Maybe you haven’t done a group cosplay yet and you’re thinking, but Kari, what do you mean survive group cosplays? Aren’t they super fun? Totally!
…if you can survive the entire process, that is!
There’s a lot of different types of group cosplays. Maybe you’re just buying some DBZ cosplays to wear with your friends, or
My first year cosplaying I was alone, but at the end of 2016 I responded to a Facebook post about doing a Love Live group cosplay and dance for Anime Detour 2017 cosplay contest. I had no dancing skills, but the post said it’s cool as long as you have basic sewing skills. I didn’t have any con friends other than Andrew either, so I was hoping it’d be a great way to make friends. And I was right!
We met up
We did the Kira Kira Sensation outfits and danced to Gee. Both seemed fairly simple at the beginning, but we soon found out managing a group of 9 girls, sewing massively fluffy cosplays that look nearly identical and learning a dance was ridiculously hard!! Our first meetup was in August 2016 and I sh*t you not, some members
The first obstacle on the list is the very first thing you need to do; actually meet up, plan things, then work on them. If everyone’s in high school and lives nearby, great! You’ll have an easier time. But we had a 10 year age gap in our group, 2 members were 15, 3 were 25, and the rest were 16-17. We all got along so well despite any possible age-related differences, and we’re still all great friends. But even now it’s impossible to get even 4 people to meet up due to conflicting school and work schedules. We only ever had 2 meetings where everyone was in attendance.
Firstwhen starting the group, ask about their availability and make sure it’s at least somewhat manageable.
- Make a Google calendar and set up general work schedules, or use some kind of online scheduler
- If it’s an especially large group, utilize Polls in Facebook Messenger to get everyone’s response. It works a lot better than a message that gets lost.
Ah, yes, effort. This is a group project after all and we all know how those go. If you buy your cosplays this is much less of a problem, but still can be difficult to make sure everyone is on top of everything. If you’re making it, wow just good luck! We had 9 girl members, some of whom never watched Love Live or ever cosplayed before so they were either MIA or not interested in working. To be fair, sewing can not only be boring, but very frustrating. But we weren’t just sewing, we were learning a dance too! Remember each person has to pull a decent amount of weight, and there needs to be leaders that take charge at some point.
**I’ll note that this is where you may lose people. Effort, drama, and money problems is where people tend to drop off, ending on a good note or bad note. We lost 2 people this way, and both were situations where we had to tell them they weren’t pulling their weight or meeting goals, so they couldn’t be a part of the group. It’s not fun for anyone, so if you’re on either side please understand. Everyone loves the idea of group cosplays, but you have to be able to meet up and put in a lot of effort if other people are as well.
- Be clear that each person is responsible for their own cosplay at the end of the day
- In your first couple meets, set concrete goals in a planner (including costs too!) If people aren’t meeting them, take appropriate measures.
- Do not choose outfits like Kira Kira where a large part of how it looks is determined by every member’s ability to make it as perfect as the next persons, haha!
This is a very straightforward point and doesn’t need much explanation. Whether you knew everyone before or not doesn’t matter; group projects bring out the worst in people. I’ve stated myself on numerous occasions that I’d be much better friends with people if we weren’t working on a project together.
Especially in group cosplays that you randomly join, there will be people you have good chemistry with, and bad chemistry. It’s okay if you don’t get along well with someone, but generally at this point in life it can be because someone’s not being considerate or reading the room right.
- There’s not a whole lot you can do to prevent this, but possibly a preliminary meeting would help before you make things concrete.
- Before you delve into working, have fun. Find out what you have in common, have a movie night, build bonds etc.
- Most people are fine, honestly, but occasionally there can be someone that is actually just really inappropriate or makes everyone feel incredibly uncomfortable. If it’s really bad, share it in a nice way with some of the group. We had someone who everyone was very not okay with and who was incredibly difficult to work with, but everyone was too nice to say anything until halfway through. It gets harder to fill roles as you get closer, especially if it’s handmade or ordered overseas.
This ones definitely simple and can actually be avoided if you clear the air in the beginning. Half of us drove, half of us didn’t. I personally don’t have a car because I live in the city and commute by bus. One member lived 30 mins south of me, everyone else lived 15-30 mins NW and NE of me. These are questions you can ask at the beginning of forming:
- Where does everyone live? Who has their license? Who has a car?
- Is anyone able to be the carpool if others give gas money? If yes, others have to promise to be able to give gas money.
- Whose houses can we sew at? Are you able to transport your sewing machine/craft supplies?
- Also remember to check your at-con plans! Hotel room? Drive to? etc!
There’s people at cons spending hundreds, and then there’s people not eating properly so they can have enough to even buy a couple things. Yet, most are in cosplay! In my experience the ability to pay is the #1 thing people stretch the truth on, especially when they don’t have a regular income.
- Be clear about the costs. You don’t know exactly how much it’s going to cost if you’re making it
- In your first couple meetings when you’re planning things, map out what you’ll work on, the materials needed, and
- Collect money for materials before you buy. Since we had nine people, there were things we bought to cut corners and it’s cheaper to mass buy. So we each took turns to buy the thing (garters, socks, ribbon, etc). We often collected the money after, which lead to payment problems, aka drama. Don’t be like us!
- Whether you have a lot of money or a little, it’s good to save where you can! You can do this by sharing hotel rooms, going in on food together, and sharing sales you see.
This goes if you’re making your cosplays and you specifically want it to look good for a photoshoot or cosplay contest. Not only can there be varying levels of skill, but there’s also varying levels of expectation. Some want it to look perfect, others would be okay if it came out even resembling a top. This is where determining your initial goal before you look for members is important. (Just-for-fun photoshoot or top dollar photographer photoshoot? Novice or advanced level cosplay contest?)
It was especially difficult for our group because the Kira Kira outfits are 1. Almost identical, 2. Each outfit has 3-4 hues of a color, 3. Members skills ranged from Master Class Seamstress (who we have nicknamed the real MVP in the group chat) to I’ve-hardly-touched-a-sewing-needle-ever. Some member’s work was sub-par
- Be honest about your skills.
- Talk about this in the first meeting. What are your goals? In my opinion the person/people that started the group have final say in what the main goals are if that wasn’t already stated.
I want to note again that every cosplay is cosplay, no matter what level or if it’s handmade or bought. From my experience most of the group cosplays that you’ll end up in aren’t advanced level, it’s usually just for fun. But I’ve joined some that it seemed like the organizer wasn’t prepared for the vast level of skill differences. Sometimes people have an image in their head and want to see it come to fruition.
My main tip to survive group cosplays:
Group cosplays can be so freaking fun and it’s a great way to make friends and meet people at cons! My group lives on through meme-infested group chats and we meet up often for sleepovers, fun stuff in the city and conventions. Just remember whatever your goals are, that at the end of the day we do this for fun.