Cosplay has literally been a thing since masquerade balls in the 15th century. But in case you’re still wondering, “what is cosplay?” let me fill you in.
To be fair, I didn’t discover this community until 2015. Before that, I was just a normal human being– oblivious to the magic that was happening at comic-cons all around the world.
Many people have their own perceptions of the cosplay community. Some find it very strange while others are pretty neutral to the whole concept.
This community is full of fun, fantasy, and believe it or not… drama.
As a whole, we’re generally pretty welcoming to anyone who is interested in costume design. But some cosplayers have different definitions of what cosplay is and who is and isn’t accepted into the community. Some can be pretty territorial and downright harsh.
So let me just explain this whole cosplay concept from a relatively new insider’s point of view.
My first convention happened by accident. On the way to the airport (for my first ever airplane ride), we found out that there was going to be a Supernatural convention in Las Vegas… which was, coincidently, our destination.
Naturally, I convinced my sister to buy tickets on the spot. We eagerly joined the many Dean, Sam, and Castiels, fangirled at the live cast panels, and we even met Misha Collins (who plays Castiel). I didn’t need to ask what cosplay was because the concept seemed pretty understandable.
There were plenty of cosplayers roaming about the Supernatural convention, but I honestly barely paid any attention to them. The whole convention itself was pretty overwhelming and the energy was palpable enough that I couldn’t focus on anything other than my pure enjoyment.
Then my sister asked me to go to MegaCon Orlando with her in 2016. I hastily put together a Thor cosplay because I don’t need to be coerced into working with my hands. I crafted together my $10 costume and we headed out the next day.
And from that point forward, I was hooked.
What Is Cosplay?
Cosplay is a play on words for “costume play.” Most people know this.
What they don’t know is that there is no rulebook for cosplay. Cosplay, as I mentioned, has always been around. The whole masquerade era can now be considered a form of cosplay. Costume play itself gained traction in the ’80s and again in the 2000s, but now cosplay is slowly becoming a mainstream past time.
Different Types of Cosplays
There are unspoken “tiers” to cosplay as well. There are the novice cosplayers. That would have been me in my crafty Thor cosplay made out of craft foam and hot glue (still staple ingredients for any cosplayer, to be honest).
I’ve come across people in my real life who do think cosplay is a bit strange. And, admittedly, I’m always a little self-conscious about it.
That’s why I’m always so surprised when people tell me how cool they think it is. Everyone from my grandma to my childhood best friends will comment on the costumes they see me doing and tell me how much they enjoy seeing it.
Just this past Christmas, a relative (who I would instantly pinpoint as one of the people who would label cosplaying as “weird”) gushed over my character designs.
On the whole, it’s pretty close-minded to label cosplay as a “weird” past time or hobby. It’s true that it’s mostly older adults (25-35 years old) that are a part of this community. But that’s likely due to the fact that cosplaying can be expensive.
And while some people are insecure about the fact that adults are wearing costumes on a regular basis, most people are pretty cool with it. Whether you know it or not.
I’ve always thought that if people are judging cosplayers for turning themselves into characters, why don’t they do the same for actors? They’re literally doing the exact same thing.
Likewise, it takes blood, sweat, and tears to sew and to manipulate foam to make armored cosplays. Do I think it’s strange that some people put the same amount of energy into their own hobbies, like working on cars, baking, or filming YouTube videos?
Of course not.
Should You Join the Cosplay Community?
Like I said at the beginning, this community is notoriously welcoming. Most people rave about each others’ costumes or ask for crafting advice. There’s something to be said about the unequivocal bond you make with someone who’s just as passionate about Supernatural or Iron Man as you are.
However, a word of caution: be leery of the gatekeepers and the internet trolls. Reddit (r/cosplaygirls), in particular, is full of nasty people who seemingly hate their life.
Unsolicited advice is also becoming an increasing problem (“great job! But you should have made your armor a little bit redder!”). And if you know anything about the Star Wars gatekeepers, you’ll know that nothing is ever good enough for these types of people. Especially when it comes to your cosplay.
But should you join? If you enjoy art, have a passion for literally any fandom (from anime to Disney), and you don’t mind burning yourself with a hot glue gun for the rest of your life– then welcome to the cosplay community!
One thing active crafters like cosplayers dream about is their own crafting space. Even though I live in an apartment, my boyfriend and I thankfully have a spare bedroom that doubles as an office for him and a cosplay work station for me! So, just in case you’re in need of some craft room ideas, I’m going to break down how I set mine up and give you some craft room storage ideas.
A Breakdown of My Cosplay Craft Room & Craft Room Ideas For Organizing
Click here to watch the video!
I’m sure you can tell, but I don’t have a luxurious crafting room.
Honestly, if I had it my way, I would live in a house and transform an entire garage into a dedicated crafting space. It would be so convenient considering how much material we cut up and the fumes we’re exposed to (EVA foam, contact cement, paint, etc).
But if you’re looking for a convenient way to transform a small corner of your home into a cosplay area that you can call your own, I think my setup is the perfect solution.
At the very least, I hope it will spark some craft room ideas!
I was very picky when it came to my cosplay craft desk (btw, you can now shop my desk here!). Originally, I only had storage cubes that were 13×15 so I needed to find a desk that could fit those.
Also, I really didn’t plan on spending more than $150 on the desk itself. I searched through Amazon, went to Ikea, and finally settled on this desk from Wal-Mart. It can hold 8-10 storage cubes, and my giant cubes fit in perfectly.
My favorite feature about this desk is the extendable legs. It’s a kind of a pain to switch up, but I love that I have the option to stand while making my cosplays.
I found some alternatives on Amazon in case you wanted to see what options you have. But if you’ve seen the video, you can see how convenient using this type of cosplay craft desk is!
Craft Room Storage
If you’re looking for craft room storage ideas for all your cosplay materials, I’ve got you covered there, too!
I think your best bet is to get these giant, fabric storage cubes like I have. You can fit SO much in these. I purchased mine from Wal-Mart a while ago as I had a hard time finding bins this big online.
Either way, I have some craft storage materials linked down below. I also recommend getting bags for wigs, scrap material, and other miscellaneous items like jewels, velcro, and hot glue sticks.
Edit: I forgot to mention the small organization drawer where I keep my fabric markers, glue, and sewing pins. It’s something like this!
A media kit is primarily used by cosplayers in order to apply for convention appearances and cosplay sponsorships. My first sponsored cosplay came a year into my cosplay career and having a media kit was a handy tool that allowed the company to see who I was and what I had to offer. That’s why I decided to share my own kit with you and offer you a cosplay media kit template.
Do you always need to send a media kit? Not necessarily. Sometimes a well-crafted email can land you that sponsored cosplay or collaboration (I’ve done this myself a time or two). However, media kits help you establish a sense of professionalism while simultaneously giving you a way to showcase your cosplay-related accomplishments.
Media Kits shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all, so I highly recommend changing the colors and adding a few things to make it represent you and your cosplays. The platform I used to make my kit is called Canva, and it’s the greatest thing ever. You’ll need an account to get my template, but from there it’s literally just drag-and-drop, so customizing it will be a breeze.
But before you get started, you should probably take a look at what exactly a media kit is used for and what you should (and shouldn’t) include in this file.
A media kit is essentially a beefed-up cosplay resume. It holds all of your graphics, statistics, and experiences in one document. This document (typically in PDF form) is then used to send to conventions or companies in the hopes that you will be hired as a cosplayer, crafter, streamer, or what have you.
These documents are fairly easy enough to make, but I decided to send you my personal cosplay media kit template that I made just to give you a head start (I’m not a graphic designer, so please don’t judge me). You can use the same program to tailor your own or use one of the many templates they have available.
You can also just add your media page to your website! But I’ll get into that in a minute.
What To Include in Your Media Kit
Everyone’s media kit should be different. And depending on the reason behind your media kit, you may need to tailor it in different ways. For example, convention runners may not be interested that the RPC Studio sponsored you a cosplay, and likewise, a makeup company might not put much thought into your convention appearances.
You can try to squeeze it all in there, but just like when you tailor your resume for a specific job, consider doing the same for your media kit depending on who you’re trying to work with.
Besides your contact information and social channels, here are a few more things to include in your cosplay media kit:
Pictures: Showcase your best cosplay photos here. I would also suggest putting in a decent personal photo just so companies can get to know the real you.
Services: Do you write blogs, make YouTube videos, or stream on Twitch? In most cases, companies are going to look at what you have to offer them. This is also where you can include panels you’ve hosted or competitions you’ve been a judge for.
If you’re only looking to get free (sponsored) stuff, consider offering multiple services (i.e. a dedicated blog post and an IG post) in order to land the gig. It will be really hard to sell yourself on just a single Instagram post if you have a small following.
Previous collaborations: This includes convention appearances and sponsored posts. Let them know what you did for the company and include any statistics and positive outcomes that the company benefitted from during your collaboration.
Statistics: Include your demographics (age range, gender, location of followers) and social media stats. The easiest way to get these is by using the two platforms I have listed down below.
Awards and Press: This is where you want to highlight any awards, press, and publications you have been featured in. I would only include one photo here and then just link to the publication so the reader can view it at their leisure.
What Not To Include
There is such a thing as too much when it comes to your media kit. Here are a view things that may make your media kit look unprofessional or novice:
Too many pictures/colors: Yes, this is cosplay, but don’t let your media kit act as your primary portfolio. Ten photos is more than enough to include in your media kit (high-quality, of course!).
I made the mistake of incorporating too many colors and graphics in my media kit the first time. Try to stick to 3 core colors and fonts so that your media kit looks clean.
A background image: A background image is way too distracting. You want your media kit to have a fresh and easy to follow format. Likewise, sometimes bold colors such as red or blue are a bit too much for a media kit.
Work history: This isn’t your resume. It’s cool if you’re a hard-working barista, but companies aren’t really going to take much stock in your daily work hustle. Keep it brief and professional.
If you are sending out a pdf Media Kit via email, I recommend keeping your file at 2 pages max (similar to a resume). Chances are, the company is only going to do a quick skim at first, and you don’t want to overwhelm them with too much information.
However, if you have a website, you can also just include your Media Kit as one of your dedicated pages. I still have to do this, but I still have a PDF version, just in case. Momo Kurumi’s Media Kit webpage is another terrific example you can use for reference.
Ready To Send?
Not so fast. Before you start sending off your Media Kit for collaboration inquiries, have a friend look it over. It always takes a second pair of eyes to spot any errors in your copy.
I would also recommend showing it to an unbiased source, such as a cosplay friend who you know will give it to you straight. Preferably, you will want to have someone who has experience in landing gigs (such as convention appearances or sponsorships).
If you need some advice, I’d be happy to share my opinion. Just DM on Instagram and we can exchange information there!
Cosplay Media Kit Template and Alternatives
As promised, here is where you can get my free cosplay media kit template. Just click the photo below, drop in your email, and I’ll send it over. If you have any questions, please feel free to respond to the email or DM me on Instagram.
Media Kit Alternatives
Not everyone has the time to put together the statistics for all of their cosplay accounts (even with a template!). To make your life a little bit easier, I recommend utilizing these two free platforms as well and include them in your pitch to potential sponsors.
Influence.co: This handy little platform allows companies to see your total reach, engagement, and social platforms all in one place! All you have to do is link each social site and Influence spits out the stats for you (including demographics). You can customize it a little with a bio, and you can even add previous sponsored or promotional social media posts. You can see mine linked for reference
Social Bluebook: If you are questioning how much you can charge for collaborations or conventions, you definitely want to invest in Social Bluebook. There are paid versions where you can add all of your accounts, but I just write down the information it gives me for each platform and then I remove it from the list.
The rule of thumb when it comes to sponsored posts is $100 for every 10K followers. However, if you have a high engagement rate or grade (my Instagram is A++!) then you can probably charge a little higher. Social Bluebook allows you to see how much to charge for dedicated posts, shout outs, direct links to company websites, and more.
For whatEVER reason, my Captain Marvel cosplay is the one you guys seem to enjoy the most. So naturally, the next step for me would be to get the Captain Marvel flight suit costume.
As I’ve said time and time again, I’m not a stickler when it comes to screen accurate cosplays. Hell, my Captain Marvel suit(from Ali Express) looks nothing like any version of Carol Danvers. But when Stitch’s Loft reached out to me about his product, I was instantly intrigued.
When Ryan (Stitch’s Loft) sent me this pilot suit, he also gave me some history on the suit and how he was able to make it as real as possible. This guy went above and beyond to make finite details for this costume. It’s truly remarkable.
That’s what I’m going to get into in this blog in case you wanted some more backstory about the making of this suit. I did a full review of the Captain Marvel flight suit on YouTube so that you can see this cosplay in action. Check it and out andsubscribe if you’re into that kind of thing!
Is This Captain Marvel Pilot Suit Costume Movie Accurate?
Yes. The suit itself is a bonafide fire-resistant military-grade suit. Ones that’s actual Air Force Pilots wear. You’ll know it’s real when you see the tag that says:
“Coveralls, Flyer’s Women’s Summer, Flame Resistant. Type 11 CLASS 1”
The newer suits come in Freedom Green, which is only slightly different from the 90’s vintage Sage Greens pilot suits. The Freedom suit (the one I have) is a brighter green, which is actually perfect because this is cosplay and it will show up better in photos.
