Thursday, May 19, 2011

On Costumer Motivation

And now for something a little off the beaten path....

I like Marius because of the following:

A) He wears outrageous clothing
B) He reminds me of Maximilian I
C) He reminds me of me.

This leads me to broader considerations about costuming/cosplay motives. Why do people fall for certain characters? Furthermore, why do people fall for certain characters and then invests hundreds of hours and dollars into creating that character's costume?

For me, it's initially about appearances. There's got to be something compelling about the person when I first see them. The first time I saw Albrecht Durer's painting of Maximilian I, I went "Holy GOD, that's a big nose. What's this guy's deal?" So I read up on him and now I'm writing a graphic novel. Sequentially, the first time I saw a photo of the Marius Leitdorf miniature, I went "Holy god, that looks like Maximilian! What's this guy's deal?" And then I found out he was a deadly swordsman, a brilliant general, an accomplished painter and poet, and thoroughly mad.

Sweet clothes plus the personality to match? SOLD!!

Appearances are one thing but the personality is also key for me. For example, I think some of the Trinity Blood costumes are utterly gorgeous but none of the characters really strike a chord with me - not enough to motivate me to spend the countless hours required on the costume.

Marius, though...I dig the crazy, I dig the mercurial temperament, I dig the feathers and the slightly-gay-but-not-really-gay thing he's got going. He presses the boundaries of utter ridiculity yet seems wonderfully tragic at the same time. Quite the perfect study in contrasts: flamboyant yet solidly masculine, deadly on the battlefield yet a poet (probably a shitty poet) in his spare time, high as a kite one month and wrapped in a deep depression the next. He seems over-the-top and unbelievable at first yet when you sit back and ponder the ins and outs of his character*, there's much more substance there. In a very strange sense, there's a whiff of camaraderie and a sort of personal justification in this. I, too, can be heinously mercurial (as my poor room-mate can testify) and Marius' utter bizarreness makes me smugly proud of my own. In a sense, he's me if I ceased to self-regulate. I wrote in the FAQs that I've yet to make The One costume I absolutely love. Marius is getting very close, no less for the sense of self-justification than the poofy sleeves and huge feathers. This is not to say it's cool to be a judgemental, flamboyant bipolar arse; rather it's more of a pressure-release for my own latent bipolar flamboyant arseness.**

In contrast, Giovanni is less about personality than he is about recognizability and general awesomeness (though everyone is still going to think I'm Ezio). Yet there was still some draw from his dour, hawkish demeanor. It was this demeanor coupled with the 'rarity' of his costume that led me to choose him over Ezio. Ezio cosplayers are a dime a dozen, some good, some not so good but I've yet to see a Giovanni. Rarity is another big draw for me. Given this, I don't ever see myself doing something 'common' like Abel Nightroad and if it is common, it's going to be something damned epic like a space marine. Prince Nuada from Hellboy 2 was a bit too common for comfort; even if it's done well, it's sort of like "Oh hai, look, another Nuada cosplayer. Wooo."

Obversely, with this snobbishness towards commonality comes obscurity - people will think Giovanni is Ezio, people will think Marius is a pirate (I overheard pirate noises in the ice cream shop last Friday). It then becomes a matter of the lesser evil and the over-arching question:

Do you cosplay for yourself or for others?

I recommend doing it for yourself; in my experience, this sparks the best workmanship and the best inspiration. Yet it can mercilessly crush your sense of success after wandering through a Con of 20,000 people and having no one recognize you. I'm doing a bit of both this year - Marius is a completely personal thing while Gio will play more to the crowds. Hopefully I can get the best of both worlds out of this.

So after all of that, where are we? Oh yes, costumer motivation. You've seen mine. Now how about YOURS?

Duuunnn dunnn....

*I am probably the only person in the world to have done such a thing.
**Say that three times quickly when you're drunk!

No comments:

Post a Comment