Hello! I’m Maddie, I’m from Utah, and what I “create” are cosplays! For those who may not know, cosplaying is the act of dressing up as a character from a game, movie, show, book, podcast, etc. With cosplay, you can put your own spin on these characters as you please; it doesn’t matter if they already have a visual representation or not. I’ve been cosplaying for almost five years now, and I’m only 16!
There’s so much creativity and craft that goes into cosplay, and I think that’s what makes it art.
The person who got me started cosplaying is one of my best friends. She had been doing it for a while, and ended up introducing me to it one night while we were hanging out. As expected, I started out not so great. I didn’t quite know how to use my face paint, I didn’t know how to style wigs, and I didn’t know how to put detail into my makeup or my costumes. Over time, though, I was able to improve!
People always ask me for tips for when they start cosplaying, and I always tell them to be patient! Your skills can and will improve over time, so don’t give up when something doesn’t turn out great. People always say, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” So my advice is to keep trying! And if after many tries you still aren’t happy, you can always look up tutorials online or pay for commissions from others! There’s absolutely no shame in buying all of your cosplays rather than making them yourself, it won’t make your cosplay any less special.
Most of the characters I cosplay are from television shows, movies, books, podcasts, etc. I actually almost never draw my ideas first; the characters are usually already made and have a design.
I love knowing that I can create a different look anytime I want to.
There is never a specific process for getting into cosplay. For example, my makeup process is completely different from my other cosplay friends. While I might put lipstick on last, others might put it on first or third. Some people might change into their costume after they put their makeup on, whereas I tend to put my costume on beforehand. While there are a few basic courtesy rules, there’s never really a wrong way to cosplay!
I apply foundation, setting powder, contour, eyebrows, blush, eyeshadow, highlight, eyeliner, eyelashes, and then lipstick. Quite honestly, drug store makeup is just as good as name brand makeup. Eyeshadows can be just as pigmented, foundations can be just as smooth; it’s just a matter of using them correctly. In my experience, a lot of dollar store products are just as good as some name brand ones. Doing makeup is also a lot of experimenting with your own face’s colors and shapes, so I will list products, not techniques.
I personally use Garnier SkinActive BB Cream for foundation, then I use Airsun loose face powder to set it and make it less shiny. I like to use a mixture of all of the warm colors or a blend of the top two rows in the NYX Ultimate Shadow Palette for blush. I don’t contour often, but when I do it’s just below my cheekbones with Almay pressed powder, or any powder that’s slightly darker than my original skin tone.
Eyebrows often depend on the color of the character’s hair, but usually I use brown in the Lancôme Warm Day palette (I don’t believe they are sold anymore) or the black shade in Spoiled Cosmetics Volume 4 palette. My favorite eyeshadow to use is also from Spoiled Cosmetics, all of their products that I have so far are wonderful to use! My eyeshadow ALWAYS depends on the character I am doing at the moment, but always follows the same pattern: darker in the outer corner of the eye, then blended all the way in on the lid. That way you cover your entire eye with whichever color you need. Then I put on highlight; my personal favorite is Physicians Formula Butter Highlighter in Champagne. I put it across my cheekbones, nose, and in the inner corner of my eyes.
For eyeliner I use NYX Matte Liquid Liner in Black. Eyeliner is the same as shadow, the shape depends on the character I’m doing, and with eyeliner you just need practice to figure out which technique works best for you. What I do is I paint one line from the outer corner of the eye to however far I want the wing to go, then connect the tip of that across my lid to my inner corner, then fill it in.
Eyelashes are a hard one to explain, so it’s best to either take the time to learn how to put them on or look up a tutorial. I use fake lashes from anywhere from Walmart to Amazon using DUO Lash Glue. It’s hard to name brands for lipstick, because there are so many shades that vary with so many different brands. Lipstick is a bit of a no-brainer; just follow your natural lips with the color of your choosing! Lipstick is just a matter of finding what you like best. For face paint I usually use Mehron cream blend stick, they work the best!
After makeup is done, you can add decorations like glitter or fake piercings. I get all my wigs, costumes and makeup from Amazon. Shopping on Amazon is easy and cheap (most of the time). The easiest way to find good products on there is to take the time to look through the reviews. I get all of my colored contact lenses from ohmykitty4u.com. I absolutely love cosplaying for so many reasons. Cosplaying is my form of art. By art, I don’t mean just painting my face. By art, I mean I get to act, I get to design clothing, I get to edit my photos and videos in fun ways, and I get to build props from scratch. It’s a way to show appreciation for the series or game that I’m cosplaying from and for the people who created those characters. Cosplaying is also my creative outlet; if I go too long without, I tend to get anxious or stressed. The social media communities I participate in give me an outlet for self-expression and support. To me, cosplaying is a big part of my life. Just like some people can never see themselves giving up sports or hunting, I can never see myself giving up cosplaying. I feel like confidence is one of the things that come with cosplaying. My everyday look is very casual with no makeup, jeans and baggy sweatshirts. I have a deep appreciation and respect for people who do put on a full face every day or really glam it up for an event; I know how much work that is! I see this confidence increase not only in myself, but in my peers as well!I love knowing that I can create a different look anytime I want to.
One of the big groups of people who I see cosplaying are transgender individuals. Cosplay can be a way for them to cope with their gender dysphoria, as well as become more confident in the body that they have. I’ve also had some friends who have discovered that they were trans through cosplay! According to www.nhs.uk, “Gender dysphoria is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there’s a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity.” I’m a part of the LGBT+ community myself and believe deeply in respect for all people. This community has taught me that although not everyone will accept you, there will always be someone who will, and you should be grateful and happy for those people.
The adults in my life always ask me what I want to do with my cosplaying or how I want to turn it into a career. The truth is, I’d like to keep it a simple hobby for myself! In the past year I found theatre tech at my high school, and when people see what I do, they immediately assume that I would want to be the one onstage. Actually, I prefer to be one of the people in the shadows who helps things run smoothly. Being backstage is much more exciting to me than being onstage. My artistic and creative abilities can be used in stage design, lighting, costuming and directing in the future. I do plan to pursue a degree in theatre arts and see where it takes me. Though, it is a dream of mine to work a show on Broadway at least once!