What are they thinking?

Judges, that is.  Costume contest judges of all kinds.  Those you drop your hard work and dedication in front of for scrutiny.  Those judges.

A friend prompted this post by asking about “unwritten” requirements in masquerades and cosplay contests.  What are the expectations for each level?  For presentations?  For anything?

First off, the written rules are the only ones you need to worry about.  Those are designed by the coordinators or chairs in order to make things fair and – most importantly – keep you safe.  They also remove any liability from the con if you choose to ignore those rules.

Second…  You’ll never know the unwritten requirements. You’ll never know what each individual judge really wants to see. You can’t know that stuff, all you can know is that you love what you did and you did good work.  You might be able to learn them by looking at past winners and participating in the contest – but only maybe.  Those unwritten expectations change from year to year, convention to convention, judge to judge.  They’re always different, and that’s part of the fun!

As an example, the question of wearing colored contacts came up.  Lots of people love to wear them to complete a look.  I do it on occasion too – and I’m in the market for some circle lenses soon!  But is it necessary?

As a judge, I like it because it’s a detail that’s been considered. It’s just like taking the time to choose the right colors or finish your seams. It means you put thought into it. But it’s only one piece in a thousand that indicate your skill and interest level – there are plenty of others to work with.  It’s an extra: like adding a delicately sugar-frosted cherry on top of an already intricately decorated cupcake, but the lack thereof isn’t going to deduct points.  When judging, I wouldn’t be looking for it – but if you did it (and pointed it out, as it’s not always obvious) with the intention of providing just that one more detail, I would love it.

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As a cosplayer, I love the look – especially if the character’s eyes are distinctive – and the way it can really complete a costume.  I don’t regularly wear contacts, though, so it’s a challenge I reserve for distinctive costumes.  OR sometimes it’s an added detail to a costume that’s otherwise rather simple: Princess Emeraude, for example.  I wore blue contacts with her costume – a non-competition piece – because first of all she’s MADE OF EYES, and second because with her simple white shift, it was a detail that I felt really defined the costume.  I love details; I’m a detail fiend.  That’s how I choose to create costumes.

If you don’t, no biggie!  You costume based on what you need and want.  If you can’t wear contacts, focus on another detail that’s important to you, and make sure the judges KNOW it was important and intentional.  There are thousands to choose from!  Finishings, makeup, wigs, accessories, shoes, even music and movement for your presentation –

– tiny tangent here, I just did a fully-fleshed out, dramatic presentation in 40 seconds.  Most of my presentations are under 1 minute.  One minute in stage-time is an ETERNITY.  The music/SFX are super important, and I use them for the utmost effect.  Anyway –

… anything that makes you memorable.  Give the judges a good reason to remember you and your costume, whatever that reason is.  Make a statement, and make it yours.  Enjoy!

Review: Heroes of Cosplay, Episode 6 THE FINALE

The as-yet-to-be-renewed Heroes of Cosplay completed its initial run tonight with some spectacular fun and serious drama (guys, it’s reality TV, there is drama.  Did you know you have nerves attached to your muscles?).

Embedded image permalinkI HAVE NEVER SEEN SO MANY SICK PEOPLE AT A CON.  Stop that.  Even so, it’s not hard to understand the motivation to work through an illness for something you’ve already put so much effort and time into.  Despite how you feel, you want to go through with it.  How many of us do that with our work or career?  It’s a tough choice.  Admittedly… my illnesses in the past have come the next morning… *mumblemumbledragonconmumble*

One of the most lovely moments was Jinyo’s proposal to Victoria.  So sweet, and the opportunity to have help from such a fantastic gentleman as Peter Mayhew (THE Chewbacca) simply can’t be passed up.  Peter is also currently in need of medical care which his friends, family, and fans are helping to support via the website Standing In The Stars.

