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Getting Started in Cosplay: Tips & Advice From Cosplayer Allan Forte

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Are you a fan of cosplayers you see pictures of or walking around at different comic book conventions? Are you interested in starting cosplay but aren’t sure exactly where to start? Today cosplayer Allan Forte shares some advice and tips on how to get started in cosplay. 

How many cosplays have you done?

I think I have done about 16 different characters.

How long have you been cosplaying?

I start back in 2010 so about 8 years now, I wish I started earlier.

How do you decide on the next cosplay you are going to do?

Almost all my cosplay, are characters I connected to in one way or another. Or I just really enjoy the character and/or the show it’s from and want to share it with others. If I look like the character that helps too but it is not a huge factor.

How do you decide which cosplays you want to build and which cosplays you want to make?

I try to do characters I have passion for and enjoy because I believe it translates to how people react. Some characters I have to be in a positive mood for because my energy has to be really high. I hope in the future to make Spawn, Eli (Book of Eli), Ronin Warrior (White Armor), and so many more. It would take the rest of my life to make them all lol.

How do you find out about cosplay? Do you do your own research on what a character wears or do you have a particular place you go to get the information?

I was first introduce to cosplay by my finance Jolene, who took me to San Diego Comic Con in 2009. I immediately felt at home and watching a video about Holly Conrad and her Mass Effect team who won at SDCC inspired me. My research is nothing specific just mostly random google searches of images, talks on social media, and a lot of digging through websites.

What are your techniques or tips to help people find cosplay or cosplay items?

Tip for finding what your looking for is think/see beyond what something is at face value. Most cosplay starts in stages. Like in Iron Man, his suit started with Mark I, then he made adjustments and got Mark II. 2nd Tip is ask around the community because you’re usually not the only person. So find Internet or social media groups the correspond with your character. 3rd, be patient, the better the research the easier and less expensive it will be.

Do you plan a budget for each cosplay or do you just wing it? What approach do you use when trying to stay within a certain budget?

Budgets are hard to decide before doing any research but I want to try to save as much money as possible. Knowing where to spend money and where to be cheap is what I must decide. And again research is key to low cost. Cosplay as a whole isn’t cheap, but making what you can yourself helps a lot with cost. Now I fully support commissions, but it gets expensive paying for someone else’s time. So I leave that to things I know I can’t do. Or things I want in high quality because I need it to last.

Do you have any tips for people who decide to purchase a cosplay? Things they should be aware of as a consumer?

I make about 40% of my cosplay, as I’m very limited on work space and often not confident in my skills. So first tip is bought or made or mix of both is perfectly ok. Secondly, commission are for another person’s time/livelihood, so don’t be rude and ask discounts. Third, I recommend PayPal and only send money as goods and services to protect yourself and your investment. Sending any type of money as friends/family is a red flag. Fourth, expensive doesn’t always mean better, find more than one site and compare. Ask for more pictures if necessary. Most sites have a social media page with photos of previous customers. Research… research….. research

Do you have any Do’s and Dont’s when it comes to cosplay?

Yes, so when it comes to cosplay
DO: bring repair items with you in your car or back pack or something.
DO: experiment and test your skills because you never know what you could create.
DO: ask politely for pictures at con’s with other cosplayers and be patient.
DO: (guys) wear a dancers belt or protective sports cup under tight fitting cosplay.
DO: give credit to those who made something for you or took your picture.
DO: have fun and bring a positive attitude, as kids are often nearby.
DON’T: shame or bully other cosplayers for their cosplay, race, religion, body type, gender, etc. It’s not ok.
DON’T: touch or take pictures of anyone in any inappropriate way. Sexual harassment and other forms of harassment are not tolerated.

We really appreciate Allan taking the time to talk to us! Give him a follow on social media!

Do you have questions about cosplay? What kind of questions would you like to see cosplayers answer about cosplay? Let us know in the comments! 

Born and raised under the California sun. Monica can be found around the Southern California comic book and pop culture convention scene. She can usually be seen either behind the lens of her camera or in cosplay. Lover of all things geeks but especially Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Star Wars and Star Trek.