I’ve been cosplaying since early 2018, and in almost every year since then, I’ve only made a few cosplays. Maybe five max. I would get so many ideas for cosplays, then get distracted, or procrastinate, or do other things, and before I knew it, it was the end of the year.
However, for 2021, it was different.
Well, not really. I still got distracted and procrastinated a lot. But, somehow, in 2021, I still managed to make over FIVE TIMES the amount of cosplays I made in 2020. These cosplays were a combination of constructed cosplays, thrifted cosplays, makeup tests / closet cosplays, or a mix of all of the above! But all together, they came up to THIRTY different cosplays.
Which, frankly, is absurd to think about. That is a LOT of costumes.
I’m still not really sure how I pulled it off, but, throughout the process of bringing all these characters to life, I learned a lot! Hopefully, what I’ve learned can be helpful to you in making your own cosplays!
Make cosplays for YOU
One of the main things I’ve come to realize is that cosplay should be for ME. Not for anyone else, ME. I should cosplay what makes me happy! This kind of seems obvious, but I have pushed myself a lot in the past to complete cosplays I’m no longer interested in. All it’s really done is bring me a lot of stress and anxiety, that was barely made worth it by the awesome feeling of completing the cosplay.
This year, I only made one ‘big’ cosplay. Meaning one that was incredibly complex, had a lot of different components, was almost entirely made from scratch, and took me months to create. This was my Scarlet Witch cosplay. And while I had a lot of fun making it, and I loved bringing it to life, I was glad that this was the only really ‘big’ cosplay I did this year. Cosplays like this DO feel amazing to finish, but they take a very long time, and by the end, I’m just far too stressed about it, procrastinate working on it, and feel terrible if I don’t work on it for a day.
So while I do love doing cosplays like this every once in a while, I kept them to a minimum this year, and that left me more time to work on smaller builds, which I usually enjoy more!
Cosplay challenges and deadlines
Which brings me to something else I tried this year — making a lot of cosplays in a very short amount of time. During the week leading up to Halloween, I decided to make as many Dream SMP (a particular fandom) cosplays as I could, in ONE WEEK. I ended up making and shooting ELEVEN different cosplays, which was a huge challenge, but I really enjoyed it.
Having such a tight deadline left me no time to get distracted or demotivated, which was great. I got a little stressed, sure, but I loved the challenge. Deadlines are good for me, and they’re frequently the only reason I’m able to finish a cosplay.
If you’re having a hard time finding the motivation to finish a cosplay, try setting a deadline for it! For me, it’s usually a comic con approaching, or occasionally a set photoshoot date. In my experience, they’re great for getting back into gear, and actually FINISHING the cosplay.
Try new things!
This year, I tried a lot of new things in cosplay, things that I never would dreamed of trying a year or two ago. Things like body paint, heavy SFX makeup, making cosplays with a ton of tricky sewing components, and participating in sponsorships. Doing all these things did make me slightly nervous, but if I had never tried them, I never would have known I could do them!
What I’ve taken from this, and what I hope you’ll take from this, is to not be afraid to try new things. Don’t be afraid of messing up, don’t be afraid of failure. If it doesn’t turn out how you want it to the first try, you can just learn from it! No one does things perfectly the first try. It’s just a great experience to learn, and try new things.
For instance, when I did my first full face of body paint for my Ranboo cosplay, I had mixed expectations. On the one hand, I figured it would go okay. On the other hand, I was pretty sure it would look horrible.
In the end it was kind of a mix of both. It did turn out okay, especially for my first try, and I love the end photos I got! And I did learn from it a lot. I learned better how to apply and seal body paint, and I learned that cheap Halloween face paint is NOT the way to go. It could have gone better, but it definitely could have gone way worse.
And now, after all that, I feel much less nervous about body paint. I’d love to do it again! (This time, with an actually decent brand!)
Think outside the box
Another thing that I’ve better taken advantage of this year is thinking outside the box. So what if it’s not the ‘proper’ way to do things? If it works for you, and it’s not dangerous or hurting anyone, do it anyway! Don’t be afraid to try things differently.
And who knows? Maybe this new, crazy thing you tried on a whim will become the new normal for cosplayers.
Some of the weird, random things I tried for my costumes worked out great. Some of them did not work out at all, and that’s okay too! It’s the same principle as before: Don’t be afraid to try to try new things, because even if you mess up, you can learn from it!
Take progress pictures
The final thing I wanted to talk about that I thought about this year was progress pictures. TAKE PROGRESS PICTURES!! It’s super important! Looking back at your costumes, you’ll want to know how you made things! Or if somebody asks how you made them, you’ll want to be able to show them!
I’m either really good at taking progress pictures, or I completely forget about it and end up with like two. So I’m here to remind you to take lots of pictures of your cosplay builds! They don’t have to be super nice, professional pictures. Quick snapshots on your phone work great.
If you have a Tik-Tok, Instagram, or Youtube channel for your cosplays, filming videos of your cosplays can be a great idea too. You never know what clips will be the perfect thing to add to your next video!
I’ve never regretted taking pictures, but I’ve definitely regretted NOT taking pictures. Take it from me, and remember to get lots of progress pics.
2021 was crazy
2021 was a crazy year for a lot of us. It was crazy for me! But despite that (or maybe because of it), I had a really good year, and I made a lot of things that I’m proud of. Or even things that I’m not proud of, but that’s okay too, because I learned from them.
Hopefully, you learned and did some awesome things in 2021 too. And maybe the things I learned can help you with your cosplays in 2022! I hope so. And I wish you luck in the year to come!