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What if I told you dress-up isn’t just for Halloween? Eight years ago, I discovered the world of cosplay, a costume and performance focused art with hundreds of thousands of talented community members who share the same common interest of dressing head-to-toe as a fictional character. The concept might sound a bit nerdy—it is! But that’s what makes it fun and special, speaking as a cosplayer myself.
Maybe you’ve heard of Comic Con or stumbled across someone building a cosplay on social media. This extremely creative hobby (and profession) is growing in popularity faster than ever in 2022 with cosplay-based content receiving frequent attention on Instagram and TikTok. So, what’s the big deal?
The word “cosplay” comes the words “costume” and “play.” Cosplayers are known for their versatility and strong attention to detail, combining the skills of sewing, foam and thermoplastic work, prop building, wig styling, special effects makeup and more into their work to ensure everything looks according to a specific character’s design. These characters are sourced from a variety of things, such as movies, video games, Japanese anime series or even original designs—basically anything you want as long as it makes you happy!
The “play” part comes in when actions or dialogues are included to mimic the character even further past the visual aspect. Most cosplayers will flock to either fan conventions or cosplay social media spaces where they can interact with others who enjoy the same fandoms as they do and take part in impressions, skits and more. The community aspect of cosplay is very strong, allowing for a safe, judgment-free space to simply have fun and be yourself.
In high school, I had a friend who was already deep in the land of cosplay who inspired me to get started. I was (and still am) a right-brained nerdy kid who was craving a creative outlet better than the average art class, and I already had a bit of sewing knowledge thanks to my grandmother who taught me to hand-stitch. Bring in the characters I had fallen in love with through my favorite movies and other media, plus the concept that I could literally be these characters, and it was a recipe for the perfect new hobby.
I made my first cosplay in 2014 from some clothes I found at Goodwill and sewed up some ear and tail accessories that matched the reference I was aiming for. If you’re interested in starting cosplay, I recommend you stick with something easy at first. Pick a skill you’re not familiar with, such as a certain sewing technique or way to do your makeup, and choose a character that will require that technique. Practice makes perfect!
I discovered fan conventions, usually weekend-long events celebrating geek culture, cosplay and all the fandoms we love and appreciate. There you’ll find fan panels, celebrity guests, dealer’s rooms, dances, meetups, photoshoots, gaming, workshops and so much more! San Diego Comic Convention is by far the most popular and well-known fan convention in the US, but there are hundreds of different ones varying in size and genre around the world. A quick Google search should show you what’s in your area. My fellow North Carolinians, I recommend checking out Animazement in Raleigh!
Social media also plays a huge part in the cosplay community, so if conventions aren’t your cup of tea that’s perfectly fine! Instagram, TikTok and Twitter are the main platforms that I see cosplayers utilizing most often in 2022, using them as spaces to interact with the community and post their favorite cosplay content. I am so grateful for all the cosplayers I’ve connected with through social media—they are some of my closest friends and constantly inspire me to improve my cosplay skills.
From animal-like textures to magical sparkles, Spoonflower’s never-ending collection of fabric designs are perfect for any cosplayer. If you don’t see anything you like from our library of nearly 2 million designs, uploading your own is, of course, always an option.
Anna is a self-taught sewist and cosplayer of eight years who joined Spoonflower’s Brand Marketing Team in 2021. In her free time, she’s either stitching together some new products for her small business, binging some sort of animated series, or relaxing with her cat, Mina.