Friday, June 20, 2014

Cosplay Etiquette: Cosplaying the Same Character

Today on the blog I am curious what some of y'all may think of a topic regarding cosplay! So I want to ask a question and have it open to polite discussion :)

What is the proper etiquette for cosplaying the same character as someone you know?

Here's my backstory for where this is coming from: I have a list of characters in my head that I would love to cosplay someday. The list has grown fast and changes quite a bit. However, there are a few characters that have stayed on the list for quite awhile and simply haven't found their time to be made yet.

So the other day a really talented cosplayer posted a character they want to cosplay. Well it turns out to be one that I want to do as well! This got me thinking - what is the proper etiquette for cosplaying the same character as someone else?

My first reaction was "Well now I can't do it." I'm still a newbie at this.. and the other cosplayer is an amazing veteran with super crafting skills. These are some of the thoughts that went through my head:
- I don't want to look like I'm copying.
- I don't want people to compare mine to theirs.
- I will compare mine to theirs even if I don't mean to.

But the more I thought about it the more I realized most of those reasons were insecurities on my end. First of all, no one owns a character. In the end we are all copying. That's exactly what cosplay is! You pick a character from a video game, anime, comic, etc and straight up "copy" the design. Part of the fun of cosplaying is recreating the look.

As far as etiquette goes I think it's best to talk with the other cosplayer if you know them personally. Let them know you want to do a character that they've decided to do as well. Then ask them how they feel about it. This way you won't jeopardize your friendship. Now if you don't know the other cosplayer at all then I wouldn't worry about trying to reach out to ask them to see if it's okay. If you google the character you want to do you may find that 20+ other people have done that same character. It would be near impossible to track them all down to ask permission. So just go for it and create your cosplay in your own artistic way!

Now, there's no stopping people from comparing or passing judgement. The cosplay community is pretty nice and welcoming, but there's definitely plenty of trolls that sneak their way in. My best advice for this is to just ignore it. Even if you are the ONLY person to cosplay a character people are going to compare you to the original design. Try not to read the negative comments and if you accidentally do then just be a duck and let it roll right off your back. Because you're fabulous no matter what they think.

You CAN control whether or not YOU pass judgement. If you are wearing the same cosplay as someone else then do your best not to nitpick the details. It goes two ways: don't think that they are better than you just because they used different techniques or materials, but also don't think that you are better than them either. Remember that we're all just celebrating our love for a fandom.

When I am at a convention and I see someone dressed up as the same character as me, I actually get really excited! You know why? Because that means we both have a common interest. We love that character! It's a great way to make a new friend.

So my final tip for cosplaying the same character as someone you know is: Don't copy the cosplayer; cosplay the character! Always put your own creative twist on it. Make it your own! You'll be more proud of your work that way.


So let me know what you think in the comments!


  1. Well written and put hopefully all Cosplayers newbies and veterans take this advise!

  2. Awesome article! Thanks for writing and posting! <3

  3. This is lovely :D "Be a duck" is perfect! I definitely get the fear of copying, and I think your advice to reach out to the people you *know* is spot on.

  4. I don't think I've ever felt concerned about being a duplicate cosplay at a con. Usually you see multiples of all sorts of characters. If I ever see a character dressed as whoever I'm dressed as I'll go out of my way to take pictures together if anything :)

  5. Great post! I think it's great advice to focus on the source material. If I see another cosplayer (especially one that I really look up to) make a cosplay that I want to make, I tend to psyche myself out about it. It's part of the reason I've put off "classic" Wonder Woman and Lulu for so long!

    I like your point about having a common interest in a fandom as well. I love running into other cosplayers dressed as the character as me! We get to geek out over our shared loves :)

  6. 1) I think most would agree, you're a vet. You're very talented and well recognized.
    2) It's great that you think about other's feelings.

    Ultimately though, you're advice that you just cosplay the character and not the cosplayer is what matters. The only reason I can see for contacting another cosplayer is if you wanted to copy a very specific element that they came up with. I contacted a Joker cosplayer who is amazing and asked about his make up. He considered it proprietary, so I said thank you for the response and moved on.

    I LOVE getting pics with others who are doing the same character. There is such a wonderful variety one can come up with. Great article!

