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So You Want To Be A...

So you want to be a…cosplayer

As someone who grew up as a nerd throughout high school, and suffered the consequences of being one, it is with tremendous pride that I write that the tables have turned. Take a look around you; we aren’t just in the building, we’re in the penthouse, baby.

If the fact that superhero movies now contribute to the GDP of several nations isn’t proof enough, the world of cosplay, in and of itself, should be. A concept that was first named some three odd decades ago, cosplay has grown into a culture full of casuals, hobbyists, weekend warriors, and professionals, just like Sydney-based cosplay savant, Laura Gilbert, also known as InfamousByLaura.

There’s a lot to get your head around with just about any profession, but with cosplay you’re involving yourself with fandoms that mean more to some than the air they breathe. So, to say it’s unique is under selling it. Laura was good enough to impart some wisdom to us on how it all works.

How did you get your start as a cosplayer?

I started out cosplaying by attending a local convention in full costume! Funnily enough, it was my first convention and I was under the impression that almost everyone cosplayed to attend. Turns out, it’s actually quite a niche hobby and cosplayers at conventions are a relatively small percentage of the crowd!

What does your day-to-day as a cosplayer involve?

In order to be a full-time cosplayer, it takes a lot of work! Not only does it involve a lot of online management of social media and merchandise sales, it is also organising photoshoots, making costumes and planning future conventions! Having a social media footprint is a huge part of cosplay culture in general, so being present online is very important – even though it is often draining.

I have recently stepped back from full-time cosplaying to further my original career in music education.

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Sucking in my burger belly the best I can 😂🍔 FULL HARLEY QUINN PHOTOSET IS AVAILABLE ON MY PATREON! 👏 There are 20 photos and a behind the scenes vlog all included in my $25 tier 😎 Link in bio! 😘 Harley is my most sacred cosplay 🙏 I have improved her so much over the past 2 and a half years 💁🏼‍♀️ Who knew when I first debuted this costume it would totally change my life 🙈 I just love cosplaying her even though it took me a solid 6 hours to get ready 😂 Love and hugs 🖤 Photo by legendary @bencalvertphoto 📸 Wig by @officialherohair ✂️ #suicidesquad #harleyquinn #margotrobbie #patreon #harleyquinncosplay #cosplay #cosplaygirl #dc #btas #daddyslilmonster #suicidesquadcosplay #photoshoot

A post shared by Laura Gilbert 🖤 (@infamousbylaura) on

What have been the highlights of your career as a cosplayer?

Travel! I have been lucky enough to be invited to international conventions over the past 4 years. Destinations have included Kuwait in the Middle East as well as Peru, Chile, and Ecuador in South America. It is such a privilege to meet with international fans and it always shocks me how social media can create these connections around the globe!

Can you describe some of the more trying times you’ve experienced as a cosplayer?

Sexual harassment as a cosplayer is unfortunately a huge issue and extremely common. There has always been a constant cry for a change of this behaviour within the cosplay community, yet even though attitudes are slowly improving, it is still a terrible problem.

With such an abundance of amazing characters to choose from, it must get overwhelming at times picking who you would like to become. What criteria do you use before picking a character or identity to cosplay as?

I think it is so important that people love the character they cosplay as! Whilst some cosplayers take it very seriously to look identical to the character they are portraying, I think it is vitally important that you choose a character you resonate with on a level other than appearance. Gender, skin tone, shape, etc. shouldn’t influence the character you choose!

I tend to cosplay as villains as they are completely contrasting to how I conduct myself in everyday life! DC has always been my favorite comic universe, so I like to explore a lot of characters that I know and love.

As an outsider looking in, it seems as though cosplay culture is exponentially gaining followers and attention. How has the increase in mainstream popularity changed the make up, or DNA, of the cosplay community?

Overall, it’s nice to see cosplay building an international audience now! Cosplay has definitely been more mainstream in different parts of the world, so this newfound attention is really wholesome to growing an even better community.

As a cosplayer of 4-years, it’s really heartwarming to see more people from a lot of different walks of life getting involved. Cosplay is about acceptance and expressing yourself, so the more the merrier in my opinion!

There’s a lot of discussion around the cost of being a cosplayer (costumes, travel, etc) being a significant hurdle for those who want to start cosplaying. What are some ways that people can start their journey as a cosplayer, without blowing the bank?

Financially, it can be really challenging to navigate the plethora of different costs associated with cosplaying. To build a costume, you really do get what you pay for, yet you are also most likely supporting independent artists that create these items from scratch!

There is no right or wrong with how much you’d like to invest into any hobby – not just cosplay! As long as your money is going into something that brings you joy, be sensible and invest what you think is appropriate for you. It is embarrassing to even think about how much money I have invested into cosplay, however, it is something that brings me happiness and it is a healthy hobby.

Tell BLUNT one thing about being a cosplayer that most people would never guess.

Just because we dress up as a character, doesn’t mean we want to act or be treated as that character would!

Only a very small percentage of cosplayers get “into” character with their mannerisms and accent. A lot of us just like to look the part but remain ourselves!

What has been your favourite moment as a cosplayer, and why?

Anytime there are children, it is the most wholesome thing. They are so easily convinced that you are the real deal – just like how they believe Santa travels to every single shopping centre for Santa photos! The funniest moments are when small kids are scared of me…that’s when I know I’ve done a good job. They eventually come around for a high-five or hug after figuring out I’m not actually a person to be scared of!