What is Cosplay? – How I Discovered It and What I Think After 3 Years

What is Cosplay? – How I Discovered It and What I Think After 3 Years

cosplay history

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.

RELATED: 10 Ways To Make Money As A Cosplayer

How I Discovered Cosplay

cosplay history

My first cosplay

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?

SFX Basics: Spirit Gum

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).

Then there are the closet cosplayers and the whole Spider-Verse community. I favor both of these when I don’t have time to craft. Closet cosplay is when you essentially take whatever is in your everyday closet and fix your hair and makeup to resemble a popular character. My Debbie Thornberry is an example of a closet cosplay.

You can also buy ready-made costumes from cosplay stores. Spider-Verse suits are extremely comfortable, affordable, and again, pretty much a staple “easy” cosplay. 

Then there are the hard-core crafters. The foamsmithers like Evil Ted and the seamstress masterminds like Kinpatsu Cosplay. There are mind-blowing wig stylists (check out @cowbuttcrunchies if you want to see a great wig manipulator) and incredible makeup artists like Art by Mazz.

Honestly, there’s a lot to get into when it comes to the facets of cosplay. Just search #cosplay on Instagram and you’ll get the gist of it.

RELATED: How I Made My Maleficent Cosplay in ONE DAY

Isn’t it… Weird?

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?

cosplay convention

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!

NEXT: My Cosplay Craft Room And Craft Room Ideas

Want to know more about cosplay? Subscribe to my YouTube channel for tutorials, cosplayer interviews, and ideas on where to get your costume!

AMAZON FAVORITES: Electronics Edition

Feel free to laugh at my photo editing skills.


One statement that I have said and will stand by ruthlessly is this: If you want to be a successful cosplayer, you need Amazon Prime. It is my Bible, my savior, my MUST-HAVE investment as an aspiring global cosplayer. It has saved my butt in numerous last-minute cosplay scrambles, and has subsequently left devastation to my bank account. My apartment is always littered with Amazon Prime boxes, and when I realized this, I decided that I was somewhat of an Amazon Prime shopping expert, so I might as well tell you guys what some of my absolute favorite Amazon products have been.

I have purchased wigs, SFX makeup, and even full cosplays off of this site, and every purchase is a gamble. You never know the quality you’re going to get even if you stick with tried and true Amazon sellers. I personally like to find the best deal, so I research different products thoroughly before I click that ‘Buy Now’ button. This tactic has brought me to buy from various Amazon “stores”, which have resulted in cosplay product goldmines. It has also supplied me with some of the worst quality cosplay products that were returned immediately.

But instead of just dishing out arbitrary good/bad Amazon reviews here, I’m going to shed a light on some Amazon products that I have purchased and that I highly recommend. In this very first edition of my Amazon Favorites, I’m going to show you some of the best electronics that I have bought off of Amazon that are not only terrific quality, but products that have helped me propel my cosplay career.

And some things I just think are neat.

Disclaimer: Links in this article may yield commission to this website. 


1. Movo Executive Lavalier Clip-on Interview Microphone 

Electronics for Cosplayers

This is the very first investment I took for my YouTube channel. It’s exactly what the title says: a lavalier microphone that works great for interviewing people. I have used it on numerous occasions to interview cosplayers at conventions.

Pros: Increases sound quality IMMENSELY. Portable, omni-directional, easy to use, can use on up to 2 people at once, and it has a decent-length cord. It works at great conventions because the microphone is clipped right on to you and your interviewee so convention noise isn’t too noticeable.

Cons: This device ONLY connects to smartphones or iPads, which meant I was SOL once I finally got my DSLR camera. It’s still okay to use if you want to record the audio on your phone and sync it to your video later, but you’ll have to research sound editing in order to do this properly. 


2.  SanDisk 128GB

Electronics for Cosplayers

This baby became an absolute necessity once I started filming tutorials. Interviews can be wrapped up in about 15 minutes, which is fine if you’re just trying to fit one video on a 16GB card. But filming tutorials/making cosplay/putting on SFX makeup takes some time, and with this big of a disk, I literally never have to worry about running out of memory. Ever.


Cons: Nothing. It’s the best thing to ever enter my life.

(Jk it’s a little pricey, but worth it. I recommend it over the 16 GB at least).


3.  Amazon Basics Wireless Remote Control for Canon Digital SLR Cameras

Electronics for Cosplayers

If you don’t have anyone to take your cosplay photos for you (or if you’re like me and you feel awkward af when anyone takes your pictures), this comes in handy.  It’s pretty much just a small remote that you can set up to your DSLR camera with or without the self-timer.

Pros: Makes it ten times easier to get cosplay shots by yourself. Portable, easy to set up, works with pretty much all DSLRs. Extremely affordable.

Cons: You have to reconnect the remote to your camera any time you turn it off. But again, it’s an easy set-up, so this is just a minor inconvenience. 


4. Curtain String Lights, 9.8ft

Electronics for Cosplayers

This is just a personal preference, but I love this as a backdrop option for my YouTube videos (and even some photos). They may be a little cliche, but hey, when it works, it works.

Pros: Super bright. Will mostly fit across/down any wall size because there are so many strings of lights. Multiple light setting options (flicker, stagnant, etc).

Cons: Gets extremely tangled any time you move them. It also doesn’t come in multiple colors, which is something I wish I had thought about looking into before I made this purchase.


5.  Macro Ring 48 LED Power Light 

Electronics for Cosplayers

This was the first “ring light” I purchased for better lighting using my DSLR. It’s about $100 cheaper than traditional, stand-up ring lights so it’s great if you’re on a budget.

Pros: Lighting is essential for cosplay photos and videos, so if you don’t have easy access to natural light, or you shoot at night a lot, this is a great money-saving option. Works with various DSLR cameras, easily attachable, and doesn’t require any batteries.

Cons: It only works well for close-up shots. If you’re looking to get full cosplay shots, you might want to invest in some box lights or a bigger ring light.



BONUS! Nintendo Classically Trained T-Shirt


Cosplay Wish List

This obviously isn’t an electronic, but it symbolizes my love for all types of electronics! I saw this shirt originally modeled by Danielle Denicola and she pulls it off beautifully! So naturally I have to have it to see if I can look just as casually glamorous. This is on my Amazon Wish List, if anyone is interested (hint, hint).

(jk, not really a hint.  You can get it if you want. But obviously you don’t have to. It would just be cool You’re cool. Okay, bye).


Stan Lee Surprises Deadpool Cosplayers With A Special Photo Op

Stan Lee Surprises Deadpool Cosplayers With A Special Photo Op

In May of 2017 in Orlando, Florida, MegaCon held its annual convention for geeks and geekettes around the country. The convention was stocked with art, celebrities and cosplayers from every fandom. The event was especially memorable for some, as it was Stan Lee’s (creator of Spider-Man, Thor and Iron Man, among many others) last ever appearance in Florida. While most find it incredible that Lee still travels the world to meet his comic book fans at the ripe age of 94, Lee decided to step it up a notch by surprising his fans with a special photo op.

How It Happened

[Credit: Marty of Orlando Cosplay]
[Credit: Marty of Orlando Cosplay]

It’s not uncommon at these conventions for cosplayers to organize character meetups for photo opportunities. And who wouldn’t want to miss the chance to see 50 Harley Quinns or Spider-Mans gathered in one place? The Deadpool meetup is organized every MegaCon by Orlando Cosplay owner Marty Grifka. He told us about previous attempts to get Lee to make a special appearance for the meetup, but nothing seem to work before:

“We got him to come out this time by chanting ‘Stan Lee!’ non-stop. And then the clothing shop got him to come over to us.”

The clothing shop in question is Red Chapter Clothing. The owner of the shop, Mark Palmer, told us that he has ties with Marvel ever since his company teamed up with them to make co-branded MARVEL ambigram shirts. After this partnership, they got in the loop with Stan Lee Collectibles and travel with Lee and his team to conventions like MegaCon.

When Palmer and his team saw the Deadpool flash mob they were, like most of the convention-goers, entranced and amused by the conga line of Deadpools. So, they invited them over to their booth, which so happened to be right next to Lee’s autograph zone. Mark Palmer said:


“One of my business partners, Michael, said, ‘Hey, how cool would it be to get a picture with all the Deadpools at our booth?”


Stan Lee Makes An Appearance


Photo credit: Red Chapter Clothing

They went on to direct the Deadpool conga line (video footage of that below) to gather around for a group photo with Red Chapter. That’s when Max Anderson, the owner of Stan Lee Collectibles, came up to Palmer to witness the Deadpool overkill. Palmer then told us about the moment they had all been waiting for:

“Max thought for a second and then said, ‘Keep them [Deadpools] there for two minutes. I’ll be right back.’ And I went, ‘No way…Are you going to get Stan Lee?'”

Word got out about Lee’s possible appearance and they somehow managed to get the plethora of Deadpool cosplayers to act on their best behavior while they awaited the verdict (how uncharacteristic of Deadpool).

Sure enough, within minutes Anderson returned with the father of Marvel. Lee actually stepped away from his signing to take pictures with the Deadpool cosplayers. They put a stepladder in the middle of the sea of Deadpools, and Stan climbed up and smiled alongside his star-struck fans for one unforgettable photograph.

And Deadpools’ Reaction?

[Credit: Make 'Em Laugh Films (MELF)]
[Credit: Make ‘Em Laugh Films (MELF)]

There were about a hundred Deadpool cosplayers involved in the meetup/flash mob. One fan in particular, Jason of Make ‘Em Laugh Films (MELF), recorded a video of the event. In the aftermath he recalled:

“The general reaction when Stan Lee came out was shock, awe, and amazement from the Deadpool cosplayers and bystanders alike. You could feel how grateful everyone was.”




[This article originally appeared on Movie Pilot.com]




The Collectress Interview

The Collectress Interview

Welcome to the second in a series of TEN interviews, each featuring one of Cosplay & Coffee’s official Instagram page models! Each of these girls offer incredibly well-crafted and stunning cosplays, so here is your chance to get to know them a little better.

Today we are featuring another one of our gorgeous Instagram page models, The Collectress, or K. You can find her on Instagram @collectresscosplay or you can see her geek it out on The Collective Blog. She’s a writer, cosplayer, and die-hard  Black Widow fan all rolled into one. 

Collectress Charlie Bradbury by The Collected Mutineer

Cosplay&Coffee: You’re a writer; How did you get into writing and what is something you hope to publish?

K: I started seriously writing during my freshman year at university. I was bored in class and started scribbling in the margins of my notes. Later, it became the framework for my first novel…which has never seen the light of day. I’ve improved much since then; I’ve had a short story published and have won a few prizes/awards for my short stories and scripts. The dream, though, is to publish a novel set in a dystopian future a la Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Handmaid’s Tale or Brave New World.

Cosplay&Coffee: What cosplay do you want to do, but you’re too afraid to try?

K: I would love to be Mystique from the first X-Men film, when Rebecca Romijn wore only blue body paint and stickies. I keep telling myself that someday I’ll summon the courage to be naked and blue.

Cosplay&Coffee: If you could dye your hair any color, what would it be?

K: Before I started seriously cosplaying, I changed my hair almost every other month. My favorite, though, was a black and purple ombre.

Cosplay&Coffee: Craziest story you’ve heard or experienced at a cosplay convention? 

K: At a panel, I once heard Tara Cosplay describe a man who pinched her thigh and slid a dollar into her garter because she was dressed as a Saloon Girl Harley Quinn. The audacity and complete disrespect of that man astounds me. I’m thinking of making a sign to carry around conventions that reads “Please do not touch or photograph the cosplayers without permission.” Cosplay does not equal consent. If you want a photo, just ask!

Cosplay&Coffee: Where have you traveled?

K: This is going to be a long list: 45/50 states, Thailand, Mexico, Italy, Greece, Turkey, France, Switzerland, Germany, Monaco, England, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain…there’s probably a few I’m forgetting. I’ve got a bad case of wanderlust. Favorite place on Earth? Hyde Park in London, right by the Serpentine. It’s beautiful.

