Tuesday, 21 January 2014

How much does it cost to cosplay?


Let's talk about cosplay for a chance, mainly about the problem that seems to surface and re-surface in the Icelandic cosplayers' group about the horrific cost of cosplaying. While I agree that it definitely can be that - and it sort of comes to mind that I once used a three digit amount of euros on just one outfit, and the first digit was not 1,2 or 3 - it's still not a definite rule. Cosplay does not have to be expensive. It doesn't even have to be expensive to look good.

Let's first look at the reasons that bring the price up:

Kusuri-uri of Mononoke. Not gonna lie, this outfit cost me an arm and a leg to make and took over a year to complete. Reason: LOTS of expensive fabric + I actually made that backpack as well as the sword.

It took also ages to put on because of all the items and face paint it needed. Was it worth it? YES OH MY BOB YES SO MUCH YES MY FAVOURITE COSPLAY PROJECT EVER

Living in Iceland the biggest costs come from ordering stuff from abroad because then you'll not only pay for the item itself, you'll also be paying for the shipping and in the end the customs will get you, almost without a fail. And let me tell you something about the customs here in Iceland, they are ridiculously expensive. They are also very willful in their decisions and if they make a mistake it's up to you to correct.

For example if they receive your parcel, forget entirely to notify you that it has arrived, forget to notify you again when you don't pick it up (Icelandic customs office gives you at least two notifications both via e-mail and a paper slip), still won't tell you anything about it when the time to send it back draws nearer, eventually slap it with a "customer denied this parcel"-stamp and return it to sender meaning you'll now have to pay double postage for the very same parcel just because some imbecile triple-failed their job... they'll then charge you a handling fee for - yes, you guessed it - fucking up on your parcel. Let's say that once more. If Icelandic customs office makes a mistake, YOU PAY FOR IT. Whoops, did I just sound bitter there? I GUESS I FUCKING DID.

My first Finland outfit. Don't mention the boots, I know they're not accurate. ;;;

The way around this is... get everything you need from Iceland. There actually are seamstresses here that will do commissions if you ask, although be prepared to pay for their services as nothing's cheap in Iceland. Still, with the prices you see on eBay the prices of a local seamstress may be just that and you'll get to skip the shipping and customs. In any case it won't hurt you to go visit one, ask if they do commissions of this kind (bring a reference image of the back and front of the outfit with you) and ask for a price estimation.

Gijinka Scrooge McDuck and Goldie O'Gilt. Selfmade ones again by us two, all materials and props from Iceland. That fabric for Goldie O'Gilt's dress was originally just plain white sheet cotton, cheap as anything, which I then hand dyed to get the slide from yellow to red.

Another way is to sew it yourself. Fabrics are also expensive? Not all fabrics are if you know where to look! Cosplay may still look good quality even if you sew it out of old curtains. I'm not kidding you, I've ransacked so many UFFs in Finland for their second hand curtains that it's not even funny. Anyway, on Iceland Rauðakrossbúðin and Góði Hirðirinn are your best friends, and Kolaportið might throw you some surprises as well. This also comes with the additional plus that you won't feel as afraid of working with the material you have if it only cost you 400kr instead of 4000kr.

Something that looks impressive may actually be really simple to make. 

Polish-Swedish wars Finland. Although it seems to have plenty of details and the like, it's actually just made of the simplest patterns ever. Everything's baggy so even the fit is no problem. 

Sewing itself is nowhere near as difficult as it may at first feel like. You'll find excellent, easy to follow tutorials online everywhere, but especially on Youtube where seamstresses show you in practice how things are done. Still afraid? Gather some friends with you. Shared work is less work anyway and making a cosplay outfit together is great fun (unless the con's on the next day, then it's sweat, blood and tears and everyone getting on everyone's nerves :D).

One of my first ever cosplays, Perona of One Piece. Red cape + skirt are an old curtain, stripy tights are actually cheapo stripy socks that I cut open at the toe and pulled as high as they would reach. Shirt is just a plain shirt to which I added some details, cost me a few cents. Wig is self dyed and self-styled out of a simple and cheap blonde one. Total cost of this outfit was less than 3000kr and that has shoes included (which cost me roughly 1500kr).

What about wigs, then? Alas, you're on your own there. However, if you need a fancy colour one you may consider getting a cheap blonde wig and dyeing it yourself. Tutorials for how this is done can easily be found online. Contacts? Well, you may want to consider if you really desperately need a pair... I've cosplayed Finland of Hetalia for ages and never once worn lilac contacts to match his canon eye colour. I've never worn blue ones either, to match his, hah, other canon eye colour either. It's simply not that important and definitely does not define whether your character's done well. Unless of course their eyes are really important for the chara you're going for, several characters from Naruto come to mind...

The tall geta iow takageta are entirely selfmade.

Shoes are just regular shoes of origin, the only thing done to them was to cut off the toes. Kakashi and anbu-Kakashi outfits are selfmade by the both of us.

My boots are painted to the right shade and the white bits are added on.

Shoes are another difficult item, but shoe- and boot covers may help you out a lot. Some paints also work well on shoes if you need generic looking ones in fancy colours. If it's something else you need, f.ex. unusually tall geta you may consider making them yourself. There are tutorials for. literally. everything. :D

So, how expensive is cosplay? Let me count the prices:

closet-cosplay Finland: estimation 500kr, that was the price of that wig. A bit shiny but it does its job.

Norway of Hetalia: selfmade, 3000Kr. A very simple cosplay to make, note that I often use the same wig for many characters - this is the same as Finland's wig.

Belarus of Hetalia, selfmade: 4000kr. Cheap fabrics and fleamarket hunting are the key! Btw this was also a really easy outfit to sew.

Polish-Swedish wars Sweden. I made this outfit so we could couple cosplay, and well, it's made of velvet which racked its price into crazy sphere by material costs alone. I don't even want to think how much it cost to make, xx xxx kr anyway, but once you get that into cosplay it sort of ceases to matter. You save it up, you prepare for the conventions all year round.

In the end cosplay is all about creating a character's outfit. You don't have to throw your money to the air to do that, it's no rule that the hobby has to be expensive. Your skills, no matter how little you think of them, will grow by every new outfit you make. None of us start as masters (with the exception of Jesmoth who's annoyingly talented)(yeah hate her skills gonna throw kisses at her when I see her)(wait), and cosplay isn't really about being absolutely perfect but being your own level of perfect, creating things, crafting things, bending material to your will. It's an amazing feeling.


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