Dressing up for Antwerp Convention
It is almost that time of the year again ladies and gents, you know what I’m talking about. Hunting for cheap/rare comics, oldskool arcade gaming, exclusive interviews,…*insert breath*… heavy Game of Thrones fanboying/girling, wrestling matches, robot wars and so much more. That’s right, it’s the annual Walhalla for sci-fi, fantasy and horror; Antwerp Convention! And they’re heading for their fifth edition on April 26th in the Antwerp Expo.
Batman and cos-what?
Have you ever watched a movie and afterwards wanted to look exactly like one of the actors? Well call me weird but I have. I remember after watching Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy I felt like ripping off my curtain and roaming the streets of Antwerp, in search of crimes and Heath Ledger. Of course I didn’t do that. Instead I just sat on the side of my bed, wondering what I was doing with my life. Fortunately there are people who are a tad more ambitious than me and actually do transform themselves into their favourite character. It is called cosplay. Some of you probably just went “Cos-what?”. Let me introduce you to Antwerp amateur cosplayer Tasja Collier, aka Lilskittle, who will enlighten those uninitiated minds.
Lilskittle and cosplay
TIA: First off, what is cosplay?
Tasja: Cosplay merges the two words ‘costume’ and ‘play’. It can vary from just buying a costume and dressing up, to making a costume yourself and putting your own creativity and ideas into it.
TIA: What or who inspired you to venture into the world of cosplaying?
Tasja: It was at a very young age and it was primarily because of Pokémon. I was a six year old girl, who preferred playing Pokémon Red on the Gameboy rather than playing with Barbie dolls. Also I was named after a Star Trek character so you could say the nerdy genes were passed on from my parents. I was always interested in stuff like Pokémon, Dragonball Z and gaming. One day I just tagged along with some friends, who were already into cosplaying, I ended up having a lot of fun and the rest is history.
TIA: What was your very first cosplay project?
Tasja: It was five years ago, at the age of 16, and I went as Misa Aname from the anime series Death Note. She basically has a blonde, goth, teen idol kind of look. I did it all on my own and it took me two nights in total. Luckily for a first timer like me it was at a small and pretty casual convention, less stressful.
TIA: What stages do you go through when making a cosplay costume and how much money do you spend on it?
Tasja: First comes choosing the character obviously. If I see something that is pretty cool or sexy and I think I can make it my own then I will draft some ideas into a document. Secondly I need to plan what to do; buying this in that shop and it will cost me this much, I have to get this done before that weekend and then at the end I hopefully have something that fits. Also I need to do all this combined with my schoolwork which can be an issue at times and it will never go as planned. All combined it can take me month to finish up a costume.
With wigs, lenses, materials and things like that; it will cost me around 80 euros. Of course you also have people that prefer buying premade costumes on eBay, which can be even cheaper in some cases. Naturally that is not an issue for me except that recently the media has been presenting some of the latter category as “real cosplayers”. This is frustrating because we put a tremendous amount of effort into it. Being creative, thinking and brainstorming about how to make something is at least half the fun. We cosplayers do a lot on our own: wig styling, make up, sewing, crafting and so on. So there’s definitely a difference with ordering a costume online.
TIA: For you personally, what is the best/worst aspect about being a cosplayer?
Tasja: The best is at the same time the worst aspect, the cosplay community itself. Even though they are the main reason why I got dragged into cosplaying because I got bullied in my early teens. In this community all of us like to dress up, watch cartoons and play games. Society usually doesn’t get it. We're usually looked at as a bunch of geeks who dress up for a convention(laughs). But the last two years there has been an upcoming group of elites who have become famous through cosplaying. And more and more it is becoming a matter of who has the biggest boobs, who is the prettiest. They take it too serious while in the end we are all just dressing up. I just like to do it because it allows me to momentarily be someone that I am not.
TIA: How would you say Antwerp fits into the world of cosplaying?
Tasja: In Belgium it is gradually becoming a big thing. There is Outpost, a game centre where events are held attracting gamers and cosplayers alike. Then you have CosplayCloud, a not so small organization anymore that tries to unite similar minded people from all over the country by organizing meetings and events in popular cities like Antwerp. They are in fact having a meeting right now in the Antwerp Zoo. Even people from the Netherlands join up in these meetings so you could definitely say that the cosplay scene in the city (ed: locals call the city of Antwerp the city) is growing. Especially since the Antwerp Convention has gained in popularity so much in the last couple of years.
TIA: Will you be cosplaying at the Antwerp Convention on April 26th?
Tasja: Yes I sure will, as Sivir the Battle Mistress from the immensely popular online video game League of Legends. Even though Antwerp Convention is actually more focused on sci-fi and fantasy like Star Wars and Game of Thrones, there will still be a lot of people dressed up and of course their will be a cosplay competition. This year I won’t be competing in it though, it’s still all about the fun of it for me!
TIA: Alright! Thanks for the info. Have fun at the Antwerp Convention!
Kevin’s how-to-get-in-for-free-guide for Antwerp Convention
I just know you feel your superhero senses tingling by now so here is my how-to-get-in-for-free-guide for Antwerp Convention in four easy steps!
Step 1: Take a #selfie with anything related to Antwerp Convention (e.g. cosplay, comic book, action figure, GoT t-shirt,…)
Step 2: Post it as a reaction to the Antwerp-Convention post on our This Is Antwerp Facebook page.
Step 3: Congrats you just joined the This Is Antwerp Convention Lottery. This means you have a shot on winning one out of two pairs of tickets to the Antwerp Convention we're giving away.
Step 4: Sit back and stay awesome. Competition ends on Monday 20/04 at 11:59am. Shortly after we will announce the winners on our Facebook page. We will contact the winners with a private message on Facebook to get all their details so we can get them their tickets as soon as possible.
Text by Kevin Lau
Pics by Kevin Lau