[ kos-pley ]
the art or practice of wearing costumes to portray characters from fiction, especially from manga, animation, and science fiction.
A dedicated living form of art. That is how I like to think of Cosplay. The details and work that goes into the creation of each Cosplay is a modern day theatrical event. For some, Cosplay is rooted in honouring geek culture and just having fun, while for others it has become an all-consuming passion, and business, something that helps them improve their acting abilities and in some cases, even overcome stressful events and build confidence.
But one thing remains true for all Cosplayers; this culture is all about expressing ones self through the confidence of the character they are embodying.
Cosplay is a niche world and it takes up a lot of time, money and effort to be an active part of it. And one local South African Cosplayer, Angie Gunning, is tapping into a whole new world of creativity and self-expression through Cosplay.
Not only is Angie a wonderfully warm and creative person, but she is immensely talented.
She has won all sorts of awards for her Cosplay creations, including a 3rd place position for a TikTok competition hosted by GES Cosplay, a 1st place award for the South African Comic Con Online Casual Cosplay Competition and another 1st place award for her SFX makeup creation in a competition hosted by MSI Gaming.
Wanting to learn more about this fascinating community from someone who knows it best, I met up with Angie (via WhatsApp, we are in the midst of a pandemic after all), to find out more.
How did you get into Cosplay? What first attracted you to the South African Cosplay community?
I have always found joy in dress up. ever since I was a child.
I grew up in a home where themed parties and dress ups were absolutely normal, but in 2011 I discovered the world of Cosplay and I desperately aspired to be like the Cosplayers I saw on the Internet, so I began to put more effort into my dress up costumes and then finally in 2015 I moved to Cape Town, one of South Africa’s main Cosplay hubs and became part of the community.
What does it mean to you, to be a Cosplayer?
Cosplay for me is both a hobby and a therapy. I literally get to be anyone/anything I could imagine. Remember how great it felt to play make believe as a kid? Imagine now as an adult in such a crazy world, you get to dive into a world of your favourite TV show, film, book, comic, anime or even game!
What is the community like?
The Cosplay community is very welcoming and helpful. It’s definitely like a little-big family. We also have little groups within the main community, but we all base our values on respect and consent; we definitely all have each other’s backs.
You can generally find fellow Cosplayers at conventions, but we also have socials such as the cosplay picnics or a large group of us get into cosplay and go watch a movie premiere together.
But with the current global situation everything is strictly online. Last year we had Comic Con online, and the organisers made it wonderful! There were still contests and Cosplayers doing panels and tutorials, it was truly fantastic but also a bit heart sore. As I said, your little groups truly become a second family.
How do you keep your creativity alive?
Haha, TikTok! I am a very creative person, and I often see characters who I can very much relate to, so I feel the need, like I HAVE to cosplay them and sometimes these Cosplans can be extremely complicated and almost daunting. Research Also really does help spark and engage the creativity.
What advice do you have for those starting out?
The most important advice I could ever give for anyone wanting to start cosplay is that Cosplay is for everyone, it doesn’t matter your gender, your race, your body type or anything. As long as you are having fun!
What’s next for you?
So far it has mainly just been sewing and makeup with the Cosplays I have done.
I want to start working on more detailed and armored Cosplays along with props with gizmos and gadgets.
Getting into Cosplay in South Africa is no easy feat and yet Angie has broken the mould in so many ways. If you want to find out more about Angie or just check out her amazing work, you can follow her various social media here: