Cosplay and COVID: Virtual Conventions and Competitions
With the mass cancellation of conventions, a lot of cosplayers and fans have struggled with motivation and creativity. We miss the people, the panels, and the comradery. After a year of social distancing and cancelled events the world seems to have figured out how to get around these physical limits and maintain the level of community we all miss so much.
But what exactly are your options?
Virtual Conventions and Renaissance Faires
More than one convention has converted to a digital interface, using zoom, Discord, Patreon and other programs to organize a large scale digital event. These events offer panels (either prerecorded or interactive), Digital D&D sessions are held, and group game sessions and movie viewings are hosted. While nothing can compare to being physically at a convention or Faire, we can get pretty close with some of these innovative methods!
Here are just a few conventions and Faires coming up that have been able to convert to a digital format for 2021:
FreeCon : March 12 - 14, 2021
WonderCon (@home) : March 26 & 27 2021
Mystic Realms Faire : May 1-2 2021
PortconMaine : June 24-27 2021
PixelWyck (8 bit digital Ren Faire)
Because it's only March, we haven't heard from a lot of conventions on their plans for the year, so instead here are a few to keep an eye on that went digital last year:
San Diego Comic-Con : July 22-25 2021
Otakon : August 6-8 2021
NYCC : October 2020
Nottacon : October 2020
This is by no means a comprehensive list of all conventions or Faires world wide. But you can find a pretty substantial amount of info from this site. Feel free to take a look for yourselves!
Online Costume Competitions
Most of the above listed conventions run a virtual cosplay or garb contest, but cosplay contests are hardly limited to conventions. A number of contests were run virtually before the pandemic, and some of which were run for charity! You can usually find some of these contests on social media like Instagram or Twitter.
For those of us who don't compete regularly, or are looking to get into the competition scene, virtual competitions are a low pressure way of dipping your toes in. They require the same documentation as a regular competition, and often also offer skill tiers.
Here are a few ongoing and upcoming online competitions to keep an eye on!
March of the Fairies: Ends March 26th
Ultimate Cosplay Competition: May 15th (submissions open from April 1-30th)
Daily spotlights, Monthly competitions and challenges, Chats and fandom/cosplay specific posts. Amino is an app where community is everything. And it's all broken down into tiny little specific fandom and hobby communities.
While this app has been around far longer than the pandemic, it's still kicking and a great way to connect with people from a distance.
The Zine scene has been around for ages. But the internet has boosted these from the hand made, pocket sized, magazines of yore to collaborative digital projects revolving around fandoms, niche subjects, and cultures. You can find a myriad of these projects on Twitter looking for contributors and mods. Most of which have a project discord and are in regular contact.
Even if you don't want to participate purchasing a zine will donate to a good cause!
If cosplay competitions aren't your thing, you can always submit images of your favorite cosplay to a Cosplay Magazine.
Cosplay Realm Magazine (CRM)
Cosplayzine: A Patreon distributed Magazine
Craft Center Magazine
Creative Cosplay Magazine
A few magazines will even accept written submissions like stories and articles written about cosplay materials and community issues. It's also a fun way of contributing to a small business while showing off your work! (I will be posting an additional article on the different magazines available for submission and how to submit to them later this year.)