Cosplay is one of those hobbies, like many others, that you can commit any range of money into. There are people who cosplay out of their closets and never attend conventions, who spend pocket change or less and still participate and have a good time. There are people who spend thousands of dollars on materials, travel, conventions, photoshoots, etc. And there are, of course, people at every level in between.
It’s okay to be any of those cosplayers. But here’s something that’s not okay: taking advantage of others because you can’t afford it.
cosplay: a privilege, not a right
Let’s get one thing straight: Cosplay is a hobby. It’s for fun. You don’t need to cosplay to live. And although I truly believe this hobby should be open to everyone, that doesn’t give you the right to step on other people in order to be involved in it.
Today marks the third time this month that I’ve seen a cosplayer request a cosplay commission for significantly less than even the cost of its materials, and then get defensive when told that they’re asking for too much. The best of these conversations still result in the would-be commissioner defensively explaining how broke they are. The worst of them can devolve into calling cosplay makers money-hungry, extortive, or even just not skilled enough to produce a costume for the proposed price.
And it isn’t just commissions. I’ve seen cosplayers use this line to try and get free con entry, to excuse cheating their way into a con, to steal or illegally download sewing or crafting patterns, and even to try and shame cosplayers who make and sell costumes, props, or accessories into pricing them differently.
Here’s the thing: There is a big difference between I have a right to be involved in this hobby, even though I’m broke and Because I’m broke, you need to donate your time and money to me.
So, cosplay community, I decided to help you out. I’ve made this handy list of do’s and don’ts for broke cosplayers. Next time you’re low on cash before a con, you can use this easy reference to ensure you don’t step on any toes.
- When commissioning, be clear that you’re on a budget
- Have realistic expectations for what $50 will buy you
- Look up resources and tutorials for budget cosplay
- Ask for help
- When told what you want is impossible at that price, either budget more money or change your plans
- Make “cheap” the first criteria for your commission
- Argue with the quote you’re given
- Expect everyone to lower their prices just for you
- Ask for handouts
- When told what you want is impossible at that price, fight that person with the mindless ferocity of a rabid bear
Do you have any tips for broke cosplay? Let me know in the comments!