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  8. True Story. One Halloween, back in my Theater Arts undergrad days, I dressed up as Dream from The Sandman. And everyone thought I was The Crow. Eventually, I got tired of correcting them (not a lot of Neil Gaiman fans back then) and just said "Yes, fine.. I'm The Crow". Then I found out that this one prima donna actor WAS dressed as The Crow and he threw a fit about how I was ripping him off and how I couldn't even do the eye make-up properly.

    Hence forth, I could give a damn about people "owning" a costume. Because anybody who cares and is willing to make a big deal about it is probably out to cause drama about anything.

  9. Very well written. I'd never thought about it, but I am the same as you about the subject. I've always(somehow) managed to cosplay characters that aren't seen as often, and I always hear "You're the first [this character] I've seen!" The idea that I've cosplayed "unique" characters doesn't help the mentality that if somebody else is doing it, I should cosplay somebody else. I still think its awesome when I see another person cosplay the same character, like last year at A-fest a guy cosplayed a character I did but on a different day, I told him "stay right there, I'm gonna go change into that character too!" Theres a fun connection when it is a character people love but don't see at convention. I agree, though, that nobody owns the characters and its all about having fun and meeting peeps with the same interests.

  10. The way I see it, there are tons of characters out there. If you pick a well known or popular character, you are going to run into a copy of yourself guaranteed. Lesser known? Well it'll take a while, but it does happen. :) No one owns a character, unless it's a 100% completely original design from that person's personal anime, manga, book, movie, etc. But everything else is up for grabs.

    Find new ways to put a spin on a character. Add little touches that make the design unique to you. For example, use props or jewelry that other cosplayers may not add to a costume.

    But the most important aspect is to not be stuck up about it. "Oh! But this is the one I'm cosplaying. No one else can do it. Just me." Well, no. You don't own the character. The fans do. Everyone has a right to cosplay who they want and how they wish. We should embrace everyone's talents and uplift our community, not bring it back down.

    So I say don't worry about it. Cosplay as you want and do it your way. So few people care that there are multiple cosplayers wearing the same costume, in fact we love seeing it that more pictures get taken. :D You should only be concerned about you, yourself, and your work. If you are happy with the costume, wear it and have fun!

  11. I never even thought about this before. Everything you said makes sense and is so considerate. I want to start getting into cosplay and this just makes me want to more.

  12. I agree and I also like the idea of meeting someone who has the same cosplay; then you know you have found one of your people. BTW, your Shredder was amazballs!

  13. I definitely agree with you I would also say most people would feel honored that they inspired someone to proceed in a certain direction with character sometimes you don't realize how you would do a character until you see someone do it. Or like the in your case you already had kind of the idea but seeing it executed sparked something.. Cos is all about inspiration creation. You rock!!

  14. I never worry about other people cosplaying the same character as me "better" than me. I have confidence in what I'm doing, and it's fun! Plus, you get to have twinsie pictures. :)

  15. I wouldn't cosplay a character that one of my good friends has cosplayed--though I might propose a costume swap for a day :). I also tend to avoid costumes that I see others working on. I do tend to stay faaaaar away from characters that have been cosplayed a lot. I'm not sure if it's subconsciously about intimidation or a desire to have fresh costumes, but it's definitely a choice I make.

    Of course, that's just a personal choice! I think that people should cosplay whoever they want--though if they do choose a character that a friend does they should talk to them about it. No one wants unnecessary drama in their lives!

  16. I love it when people love the same characters as me! I absolutely encourage people to cosplay whoever they want, even if it's a character I already did. So I don't usually think about if another person has done the costume I want to do (unless it's SUPER specific, then I would probably mention it to them, like you said). I cosplay Ramona Flowers a lot, and she's a really popular character. It would be easy to get caught up in comparing my costume to everyone else's, but that's not what it's about for me. I'd rather swap tips and compliment the cool parts of their costume than be catty or jealous.

    Some people may think of a character as someone else's, especially if that person cosplays a lot of different versions of that character. But my guess is, if that person loves the character enough to make multiple costumes, then they would be delighted to see someone else loving the character.

    Awesome post and I totally agree with you! I hope you end up doing the costume you mentioned :)

    - Mia

  17. I think if you did the EXACT same version (as you said: cosplaying the cosplayer) versus, cosplaying the character that might be a time to contact someone.

    But, I think it should be a community, and I think it's fun to see different interpretations of the same character.

