Getting Con Ready: Some Tips & Tricks

The purpose of my post today is to talk about convention preparedness. Especially for those first time con goers. I know how daunting a con can be. I remember my first one. It was back when Otakon was still small. I was so anxious the whole day! Actually, it seemed so daunting, that I didn’t work up the nerve to cosplay until about 3 years later because it seemed like it was so much pressure and stress. Which actually is a fun and creative sort of stree. But anyway back to the purpose of this post, to help fellow con goers, I made a list of tips and tricks that I use to help me not only prepare but also survive through any con!

My biggest tip I can give is something that is really talked about a lot:

  • Be respectful of everyone and everything!!! I cannot stress this enough!!! Don’t bash someone’s cosplay, don’t body shame, please ask for permission for photos (especially in a food zone) and please don’t touch anyone. One of the biggest trending hashtags is cosplay is not consent.
    • Even though we choose to dress like that, it doesn’t allow someone to treat you as an object. So please be respectful to yourself, (if you feel uncomfortable express it and walk away,) other cosplayers, actually please just respect everyone, especially the staff. Oh, I have watched people yell and belittle con staff, they are usually volunteers and are doing their best to help, don’t be rude to them either.
    • For more information on cosplay etiquette check out this post I reblogged from the amazing Crazy4ComicCon —> Tip of the Day #23: Cosplay Etiquette
  • Business Cards: One thing that is really popular now, is handing out a form of business cards with your cosplay name, social media info and your own personal hashtag. This is really nice way to get your name out there. It is also an easy way to track any pictures people take of you. I mean you put all that work into them, show them off!
    • If you are not cosplaying, but are taking pictures, please ask the cosplayer for a card or their Instagram name. They will appreciate you taking the time to tag them and get their name out there.

So how do I get prepared? Here is my basic list:

