Cosplayers find joy in bringing their favorite characters to life


Kris D’Arcangelo dresses up as Mercy from the video game, Overwatch. D’Arcangelo says she finds a welcoming community within cosplayers. Photo credit: Andres Fuentes

Andres Fuentes

Just like the caped heroes that they dress up as, there’s more to cosplayers than the costumes and outfits they don at comic conventions.

Everything from sewing, painting, makeup and hairstyling to the more difficult tasks such as woodworking, metalworking and leatherworking, there is a lot of skill and work that go into the typical costume a cosplayer creates.

“It takes a lot of planning and dedication and sometimes can be very overwhelming,” Kris D’Arcangelo said. “It’s not just wearing a costume.”

D’Arcangelo has experience in dressing up for conventions. Her outfits have ranged from simply a grey tank top and blue yoga pants that she bought herself to modifying and assembling pieces to create the “Overwatch” hero, Mercy.

Whether creating and designing a costume from scratch or buying pre-made pieces, the skills involved in dressing as the latest video game character or the protagonist of a cartoon show takes its time to develop.

“Whenever I first started cosplay, I knew nothing about the craft,” Dillian Lang said. “I just found something that I liked and I wanted to express my interest in it.”

Lang was first introduced to cosplaying by his brother as a freshman in college and he quickly found the hobby he needed to help de-stress from his school work. Through YouTube videos and online tutorials, he eventually learned how to sew and do foam work and other necessary skills.

However, the base of all costume design starts with the drawing board.

Lang said, “It begins with drawings, sketches.”

D’Arcangelo also said how key the beginning stages really are to the final product.

“Designing a costume does take some planning, and actually making a costume could take anywhere from a week or two, to a year,” she said.

The creation process can take some time but the sense of satisfaction cosplayers get after creating their favorite characters is what drives them.

“Dark Magician is a character that resonates with me,” Lang said. “I think (cosplayers) fully enjoy dressing as their characters. I think that whenever these conventions happen, you see these people going as all these random characters, but it’s something that they truly like and people will resonate with it.”

Lang says that the characters don’t only affect the creators but other fans of the shows, movies, comics and video games.

“Going as Dark Magician, I let people know I have a genuine interest in Yu-Gi-Oh! and it’s a little easier for us to have a conversation,” he said. “There are a lot of people who don’t normally have conversations going to these events. They’re very introverted. So whenever they see similar people or something that strikes their nostalgia, it’s not a ‘Nice to meet you,’ feeling it’s more of a ‘Nice to see you again,’ feeling.”

D’Arcangelo agreed with Lang, saying there is something special about bringing a character to life.

She said, “Oh it’s absolutely magical. I’ve been so excited to finally bring a costume together, but it’s also extremely satisfying to have other people see me and get excited because that’s their favorite character too.”

Despite the cost, time commitment and labor involved in cosplaying, D’Arcangelo believes it is all worth it in the end.

“For me, cosplaying is a big part of my life. It’s helped me build confidence, creatively express myself and motivates me to be more active,” she said. “I’ve made so many incredible friends by doing this and it’s helped me socialize with a lot of different people. It’s absolutely time consuming and can be very frustrating and expensive. While I don’t think everyone would enjoy it, I’m very happy with where I’m at in life and the friends I have because of cosplay.”