First off, I gotta start off with the typical Disclaimer.
This is a tutorial based off of MY knowledge and MY experience. My advice is just that, advice, and is not is anyway, shape or form, absolute. I am still learning and do not consider myself a professional or expert. Look at…
“At what point do you start to wonder if–other than your faithful, loyal regulars who are like family and who find you every time–the general fandom population even gives a shit about the creators more than they care about their Instagram profiles?”
Every. Single. Day. The struggle is real.
This quote is written by Denise Dorman, wife of comic artist Dave Dorman, from her blog at http://comicbookwife.com/2014/09/20/the-hidden-truth-about-comic-book-convention-earnings-for-creators-have-comic-book-conventions-jumped-the-shark/
She does seem to spill a little venom towards the cosplayer, specifically the media-driven cosplayer who winds up in Instagram, local newspapers, etc. I feel her pain. It kinda sucks to see my personal art Facebook page have like, 50 likes, while some young lady has like 60,000-100,000, and as soon as this person posts something, dozens of comments. I could be the best artist, and I’ll get 2 likes, and both of them from ex coworkers or college chums. O____O
However, is this the young lady cosplayer’s fault? (p.s. I will be talking in broad, general terms that don’t include every circumstance. I know there are men who are cosplayers.)
Again, is this her fault? No. Is it her fault that horny young men (some women, too) follow her page more than mine? No.
And here’s the most important part: WE ARE BOTH CREATIVES.
There, I said it. We both are artists, the cosplayer and I.
Yes, cosplay has received a lot of attention as of late. It seems to be the “media darling” right now, but then the media has a fascination with “what sells”. Like all of those “reality TV” shows… In other words, the media outlets are gonna put what’s gonna make people watch, and they figure that a pretty young lady in a costume would get more attention than a, say, mid 30’s bearded guy who draws pictures, no matter however awesome that art is.
But, having said that, is what these fine folks do to blame for the downturn in con profitability for artists?
First of all, IS there a downturn?
I went to HeroesCon 2014, ready to show my portfolio to dozens of artists. I was so depressed – I couldn’t show it to any of them! I didn’t even have a chance to ask – they were heading to this panel, working on this sketch, etc. They all seemed so busy.
It’s no secret that some cons (*cough* SDCC! *cough) are media-driven events, focusing less on published media and more on the culture as a whole. But, at HeroesCon, I saw busy, busy artists making money. And while I saw a lot of cosplayers there, too (and met a few of my favorites) I didn’t see them cleaning up financially. I saw them interacting as fans, interacting WITH their fans. I think the atmosphere of the con determines who will profit. At HeroesCon, it looked like the artists were doing quite well.
Also, side note – some of these cosplayers that “draw attention”: they don’t make any kind of profit. I have a cosplaying friend/penpal who doesn’t sell prints, merch… she just goes in character. Is it her fault if people think her costume is awesome and want a picture? No. And that doesn’t cause an artist to lose money.
Yeah, let’s face it – artists, myself included, are an odd bunch. Some are not photogenic. Some don’t mix well with others. I’m a composer, and an artist, and while I love my work being admired, I HATE the spotlight! I don’t know how to tell people “thank you” in a nice way, sometimes has me coming off like a jerk.
So, am I jealous when I see a cosplayer’s profile, and I see all of those likes? Yes, of course I am! I work hard, too! And who likes me? Other artists and my friends. *sigh*. But I’ll tell you what sucks worse – Nyan Cat has like 4 Million likes. A DAMN POPTART WITH A CAT’S HEAD HAS 4,000,000 LIKES. And I can’t get 50.
Again, is this the cosplayer’s fault? No. And my jealousy is just that: mine. I will deal. But I think the media’s focus on cosplay is also the media’s fault, not the cosplayer. Cosplayers are fans, too, and I think this concept that the cosplayer hurts the business is like the concept of the fake nerd girl. It’s out there, but not as common as discussed.
A lot of artists have cosplayer friends. Many a model has seen one of my drawings and left a kind word or two – always special to me. I can name a small list of cosplayers who have seen my art – and had something kind to say - AND RESHARED IT. There are times when cosplay life imitates art, such as when Miracole Burns cosplayed the Injustice version of Raven – to the accolades of the artist who desgined the look. I would be HORRIBLY, HORRIBLY honored if someone cosplayed one of my original characters! Cosplayers are consumers/fans as much as the non-cosplayer.
What hurts the artist? I think fake fans. The “fans” that tell the Adam Hughes he should draw more realistically. The fans that jump on every single post by major publishers to say, “should have been better”, “bring back so-and-so”, “this storyline sucks” etc. Granted, not everything a publisher will do will be gold, but when you see more negative than positive, I think the fandom is gravitating to negative thinking – or the publisher is in trouble!
Still, to single out the attention one group of fans receives hurts all of us. I think making money at art is hard and doesn’t nearly get the attention it deserves. We can’t hate our own fans.
#bgsd; HT @laurennmcc
Google and self-awareness
The Maze Agency by Adam Hughes and Rick Magyar, 1988