Unfortunately, a far more negative scene awaited us during the masquerade as the crowd jeered the “out-of-towners.”  It is my understanding that there was some frustration with the show and management, but in my opinion, that is absolutely no reason to be heckling people, offering rudeness, or (even if you didn’t start it, as I have heard is the case) continuing an argument.  What the hell was that?  Aren’t we all adults?

Aside from that, “out-of-towners?”  REALLY?  It’s a major convention that brought hundreds of thousands of people to Kansas City.  Conventions are DESIGNED to be attended by non-residents.  If there were only residents of that city attending THERE WOULDN’T BE A CONVENTION.  And heaven forbid there were only locals in the masquerade – it’d be five minutes long with two entries and no judges.

When you are costuming, you are there to do YOUR best.  If your best doesn’t win you an award, keep going.  Learn.  Seek out new and better techniques, materials, keep creating and GROW.  But do not stand there and cry in your beer that you were “outclassed.”  Every single one of those people started out with no skills; they worked for them and built them.  It is an extremely ungracious and disingenuous way to approach anything.

You didn’t start it?  Good for you.  But you didn’t leave it, either.  You participated in a meanspirited, abrasive heckling.  You were hungry, tired, and hurting?  So was everyone else in that masquerade.  No excuses.  Bullying and meanness is never okay.  Period.

Aside from that, it seems like it was a great experience for all the folks involved.  There was a lot of growing, learning, and the requisite struggle that is one of the things that makes anything – but especially cosplay – worth doing.

Looking forward to another season!

Learn more at SyFy’s website.

You’re A Great Cosplayer

I was reading through my Facebook feed today and came across some frustration and anguish over the more unfortunate parts of cosplay.  We can be very critical of each other, and not in a healthy way.  It reminded me of a cute bit of text – originally aimed at the myths of motherhood – and I decided to write a similar piece about cosplayers and costuming.  Enjoy!

[Edit 12/11/2014: So I totally fixed the picture that went poof. My bad!]

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To the cosplayer wearing their own handmade costume: Awesome job! You worked really hard to create that costume, and you should feel proud of your work! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer wearing a purchased costume: It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there! Thank you for supporting costuming, as well as the person you bought the costume from! You’re a huge part of this community. You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer wearing a wig: We suffer for our art! Wearing wigs isn’t always comfortable or easy, but they’re an amazing look. You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer without a wig: Comfort is its own brand of style! That amazing style came out of your own head, how awesome is that! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer who spent loads of cash: Being able and willing to make a financial investment is fantastic! It obviously means a lot to you to use quality materials to create your costumes. You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer who spent $20: Who cares if you’re broke! You’re rocking that costume like it’s worth a million bucks! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer who doesn’t have a Facebook (or whatever): Look at all that extra time you have for making costumes, you lucky duck! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer holding a giveaway at (insert number here) followers: Thank you for supporting the community by making connections and sharing your tools and skills! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer who makes their own props: What an incredible skill! Sculptor, painter, engineer… you do it all! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer who leaves the props out: It’s pretty nice having hands free to eat a meal or go to the bathroom, right? You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer with a highly detailed costume: Wow! That workmanship is incredible! You are clearly dedicated to your craft and willing to go above and beyond for craftsmanship. You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer in a sexy costume: It takes a lot of courage to – literally, sometimes! – bare yourself to the world. Not to mention having to engineer something that could be rather gravity-defying! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer with professional photos: Those photos are fantastic! It’s a worthwhile investment to capture all the hard work you’ve done. You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer with phone photos: Thank you for sharing the work you’ve done and treasuring the memories! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the cosplayer in a big group: It’s so awesome to have friends to share your passion with. Let the good times roll! You’re a great cosplayer.

To the solitary cosplayer: Your dedication to your work and the costumes you love comes through everything you do. You’re a great cosplayer.

To ALL THE COSPLAYERS: Do what you love. Love what you do. You’re a great cosplayer.

 

Inspired by “You’re A Good Mom,” read it here: http://www.duchessoffork.com/2013/05/youre-a-good-mom/