A student founded SRU’s first Cosplay Club after finding success in her year and a half long cosplaying career, which generated a large following on Facebook.
For someone who doesn’t know what cosplaying is, senior art major Kyla Jones, 21, described it as a type of performance art. Cosplay is derived from the words costume and play, and cosplaying is a combination of dressing in costume and acting like whatever character the cosplayer is dressed as.
Under the moniker “Ely Renae,” Jones’ cosplay-oriented Facebook page has garnered over 18,000 likes on Facebook. Her cosplays have also been mentioned on gaming profiles such as Kotaku and The World of Warcraft Official Facebook page.
Jones attributes her popularity on Facebook to her down-to-earth approach to cosplaying, and her passion for making costumes.
“I never take myself too seriously,” she said. “A lot of cosplayers lose who they are once they become famous, but I put my heart into what I do, and I make sure I don’t lose myself in the process.”
Jones first became interested in cosplay after she went to a convention and saw a woman dressed in a very intricate costume. Though she said she still doesn’t know which character the woman was portraying, it inspired her to begin creating her own cosplays.
Costing over $500, Jones’s portrayal of “Sylvanas” from World of Warcraft was the most expensive cosplay she’s made, and said that after she became experienced in not wasting material, the average cost per costume is $200, and each take about several months to make.
“Cosplaying is like any other hobby,” Jones said. “It’s a total money pit.”
Jones said she started SRU’s first Cosplay Club to share her ideas and passion for cosplay. The club has 20 members of varying experience levels, and meets on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. in the Art Sculpture Building. Each member works on individual projects, and consult each other on the creation of their costumes.
“Cosplay is great because it allows people to maintain their creativity well after their art classes in their college careers end,” Jones’s said. “I’m glad to create an environment where people can freely express their ideas.”
Club member and junior dance and theatre major, Crystal Goettler, 20, said that she resents when people dismiss cosplaying as being just a “nerdy hobby.”
“My favorite person to cosplay is Lightning from Final Fantasy 13,” Goettler said. “She’s a strong female character who’s motivated and driven, and has badass outfits. She’s so much more than a nerdy game character.”
Jinx from League of Legends is Jones’ favorite character to cosplay, and Jones said her favorite thing about Jinx is her manic personality, which she tries to emulate while in costume.
Though Jones’ response from the cosplaying community is mostly positive, she said that there are people who bully cosplayers if they feel they haven’t done justice to the character that they’re portraying, or because their anonymity makes them feel comfortable leaving mean comments online.
In an effort to combat online negativity that Jones said could discourage people from getting into cosplaying, she started “Cos for Pos,” or “Cosplayers for Positivity,” which encourages online commenters to say three positive things for every negative thing someone else said.
“Once you start accepting yourself for who you are,” Jones said, “and accepting your body for what it is, you can surpass anyone’s expectations of you.”
Jones said that she’d eventually like to make a career out of cosplaying, and that attending conventions is a great way to network her designs.
She and several friends attended MAGfest convention this past weekend, which was held from Jan. 23-26 at National Harbor, MD. Their group included members from the Cosplay Club, and they cosplayed as different characters from the videogame “Crash Bandicoot,” and Jones said that other convention-goers loved the group’s costumes.
Above all, Jones said that cosplaying is based on trial and error, trying new things, and working to the best of your abilities.
For people looking to get into cosplaying, Jones suggests that beginners dive in head first, and learn as much as they can along the way.
“When you’re passionate about something, you’ll make it work,” Jones said. “It’s an powerful feeling to be able to be exactly who you want to be. When I cosplay, I feel empowered and excited. I feel like no one can stop me.”
Check back in next week’s issue to see the second Gamer Girl in our series, Gamer’s Guild President, Carrie Mae Hanrahan.