Meet with Calssara
Cosplay job – Jury – Workshop
During a contest, what are the aspects of a good costume according to you?
According to you, what is important to do to make a good performance?
Craftsmanship has different parts that judges pay attention to. It is not only looking like a copy of the character. It starts with the materials the cosplayer chose. Here is not always more expensive=better. The materials and textures just need to make sense. A princess in her ball gown would probably have it made from silk or satin and not linen or whool. Meanwhile a hobbit would usually have his clothing out of organic materials that also have a certain texture to it.
Then we look for the fabrication. How did the cosplayer use the material? How do the seams look? How well did they seal their foam or sand their 3D-printed props?
Next would be the fit. You can have amazing craftsmanship, but the costume is not made fitting to your body. So we look for a good, personal fit and proportion. Usually, we might not have the same body as the characters we cosplay. But still the shapes need to fit well. You might need to make the dress a bit shorter, when you are a smaller person, or a shoulder armor piece wider when you have bigger shoulders. Even if there is a reference, you are the model and the costume needs to be fitting to you.
Even if you need to adjust parts fitting to your body, we also judge accuracy. There it will be accuracy of colors, as well as (adapted) shapes and proportions.
And last but not least, the amount of techniques used. This is often a part in contests that sets people’s scores apart. Someone made have made a really great foam armor, but from head to toe, it is only made with foam. The cosplayers foam skills are amazing, but someone else might have made a costume with a variety of techniques. So someone who showed sewing, embroidery, 3D modelling, foam work, wig styling and fabric dying might get more points.
So if you pick a costume for a contest, try something that shows many of your skills!
There are different styles of performances for different types of contests. There are a lot of craftsmanship contests that also include a “walk on” on stage. On those walk ons, you can still show a little acting in your pose. Here I would give the advice to actually practice walking in the full costume. Costumes might limit your mobility and you do not want to go on stage, walking like a tincan robot. So even if it is just a 60sec walk on a stage, try to practice your walk and poses. Give attention to bring out the personality of your character. Show the audience if they are evil, creepy demons or holy, royal knights. Your presence needs to awake some emotion in the audience and judges. Then there are contests that include a full acting performance. These take a lot of time to prepare and to practice. The keyword here usually is being authentic.
Try something that gives people the emotions and memories they had when they watched the show or played the game. If you are acting on stage, you usually need to “overact” a bit to convey emotions. A lot of the audience does not see you close up. So convey your anger or happiness not only in facial expressions, but also in your body language.
To support emersion in your stage play, also remember to add sound effects to your performance. Every sword drawn needs to make a “katsching!”. Walking through a forest? Add some bird sounds and the wind going through the leaves.
You recently talked about this, but what mistakes should we watch out for when doing partnerships or invitations in conventions?
The convention and cosplay scene became really big and diverse in needs and offers. 10 years ago, when cosplayers were invited to cons, or worked for cons, it was to be judge for the contest and to host workshops or panels.
Now we also have many people who are cosplayers with the main focus on entertainment. So inviting someone who is not making their own costumes, but is a very entertaining person people can relate to is something that is not out of the ordinary.
Meanwhile conventions work together with people from the cosplay scene, we should be careful in who we pick.
Being a convention organizer can mean you have a lot of power over what happens in the cosplay scene. If you run a big con and your only headliners for guests are 20-something, white, skinny, beautiful girls then this actually has an impact on the people of the community. Who is and who is not a guest or a collaborator at a cons is not what completely shapes the community, but it does have an impact.
So what needs to be looked out for is to not only represent a part of the community, but as many parts as possible. F.e. featuring cosplayers who are not able-bodied will give courage to other non-able-bodied people to try out cosplay for themselves. Having representation is a big powerful tool that can shape the cosplay community. Do not feature a cosplayer who changes their skin to represent a black character. Feature actual black creators.
Convention organizers are often not cosplayers themselves and might not know a lot about different parts of the community, but going the extra mile on making research, interviews with people and trying to hear as many voices as possible of the community is work that will pay off at the end of the day.
What was your biggest project as a cosplayer?
Teaching sewing and crafting to the members of my cosplay club in the library I work for. We meet up there every month in the maker space work room to work with them on their costumes. Even when I have experience making things, it is such a big challenge to actually teach how to do it. There are 10 people every meet up and everyone works on another outfit and I need to keep track and plan their next steps on each costume at the same time. But at the same time this is also a lot of fun!
Tell me a moment that touched you and that you cherish the most in your career.
There have been many, because I do this already since a long time. From meeting friends, to meeting people I admire. But of course the best part of the whole journey was meeting my fiancée. We met because of WCS. He was team Finland and I was team Germany in 2011. We did not even get along that well back when we met in Japan. But then built up a friendship that turned into a relationship. Now he has already been living with me since 5 years in Germany and I do not know where I would be now without him.