When Gianni Manarin did his first cosplay, he just dove right in and showed up at a convention in full costume.
“[…] I was just like you know what? Screw it, I’m just gonna do it. I went there, I didn’t have any plan or people to go with. I just showed up in my costume, managed to wrangle together two people last minute who were like ‘yeah i’m going as well.’”
For those who are unfamiliar with cosplay, it’s short for costume play, which is the act of dressing up as different characters, often from anime, comics, books, movies, and TV shows. There’s definitely an art to it — many cosplayers obtain various skills in costume design, whether it be sewing, makeup, prop building, wig styling, etc., as well as adding their own dramatization or touch to a given costume.
In Manarin’s case, he uses various sculpting techniques to create his costumes from scratch and make them as life-like as possible. This includes creating molds of his own features to ensure his costumes achieve the most realistic fit.
He also points out that it isn’t a light commitment — you have to be ready for the cost, both monetary and in time. This past weekend he dressed up as Wolverine for Toronto Comic Con, a costume that he said took him about a week to make. He also experienced this first hand when he dressed up as Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy.
“It cost me about 600 bucks to make [Groot], not including my time,” said Manarin. “I made about 100 bucks worth of mistakes.”
Costume construction aside, Manarin’s emphasis on the cosplay community, which he describes as “so tight-knit” and “so inclusive,” is what makes his journey so relevant.
“[…] they’re some of my closest friends now.”
Manarin points out that “you’re always gonna have that awkward startup” when you first start out, and you may have that moment where you feel like your costume is inferior to the rest. However, his advice to those interested in getting into cosplay is to just go for it.
“Just try it, you gotta start somewhere.”
Overall, he stresses the importance of loving your character.
“For me, it’s not about recognition. It’s just about that love for that character and just wanting to do them justice. It’s on that [convention] day, that feeling that you get on that day is worth all the time that you put into it.”