How to Make Friends and Portray Cool Characters – Cosplay Interactions 101
I’ve been an amateur yet avid cosplayer for just over ten years now, and I’ve always found it a fun and potentially sociable hobby. Unfortunately, I don’t think every cosplayer always sees the social side of the pastime 100% of the time. So today I’d like to lay out a few thoughts I’ve had of late about how to get the most out of cosplay as a medium for social interaction. And share a few of my cosplays as visual aids of course!
1) Make a little time for other people
Go to any convention you fancy and the first thing you’ll notice is that there are a lot of people at these things. It’s very likely that you’ll be attending a con with a group of friends, and of course your priority is going to be hanging out with them. Totally understandable. But always remember when you’re in cosplay that there are people outside your group who might appreciate your costume, and it’s nice to just give them the time of day sometimes. I often attend cons with a friend who likes to say hello to people dressed as characters they like, but it’s surprising how often people just walk by and ignore them when all they’re doing is walking past and trying to pass out a quick compliment. Surprising, and a little rude. You don’t have to stop and talk to every person who recognises your costume, but at least a smile or a wave would be nice. Getting attention while in costume should be a nice feeling; run with it!
2) Discuss other people’s costumes with them
So you’ve made the decision to try and interact more with other convention attendees, but you’re unsure what sort of things to start a conversation about. Well, if there’s one thing cosplayers like to talk about apart from the franchises they’re cosplaying, it’s the costumes themselves, and this is a great place to start. Say you’re queueing for a photoshoot and a really nice Toriel walks in the room and lines up behind you. That’s a really nice goat head they’ve made, so say hi, compliment their work and ask how they made it. If you’re lucky they may reciprocate and presto, you have yourself a pleasant conversation and that warm glow that comes from interaction with another human being! Also you’ve gained some insight into new craft methods, so win-win.
3) Appreciate differences in skill
Nobody likes a cosplay snob, and yet sadly it can’t be denied that sometimes skilled cosplayers can get a little bit up themselves. It can be tempting to look down your nose at someone who looks like they slapped together their costume in a hurry or worse, horror of horrors, bought the whole thing on eBay! But everyone has to to start somewhere, and the fact that someone else isn’t as “good” as you is no reason to ignore them or criticise their work out loud. Don’t snub a less experienced cosplayer who wants to interact with you, it’s incredibly rude and can be a slippery slope to getting a bad reputation. We want to make friends, not alienate people, and who knows, if their skills bother you that much you could end up becoming a supportive acquaintance who helps them improve! (Additionally, understand that not everyone cosplays for the joy or challenge of creating; perhaps that kid in the Bleach costume fresh out of a Chinese eBay store just wants to express their love of the series without all the stressful work.)
4) Be sure you’re cosplaying for the right reasons
The last few years have seen a rise in national and global cosplay competitions as well as cosplayers becoming internet celebrities. While this is great for educating more people about how cool cosplay can be and pushing people to improve their craft I sometimes find it a worrying trend as I believe some people can get a little too wrapped up in the competition, glamour and popularity and lose sight of what cosplay should really be about. I’ve heard plenty of stories from friends about cosplayers bullying each other online or being obsessed with contests to the point of pushing friends and loved ones away. In my mind, first and foremost cosplay is about having fun while showing how much you like particular franchises or characters; not winning prizes or proving that you’re “better” than other fans. I’m not saying that a little competition can’t be fun, but you should never let obsession take hold and make you into a bad person who is only friends with their own clique of snobs.
Cosplay and convention-going are wonderful social hobbies and if approached well can help you gain a lot of new friends and connections. I hope that these few points can go a little way to improving your cosplay experience. Unless you already do these things, in which case I hope you agree. Now go forth wonderful cosplayers of the world, and always remember: