Professional Cosplay

Kamui Cosplay (Photographer Darshelle Stevens)

If you follow a few UK cosplayers, you have probably seen the term 'professional cosplayer' being thrown around; I'm not going to stir the drama pot, feel free to Google if you want to know more! What I want to talk about is common ideologies about what constitutes as a professional cosplayer and why people may take offense to it.

Controversially, a lot of a cosplayers worth comes with what can be placed with metrics - facebook followers, retweets, YouTube watch time engagement and more. Understandably, one of the main reasons a company may hire you or ask you come along to an event is because they want their event to be shared to the widest, most relevant audience. Many cosplayers are highly engaged with social media; it is an easy, and often cheap, method of PR and marketing to get cosplayers involved in events. At the end of the day however, cosplay will still be a predominately hobbyist activity and that is not a bad thing. The words 'amateur' and 'hobbyist' have become sadly tarnished in the current climate where being a professional in everything that we do is the aim for many. I am not just talking about cosplay here - photography, animation, baking, selling on eBay. Many are using tried and tested management techniques to sell ourselves and our products. Rightly so, we are proud of ourselves and what we do, with the old adage that if we can do something well, don't do it for free - the title of 'Professional Cosplayer' is being thrown around more than a pokèball!

So is there such a thing as a 'Professional Cosplayer'? Speaking purely for myself, I certainly believe so. I roll my eyes when I see people criticise YouTubers and Twitch streamers, telling them to get a 'real job'. Gloating that when the content creator bubble bursts, they will be sorry. Yet that could happen with any job, anyone can be made redundant at anytime and for any reason. I like to compare the content creator sector with that of the film industry when it was in its infancy. For those actors, actresses, lighting riggers and producers - they were brand new roles in the job market. However they were getting paid and more importantly, they were living their lives from the profits of working those roles. It is a similar tale for cosplay, if you are able to create a sustained living simply through making costumes, attending conventions, related events and publications then, in my eyes at least, you could say you were 'professional'. As a population, often we are scared of something new and different when older systems - mortgages, bringing up a family, nutrition etc are reliant on them. 

Few can ever make a sustainable living through making costumes alone - yet what cosplay offers are opportunities to make a little extra money as a side project. A practice that dates back far into history, with mainly women, using what skills they had to bump up the family savings. We can have stores on Etsy and Storenvy that help to pay for new equipment or run YouTube channels that show tutorials and vlogs. The heart of these need to be for the love of the hobby, they often don't pay much, can take a chunk of your time and may feel like a second job. Cosplay can also offer up opportunities to work with influential companies - as an example, due to my Lara costumes, I was part of the Square Enix PR launch for 'Lara Croft GO' in London. While I needed to act professional, I am nowhere near what could be considered a 'professional cosplayer' even though I earn money through selling cosplay items on Etsy.

There is nothing wrong with taking a professional approach to what you do or pushing yourself, and it may help further down the line - but remember why you started to cosplay in the first place. If you want to aim to be a professional, think about what you would like to do once you have that notoriety rather than to be famous for famous sake. For Yaya Han it is her fabric lines and patterns, Kamui has her book publications, Leon Chiro has worked it to increase his traditional modelling portfolio and Bill Doran has worked the other way - taking his prop building business into the world of cosplay. At the end of the day however if you are enjoying what you are doing and being polite, honest and kind while doing it, that is all that matters.

So what do you think about 'professional cosplayers'? Comment below or tweet me @Lady_Scion and remember to take pride and enjoy your hobby whatever that may be.

Could This be the Meaning Behind Lara Croft’s Necklace?

When looking at the initial design image for the reboot Lara Croft, one thing in particular stood out. That was her beautiful jade pendant; the size and placement of it suggesting that the piece of jewellery could be significant to the story. In-game, the size had been decreased, but the vivid green stood out from the blood, mud and neutral tones that was the colour palette for Lara.

While I was playing Tomb Raider 2013, I fully expected that the swirly pendant would be some kind of key or talisman. Imagine my surprise when the end credits rolled and the necklace played no significant part whatsoever. I then thought that it would be important in ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider’, and came up with the theory that because Lara interrupted Himiko’s ritual at the end of Tomb Raider, part of Himiko became trapped in the pendant. A theory that I have built into my fan fiction Tomb Raider 2013 continuation story because I believed in it so much. ‘Rise’ came around, and alas, as far as I know (as I am waiting for the PS4 version of the game) the pendant is simply just character design again.
But what could it mean? During the construction of my cosplay I looked for something of a similar design in jade or faux jade glass that I could buy or take inspiration from. The actual design of Lara’s necklace, a small animal or spirit encased in a leafy style swirl, was nowhere to be found. Or at least, that specific design was absent. What I did find were pounamu necklaces, in particular, the Koru design from New Zealand.
Known as the God Stone by the Maori population, pounamu has the reputation of holding spiritual powers to protect, evoke strength and prosperity, protect the owner, show love and kinship, and to depict growth and harmony. Something Lara would be very thankful to have during her time on Yamatai. It has been suggested that pounamus’ create strong connections with ancestors and the corresponding natural world - this theory is what lead me to believe that the necklace seen throughout the game will become significant during this reboot timeline.

