Cosplay is an Art Form

By Hsing Tseng on August 2, 2013

A Juliet cosplayer from Romeo x Juliet poses with her sword prop. Photo by Flickr user crisphotos.

Cosplay is much more than your average Halloween costume – it’s the act of doing your best to become a character for a day. Or three. It’s the ultimate expression of nerd love for characters from anime, comics, or video games, and it should be regarded as an art form.

Cosplay is picking a character, drafting and planning their costume, finding the perfect materials, constructing them just-so, recreating armor out of foam and whatever that was from your basement, making jewelry, styling wigs, working with wood, metal, PVC pipe, and who knows what to make that fantasy prop come alive.

Cosplay is seam ripping a skirt five times in a row, promising to exercise to get that unreal body type but succumbing to ice cream and anime instead. Cosplay is cutting your hair because you’re too broke to get a wig, despairing over how perfect another cosplayer did your character and over how very many others seem to be cosplaying your character too but deciding – to hell with it! – you’re going to make that costume anyway and wear it well regardless of everyone else.

Cosplay is grinning idiotically as you post progress pictures and show everyone, including yourself, how far you’ve come, not because you want attention but because you want to and desrve to feel proud of the work you’ve done so far.

Outside of fandom, cosplay can be misinterpreted as fan service or showing body parts for attention, but it’s much more than that. Cosplay is more than modelling, more than acting or posing for a photo.

As a cosplayer, you pour your heart and soul into an outfit and put that outfit and your heart out into the world for everyone to see. You put yourself on display and say, “THIS is who I really am. I made this myself and I am AWESOME,” despite what you are saying to yourself all the while.

Dark Phoenix cosplayer poses at Long Beach Comic Con 2012. Photo by Flickr user richcz3

As cosplayers, we are artists who use our faces as our open canvas, who fall asleep at stupid o’clock over our sewing machines and wake up covered in thread and desperation because the Con is in four hours. We dive into our own world, created with foam and acrylic paint and dreams come true, and paint that world for others, if even for a few hours.

It’s time that cosplay was allotted the same respect that any other artist gets instead of constant criticism of “you shouldn’t cosplay because you’re ____.” I guarantee you’d be less willing to tell an artist they shouldn’t sculpt or paint or write because they’re too skinny or too fat for your ignorant eyes, but for some reason, it’s acceptable to insult a cosplayer, who’s put their core being out for the world to see, for not looking similar enough to an unrealistic anime character.

And that includes those cosplays that show more skin. Defying gravity is no easy task, but cosplayers make it work – and yet, those cosplayers are the subject of derision because they showed a bit more thigh than socially acceptable in their quest for accuracy. After all, accurately replicating a video game character with DD size boobs and short shorts reflects a cosplayer’s promiscuous personal life in the eyes of many. Judging an artist based on the nature of their art is in poor taste – just because an artist might draw naked people one day for practice shouldn’t reflect at all on their personal life decisions and the same is true for cosplayers.

As one photographer sets out to prove, cosplay is the art of self-expression. We are artwork. It’s time we were treated as such.

 

A second-year at the University of Denver, Hsing is part of the National Columnist team with Uloop. She loves covering the nerd culture and technology beat and aspires to work for Kotaku or IGN. You can find her gaming, watching anime, or blogging away madly. (Good luck finding her Tumblr, though.) She is super involved at DU, and wouldn't have it any other way.

Follow Uloop

Apply to Write for Uloop News

Join the Uloop News Team

Discuss This Article

More Uloop Fashion Articles

Recent DU News Articles

GET TOP STORIES DELIVERED WEEKLY

Receive recent DU news and classifieds on your Facebook Feed. Click the button below and then click "Like"

BROWSE OTHER COLLEGES

Back to Top

Log In

or Sign Up
Students
Post FREE Listings
Student Start Here
Employers
Post Jobs for Students
Employers Start Here
Housing Providers
Post Available Housing
Housing Start Here

Enter College Name to See Local Results

Log In

Contact Us

Forgot your password?

Your new password has been sent to your email!

Logout Successful!

You just missed it! This listing has been filled.

Post your own housing listing on Uloop and have students reach out to you!

Upload An Image

Please select an image to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format
OR
Provide URL where image can be downloaded
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format

By clicking this button,
you agree to the terms of use

By clicking "Create Alert" I agree to the Uloop Terms of Use.

Image not available.
By clicking Get Started or Sign In you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service

Add a Photo

Please select a photo to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format