The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has largely shuttered large-scale comic, anime and pop culture conventions, but four U.S.-based cosplayers have found a way for their show to go on.
“Over the pandemic, we’ve done a lot of on-location shoots,” Grace Tierney, a 25-year-old New Jersey resident who “bartends to feed her fabric addiction,” explains. She and three friends — Cocoa Sugar, Shiva Larsen and Megan Higgins — work together to come up with a concept, make their own outfits and hire a photographer to create compelling images they can share across social media. (Editor’s Note: Cocoa Sugar and Shiva Larsen are stage names.) The group will often tap and work with additional cosplayers if a particular campaign calls for a large cast of characters.
Cosplay, or “costume play,” is a type of performance art that involves dressing up as a fictional character from comic books, movies, television shows or science fiction and fantasy novels.
“I see it as the perfect way to express my creativity and learn new skills while celebrating characters and fandoms that I love with like-minded people,” Sugar, a 32-year-old Pennsylvania resident, says.
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Capturing their creations in photoshoots has allowed the group to take many of their outfits to a whole new level.
“We’ll do a random shoot in the studio and they’ll go ahead and edit us into the actual movie that we’re a part of and that brings a whole new magical element to what we produced,” Larson, a 30-year-old New York resident, says.
The quartet has another trick up their costumed sleeves for keeping their cosplay fresh and new. They base many of their campaigns on the work of Jen V., a U.S.-based artist who takes her inspiration from Victorian burlesque and traditional circus costumery to recreate well-known cartoon and video game characters. The artist’s work can be found on Facebook, Instagram, Tik-Tok and DeviantArt under the handle Noflutter.
(Tierney posing as “The Little Mermaid’s” Ariel as designed by Noflutter; Image credit: Solitadphoto)
Leveraging Noflutter’s unique designs has helped the group stand out in recent years as cosplay has become increasingly popular and commercialized. These days, you can often buy many popular costumes on marketplaces like Etsy, RoleCosplay and ProCosplay.
“You don’t really want to make something that’s readily available,” Megan Higgins, a 31-year-old Boston resident says. “I’ve always liked that challenge of seeing something and trying to make it a reality.”
Of course, the group has been performing for a while. (Their experience ranges from five to 18 years.) If you’re interested in trying cosplay on for size, focus on the spirit of the art and not necessarily all the trimmings.
“As long as the person is having fun, it doesn’t matter if they go ahead and buy their outfit off of Amazon, or sit there and work on it for weeks,” Larson says.
Tierney agrees. “Start small and be kind to yourself,” she says, before adding one more parting tip. “Buy more fabric than you think you’ll need.”
Keep reading to see the images (and the art that inspired them) from the group’s Pokémon-themed cosplay campaign shot in summer 2021.
Shiva Larsen posing as Vaporeon, a water-based Pokémon. “The skirts were hand- and dip-dyed to get that beautiful gradient,” Tierney says. “The wig was made by DarkMoonChanAtelier who added beautiful pearls in the hair to coincide with the pearls going down the dress. “
Cosplayer Shazuhime posing as, a fairy-type Pokémon. “This seamstress altered previously owned items to create the perfect cutesy look,” Tierney says. “With hand-sewn ruffles and appliques to help bring the whole thing to life.”
Cosplayer Kittykattgiggles posing as Jolteon, an electric Pokémon. “The boot covers were made by hand along with the entirety of the bodysuit, which was made out of four-way stretch pleather,” Tierney says.
Cosplayer Biologistinbeauty posing as Glaceon, an ice-based Pokémon. This look is made of “altered and modified existing clothing with hours of hand-sewing,” says Tierney.
Cocoa Sugar cosplaying as Flareon, a fire-based Pokémon. “Everything from the shoes to the wig were styled and altered by this seamstress and took several months to bring to completion,” Tierney says.
Cosplayer Grainne_Sea posing as a psychic Pokémon. “Espeon is known for their purple coloring and red head jewel so it was important to bring those components into the costume,” Tierney says.
Megan Higgins posing as Eevee, the starter Pokémon. “This costume was made over the course of several months,” Tienery says. “All of the fur used was taken from a recycled rug to help the environment.”
This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.org.