Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Article - How to Be A Budget Smart Cosplayer

Cosplaying is not a cheap hobby. You do need a certain amount of money and time to achieve a certain level of quality and detail in a costume.

It's easy to go crazy and spend lots of money on just 1 outfit and then you get distracted and spend lots of money on outfit number 2, and then maybe 3 and then by then you realize, YIKES! I'M BROKE!

So I thought I'd write a short article about being budget smart when it comes to cosplay. Not saying be ultra cheap that your outfit looks like crap but rather spend money on a few good outfits that you can see yourself reusing a number of times and maybe sell them off just when that particular show/game/anime trend dies off.

Outfit trends

Maids don't go out of style

Any anime/game/comic/ pop culture thing comes in 2 categories - Classic and Trendy.

Classic Media

Remembered for years to come
Star Wars
Star Trek
Universal Monster Movies
Mega Man
Street Fighter
Mortal Kombat
Disney characters
Marvel characters
DC characters
Astro Boy
Classic Gundam
Military cosplay
Historic cosplay

Trendy Media
Any popular movie, game, anime that's come out in the last few months.

What you choose to cosplay can help save you some money especially if you know that your outfit doesn't go 'out of season'.

There's nothing wrong with going trendy but be prepared to spend money on new outfits once your outfit goes out of style.

He's not going to go out of season

Why choosing a classic character saves you money

Because classic stuff DOESN'T DIE. The Joker will still be popular for years to come, so will Cammy and Chun Li from Street Fighter. And so will any Star Wars stormtrooper. That's the magic of classic media.

Even if you say haven't got a trendy outfit planned, you can still hop into a con in your classic outfit and you'll feel right at home with all the other outfits people are wearing.

The grand question - making stuff yourself Vs commissioning, which saves you money?

I think at the end of the day  - do you want to spend more TIME vs MONEY. Making stuff yourself does save you money, you will however need to spend a lot more TIME to get something to look right. Unless you're super confident of your abilities as a tailor/ crafter, go right ahead. If you can't afford your hand crafted stuff to look a bit wonky or unprofessional looking, then maybe it's best to pay an expert to do it for you. And that's what will cost you because commissioned work is an artisan service.

Artisan work does also take time to make as well as it does get expensive. Place orders early so that you don't get put on uber wait list. Sometimes you can't rush jobs no matter how much money you throw at an artisan/ tailor. 

If you can, re-use bits from other outfits

FF7 Sephiroth
Fate Zero Irisviel

It's easy to go crazy and go, 'oh I need these shoes for this character, and this jacket and these gloves' and then you realize that actually could have used an element from another outfit instead and that would have saved you money.

If you can re-use things like shoes or wigs or jacket or socks etc. from another character, do it. It'll save you some $$

What you also can do is do 'alternative' outfits for a character you've already done. eg. Fate Stay Saber Vs Fate Zero Saber

Fate Stay Saber
Fate Zero Saber
Ok maybe the wig is slightly different but maybe you can be creative and restyle, I don't know.

Try to buy stuff that's general purpose

This can sorta be used for something else too

Ok this is a bit tricky because lots of stuff is unique to certain characters, but if you're smart and notice something that you think can be used for a variety of characters - like certain boots, shirts, pants, contact lenses etc. there's a higher chance of you reusing that particular article of costume and saving yourself some money.

Borrow stuff from people

If you're doing a one-off cosplay that you probably won't be doing again, you can always borrow stuff from friends - maybe a certain wig or skirt or pair of shoes or earings. Least it saves you some dough rather than having to buy it and keep the costume element only to never use it again.

Rent an outfit if you're not a serious cosplayer

There are costume rental facilities out there that allow you to rent some outfits. Sure the selection probably isn't very great but if you just want something to wear to a con to join in the festivities but don't want to spend all that money making an outfit, just rent an outfit. Or if you know a cosplaying friend who's roughly the same size as you, then maybe you can wear his/ her outfit.

Or like I said, keep a few classic outfits and then use them interchangeably at conventions if you like.

Budget your outfit! 

It's easy to get caught up and say splurge on a really awesome prop that has LEDs that looks really cool, and then compromise on the rest of your outfit and you look really crap. Pick materials that you can afford and decide how detailed you want to go on your outfit. But please note, the less detail and accurate an outfit looks, the more cheap it will look overall. If you do want a certain standard, you will have to be prepared to put down money / time for it.

If you're buying materials for your outfit - buy on sale/ use discount cards!

Hey, if you can save a bit from the art store with their special discount card, why not? If you don't have one, you can always borrow a friend's. Buy stuff on sale..save up coupons, you know the drill 

Outsourcing your outfits is cool but only trust reliable companies and people

There are a bunch of places in China and Hong Kong that do really good replica outfits of  pretty good standard, however, there are many of them and it's tricky to know who is really reliable. What you don't want is getting something that totally looks different from the picture or you can't wear it cause the sizing is wrong. Check Ebay for reliable people and ask around on forums for recommendations.

Note that forum artisans are usually just 1 man shows and they can take pretty long to finish your stuff so be patient.

Check thrift stores

Thrift Stores are great because there's so much awesome cheap stuff around. Like Daiso - the $2 store, in Singapore is a really great place to get stuff or maybe your nearest Salvation Army may have stuff that people have given away. You can also go to garage sales and see if you can pick up things.

Check Around the House for Odds and Ends of Things

You never know what you may find from odds and ends in your home. Jam jars, bits of fabric, coke cans, if you're the handy crafty sort, maybe you can utilize these things to make your outfit?

If You've Cosplayed Something Trendy - Sell Off Your Outfit Before the Trend Dies

Haruhi was a big deal in 2009. But now it's 2012

I know, I know, it's easy to get attached to your outfits but really, when the trend dies, ain't nobody is going to wear your outfit, and you'll probably be planning other outfits. So best to clear off stuff before its too late.

You don't have to be obsessive detailed about some things 

 If you find you can skimp on some things like say a really tiny object that's hidden on your belt or say certain contact lenses, let it slip. Don't get all obsessive about it. If you really feel that you can't let it go, then you'll just have to pay money for it.

If you've got anymore tips, do let me know at coskulture@hotmail.com


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