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Cosplaying – Bringing Favorite Characters To Life vBy Brandi Bue In recent years there has been more coverage of events known as conventions or “cons” across the world but for some it has been something they have known about for a while. A con is an event that allows fans to meet creators, experts, stars, and most importantly people who share similar interests. Cons also feature many people who participate in cosplay which is when a person dresses up as their favorite character. These characters range from anime, cartons, comic books, live-action movie and television series, video games, and books. But cosplaying is not just dressing up in a costume, most cosplayers invest time, money, and effort into creating or commissioning a headto-toe transformation that is one-of-a-kind. Some of these creations include accessories, facial or body prosthetics, working electronics, or complex mechanical parts. The cosplayer is tapping into the character and often the role speaks to them personally according to psychologists who study cosplayers. Sometimes it’s about being someone completely different from themselves and sometimes it’s about relating to a character to cope with trauma. Many cosplayers feel like it’s a type of performance; it broadcasts a visible and public statement about the cosplayers’ allegiance to a character or fandom. Of course, there are some misconceptions about cosplaying. Cosplayers have been stereotyped as the kind of people who are unemployed, socially inadequate who like to stay in their basement, according to Sally Whiting. Brittany Seitz has met people who think it’s a ploy to gain attention. What cosplayers would like people to know is that it’s a hobby that many use as a creative outlet. “I’ve met teachers, doctors, psychologists, bankers, and of course a lot of theater students and artists while they wore a cosplay they made themselves,” Sally told me. Brittany told me that dismissing cosplaying as attention seeking “dismisses the hours of creative work necessary to create a cosplay. When a person sees someone in a cosplay they only see the end result. Most don’t see any of the research necessary on the character, sourcing of materials, assembling, and the occasional mess up when you have to go back to the drawing board.” For many, cosplaying is just about a person wanting to make things and dress up in what they made for a weekend while being surrounded by people with similar interests. “There’s also the misconception that it’s just a hobby that wastes money but there are a lot of people out there who do cosplaying as their job and make a good living. Some cosplayers get paid to visit conventions or run cosplay contests because they’re that popular that it’s an advertising opportunity for a lot of brands and conventions. Some cosplay contests give out a lot of money if you win. And some cosplayers custom make cosplays and sell them,” Sally added. Sally Whiting, Brittany Seitz, and Caitlin McGrew are three people I met who enjoy cosplaying. Each of them enjoy different aspects of cosplaying and cons and got involved in different ways. But at the end of the day, the three of them all enjoy spending a day or weekend surrounded by people with similar interests and showing off their new cosplay attire. check out... hervoiceonline.com Sally Whiting Sally first started cosplaying about 4 years ago when she was invited to a convention in Omaha, Anime Nebraskon, by a friend. She knew what cosplaying was before she attended from cosplay photographers on art sites and her friend who had been attending conventions for a while. She was interested but she didn’t have a reason to do it. “It’s like dressing up for Halloween, which is something I have always loved, but more intensive.” As a lot of cosplayers create their own props or sometimes even the costumes, it’s an artistic way to share one’s own perspective on a character. “Being an artist, it’s like taking up a new way to make art to get every detail the way you want it.” Sally tries to take one new cosplay every year, so she starts by thinking about what TV shows or books she’s been loving and what characters she likes. “It’s an added bonus if I find a character I like that also has a really unique look or complicated things I could try to make for it.” As Sally isn’t the best at sewing yet, she tries her best to find things that could work and pieces together something using existing pieces. “I would love to get to the point where I can draw a costume and take it from paper into a made piece myself.” Sally’s favorite character to cosplay is one she has been cosplaying since the beginning. “It’s changed a bit every year. I cosplay a character named Cecil from the podcast show ‘Welcome to Night Vale.’ It’s fun because since the character is from a podcast there is no actual character design. You don’t know what Cecil looks like. So some artists online have done a lot of fan-art and come up with their own character design for Cecil and the creators of the podcast have said all of them could be accurate, there is no set look.” In the future, Sally wants to do a character with a lot of props. “Maybe some weapons that I can make out of foam. It would be really fun and a challenge to see how accurate and realistic I could get it.” Picking a favorite memory for Sally is hard as she has a lot on the topic but she enjoys meeting new people. Nebkon, in Nebraska, is the one con Sally attends and every year there are about 4 to 5 thousand people in a convention center for three days straight. “Checking out each other’s cosplay, going to discussion panels, and basically geeking out about something that in most everyday life you don’t get the chance to talk about with people.” Many times there are newcomers, but a lot of the time there are the regulars from the previous years. “You might not know their name, or what they look like on a regular day, but when they’re at the con in a cosplay you know, they’re still your friend from the year before.” For Nebkon, Sally has met people who have flown from a coast to Nebraska just for the convention. “A friend I take with me now has a mission every year to take a photo with the same people she saw the year before. So far she has three years of photos with most of the same cosplayers.”

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