Cosplay Tips for the Convention

So, it's time for the convention and you have your costume finished and ready to go! But before you hop in the car and drive on over to the hotel, there's a few things to go over to make sure that you and your costume look fantastic at the con.

1. Packing

Pack your costume by folding it neatly and placing it in your suitcase or hanging it up in a garment bag. Put any small accessories in a separate bag or box to ensure that they remain protected and organized. Place your wig in a wig box, on a wig head, or in a sealed bag to keep it from getting tangled or damaged. Pack large props in a long box or cover them with a plastic bag to keep them clean and contained. Finally, pack an emergency kit! According to Murphy's Law, that which can go wrong, will go wrong, and often at the most inopportune time. Itís best to come prepared with a basic kit of quick fix items and sewing supplies.

Here's what I carry in my emergency kit:
- A wide-tooth comb or wig brush
- Bobby pins and hair clips
- An extra wig cap
- Hairspray and wig de-tangler
- Safety pins
- Double-sided fashion tape
- Velcro (both sew on and adhesive)
- Clear nail polish for fraying threads and stocking runs
- Small scissors
- Needle & thread (sewing and embroidery thread)
- Q-tips
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks (this is invaluable - always bring one with you!)

With all of these items, plus any that you see fit to bring along, your costume woes can be kept at bay, and you may even help out a fellow cosplayer ^.^

2. Settling in your room

Nothing is more dissapointing than seeing a great costume covered in wrinkles. Take your time and iron your costume, taking care to press your pleats and seams, and making sure all the wrinkles are gone. Once ironed, hang your costume up or fold it and put it away. When you bring it out to wear it again, give your costume a once over and see if it needs ironing. And since nearly every hotel now equips all their rooms with irons, there's really no excuse not to.

Place your large props such as wings and weapons away from the main traffic areas of your room. Laying them on the floor is fine as long as they can't be stepped on and ruined. I generally like to keep my things underneath the desks and benches in the hotel rooms, simply to have them out of the way and covered. Wigs are usually place atop the armoires or entertainment centers, but can also be stored on the top shelf of the closet.

3. Makeup

When wearing your costume, you are more than likely going to find yourself the object of photographers' attentions. And while having a great costume is awesome, applying a little bit of makeup can do wonders for your appearance. Bright colors, as well as flourescent or bad lighting, tend to make your face appear pale and sickly, as well as highlighting any blemishes you may have and drawing attention to any oil on your face. This can be easily corrected with just a light layer of foundation, preferrably powder. Just grab a compact of powder in a similar skin tone and powder your face before leaving your hotel room. Carry the compact around the con to see if you need any touching up throughout the day. Hey - TV and movie celebrities all wear makeup on set, and it's no wonder they all look fabulous! Your pictures will turn out much better if you have an even skin tone with a matte and polished look.

Beyond that, you can decide if you want your makeup to be more natural or more dramatic. Not every character needs bright red lipstick, and some do better with a more sensual flair. Using eyeliner, eyeshadow and mascara really help play up the eyes and bring them into focus for the costume. Likewise, lipstick and blush accentuate the cheekbones and lips, bringing the look together. And remember, a lot is lost in the space between you and the camera, so apply a bit more color to your features to really make them pop in photographs. You may look a little overdone, but if you'd like to take a great picture, it's worth it.

When you are done being in costume, wash all your makeup off using a facial cleanser, not just a bar of soap. You want something that will remove all the oil, dirt, and makeup without stripping your face of moisture. Cetaphil is a great gentle face wash that I highly recommend for first time face wash users. Make sure to clean all around your eyelids afterward with a wet washcloth to remove all the eyeliner and mascara - you don't want any of that getting into your eyes overnight. A clean face is a happy and healthy face!

4. Posing

You have a costume and you look like the character - great! Now what do you do when someone wants a picture? Do you just stand there with your bag and badge on and smile? No, no, no. Part of the fun of cosplaying is to become a little bit like the character! That's why photographers want your picture, because you went through the effort to make the costume of a character they like. So, pose like the character and bring them to life. Lots of characters have signature poses, so try to emulate those poses. Practice at home or in the hotel room in front of a mirror. Make a lot of different faces and see just how you look - a lot of people have a "good side" that looks much better than the other side, so try to present that side in your poses for the most flattering pictures. Do interesting things with your arms that present the costume or your props in a good way (no peace signs unless character appropriate, please).

If your character is sexy, try to look sexy. If your character is heroic, try to look bold and confident. If your character is evil, give a menacing glare. But practice all of these looks and poses so you can see how you look to others. Come up with at least five or six good poses to present to the cameras - that way, your pictures are all unique and interesting, not monotonous. When posing, check your costume and see that all your hems are laying correctly and that they aren't flung open for all the world to see. Check your wig and make sure it is in place, with no visible wig cap. Ask a friend to check everything for you if you don't have a mirror. You want to look your best for that picture, so clean your teeth and tuck in your shirt as you are getting ready with your pose.

Also, give your bag to a friend or ask the photographer to take it. Hide your badge. Get rid of anything that is not related to your costume, with the exception of precious items like wedding rings and such. These items are a hindrance to a good photo. Just make sure that the only items in your photo are those related to the costume. Nothing frustrates a professional photographer more than unecessary items in a picture, and you'll find that you don't like the picture much either if you have your back pack and badge obscuring your costume.

5. Freshening up

After a few hours of walking around a con and taking tons of pictures, you might want to stop by the bathroom or your hotel room and check on how you look. This is a good chance to take a break from the convention and have time to sit down and relax. While you are resting, take the opportunity to check your costume, wig, makeup, and props and see if you need to touch anything up. As it is important to look your best, reapply any makeup if necessary, adjust your wig, fluff your costume, and give your feet a well deserved rest out of your shoes. Ten to fifteen minutes should be enough time to freshen up and get a snack or some water to keep yourself energized and hydrated. After that, it's back to the fun!

6. Contact information

You're having a great time at the convention, and you notice that some photographers are giving you business cards. While this is often so you know where to find your pictures later, it's also about networking. Cosplay is a very network oriented business. Not as cut throat as modeling, but more and more photographers are getting interested in this little hobby of ours. It's a new and fascinating scene that provides interesting subject material, and photographers are always looking for new material. By providing their contact information, these people are giving you an opportunity to learn more about them and to see if you'd be interested in working with them.

The same can be done for you. If you'd like to get your name out there as a cosplayer, or you just want to network and be introduced into a bigger circle of friends and associates, or you'd like to promote your creative work, you may want to invest in some contact cards. They don't have to contain much: at least your name or alias, your contact information, and a picture for visual reference. If you have a website that you'd like to promote, put it on the card. If you have a title or a commission business, put it on the card. Try to make it interesting, to the point, and visually appealing. That way, people will tend to hang on to it and you will be better remembered for your professional appearance.

A last word of advice: Have fun!! You wouldn't be in this hobby if you didn't have fun making or wearing costumes, or hanging out with friends and trying to act like your favorite characters, so just have fun with it! That is the most important thing in life - to find a place where you belong and can be happy. So doll yourself up and have a great time galavanting around the convention hall. You've earned it ^.^

Should you have any questions, feel free to email me at questions@firelilycosplay.com .

 

©2010 D^2 and FireLilyCosplay