Cosplay 101: Convention Survival Guide

Cosplay 101

Conventions are the highlight of a cosplayer’s calendar. However, while it’s exciting, they can also be tiring! I’ve covered convention self-care before, so this guide is tailored to the first time cosplayer or convention attendee.

  1. Choose your event! There are a huge number of conventions around the country now, from huge-scale events like MCM to small local conventions. There’s no ‘right’ way to choose your first. I started with the biggest – MCM in London. Look around and see if there’s a good convention in your home town. Factor in budget; will you need to stay over night? How much will transport cost? Allow for buying over-priced food and drink at the venue if you aren’t going to take your own. Check out the theme of the event. Most conventions are pretty general these days, but if being family friendly, or having a heavy focus on anime, or anything like that is important to you, check first.
  2. Costume logistics can be tricky. Is there somewhere to change? Do you need to get ready first and allow for travelling in cosplay? Will you be safe doing so? Do you have props that will need be safely transported or concealed on public transport?
  3. Do you need a handler or helper? A handler is basically someone who helps a cosplayer in a complex costume. Figure out if you’ll need help getting into your costume, or if you’ll need someone to help guide you around the convention. Restricted vision, bulky costumes, troublesome shoes…you’ll need a friend to help you in the crowds.
  4. Know your limit. How long is your cosplay comfortable? Allow breaks and take water!
  5. Expect to be stopped. As a first time cosplayer, it can be unexpected and a bit nerve-wracking when people ask you for photos. If they’re asking, you did something right! Try to relax and enjoy it. It really does get easier with practice.
  6. Take cash out before you get there. Lots of stalls don’t take card payments, and the queues for the cash machine in the venue can get crazy. Be organised and sort it out before you go.
  7. Bring a camera. If you don’t, you’ll regret it. Trust me.
  8. Keep your sensible head on. I know you’re excited, but some common sense goes a  long way. Remember to eat and drink. Take good care of your stuff and keep your possessions close. It’s very tempting to just dump them and run after a great cosplay you’ve seen going past, but be careful. Also, try not to blow all your money on the first morning of a multi-day event…
  9. Give yourself more time than you think you need. Want to attend a panel or have a photograph booked with a guest? Give yourself way more time to get there than you’d think you’ll need. When it gets busy, walking around a convention can take ages. Don’t miss something you’ve paid for because you’re stuck in a corridor somewhere.
  10. Be considerate. Watch out for people’s costumes and props in the crowds. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve almost had holsters torn off or whatever because someone has shoved past me rather than just saying, “Excuse me.” Don’t set up camp in a corridor, stairwells, or anywhere where there’s people trying to move through. If you’re taking a break, get out of the way.

Most importantly? Have fun!