What are some cheap cosplay ideas

The first cosplay, the first convention: tips for beginners

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

You can find it in the media, at trade fairs, or in the stories told by friends, colleagues and family members. Cosplay has become a mass phenomenon. One or the other interested person has a very specific question in their mind: If I want to try it out - how and where do I start?

Table of Contents

The agony of choice - which cosplay should be the first?

Perhaps this question has to be asked differently: Which cosplay would you like to take the first step into this hobby with? Cosplay has many sides. It's creative, social, and often a tremendous expression of fan-love for a medium such as a comic, film, or book. Actually, there are no rules as far as the template is concerned, and everyone should wear what they feel comfortable in and what gives them pleasure.

So if you want to plan your first costume now, it makes sense to choose a character that you feel connected to. A personal connection to the character you are portraying is (almost) always a guarantee of a lot of fun. Still, there are one or two other things that the ambitious beginner should consider.

Buy or do it yourself?

That's the big question, especially when it comes to your first cosplay. Do-it-yourself is often considered the standard in the German scene - in most cases it is mandatory, especially at competition level. When making a decision, it is helpful to listen to yourself a little and ask yourself exactly what you actually want or expect.

Does my character wear simple everyday clothes or elaborate sets of armor? A more moderate outfit often prevents frustration at the beginning. Can I have the patience and time to learn the techniques for making the costume? If the answer is no, you can look around for shops on the internet.

And then there is the lovely money. Cosplay can quickly become a very expensive hobby. Even if everyone can of course decide for themselves how many resources they want to invest in their costumes. And as painful as it is for the sewing and handicraft freaks: In some cases, buying is actually cheaper than collecting all the materials yourself. The unbelievable feeling when you have finally finished something you have created yourself and do it for the first time, however, usually makes up for the blown budget. So you can see that there are many roads leading to Rome. If you just want to try out cosplay, you are often well advised to choose a comparatively simple costume. And then just get started.

This text can and should only provide initial impulses. In the age of networking through the Internet, there are countless ways to get smart online. And there is more than just one cosplayer who tirelessly shares his knowledge. Some even write tutorials and create YouTube videos in which they present the individual steps and materials - one of the first pioneers in this area is Svetlana Quindt, aka Kamui Cosplay. If you want to build armor, you will find a wealth of helpful tips on your social media channels.

It is also worth looking for the hashtag #charakternamecosplay - e.g. #daenerystargaryencosplay - on Instagram, for example. You can then be inspired by the cosplayers who have already implemented the chosen character well. If necessary, you can also ask them for specific tips. The community feeling in the scene is very strong in the vast majority of cases, and someone is rarely reluctant to answer a few questions. In addition to many books, scene-specific or not, offline there are also specialist magazines such as the German one Cohaku. Those who speak English have even more choices.

Especially with special, atypical parts and special techniques, the solution or approach of a maker to appraise can work wonders. Even if you ultimately choose a different production method, your own creativity is stimulated. With the will to learn something, you actually manage all the challenges that such a costume brings with it.

When looking for costumes that can be bought online, there are two options: Either you buy the costumes from other cosplayers. However, you must pay close attention to your own measurements and those of the costume on offer. Or you buy from an online wholesaler who often offers off-the-shelf goods. These costumes are common sizes and mostly come from China. It is always worth looking for reviews of the shops and reading through the details of each part. The materials used should not contain too much plastic fiber, otherwise the costume will quickly look "cheap".

The first convention

So when you've finally finished your first cosplay, you want to wear your new outfit and meet like-minded people. Conventions, i.e. large fan meetings, are now held throughout the year in every major city, with a wide variety of focuses. Of course you can visit it without a costume, but in cosplay a con offers a completely different experience.

After a little research, you will find seemingly endless lists of possibilities. The largest German conventions in the anime and Japan area are, for example, the Dokomi in Düsseldorf, as well as the Connichi in Kassel. For fans of western comics and TV series there is this German Comic Con in Dortmund, Frankfurt and Berlin, or - not to be confused - the Comic Con Germany in Stuttgart. Cosplay has also become an integral part of the book fairs in Leipzig and Frankfurt. The choice is huge.