    Kind of like cover songs: each version will be different, but sometimes, the cover is really fun too!
    Do your version! It's not about better or worse. It's about doing what you like!

  18. I look at it like this, none of us own these characters. If there isn't a twist on the costume (making it steampunk, doing an original take), then I don't think anything needs to be said. Just think about all the Deadpools you see! I highly doubt they all reach out to each other to get the OK to do it.

  19. I actually get very happy when I see people cosplaying the same character because it shows me how much other people like that character too.
    I think that as long as you are happy with what you created then you should cosplay whoever you please. Keep up the great cosplaying!

  20. I have been dealign with this at the moment. I am going to the next con as Rufio from hook because the actor Dante Basco is attending. I am nervous that others will be dressed as him and was not sure hoe to act or feel if I do see others. I have worked on the costume for months and I just hope people don't rip me a new one if its not as good as the more experienced cosplayers.

  21. You cosplay for fun.

    So it doesnt matter if there are ten batman in a Con. You all like batman, You all like cosplaying him...nuff said

    And Im sure as heck know the real batman wont care either

  22. I feel the same way. No need to worry about what other people think! Just go out there and own it! :D

    And it's good to see other cosplayers taking peoples feelings into consideration. I have known a couple of people who are complete jerks about it and "claim" characters - then upset if someone else they know even considers dressing as that character. It causes silly petty drama and I don't have room for it!

    Thank you for writing your opinion on what's actually becoming a super-common issue in the community. :D

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  24. "Even if you are the ONLY person to cosplay a character people are going to compare you to the original design. Try not to read the negative comments and if you accidentally do then just be a duck and let it roll right off your back. Because you're fabulous no matter what they think."

    Im not the ONLY one per se, but I have yet to meet another person cosplaying the same character that I do. But let me tell you, people are still going to hate on you! I haven't had hate as far as people saying my costume is bad per se, but people find things to hate on - people have hated on me because they thought I was transgender, then hate on me when they found out I wasn't… i mean, really!! Those types of people are going to hate. PERIOD. There isn't anything that you can do to change their petty, little minds - because they WANT to hate, they want to complain. Do what is fun, and what feels comfortable for you. :) the rest is details. :)

    1. The only time I think it should an "issue" is if someone is "copying" another cosplayer's work directly - like if they made up an almost OC piece/adjustment/addition to their character. And someone goes out and copies it, especially if the cosplayer MADE that piece of art themselves, then I can see there being a need for a discussion.

  25. Step one: Pick a character you like and cosplay them
    Step two: Compliment everyone you talk to, even if they have the same cosplay as you.
    Step three: ???
    Step Four: Carry on knowing you made someone smile

  26. How do I react if someone's cosplaying the same character as I am? "HI FRIEND, WHO ARE YOU?" Seriously; we obviously share at least one interest in common if we're cosplaying the same character. Cosplay is a great ice-breaker. I've made friends with people that I met because we were dressed as the same character.

    Besides, I generally make my own stuff, other people may make their own as well or buy from various commissioners, etc, so they won't be exactly identical anyway. Everyone brings their own ideas and twists to a costume. Not to mention that some characters have variations and alternate outfits, and not everyone always does the same variation or chooses the same props. And many cosplayers that I've met are happy to kick around ideas and advice, so talking to people who do characters you do/are thinking of doing can provide a rich source of information that will help you improve as a cosplayer.

    I don't find a whole lot of use in comparing myself to others. It's too easy to start getting into toxic frames of mind that way, so while I might compare myself a little bit sometimes, I try not to do it much at all. I find it more valuable to compare my current self to my past self. As long as my personal skill level is going up at least a little bit each time, that's good. I don't have to be better than anyone else; I just need my new work to be better than my old work. :3 (And I also have to remind myself sometimes that true textbook "perfection" doesn't exist either, so to not sweat it too much if something isn't totally flawless.)

  27. I get excited when someone I know asks about cosplaying a character I do. I offered help, tips, and any advice they might want to help them make the costume. I help them learn from my mistakes. I've even offered to let a couple borrow my props for photo shoots.

    I know I am not the best when it comes to sewing, but I work hard & I like to think it shows. I've made it my job to encourage new cosplayers because I never got that encouragement. We must make ourselves the example on how to treat others.


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