Captain Marvel Flight Suit Patches
You can watch the full breakdown for the Captain Marvel flight suit patches on Stitch’s Loft’s YouTube channel. He really goes into detail about how much research and study it took to get these patches just right. And the chest patch on my Air Force suit, he says, is a real vintage USAF patch.
My suit comes with a total of 4 patches, with 3 of them being movie-accurate recreations by Stitch’s Loft (V2.0 Test Pilot patch is probably my fav because it’s so colorful).
Here’s what the suit comes with:
(1) CWU-27/p (Real Nomex US Military) Flight Suit with hook and loop
(1) Custom Carol Danvers nametag (Stitch’s Loft Design)
(1) Set of USAF Captain Bar Rank Insignias (Real USAF Rank Insignias)
(1) AF Systems Command Patch REAL Vintage 90’s
(1) Inexplorata Patch (Stitch’s Loft Design)
(1) Test Pilot School Patch *NEW V2.0 (Stitch’s Loft Design)
(1) SPARROW (Stitch’s Loft Design) or RETENTION METER Morale Patch Replica
The Sparrow Patch actually has a sad story behind it concerning a real U.S. Air force Pilot. The U.S. Thunderbirds pilot died at the age of 34 in a flight accident. Brie Larson spoke about it on her Instagram, noting that,
“There is no Carol without you. You helped create her and I am forever grateful.”
So if you are planning on getting this flight suit, I highly recommend getting the Sparrow patch to celebrate and honor Maj. Stephen Del Bagno.
It’s hard to define a “successful cosplay page”. This can refer to your Instagram account, your cosplay blog, or your cosplay “brand” as a whole. For many, cosplay is just a hobby where success is simply determined as the completion of your dream costume. But for those want their cosplay page to thrive, I hope these tips will come in handy.
Again, you are the only person who can set expectations for success. Maybe you want to land a brand deal or you want to hit 1,000 followers on Instagram. The options are endless, but each of these steps should help you kickstart your cosplay ambitions to get the results (a.k.a. the “success”) you’re hoping to achieve.
Step 1: Figure Out Who You Are
I’m trying to find a way to phrase this so it doesn’t sound so cliche. If you can’t figure out who you are in real, everyday life, it’s going to be hard to show that to people across a screen. The people who I’ve seen that are the most successful in their cosplay endeavors are the ones who are unapologetically themselves.
If you’re not sure who that is, figure that out first. Or ask your closest friends and family members how they would describe you. Then harness those key traits about yourself and use them to show the world how awesome you are.
Step 2: Set Goals
Let me say this loud and clear: don’t focus on numbers. Do. Not. Focus. On. Numbers.
Don’t get me wrong; numbers shouldn’t be ignored altogether because they do help you measure which content is working and which isn’t. Just don’t think that numbers are the only measurement of your success. You can do brand collaborations, sell prints, and start a YouTube channel with only 100 followers. In fact, that’s exactly what most people do.
There’s nothing wrong with setting Instagram follower goals or trying to hit that 100 Patreon mark. Just make sure these numeric milestones have something to do with your big-picture goals. For example, I want to write a book. I can write a book with 0 followers, but if I want to make a full (or even part-time) job out of being a writer, then I need an audience. So I do have monthly numeric goals for social media followers and (more importantly) engagement growth. But in order to hit those numbers, I have to set goals with a consistent strategy in mind. My goals each month are to write blogs, post a couple of YouTube videos and have at least one cosplay photoshoot.
Whatever your big-picture goal is, it shouldn’t have to do with numbers. It should have to do with a career choice, a dream project, or even just community involvement. In short, set your big-picture goal, make small milestones to hit those goals, and only keep track of numbers to see if you’re hitting each milestone along the way to your main ambition.
Step 3: Be Consistent!
I’ll be the first to say that this is easier said than done. Between my day job and lack of confidence, coming up with consistent photos is hard for me. It’s November and I’ve published 15 cosplay pictures this year. But it also explains why I’m not where I want to be in this cosplay journey.
You don’t have to post photos every day to be consistent. In fact, you shouldn’t. Think of your cosplay page audience as a group of friends. You don’t need to see or talk to them every day in order to maintain that friendship. But if you keep flaking on them or you stop being there for them, they’re going to stop showing up for you, too.
Consistency should be one of your main goals if you want a successful cosplay page. Set a realistic limit to how often you can post and stick to it. It can just be one photo a week or one tutorial video a month. Once people know they can depend on you, that’s when your relationship with your audience begins to grow.
Step 4: Network For a Successful Cosplay Page
This one is huge. You don’t have to attend 20 conventions a year, but if you’re consistently holed up in your house, then it might be hard to find your tribe in the cosplay community.
