards getting their value from the creativity of the idea. For me, the details come from my brain, not just the source material. For me, a person who is more an idea person than a detail person, this kind of overly imaginative cosplay is appealing.
3) The Crafter: The crafter, to me, is the ultimate cosplayer. This cosplayer delves deeply into her source material to create her own theater worthy pieces. She may repurpose premade purposes; however, almost nothing is purely store bought. This cosplayer knows all the tricks and skills. From sewing to Wonderflex, no material or crafting skill is beyond her reach. She sees in someone else’s art a way to recreate it down to the most minute details. She obsesses over the materials. The flow of the fabric must match the original precisely. The costume becomes more than a creative representation of someone else’s art. It becomes a work of art in its own right independent of its source material.
Ultimately, the best part of cosplay is being able to engage in a community that allows us to become something other than our every day selves. In its purest, escapist form, cosplay is the attempt to connect with others who share a passion for the fantastic and the fandoms. Cosplay brings all different kinds of geeks together, which is what makes it such a phenomenal combination of passion, past time, and craft.