Cosplay&Coffee: Being a Californian, have you met any celebrities?

K: I’ve seen a few in California, but never really “met” them. I actually had more interaction with celebrities when I lived in London. I interviewed Felicia Day once (we took selfies; it was awesome) and I was about six inches away from Robert Downey Jr. at the Avengers: Age of Ultron premiere in London. I was dressed as Black Widow, and a little boy was standing next to me dressed as Captain America. RDJ came right up to us, said hello, and spent about 5 minutes chatting with the little boy. It was the most adorable thing I’ve ever witnessed.

Cosplay&Coffee: What do you hope to achieve as a cosplayer?

K: World domination. Just kidding! (Mostly). Actually, the dream is to publish a novel, so when I go on my book tour, I can be dressed in cosplay at every event I attend. Also, I’d really like to attend more conventions in other countries, especially Australia. I follow so many amazing Australian cosplayers, such as Americosplay and Jaclynmay_cosplay, and I would really like to meet them!

Cosplay&Coffee: What is your favorite book/film and why?

K: My favorite book and favorite film are actually one and the same: The Lord of the Rings. I’m a Tolkien nerd, and spent most of my undergraduate/graduate work writing about Middle-earth. My dad used to read The Hobbit to me as a child, and later The Lord of the Rings, and it started a lifelong obsession. I really should do more LotR cosplays, now that I think about it.

Cosplay&Coffee: When did you learn about cosplaying?

K: When I first stumbled into the abyss of Pinterest, I think. There are so many cosplay ideas on Pinterest! Cosplay tutorials, cosplay mashups, cosplay fanart…it was impossible to resist.

Cosplay&Coffee: And I have to ask: how do you take your coffee?

K: With a wee bit of sugar and plenty of almond milk!


Be sure to follow The Collectress on social media. See her links and her cosplay gallery below ?


The Collective Blog


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Disney Princesses Turned Victoria’s Secret Runway Models In This Stunning Fan Art

Disney Princesses Turned Victoria’s Secret Runway Models In This Stunning Fan Art


The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is a night I look forward to every December. Mostly because I love the Victoria’s Secret line, but also because Candice Swanepole is my #wce. And as someone who also grew up watching Disney movies, I was ecstatic when I found Archibald’s artwork of Disney Princesses re-imagined as Victoria’s Secret runway models.

Now, don’t get me wrong: there are tons of other artwork out there that depict Disney Princesses gone VS, but they all seem to encapsulate the image of the runway models, not the Disney Princesses. Archibald steers more towards the facial and body visages of the animated Disney princess, which gives the drawings a friendlier tone. He has stated that his art style is highly influenced by former Walt Disney animator Glen Keane.


Archibald is a self-taught artist who depicts life-like interpretations of all our favorite characters from Disney, Marvel, DC, and more. He has twisted the popular Disney princesses to be anything from fairies, mermaids, and now Victoria Secret runway models. He keeps his artwork fun and light, embodying a somewhat real-life adaptation, yet still maintaining that humble, round-out Disney facade.

Cosplay & Coffee asked Archibald who he considers to be his favorite Disney princess, to which he admitted:

“Oh, it’s quite a lot! I’ll just say Rapunzel and Ariel are my favorite princesses. And Candice Swanepole is my favorite VS model!”


Same, Archibald. Same.

It might seem strange to envision our childhood heroins as fashion models who wear extravagant pieces of undergarments, but we all grow up, don’t we? This fun work of art no doubt inspires some seductive cosplay ideas, but it also diminishes the border for cosplayers and encourages them to enjoy more adventurous cosplays and seductive roles (such as Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy).

When asked how fans have reacted to his work, Archibald told us,

“I had mixed reactions to these girls; some love it, and some don’t. I just delete the negative comments and focus on those positive responses!”



Occasionally, when this fan artist has time (though, not at the moment), he takes commissions and will turn you into your very own version of a Disney character! For more of his work, check out his social media channels which are listed below. If you want to see more from Archibald, you can support him on his Patreon account where you’ll be invited to view exclusive new artwork!







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