Welcome to the World of Cosplay
Welcome To The World Of Cosplay…
For a rising number of sci-fi devotees, watching your favourites on screen isn't enough - you have to bring them to life. Welcome to the world of cosplay, where dressing as your idol is the sincerest form of flattery.
Fuelled by an explosion in fandom and social networking, cosplay – once a fringe hobby for geeks – is now a global phenomenon. Its followers, known as cosplayers, take their art seriously, meticulously creating their costumes, often in workshops and with space-age materials.
Before the late 90s, cosplay was dismissed as a nerdish fad. But, as sci-fi and fantasy enjoyed a resurgence, thanks to hits such as the revivedStar Warsfranchise and theLord of the Ringsmovies, fans came together in their thousands at conventions and online. It has since spawned communities, magazines, shops, TV shows, books and performance art.
‘Fans are recreating unreal characters in a very real and tangible way,’ says Brian Ashcraft, co-author of Cosplay World, a new book that celebrates the scene. ‘The attention to detail is often incredible. The passion is inspiring. It’s not enough to simply be a fan. They express their appreciation for a character in the most flattering way – by bringing said character to life.’
Devoted photographers, themselves sci-fi fans, portray cosplayers in creative ways to bring the scene to a new audience. ‘Their work is helping people appreciate that cosplay is an art form, not just a pastime,’ adds Cosplay World co-author Luke Plunkett. ‘It can take months of hard work. The preparation and skill involved is mind-boggling.’
Jay Tablante, who has been photographing cosplayers for decades, shot Ariana Barouk, a one-time Miss Cuba, asSilk Spectrefrom the graphic novelWatchmen. ‘This is about bringing out the childhood fantasies in my head,’ he says. ‘Since I can’t draw, cosplay is my means of expressing my imagination.’
‘Everyone in the cosplay community is super-passionate about what they do,’ says photographer Darshelle Stevens, who shot Lyz Brickley asLighteningfrom the video game seriesFinal Fantasy. ‘Being surrounded by that commitment and creativity drives me to produce great images.’
Yaya Han, pictured asCarmillafrom the anime filmVampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, has turned her cosplay hobby into a business. ‘I’ve dressed up as more than 250 different characters at conventions across the world and get paid to make costumes for other cosplayers,’ she says.
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