The closest design to Lara’s is the Koru, a spiral. In Maori art, because of its fluid shape took from unfurling fern leaves, it is commonly used as a symbol of creation. Suggesting the ideology of perpetual movement, while the inner coil suggests a return to the point of origin. A metaphor for life both changing and staying the same; perfectly describing the way in which the franchise was rebooted.

The Koru can also represent new life. Taking the baby frond, it slowly unfurls as it grows before opening to a brand new leaf as the old one dies. Again, perfectly fitting for the reboot story line as Lara is thrown into her new life and grows into being a tomb raider (rather than just a very unlucky archaeologist!) as the games are released.
So it certainly seems that the necklace wasn’t just drawn to look nice; it has real world symbolism with a host of hidden meanings relating to Lara’s life and the adventures she takes. I’m still confident that the necklace will become something else, if not, you can tweet at me in a few years time!

What thoughts do you have about Lara’s necklace? Comment below or tweet me!

Blog update - Where have I been?

Sorry for a being a little quiet the past few weeks with virtually no blog posts. As a quick life update, not going into too much detail, but it involves family members in hospital, aiding a house move, a crazy amount of orders from my Etsy store and the embracing the biggest risk of my life giving up a full time, permanent job to undertake a PhD. Let me tell you, they were a horrible few weeks making my decision. On top of this, I'm still pushing myself to finish my Syria Rise cosplay for MCM Manchester next week! I have sore thumbs and hot glue burns galore!

So again, please accept my apologies, I'll be back very soon and got lots of articles jotted down that should take us well into the new year :) First one when I get back will be a Tomb Raider article so keep an eye out for that!


57 Shades of Pokémon GO

  1. 1.  Pokémon GO is here!!!
  2. 2. Oh wait…I’m in the UK…
  3. 3. And, I’m not getting the APK, I’ll wait…
  4. 4. *cries*
  5. 5. The song ‘Pikachu’s Goodbye’ plays in the background.
  6. 6. IT’S HERE!
  8. 8. Puts on some shorts, I like them because they are comfy.
  9. 9. *Wiggles*
  10. 10. Turns hat backwards.
  11. 11. Sets out to the theme tune.
  12. 12. I’m going to be the very best like no-one ever was.
  13. 13. DUM,DUM, DUM, DUM!
  14. 14. The fact that I am running away from Charmander breaks my heart.
  15. 15. I’ll always choose you in the Game Boy games little guy.
  16. 16. Where is this Pikachu?
  17. 17. Kotaku lied to me didn’t they?
  18. 18. Continues to walk, contemplates getting an iced latte from Costa.
  19. 19. IT’S A PIKACHU!!
  20. 20. GET IN MY BALL!
  21. 21. Runs across road.
  22. 22. YEEESSSS!
  23. 23. …. Now what?
  24. 24. Why does this game not tell me what to do?
  25. 25. I’m pressing menu screens, they don’t tell me much.
  26. 26. Right I am at a Pokéstop.
  27. 27. …Is something supposed to happen?
  28. 28. I see picture and a creepy amount of detail about the location.
  29. 29. Le spins.
  30. 30. Ohhh…
  31. 31. Carrying on.
  32. 32. I see no Pokémon.
  33. 33. *Buzzzz*
  34. 34. Tweet?…Oh…it’s a Ratatta!
  35. 35. Move to side Joey, this Ratatta is going to be in top percentage.
  36. 36. And there is nothing you can do to stop it.
  37. 37. 5 hours later…
  38. 38. 29 Pidgeys, 20 Ratattas, 8 Zubats and 1 token Eevee found in the crisp aisle of Tesco later.
  39. 39. Crawls into bed, realise that you needed to put an egg into an incubator to hatch.
  40. 40. *cries*
  41. 41. Wake up, back to training.
  42. 42. Check local gyms, realise that you are nowhere near the level to challenge.
  43. 43. Thinks a career as a Pokémon breeder might be more suitable.
  44. 44. Climbs into a bush for a Pidgeotto.
  45. 45. On way back, find a ten year old on a bike has just took over the gym.
  46. 46. *cries*
  47. 47. Give everyone knowing looks who are wandering aimlessly around town.
  48. 48. *Walks into wall*
  49. 49. Hope that no-one has seen…
  50. 50. That bloody ten year old gym leader saw and is laughing.
  51. 51. I’m so going to take over your gym, just you wait.
  52. 52. You won’t be laughing when my top percentage Ratatta comes to woop yo ass.
  54. 54. Ends up getting lost.
  55. 55. Battery is dead.
  56. 56. I have no food or water.
  57. 57. This is the best thing ever.