Journey of a Cosplayer

By Mhija and Riot Swagdragon

Article photography by Riot Swagdragon

We often have the opportunity to speak to cosplayers about the work and art that goes into their craft, but how that translates into prepping for a big event is a completely different story. What to pack, how to pack it, and how to plan for the journey all take a different mindset than the creative brainpower of crafting a character.

Below, Kadeem of Kadu=Out Cosplay shares his thought process behind preparing cosplay for big conventions or, as the photographs depict, his journey to Worlds in 2016.


Before the Event

What unique challenges does cosplaying for a big event present?

A deadline. When it comes to a specific event, the deadline is super important, especially when it’s an important event like Worlds. This is because you try to squeeze as much possible effort into the smallest amount of time. It really challenges your skill along with your time management. The tolerance of messing up is low because of the lack of time to redo/fix things.

How do you handle packing and traveling with all of your cosplay pieces?

Armor pieces are really hard to travel with. I usually try to tetris them in my suitcase. When it comes to props I usually make them in a way where I could break them down into smaller pieces so it’s easier to transport.

Do you cosplay multiple characters at events or keep to one for simplicity’s sake?

It depends on the event. If it’s a convention I tend to cosplay multiple characters for a couple of reasons. The first is that it makes it easier to hang out with friends I don’t see that much during the year and cosplay with them. The other reason is because it gives me an opportunity to cosplay a good amount of characters on my list. Conventions are just super convenient for that.

At other events though, I’ll just coplay one character if it’s a huge project. Cosplaying one character also gives me more free time to do what I want during that event.

Do you usually have your cosplay done ahead of time, or do you find yourself making last minute changes?

When I first started out in cosplaying, I’d always find myself hot gluing something in the hotel room. Now I try to make a habit of having things done ahead of time. Of course, it doesn’t always end up that way.


At the Event

What’s your favorite part about attending an event in cosplay?

It’s an incredible feeling to walk out into an event and be flooded with people for pictures. It’s like at that moment your countless all-nighters became justified and appreciated.

Do you make a point of meeting up with other creators who are cosplaying characters in the same universe? Do you ever plan group cosplays in advance?

I’m actually not a big fan of meetups and gatherings. Unless there is a specific person I wanted to meet, I usually don’t find myself at meetups. It’s funny though, because my main goal for cons is to meet people and that would be my best shot. Not sure why I’m like this. With that said, I do like to plan cosplay groups with friends.

Do you take on the persona of the character while you cosplay?

Always. Cosplay is super fun when you can act like the characters. It makes cons enjoyable too.

What does it feel like to meet up with other people cosplaying the same character?

I tend to cosplay unpopular characters so it’s always interesting to see someone do the same thing. Though, while other people enjoy being twinsies, I aim to be different. Different is fun.

How often does something go wrong at an event? Do you have any stories to share?

Things tend to go wrong a lot when you plan too much with other people. While cosplay groups are super fun when they work out, it tends to not work out more often. People are always late, they drop out last minute, always leave early, or wander off too much.

I remember a few years ago for a con we had a huge Tera group. Pretty sure we all spent months, weeks, and a lot of all-nighters for these cosplays. Finally it’s con day and half the group didn’t even show up. Some cosplayed it on different days and some changed out of their cosplays super early. It was a real bummer. To this day I still have experiences like this, and even though I swear to stop planning group cosplays, I still find myself doing it.

What do you hope to get out of attending events?

Meeting senpais, making friends, and having a great time!


After the Event

Are you as careful packing up your supplies after the event as you are before?

Nope, not at all. If I don’t have another event for a good while, I kinda just throw stuff in my suitcase. I tend to not even wear the same outfits twice anyway. I really want to change that.

Do you reach out to people who have interacted with you at the event?

I used too. I remember after cons I used to always sit on forums trying to find con photos of myself and checking all the business cards I’d get from people. Now I kinda just do photoshoots with certain people and wait for those photos to come up. Sometimes they give me a preview shot/sample that I can post for my page.

How do you feel after a big event? Is there relief and a break period or do you get started prepping for your next event right away?

After a big event, unless there is another big con coming right up, I usually suffer from PCD -- post con depression. I tend to just work on my videos and selfies to try and relive it.


A big thank you to Kadeem for sharing his cosplay insight! Let’s make sure we give him some love in the comments below!


5 months ago