  • My Cosplays.
    • Research – I am pretty crazy when it comes to getting every detail right for a cosplay. I research like crazy. I pull pictures of the character, I re-watch episodes or re-read manga. When I cosplay I like to be pretty spot on. I find it rewarding but I also like to switch things up as well. I find that doing research especially when it comes to the outfit and props is the best thing to do. I actually make a mood board post like this one –> Morgana Research
    • Sewing – Ugh, I am not someone who makes a costume over night. I am pretty cautious with my sewing. I do a little at a time, so I can get the look and fit just right. Don’t rush, give yourself plenty of time. It is actually really fun, when you are not stressing about it.
    • Prop Making – There are so many ways to make props now and days. My Pinterest account has a couple boards dedicated to DIY Prop making. I suggest you search Pinterest for ideas on how to make things. A lot of cosplayers have tutorials on youtube as well.
    • Wigs and Contacts – There are tons of wig tutorials on Pinterest and youtube. Styling and Caring for your wig is very important. I suggest getting a mannequin head so you can work on styling your wig. It is a great and cheap thing to own. So my favorite place to buy wigs is ArdaWigs. They have great quality wigs and awesome sales. They also have tutorials on their site. So I would check them out if you are unsure of something!
      • When it comes to circle lenses, I actually buy my contacts from PinkyParadise. They have great sales, but shipping can take a while. So if you are planning in advance they are wonderful! I have never had a problem with my contacts purchased here!
    • For your Feet- Wear comfy shoes! I cannot stress this enough, cons involve a lot of walking and standing! So bring comfy shoes. When I cosplayed as DeeDee from Dexter’s Lab. I wore pink flats and only wore my pointe shoes for pictures. If you don’t want to do that buy really good and comfortable insoles for your shoes. Anything to help alleviate the pain.
      • A trick a model taught me is tapping your toes together. From your big toe, you want to tape your 2nd and 3rd toes together. By doing this, you alleviate the pain in the ball of your foot. Strange? I know, but it works like a charm, especially if you are wearing heels.
  • Packing
    • I am the queen of over preparedness. I love Packing Checklists!
    • So when preparing for a con I usually pack two bags.
      • One is dedicated to my cosplay items, the other is dedicated to my civilian clothes and needs. I usually write a list of each cosplay and the accessories that go with each one. Heaven forbid you forget an important costume item! I also do this with my everyday things as well.
      • Sewing kit. Usually equipped with white, black, my cosplay colors and of course translucent thread. It helps cover the basic needs. Small scissors, multiple needles and a seam ripper.
      • Super Glue, Double Sided Body Tape, Nude Medical tape, and Aluminum Foil Tape. These really come in handy for everything! I am going to do a separate post on what is in my kit. But these are the basics that I always have on me 😀 Here is a link to my Kit List –> Stylist’s Kit
  • Remember Things Happen
    • Trust me. Props break, costumes break. Just don’t panic! That is why you keep a small kit in your bag or in a friend’s bag. Keeping your calm when something goes wrong makes all the difference! A mental Breakdown can ruin the rest of your weekend! Don’t let it!
      • For Example: Someone stepped on my CCS Gown and the zipper split all the way up the back. . . thankfully I had a ton of curved safety pins and my backpack covered the mishap. I kinda just laughed it off and didn’t let it ruin my day 😀
    • Also, be careful with transporting your props. My CCS Star wand broke on the way to Otakon and then fell during the day. Super Glue came in handy that day. That cosplay just seemed to want to fall apart on me. But I did not let it and justice prevailed because I was praised for how good it looked 😀
      • Speaking of props. Be mindful of carrying them and swinging them around. Hallways and walkways can be very crowded.
      • Props may seem light and easy to carry in the beginning but after walking around all day and posing, they start to feel heavy, bring something you can store them in, or see if one of your friend’s wouldn’t mind holding it for a bit.
      • Also, don’t touch or pick up someone else’s props. They are usually very delicate and if not handled correctly could break.
  • The Actual Convention
    • A con can be overwhelming. When it comes to planning the actual day or weekend, there is so much going on all the time! It can cause a lot of people anxiety with how much information is thrown at them.
    • To prepare for that, I usually check the website for schedules and events or I check and see if the con has a Guidebook.
      • Guidebook is an app for apple and android you can download and the convention can upload and update in real time, schedules, events and any changes that may occur and it even has alarms to remind you of things you favorited! Check it out here –> Guidebook
    • After all that, I then check with my friends and see if any of us have any common ideas and plan from there. A lot of times our plans go down the drain due to us finding something else, or lines. So be prepared to be flexible in your schedule.
    • Lines, Ugh, they can be the worst. They can be frustrating and long. Please do not try and cut the line. People get really offended and it is rude. To kill time we usually bring a card game (exploding kittens was a favorite), our Nintendo 3DS, and we have watched movies 😀 Also if we know in advance the line will be long we grab some food and eat during the wait.
      • It’s all about perspective and keeping yourself busy and happy. Actually, lines are also a good way to make new friends!
    • Speaking of making new friends, want to meet other cosplayers/peeps?
      • Check Facebook, Tumblr, and other social media/cosplay sites for information on meet-ups, group photoshoots and after parties. Just be careful and safe when going outside of the convention center.
      • For example the cosplay.com forums are a great place to meet people, trade tips and tricks, ask for advice and discover con meet-ups! Check it out here –> Cosplay.com/Forum
      • Also, you can find smaller local conventions, meet-ups or after parties on Eventbrite. You can check out what is happening in your area here —> Eventbrite: Discover Events or you could even jump head first and utilize this awesome platform and create your own event. Check out more about how do this here —> Eventbrite: Registration
  • Money
    • I always seem to have a problem with overspending at cons. When almost every vendor has the credit card app or paypal, it makes it so easy to just keep spending your hard earned paycheck.
      • Make a budget for food and drinks and if you are spending the weekend bring a case of water and your own breakfast/snack foods. That helps keep costs down.
      • Make a budget for how much you are willing to spend on items in the vendor areas and how much anything extra would cost. (ie photoshoot).
        • To help keep track of my spending, I actually took out cash and kept it in my bag. That cash was for anything I wanted from vendors. When it runs out, I was done. However, I still used my debit card for food. But that was a lot easier to keep track of.
      • Get Venmo. Venmo is a digital wallet, that makes paying your friends quick and easy. I know sometimes splitting the bill can be a headache for a server. With Venmo, one person can pay the bill and then everyone can just Venmo their share of the bill to whoever paid. It’s quick and easy and it makes the who owes who money at the end completely obsolete.

Well, that is really all I can think of right now. If anything more comes to me, I will create a follow up post to this one or if you have any tips and tricks for getting prepared please share them in the comments below and I will add those as well into the next post 😀

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