Social distancing trick-or-treating? Virtual costume parties? These are just a few of the ways cosplayers adjusted their Halloween festivities this year due to Covid-19. But it’s gone way beyond Halloween.
Everyone has made adjustments to stay safe during the pandemic, and this includes all of your favorite content creators as well. Cosplayers, streamers, hosts, TikTok creators, YouTubers, and everyone in between have experienced shifts — especially makers whose livelihood and art depend on in-person events such as Artist Alleys at conventions where artists and crafters can sell their merchandise and network to new customers, or professional esports hosts and gamers who depend on live events.
As the whole world looks to find ways to stay safe for the unforeseeable next few years, I spoke to content creators to find out how Covid-19 has affected their work and how they celebrated their quarantine Halloween.
As a cosplayer myself I know firsthand how hard all this change has been. 99% of conventions (huge fandom gatherings usually focusing on comics, anime and manga, and video games) scheduled past March were cancelled. Cosplayers use conventions to show off their largest costumes and builds, of course, but also networking and photo shoots are a huge part. Without cons, all of our content has moved to 100% online. This lack of in-person events has brought sadness — many who attend have friends whom they don’t see all year until con season rolls around — but also sparks of inspiration, forcing all of us to reimagine our content.
“While the quarantine was a big impact to me and my cosplay friends, we were feeling depressed and feeling lost on what to do and how we can cope with our depression with lack of cons and cosplay meetups. So I decided to find ways and new ideas to inspire others to keep the flow of cosplaying fun for myself and for my friends, online and local…”
“Pre pandemic I was a mess. I was spending too much time jet-setting trying to get from con to con. Rushing the creative process and not taking chances with different ventures. Everything was a blur to rush to produce, burnt me out and eventually had me come to a standstill. COVID allowed me to step back, refine and reconnect with my craft. I’m building a bigger support base. Setting up sturdier foundations through consistent art. I do have faith that the convention circuit WILL reopen. When it does, I can’t wait to meet up with a community that is hopefully refreshed and has a renewed love for their passions. Cause I sure do. Oh and show off my new cosplays Lol.”
—Skye Spectrum, who has just launched her YouTube channel
A Spike in Video Content
Cosplayers are exploring different avenues, focusing more highly on video content such as streaming or YouTube. I myself was able to put more time into building up my Twitch channel when I was able to work from home during quarantine. Video content has spiked since now mostly everything has crossed over to the virtual side. But popular video creators like Cloudie McDoom have had to find ways around not being able to film content the same way as before.
“My content creation game has changed exponentially since the start of quarantine. Because I’m more accustomed to going out and shooting group skits with my local friends (or having them come to my house to do them) that came to a screeching halt. This was actually a blessing in disguise (not implying that there’s anything blessed about COVID-19) but in the sense that solitude forced me to create 100% by myself in solitude. I’ve cranked out quite a bit of memorable content, although definitely a few hit or miss moments with some ideas of mine. My platform has expanded a lot this year so I’m very ambivalent towards quarantine…on one hand I miss my friends and the group projects, but I’ve grown quite a bit on my own with a very large & loving fanbase for my Cloudie McDoom content.”
“I started a blog earlier this year where I would talk about stuff I liked such as anime, Japanese VA, conventions, Overwatch and now Genshin Impact, etc. I was getting ready to kick off my con season by vlogging and blogging about both NYCC and AnimeNYC, but everything changed when the rona attacked. I was even scheduled to table at Brooklyn Comic Con in June, but it was canceled and that was going to be some pocket money for restocking my Etsy as well as emergency funds.. Now since I’m basically bored of my day time job and was looking to get back into content creation anyway, I decided to make a YouTube channel about anime. I also wanted to continue to blog about stuff that I liked when I had the time outside of my job.”
The Business of Cosplay
With no live events to sell their work, artists have lost revenue and been forced to switch to a 100% marketing route. This includes having to find new customers and make enough sales to invest in more ways to get their art out there. Most of these people are small business and small artists, and conventions are their golden ticket to visibility of their work. Pile all this onto the fact many content creators also work either full time or part time, and many have lost those jobs. So without their backup in sales it’s not easy to keep your company/store/brand afloat.
On the flip side, I saw many fellow creators, especially cosplayers and streamers, decide to make the leap to go full time with their content because they lost their job, and it’s super hard to find a new one. Focusing solely on your audience is a great way to build your brand and I’ve watched that happen to a few friends over these last few months.
“Ironically the Covid virus has kept me somewhat busy in the horror community. Just the same as any community, cons are out, but collabs are booming. Since we all have the time now, online live discussions have been constant. It’s so great. Although I can’t physically be with the geeks, we’ve still found a way to share discussion and help push out collaborative content. I’m working on nothing but online content and it’s not exactly a cure but it is a sturdy enough band-aid. I hope that nerd communities take advantage of online spaces in the future as well. The existence of both means more opportunities for everyone.”
Online Events and Live Streaming
Xero is absolutely right about collaborations and online live discussions. Many conventions including the huge ones like NYCC moved all their panels to online live streams. Big festivals such as Afropunk went completely virtual and even teamed up with a convention (Blerdcon) to bring live panels.
Creators are doing a lot more to connect with their audience than before with online events like watch parties and more frequent live stream sessions. The quarantine in a way, has brought many creators closer to their audience on a personal level since we are all affected by what’s happening. It becomes a bit easier to relate as a fan sharing the experience together with your favorite creator.
Halloween All the Time
All of these adjustments have made for a very fun Halloween. While cosplayers are used to dressing up all year round, this holiday is sort of like our birthday month, and this year with everything being online we’ve been seeing some amazing work being created to help keep spirits high for the season. Hashtags like #Costober and #31DaysOfHalloween have prompted an influx of wonderful costume and makeup content.
KiaSangria‘s work in progress of her Wicked Witch of the West.
VantaBlackCosplay’s Lydia from Beetlejuice.
Alexandra in her Cruella DeVille cosplay.
Samuraiasia as sorcerer’s apprentice Mickey.