If you’ve ever been into anime, cartoons, movies or books, you’ve almost certainly heard of cosplay, the art of dressing up as your favorite characters. Cosplay enthusiasts design their own replica costumes, share their work on social media and even attend conventions to connect with other artists. For Binghamton University students who would like to learn about the world of cosplay, the Cosplay Club at BU can serve as a natural first step.

Esther Lee, president of the Cosplay Club and a junior double-majoring in English and anthropology, wrote in an email about the laid-back format that the club strives to maintain.

“Because cosplay is such an individual activity … our meetings tend to be very lighthearted and casual,” Lee wrote. “Think of them as more hangouts than official club meetings.”

Club members bond over costume ideas, trips to thrift stores and the occasional bubble tea outing. Formal meetings are rare unless there is a big event coming up. However, once the club chooses a convention to attend, members power ahead with costume-making workshops. Faith Medina, vice president of the club and a junior double-majoring in English and human development, wrote in an email about the club’s efforts to help new cosplayers learn the art of crafting costumes.

“For these workshops, we set up stations and teach members how to work with certain materials,” Medina wrote. “Our main intention is to teach others and give them the resources they need to make or buy the costumes they want to wear.”

Cosplay Club is open to all skill levels, aiming to help new enthusiasts learn how to design costumes. Through these workshops, experienced members guide newcomers through hand-sewing, wig design and thermoplastics. Working together, all of the club’s cosplayers prepare for conventions or other costume events such as Halloween. They will often go to both large and small conventions together, allowing the new members to feel secure in a new environment that can often feel daunting.

While all in-person meetings have been suspended, the club has been communicating virtually via Discord and video chats to continue sharing advice on costume-making. Naturally, there are no conventions to go to at the moment, but the club members are still able to enjoy designing costumes for their own pleasure, or in preparation for future conventions. Lee wrote the club is well suited for online meetings due to the solitary nature of costume design.

“Cosplay is an individual activity, so the quarantine would not hamper our ability to work on our costumes [and] props at home, as we would do anyway,” Lee wrote.

One of the biggest goals of the club is to offer a sense of community to those on campus who are interested in cosplay and are looking for a group to share their excitement with. Cosplay is a difficult art form to master, and having guidance as well as a support network can help aspiring cosplayers to achieve their goals. Medina wrote about the difficulties she faced when first getting into cosplay, and how the existence of the Cosplay Club is meant to prevent those difficulties from keeping a newcomer from giving up.

“I learned how to make and put together costumes from YouTube videos, and went to conventions with my parents because I didn’t know anyone else who cosplayed,” Medina wrote. “I think this club is special because it has the community support and help that I dreamed of having when I started.”