You can network simply by leaving comments on other cosplayer photos. I try to make this a daily habit. I love leaving encouraging messages on others’ cosplay photos. Or if they ask a question to try to engage with their community, I like to be the person who cares enough to leave a genuine response.
Teaming up with local cosplayers for a collaboration or a big cosplay project is another great way to put yourself out there. It can be intimidating if you don’t already have a group of cosplay friends, but that’s what is so great about this community! It’s easy to make friends… if you try. These opportunities give you a way to provide new content to your social media fans while simultaneously making friends IRL.
Step 5: Have Something to Offer
If your idea of a successful cosplay page is to have over 10K followers, you might want to look at how those cosplayers got to where they are. Usually, these cosplayers who have achieved recognition all have one thing in common: they have something to offer.
Figure out what you can offer that nobody else does. And then magnify that so the rest of the internet can see. Create tutorials, make funny Tik Tok videos, or become a stand-out seamstress. The trick is to be vocal. There is a lot of competition on the internet which means you need to be loud and proud of whatever it is that you have to offer.
My genderbent Doug Funnie cosplay was my first Instagram photo to go semi-viral. Where I was typically hitting 200-400 likes, the mirror selfie of my genderbent Quailman surpassed over 1K. I couldn’t believe how many people liked my DIY Quailman cosplay (let alone a mirror selfie). It just goes to show that you don’t need to be an expert craftsman in order to make a costume that people will love and appreciate.
I’ve made a ton of 90s-related costumes since then. It’s probably my favorite cosplay genre (and a rarely popular one, to my surprise) and I love the reaction it gets from people. So because I’d love for others to experience my 90s-nostalgic joy, I decided to give you this quick and easy DIY Quailman cosplay tutorial. Seriously, you can make this costume in a day.
So grab your coffee, grab your cosplay supplies, and let’s get started.
The base pieces of my DIY Quailman cosplay came from my local thrift shop. The small tidbits (the headband, cape, ribbon, shoes, and the undies) all came from Wal-Mart, I believe. But as always, I’ll have links to Amazon because it’s the best.
To make the headband, take a string/ribbon/measuring tape and measure around your head.
Take that measurement and draw a line across your kids’ craft foam (color doesn’t matter). Then just cut out a rectangle to that length. My headband is about 1-inch thick. I had to cut 2 strips and hot glue them together in order to fit it around my head. Also remember to cut out another strip for the center twirl piece. You can get it to bend forward with a heat gun or a hairdryer.
Next, you’ll want to paint your foam with brown acrylic paint. You can also choose to glue brown pleather onto your foam strips for a more realistic look. I also used an Xacto knife to gently carve lines to give the foam the appearance of belt stitches.
And finally, all you need to do is loop your belt buckle through the foam like you would a normal belt. Don’t worry about securing it with anything but hot glue. The band should sit on your ears to hold it in place.
You have a few options as to how you can do your Quailman costume. If you want to go the traditional route, grab the green sweater vest and a white t-shirt. If you want to go the more femme route, you’ll just need a green V-neck shirt.
For classic Quailman, you can paint the Q right on the front with red acrylic paint. I recommend doing a layer of white paint first so the red is more prominent against the dark fabric. You can also use Dark Transfer Paper and iron on your ‘Q’. I did this for my Jenny Bravo cosplay. Watch the tutorial here.
Femme Quailman (Quailwoman?) just needs one of the stick-on patches. These are always on display at Michaels, but there’s a link above just in case. I just hot-glued mine to the top left of my shirt and voila! That’s it.
Quailman’s cape is literally just half a yard of red fabric from Wal-Mart. It doesn’t matter if the edges or frayed– Doug Funnie is an adolescent boy, after all. Then all I did was take a strip of 3/4-inch white ribbon and hot glue it to the bottom. You can tie the cape around your neck like the real Quailman or tie it to your bra straps like I did.
Doug/ Quailman Fun Facts
Doug’s middle name is Yancy.
Doug retold his adventures to his 6th-grade journal, which is why viewers hear Doug narrate the story at the end of the episode.
Jim Jenkins created Doug Funnie. Doug’s crush, Patti Mayonaise, comes from the names of two different girls Jenkins had crushes on in grade school.
Pork Chop is a Bull Terrier
Directly from IMDb, “The Funnie’s neighbors are the Dinks. Their name stems from the acronym D.I.N.K. which stands for “double income, no kids”. This is a slang term that refers to a childless couple where both people work and are, therefore, more affluent than families with dependents”