Just like in any other pop culture conventions around the world, one of the highlights of the recently concluded AsiaPOP Comicon (APCC) 2017 Manila was cosplay.
APCC Manila featured cosplay competitions; and brought together celebrated cosplayers including Alodia Gosiengfiao (Philippines), Myrtle Sarrosa (Philippines), Jin Joson a.k.a Jinbehindinfinity (Philippines), Pion Kim (South Korea), Philip Odango a.k.a Canvas Cosplay (US), and Haiden Hazard (US).
These famed cosplayers headlined the annual CAGE (Cosplay Authority Global Challenge) competition, met with their fans in meet & greet sessions, as well as gave talks on the featured workshops of the event.
Joson, in a press conference held days before the APCC Manila, shared she’s happy that “cosplay is becoming such a celebrated hobby in the recent years,” especially since she considers it as “a personal experience.”
Joson who cosplays together with her friends, has thousands of followers on her social media accounts, and gets to be invited in conventions in different countries.
She is well-known for cosplaying Hiro Hamada from the movie Big Hero 6, Naruto Uzumaki from the popular anime series “Naruto,” and Kenshin Himura from the famed anime series “Rurouni Kenshin.”
Present with Joson in the same press conference was Hazard, who has won many cosplay awards, has more than a hundred thousand followers on Facebook, and also gets to be invited to a lot of conventions.
In an interview with InterAksyon, Joson and Hazard shared a few ideas on how to start cosplaying, what to expect in the cosplay community, how to grow your social media followers, and more. See their valuable tips below:
1. Cosplay the character you love.
Since Joson considers the activity as an enjoyable personal experience, she suggested to “pick characters or series that you feel strongly about.”
“I just find it a more enriching experience if you do it this way because it’s something you love,” she explained.
She added that it might help to ask yourselves questions like, “Is this what I wanted to do?” or “Does this feel right for me?”
Hazard shares the same belief, and shared that 99% of the costumes that she has are characters that she absolutely loves.
“Dress up as the characters you love because you will have the most fun that way. If you dress up as a character that you really don’t know anything about, it’s not as fun because you don’t have the passion for it,” Hazard advised.
“If I don’t like the character, I won’t really dress up like them because it’s too hard to put that much time, effort, and money into a character that you actually despise,” she added.
2. Do it for yourself. Don’t let others’ negative comments affect you.
Joson–who admitted she had a fair share of bad comments about her work–advised not to take it all by heart.
“Just do it for yourself. I know people can sometimes be critical. After so many years doing this, of course I’ve had stuff said about me, but to be honest, like after these years I just come to terms with it; that those things don’t really matter,” she said.
“You don’t have to let it affect you. Don’t restrain yourself just because you’re afraid of what other people might say because what if they don’t say anything bad? You would just miss the opportunity and waste the experience that you could’ve had,” she added.
3. Expect to gain a lot of friends.
Joson and Haiden both said that the best thing they love about cosplay are the connections they have made through it.
“It connects people. If you just see someone wearing a cosplay of a character you love, there is this instant connection like, ‘Ah, this person also loves this character,’ so it makes you feel like you can come close and just talk to them,” Joson shared.
Moreover, Joson shared that she gets amazed meeting people from different countries who appreciates her work.
Hazard—who believes that cosplay is for everyone regardless of age–shared she had the time of her life when she first attended a convention, and had been a regular attendee ever since.
“For me the best thing about cosplay is the connections that I’ve made through it. 99% of my friends, and even my best friends are people that I’ve met through conventions or cosplay so I wouldn’t have met these people otherwise,” she shared.
Hazard advised would-be cosplayers, “Just be nice to everyone; just accept everyone for how they are. We are a very open and loving community so just be nice and accepting.”
4. It can also be challenging.
Although cosplay is fun and exciting, cosplayers also find some aspects of it to be challenging, especially when it comes to the actual process of making costumes.
“I think the most challenging part of cosplay for me is actually finding the time and willpower to actually make the costumes because these costumes take anywhere from about 40 hours to about 150 hrs of actual work,” Hazard shared about her costume-making process.
“The longest one was taking me a 150 hours of actually working on it at the course of like six months. It’s so hard not to get discouraged when it takes that long and you don’t see that much progress until it all finally comes together,” she continued.
Joson on the other hand finds it challenging to balance her schedule since she is doing painting and graphic design as a freelance artist; and also wants to spend time with family and friends as well.
“I wish there are more hours in a day just to do everything,” Joson jokingly shared.
5. The internet is your best friend.
When making your own costumes, you don’t have to spend that much money. Hazard suggested, “Budget out; like figure out how much everything is going to cost beforehand..Google is your best friend when you cosplay so just look how other people have done it, base your stuff out of that, and see how they do it.”
Joson, who started out cosplaying characters dressed in school uniforms, advised to start with what you already have in your closet.
“I either got something from the mall or build on what I already have in my closet. I actually had some of my costumes made by dress makers whose shops can be found on side streets, and they’re actually quite good, and much cheaper,” she shared.
For her make-up and props, she said it was only self-taught, and learned from watching other cosplayers on YouTube.
6. Good lighting and your friends are the key in having good photos.
Joson and Hazard have thousands of online following, and they mostly post photos of excellent quality in their social media accounts and websites.
In taking good photos, good lighting is top priority according to Hazard. She advised to take photos in front of a window during the day to maximize natural lighting. You can opt to use LED lights, too, and use filters in editing your photos.
For Joson on the other hand, apart from practice, having your friends as your photographers could help you a lot to be comfortable in front of the camera.
“My friends and I does it as a team so we’re comfortable with each other. It’s my friend who is behind the camera, and my other friends are the other cosplayers in the picture,” she shared.
Joson also underscored the importance of practice. “That’s how we learned–taking many shots, seeing what the mistakes are, and learning from that for the next shoot.”
7. Be active on social media.
Hazard suggested to post at least once or twice a day on your social media accounts.
“If you post once a week or once a month people don’t really see it as often,” she said, and added that being active online will help you be recognized.
8. Converse with your audience.
Joson shared she likes to interact with people online. She said, “I like hearing from you. Comment if you want to say something about our video. I really enjoy conversing with our audience, and getting their input also makes me realize which part of our work our audience likes.”