A look into professional cosplaying

Kristian Beaudoin
By Kristian Beaudoin March 2, 2018 14:30

By Kristian Beaudoin

Halloween is not the only time for people to enjoy dressing up as fictional characters. Fans of comic books, television, movies and video games often turn a dress up hobby into a career.

Cosplay, short for costume play, is a hobby where participants dress up in costumes of characters and go to events such as conventions and costume contests to show off their look. Conventions such as Comic-con encourage cosplay and holds contests for cosplayers to compete in a number of categories. Cosplaying is a hobby that participants enjoy, but with enough of a following on social media and public interest, it can be done for profit.

Ezra Vanier is a student at Belle River District High School and a cosplayer. Vanier goes to conventions in Windsor such as the annual Windsor Comic-Con and recently attended the Action! 2018 convention on Wednesday Feb. 18. Vanier does cosplay as a hobby and enjoys dressing up as characters she likes such as Mavis Dracula from Hotel Transylvania and Shoto Torodoki from My Hero Academia.

“I love acting and stuff so cosplay is kind of a way of becoming a character and improvisation,” said Vanier.

Vanier became interested in cosplay after she discovered anime – television shows and movies, at 12 years old. She started cosplaying in 2012 and continues to do it today. She said she would even consider doing it professionally and turn cosplaying into a career.

“I’ve seen lots of pro cosplayers at conventions and they sell prints of their cosplays and depending on the cosplay they could do kids’ parties and stuff as well. There’s lots of ways cosplaying can be made into a career,” said Vanier.

There is potential for making money from wearing the costumes, but there is also the business of making costumes where people have found a profit.

Linda Creswick is the owner of Dream Costumes, a store that supplies cosplayers with materials and accessories needed to make and enhance their costumes. Creswick also takes occasional small commissions, helping people create pieces or add detail to their costumes for the best look.

Creswick has been in the business for 38 years, starting off in cosplay at first before providing supplies and knowledge to cosplayers. She also helps her customers by teaching them the skills they need for their costume while also learning things for herself along the way.

“You’d be surprised how someone who doesn’t think they know much about it, they actually do. You learn something from everybody, so it’s really a two way street,” said Creswick.

As a business owner, Creswick knows what it takes to be successful. An important key to success in the business of cosplay, she said, is budgeting. With the cost of materials to create costumes, travelling to events and conventions or purchasing a booth at a convention, expenses can add up. Such conventions as the Ottawa Comic-con charge $750 for a booth. Creswick says it is important to know how to manage money.

“I’ve seen this with businesses not just in cosplay. If you’re not a business manager, if you cannot balance your own cheque book, that won’t work in your favour,” said Creswick.

Cosplay is still a young and growing practice with the phrase itself made up in Japan in 1939. A survey in 2017 including 296 people on Cosplay Calamity reveals that 33.4 per cent of people have been cosplaying for three to five years. 42.9 per cent of people make or buy one to two costumes per year. It is unclear as to what these numbers will look in the future, but cosplaying is still going to be around if conventions continue being held. 32.4 per cent of people get their interest in cosplay from what they see at conventions.

“You don’t have to jump right in. You can start slow and work your way up. I’m a believer in evolving,” said Creswick.

Kristian Beaudoin
By Kristian Beaudoin March 2, 2018 14:30

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