CBAM Summit: Cosplay going forward!

While the coronavirus pandemic has seen a surge in consumption of content even in the ACGC sector, one of the important part of AVGC sector – Cosplay has been doomed a bit since pandemic. That is because people were forced to stay at home during lockdowns and conventions were cancelled and sadly the opportunity for cosplayers to showcase their talent was not possible.

CBAM Summit’s next session The rise in cosplay industry moderated by game designer and cosplayer Vijay Sinha with panellist filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist Sameer Bundela, professional concept and game artist Medha Srivastava, AltF4Cosplay lead costume design Stephanie Vander Heyden, Super Sugoii co-founder Rachita Saha, veterinarian and cosplayer Dr Tanya Shringarpure poured light on various aspects of cosplay.

Most of the cosplay artists do cosplay out of their passion and to follow the passion they have to look for other source of income to finance their look. During the pandemic many cosplay artists focused more on their jobs to earn livelihood. Heyden shared, “I don’t do cosplay full time and I have a job that I do as a part time that supports me to do cosplay. This helps me generate income, to continue pursuing my hobby and also survive during pandemic when the conventions were all cancelled.”

During the time of pandemic, the cosplay artists also focused to hone their skills so that they could become even better in the coming years as Bundela expressed, “Cosplay was never my primary source of income; I use it as an experimentation ground. I learn things in cosplay and then I use it in my professional work which is direction and making fabrication and so on. This downtown gave me a lot of time to develop my social media presence and I have also learnt a lot of new skills.”

Also it is true that the lockdown has helped every individual to explore new areas and learn new skills and sometimes those skills might help in the long run. Since cosplay is passion driven, every cosplay artist has the mindset of how they can be better and how could they share their skills. Srivastava shared, “Lockdown has made me explore a new side, a new part of cosplay which is makeup. Because we all were limited with the resources, people started with doing quarantine cosplay. There were incredible amount of ideas that people came up with limited resources. Since I explored a new side, it was challenging for me but it kept me going for with cosplay. Social media has played a major role for me in cosplay.”

A lot of emotions and love is involved in the process to showcase an avatar. Talking about the impact on cosplayers due to the conventions coming to a standstill, Shringarpure shared, “A lot of cosplay inspirational energies come from conventions where people appreciate your work, where you could interact straight up, people could see your cosplay up-close and ask how you achieve the look and sometimes share tips for improvements too. Since conventions are not happening for the entire year, it has definitely put a wrong impact on us as sometimes we feel creative blockage, less motivated and so on.”

To stay motivated it is very important to find various ways; be it through social media or participating in online showcase. This way there will be no halt in the passion and artist will continue to evolve in the artistry of cosplay. In fact, the scope of opportunities for cosplay artists are rising with rise of engagement in social media helping cosplay artists to take it as a career option “Once you make a mark in cosplay, brands approach you for social media presence, as a judge and more. There are so many ways of taking cosplay professionally,” Srivastava added.

Saha also thinks that there are huge scope in India for cosplay artist. She expressed, “Everything has changed since Covid19 pandemic, however at Super Sugoii, we continue promoting the genre of cosplay in our country – India, because there is huge scope in comparison to other countries. We have very much smooth experience from cosplayers wanting to be professionals. Saying that, there is a huge scope of growth in the entire cosplay genre in the country.”

Saha also highlighted the fact that the brands need to be more aware about the cosplay industry as she expressed, “Passion is what drives cosplay. Brands need to be aware that cosplay is way different from just a model. There is a huge scope of learning for a brand to be aware that you cannot just expect the cosplayer to collaborate with you and just be at the event as a promotional tool.”

Since many put their work on social media, the panellists highlighted the fact that they had to face trolls and criticism which sometimes are below the belt and hurtful. The best way to tackle it is to ignore it, move on and follow your dreams. However, all of the artists feel that they enjoy engaging with the audience and sometimes when the audience appreciate and share tips to them to incorporate it in their work, cosplay artists do appreciate that.

Overall the panel was quite insightful as it covered every aspect of the cosplay industry: from survival strategies to  challenges to professional outlook. It even gave the idea that even with limited resources, it is possible to become a cosplay artist.

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