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Ask Ani-Mia: Commissions, Cosplay Improvements, and Contests

This week's column tackles ordering commissions, improving cosplay skills, and more!

Ask Ani-Mia

Hey there cosplayers and cosplay enthusiasts. Welcome to Ask Ani-Mia, a running advice column where you can ask questions on any topic that may be cosplay related and get an answer. Hopefully my years of cosplay experience can help shed some light on questions you may have been dying to ask but for some reason or another haven’t. So let’s get started.

Hi Ani-Mia, Where can I find people I can commission cosplays from safely? My friend had a bad experience with never getting a cosplay she commissioned from another cosplayer. I don’t want to lose money. - Anonymous

It’s incredibly important to research when it comes to commissioners. There are a few Facebook cosplay groups that offer suggestions on cosplay makers offering commissions but you still want to do your due diligence.

The safest way to find a commissioner is through word of mouth from friends who have purchased from the crafter in the past. When that’s not possible, search out Facebook groups. Some will allow commissioners to make their own posts to advertise their work while some cosplay buy, sell and trade groups allow members to post that they are looking to pay someone to make a specific cosplay.

Once you get a recommendation, make sure to search out their work and whatever reviews you can find. Utilize the search function in groups to check for the commissioner’s name to see if others have used them before. Message the commissioner and ask to see photos of their previous work if they don’t already have a page or website available.

When working with a commissioner, make sure to have a contract with all details of the commission written out, especially costs and expected time frames. For the seller, there should be clear directions for when payments will be due and for the buyer, ensure that there is a set completion date. For both of you, figure out what course of action will take place if payments or deadlines are missed.

Dear Ani-Mia, I feel like I’ve stalled on my cosplay growth. I always wanted to improve my skills and become a top cosplay maker but I don’t feel like my cosplays are really getting any better and I don’t know how to do better. - Anonymous

Sometimes we can be overly hard on ourselves as cosplay creators and dismiss the merits of our own work. I always advise people not to focus on how their cosplays stand up to others but to ones that they’ve made in the past; but even then sometimes the improvements are easy to overlook. Growth can be quick or it can be slow but there’s no time limit on when you need to level up.

One of the best way to see how much you’ve improved is to look at your cosplays side by side that you did a year apart. Remember that even the smallest amount of improvements, is still an improvement. Maybe it’s something small that you could miss, like your hems are straighter or your armor has crisper seams. Don’t look past the small things just because they might seem small to you. To another cosplayer, getting crisp seams may be difficult but you’ve been able to do it, so give yourself that credit.

If you want to continue to improve your cosplay skills, set a challenge for yourself with your next cosplay; again, even if it’s something small. Maybe you usually buy buttons but this time, you’re going to learn to cast them yourself. Try to use a material you’ve never used before, or a new tool. Any time you do something a different way, you are learning another skill you didn’t have before and that you can find a use for later.

Hi Ani-Mia, I’ve been cosplaying for about 5 years now and entered a couple of cosplay contests but I haven’t won anything except for a judge’s choice. I don’t feel like my work is that bad but I don’t know what to do to make them better. When do I have to start entering at a higher level because of the number of contests I’ve been in but I didn’t win and I’m not ready for the higher level? – Dan V

Most contests should delegate what level you enter at (novice, journeyman or master) by the number of times you have placed in a contest. The reasoning being, that once you have won a contest at a certain level, you have developed the skills to move forward. Judge’s choice, while still a big win, isn’t quite placing so you should be able to still compete as a novice.

There are a few things you can do to help your score during a cosplay competition. The one I stress the most is working on your stage presence. Some contests may allow you to perform a small skit to showcase your cosplay and ability to embody the character but even if you are only given the chance to walk across the stage, do it in style. Think of your character’s personality and how they would walk, gesture or even hold their head. Be big, show a lot of energy and try not to let any stage fright get to you.

For your cosplay, you want to show off your cleanest work possible. Even hems, smooth seams and no stray strings or glue definitely give a contestant a leg up. Make sure to highlight these if you are given the chance to show off your cosplay directly to the judges. You shouldn’t be scared to let judges check your hems. Try new or challenging crafting methods. It also helps if you bring in progress photos for the judges to review. Highlight important details that might be overlooked because they are small or difficult to see.

Just make sure to go in with confidence and show off your work in the best way possible.

If you have a question that you’d like to have answered, feel free to send it to askanimia@gmail.com. Make sure to include your first name and last initial or let us know if you’d like to mark the question as “From Anonymous”

About the Author
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Ani-Mia has been cosplaying since 2008 and her love for video games, comic books and anime are reflected in her wide variety of cosplay costumes. She has been a cosplay guest at over 150 conventions across the globe as well as judged championship cosplay contests, appeared in both online and print magazines as well as television appearances. She’s also the Cosplay Writer for Otaku USA Magazine, the premiere print magazine about anime and manga in the United States, and an official video host for PreviewsWorld catalog and Sapphire Studios.