Meet with Calssara
Can you tell me when & how you discovered cosplay ?
The first time I saw cosplayers was at a convention 2003 that I visited as a regular visitor. I loved the colourful outfits so much, that next year, I wanted to try making one of those and go to the convention. I had a fully hand sewn (and glued) costume and I just LOVED wearing it.
Evolution of cosplay
After several years in cosplay, you have been a spectator of the evolution of Cosplay around the world, the world of social networks is still expanding, some networks disappear and others appear. Have you managed to adapt to this environment?
I remember the first “cosplay social media page” I used as a beginner in 2004 was “Cosplay Heaven”. An only German page where cosplayers shared their photos. Having 8-15 reactions on a cosplay was AMAZING back then. The community was small but friendly and helpful and there were rarely any interferences from people who were not cosplayers or photographers. It was actually a great place to start.
It is great that cosplay became such a bigger hobby that more people can join.
Every development brings unique success but also unique challenges. To me, personally, the most difficult change to adapt to is that cosplayers are now also seen as “entertainers” and not just artists or craftspeople. So making and modelling costumes often is mixed with making funny videos, dances, make up transformations, crafting tutorials, construction books, gaming in costume and so on.
For most of us, cosplay is and stays a hobby and so we can easily pick and choose what parts of cosplay and what specific cosplay related activities are the ones we enjoy the most. It is fun trying out some activities and test out if it is something we love.
It can be hard to notice that a popular cosplay activity is something you do not enjoy, but what you enjoy the most right now is not in trend.
Getting feedback on what we made and wanting praise is a very human need.
At times when I feel insecure or unhappy with myself, I usually try communicate and interact with my friends even more. Giving each other feedback, support and love.
What do you think and what image do you have of the evolution of Cosplay today? (Cosplay photos, the term Cosplay diversified, access to cosplays for all), Compared to when you started and now, what fascinates you today?
For me, the most amazing development is the accessibility of materials.
When I started getting fabrics was already hard, since there barely were any online shops and my city had only one fabric shop. If they did not have the fabric I needed, I had to choose another character. Foam was only accessible as “yoga mats” and there were exactly one shade of green, blue, red and pink wigs to choose from. Your character has light blue hair? Too bad, now they will have navy blue hair.
We have much more possibilities to get the materials we need to crafts the costumes as we want them. Even having the possibilities to learn new things each time, like 3D printing, laser cutting, specific embroidery techniques, amazing wigs to style.
On top of that actual tutorials that teach how to use them. I remember there was one tutorial about using foam (like this very thin crafting foam used mostly for kids to craft) to make accessories and it was legendary. There was not a single soul who did not use that tutorial. It was hosted on a personal blog and not even social media, or youtube or anything we got now. Same goes to this boot-cover tutorial with a beach flip-flop base lol. People were already creative back then.
I also love that the possibilities of getting beautiful photos of your cosplay increased. Even phones can make really great photos. I’ve seen some amazing portraits taken as selfies. When I started, I had this ancient digicam and my photos were 800x600pixel. You had to pray for being asked by a “photographer” with “a real big camera” to take a shot of you to get anything that had more quality. I remember when my friend got this “really amazing and expensive 250 € digicam that made photos 1200pixel wide”!
We were so excited.
According to you, what is not put forward enough and that we should know as cosplayers?
Many young people grow up with influencer culture. We see people “making a living” with creating online content. As a young person, who has have fun with cosplay, it can be a “possible job” for some who just started cosplaying as a hobby.
But there are many different jobs that someone can do with the skills they started to learn as a cosplayer. Going the route of becoming an influencer is not the only way.
I am a librarian, but my library also has a maker space that teaches crafting and the usage of machines (sewing machine, laser cutter, embroidery machine, 3D printers etc) as well as other skills. Other friends of mine became illustrators for books, web designers, photographers (for regular people, not just cosplayers ;D), pattern makers, videographers, video editors, art teachers, media educators, programmers, costume makers for theatre, make up artists or event organizers.
Not earning money with your hobby is not a bad thing. Hustle culture tells us we cannot waste time with not making money, but having an enjoyable hobby is not wasting time. There are enough skills we can learn, based on our hobby, that help with careers for us. Sometimes just learning some social skills is already amazing and helpful for their future career.
With the health situation, and the lockdown (in 2019), did you manage to keep this motivation? And how did you try to develop your productivity? And what has inspired you to keep up your pace?
I totally lost motivation! I am a person, who gets her creative energy from actually meeting people and seeing cosplay in real life and not only on photos and video. It is great we still have social media to be in contact with each other, but a big part of the hobby was missing for me. So I just did not feel too much like crafting and taking photo shoots. I am a lot less “productive” than I was before Covid hit.
At first it really bothered me emotionally, but right now it does not bother me that much anymore. At the end, cosplay is a hobby for me and many other people as well. And “not being productive” in a hobby is nothing terrible. We do hobbies to have a good time. And when I have a better time chilling on my sofa, watching TV shows, so be it. Slowing down and not rushing myself is actually something I started to enjoy. The pace of making online content just goes up every year and I feel like I’ve outgrown that in some parts. I still bother in thinking about “what is a good time to post this nice photo from the latest photo shoot?” and I also still care about making things that bring me joy, make me feel pretty and do some cool crafting.
But I do not wanna overwork myself again. I have a full time job and do cosplay beside that as a hobby.
Looking at other people who have different hobbies than cosplay made me see how much we cosplayers push ourselves and how little “chill” we often have for us and others.