The cosplay culture may be widespread across Japan, but just how popular is it in Australia? With events such as EB Expo, Supanova, and next year’s PAX Australia, there are increasing opportunities for people to get involved with cosplay.
GameSpot spoke with experienced cosplayers Lucy Posner, Maddie Searle, and Alastair Whyte about their thoughts on the hobby, and what motivates them to do what they do. Every superhero has an origin story, and in part one we talk about how long they’ve been involved with cosplay, and how they started.
GameSpot AU: How long have you been involved with cosplay?
Lucy Posner: About six years now, on and off. I started during high school. I found out about the anime conventions, and thought it’d be a nice, fun hobby.
Maddie Searle: I’ve been doing cosplay for two years. I always thought that only nerds went to conventions, like only Star Trek freaks or something. Then I decided to go to Supernova one year. I knew that everybody liked to dress up, so I was like, well, I’ll dress up too! Since then, every convention that I’ve been to, I have cosplayed at.
Alastair Whyte: Roughly four years.
GameSpot AU: What inspired you to take it up?
Lucy Posner: I’ve always found that it was a combination of wanting to learn new skills and showing appreciation for characters that you just really like.
One of the great things about cosplay is that it gives you an opportunity to meet like-minded people. If somebody comes up and says “I love your costume”, it’s an excuse to start talking. I’ve made a lot of friends through cosplay that I wouldn’t have made otherwise.
When I started out, I couldn’t sew. So what I decided was that I’d focus on other things that I might be able to work a bit more with. From there, it kind of grew.
Maddie Searle: I always liked dressing up, performance, and acting and all that. In that year, I was playing a lot of Left 4 Dead, so I decided to dress up as the witch from Left 4 Dead. So I decided to dress up as her, and one of my mates who I used to play a lot with, he dressed up as a hunter and we went together. I thought that if I was going to go to a convention, I might as well go all out.
Alastair Whyte: I was going to a convention and I heard it was the best way to have fun at a convention.
GameSpot AU: What influences you to choose a particular character to cosplay?
Lucy Posner: I think it’s really a combination of two or three things. The first thing is, do I really like the character? Enjoying the character is a big one. Do I think that I could feasibly make the costume with my skill level? That one comes in to play a little bit, but not as much, because I feel like if I’m going to sit down and make a costume, I do want to try and challenge myself and learn new skills. The third one: will I have fun making the costume? The third one is the most important one for me.
Maddie Searle: It’s always things that I enjoy, or characters that I find are cool or inspire me. I like to do strong female characters.
Alastair Whyte: Normally, it comes down to a matter of characters that I like personally; especially characters that I like to play as in games, and characters that I like reading about in comics. Whether or not the costume is something distinctive, eye catching, and interesting to look at. Whether it will be fun to wear, maybe occasionally pretend to be that character for a bit of fun at the convention.
GameSpot AU: How much time and resources would you estimate that you spend per costume?
Lucy Posner: It really depends on the costume and the scope of what I’ve chosen. Usually, it'll cost me somewhere between A$100-A$300, but no more than that, because I guess I do have a budget to keep and I am still a student.
Generally speaking, I like to give myself two to three months before the convention to make a start on a large costume. Although I do give myself two to three months, I could probably get the costume done within two to three weeks if I dedicated all of my time to it.
Maddie Searle: It really depends. Including accessories like wigs and contacts, usually anywhere between A$100-A$200 at least. I go into more detail then other people might. I like carrying the truthfulness of the character. Time, an extraordinary amount of time, really. Usually I give myself one or two months.
Alastair Whyte: It varies from costume to costume, but I usually devote a couple of months in advance. I try not to spend too much on it, because I think that it’s not something that demands huge amounts of money to be expended for. Some costumes I know would have cost me a couple of hundred dollars to work on, but that’s because I personally try to be quite sparse with what I use and make things as much as I can from raw materials, rather than stuff that’s been processed already. During those months of preparation, I can sometimes spend more intense periods of work for a couple of weeks.
To find out more about this year's EB Expo, visit the EB Expo 2012 hub.
Check out part two of our interview!'