5 things I wish I’d known when I started cosplaying

mermaid cosplay cover image

I started cosplaying in early 2018, and since then, I’ve learned a lot! One of the main things that I’ve learned is that cosplay is a HUGE craft. There are so many different aspects of it. For someone just starting out, it can seem daunting, and you might not know where to start. That’s why I’ve put together this list of ‘5 things I wish I’d known when I started cosplaying,’ to help you out! Hopefully, this will help you get a better grasp on cosplaying right when you start out, instead of having to flounder around for a few years like I did.

What IS cosplay?

First off, I wish I had known what cosplay really was. Cosplay is the art of dressing up as a fictional character, from a movie, TV show, video game, or something else. You can make your costumes from scratch, buy them, or make them out of things from your closet! There’s no limits. 

I sort of vaguely knew what cosplay was, but I didn’t know how broad it was. A full suit of custom-made armor is just as much of a cosplay as some things put together from your closet. There’s not one ‘right’ way to cosplay. Cosplay whatever character you want, in whatever way you want! There’s pretty much no limits to what you can do with cosplay.

scarlet witch pics
One of my favorite cosplays that I’ve made! Scarlet Witch from WandaVision

Where to buy supplies

Second, when I first started with cosplay, I had pretty much NO IDEA where to go to learn more about it, or where to get supplies. There are so many resources out there, but I had no idea where to start, or what to even search for. I wish I had known where to go to learn more, and where to find cosplay supplies.

So, to help you out, here’s some great places to start looking for cosplay supplies, when making cosplays from scratch! Plaid and Folkart are great for acrylic paint. TnT Cosplay Supply is great for EVA foam and Worbla, which are both super handy for building props and armor. Johanns is great for shopping for fabric, but thrifted curtains and bedsheets are also awesome.

Cosplay tutorials / ebooks

Something else that I wish I had known was where to look for cosplay tutorials. Youtube is, of course, super helpful for that. Just searching for ‘cosplay tutorial’ can bring up some great results, and you can even get more specific. Try ‘Lady Loki cosplay tutorial,’ for example, or ‘How to cosplay without a wig,’ and you can get some more specific tutorials. (Both of those tutorials are actually tutorials on my Youtube channel!) You can find so many great tutorials on Youtube.

Ebooks can also be great for learning more about cosplay. Kamui Cosplay has a wide assortment of cosplay books, which I HIGHLY recommend. I also have a few different cosplay ebooks in my Etsy shop, including ‘Cosplay on a Budget,’ which is great for people wanting to cosplay without spending a ton of money.

Cosplay on a budget ebook

Where to wear your cosplays

After I finished making my first cosplay, I dusted off my hands, took a step back, and… had no idea what to do next. I had the cosplay, sure, but then what?? Halloween was months away, and I had no idea where else to wear a costume like this.

Here’s a couple ideas of where to wear your cosplays! First is for photoshoots. Whether it’s just a couple quick selfies on your phone, a full paid shoot with a photographer, or anywhere in between, it can be great to get on your cosplay for a bit and get some nice pictures.

Another place to wear your cosplays, and probably the most popular, is comic conventions. A type of nerdy event filled with celebrities, artists, and cosplayers! It’s a ton of fun. Most of the time, there’s one within a few hours, but you may have to do some research to find cons close to you. If there’s not a full con nearby, there may be smaller nerdy events, or even a ren faire, which can both be great for wearing cosplays.

Doing things wrong?

The fifth thing that I wasn’t really sure about was if I was doing anything right. To be honest, when I started out, I probably was doing a lot ‘wrong,’ by conventional standards. I probably still am. But cosplay isn’t really conventional! There’s ‘proper’ ways to do things, sure, but you don’t have to do things like that! Even the most ‘professional’ cosplayers out there use things like hot glue and shortcuts to get stuff done! You don’t have to do things the way that everyone else does them — do what makes sense to you! It’s your cosplay, make it how you want.

And there you have it! Five different things I’d wish I’d known when I started cosplaying. Hopefully, these were helpful to you, and can help you skip over some of the things I struggled with. I wish you luck!


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