OMG Cosplay & Carnation Cosplay at Dallas Fan Days 2018
Of all the varied parts of the nerdy community, cosplay is one of the more unique fandoms to be a part of. While it can provide endless opportunities to show off creativity in both costume making & performance art, it is easy for people outside of the community to shrug it off as nothing more than a nerdy type of modeling. In fact, if you look at the main stream media outlets that have covered the fandom to any extent, most will either call it a fun hobby for truly dedicated fans or an excuse for attractive girls to wear skimpy costumes in an attempt to find popularity online. As a long time fan of cosplay, I actually do understand why those assumptions exist. In fact, there was a time early on when both of those things were at least partly true for several of the early cosplay stars. However, cosplay, as it exists today, is such a different experience that it’s worth taking a fresh look at what it has evolved into.
Many of today’s misconceptions about professional cosplayers come from the fact that, 10 years ago, it was possible to call yourself a professional while still treating it like a hobby. In fact, for several of the early stars, cosplay was simply a means to get other job opportunities. For some of the most popular cosplayers, posting a new set of photos once a month was considered ambitious; today, that’s barely the start of what is expected by fans. Modern professional cosplayers are expected to have new photos weekly, if not daily, they are to provide either short or long-form video (i.e. Snapchat or YouTube), make public appearances at conventions, & be social media experts. In order to keep up with today’s expectations of professional cosplayers, cosplay itself has to be treated as a full-time job. The problem with that is that only a small portion of the professional cosplayers actually make enough money from their cosplay to let it be their only job. So, many of them also have to balance school or a regular day-job, while still providing new content & staying connected to their fans on social media at all times of day & night. This doesn’t even touch on the expectation that many fans have about costume & armor creation. (Sadly, that is one aspect that will have to wait for another day.)
That is why it is unfair to view the new generation of professional cosplayers with the same perspective that was created by cosplayers nearly a decade ago. What’s more, the ways that they continue to adapt to these increasing expectations is surprisingly creative. To solve the need for new content, cosplayers like OMGCosplay & Carnation Cosplay have started teaming up together to do joint photoshoots, where they each take turns as model & photographer, so that they both walk away from an afternoon’s work with an abundance of content for their followers. Additionally, with so much focus being placed on their looks, they have started using Instagram stories & Snapchat to show off their flaws & personal stories, which humanizes them to their fans. This has the combined benefit that they aren’t seen as just another model & their fans have more ways to relate with them.
All of this is just the tip of the iceberg for what it takes to make it in professional cosplay today. While a pretty picture is nice, the fans have started to look for more. They want to connect with their favorite cosplayer on a personal level. They want to experience more than a momentary peak of interest from a cool or attractive picture. The business of cosplay has become so all encompassing that you can be certain that anyone who is capable of attaining a reasonable level of popularity & sustain it is one of the hardest working & most talented entrepreneurs that you will ever have the pleasure to meat.