Of course, everyone feels good when a friend accompanies them to the first convention. But sometimes the spark doesn't jump over, or one of them doesn't have time for an appointment. Fortunately, the cosplay scene is an ideal environment to make new acquaintances. But how do I manage to get to know new people and make friends with this mass of people?

On the one hand there is the possibility to use the program of the convention. Often one or the other hands-on workshop is offered in which, in addition to the learning effect, one also achieves the effect of getting into conversation with people. To currently popular series and evergreens such as Naruto or One piece there are also many autonomously organized, open fan meetings at conventions. You can usually join them even if you are not wearing a costume from this series. And with especially small fandoms, it is often worth gold to simply speak to people who are also wearing a costume made from this one. Everyone is happy when they are recognized and find someone to talk to, with whom one meets with all their fan feelings and understanding!

This is where the use of social media comes into play again. Of course, it is a matter of taste whether you want to use platforms like Twitter or Instagram in this way, but in this case it can really be worth it. "Knowing" each other on social media is a great conversation starter should you eventually run into each other at a convention. It is not uncommon for members of cosplay groups to be sought in the run-up to a convention, and in the vast majority of cases strangers and beginners are also very welcome. Joining such a group can also be a great way to start meeting new people.

Are there alternatives to the convention?

If visiting a convention is perhaps a step too big and you want to get a taste of the scene in a smaller setting, there are many other options. One of them are regional fan meetings. In the name of Animexx e.V., an association for fans of anime and manga as well as Japan enthusiasts in Germany, smaller meetings are organized at regular intervals (approx. every two months) all over Germany. The number of visitors there rarely rises above 500, and is much more often well below this number. Nevertheless, you can always find one or the other cosplayer with whom you can make contact in a somewhat more homely atmosphere. Outside of the AnimexxIn addition, open shooting or fan meetings are organized from time to time, which can usually be found as events on Facebook and Co.

The Convention Checklist: What Else Do I Need?

What do I need at a convention? A brief overview:

  • A ticket. Sometimes it is not absolutely necessary if the program does not suit you and the weather is nice, but it could ensure that smaller conventions can take place regularly. Admission ticket bonus: access to toilets.
  • Provisions. Please always take at least one bottle of water with you. Cosplayers have a bad habit of dressing in inappropriate weather conditions. Take care of yourselves! An energy bar or two or a few dried fruits can also be small saviors.
  • Cell phone and wallet. The former is a blessing, especially for photos and notes. Second, if you "accidentally" get lost in the dealer room or the food mile. A power bank never hurts either.
  • The cosplay, if you want to wear one. It is always helpful to make a list beforehand of which parts you need so that you don't forget anything. Also think of accessories and any props!
  • Pain relievers and blister plasters. More valuable than the Master Sword, especially at multi-day conventions. If you take other medications regularly, please do not forget them either.

It doesn't really take much more, although this list can of course vary individually and depending on the situation. Think about it in good time, then nothing can actually go wrong.

Last, but not least: a quick word about photographers

In addition to many cosplayers and civilian visitors, there is a third group of people who usually hang around at conventions. Their faces are often obscured by large lenses: the photographers. Not to mention them when it comes to entering the world of conventions almost seems like blasphemy. The people behind the camera often do real work and present the costumes in the most beautiful light. And it can always be that a photographer approaches you at a convention to take a photo together. Of course, this also applies the other way around! There are quite a few photographers who are happy when cosplayers approach them. Sometimes as a cosplayer you have to be the proactive part in the mass of beautiful costumes.
To be addressed is a big compliment, but of course it's up to you to say yes or no. If you don't feel like it, you should say so politely and firmly. And if the other says no, don't let that discourage you. If both parties are interested in a photo shoot, it is always a good idea to have the photo taken briefly shown on the display and to write down the other person's contact details. Some cosplayers and photographers therefore carry business cards (or so-called "coscards") with them, or small pieces of paper are prepared. In such a spontaneous case, it is also good to think about a few poses in advance and, if necessary, to practice in front of a mirror. Then you have them ready at the crucial moment and a nice memory of the costume and the convention is guaranteed.

Article images: K. Videl, Steven Wolf, edited by Verena Bach