Cosplay is a great and wonderful thing. After tumbling head first into it just 3 years ago I have not looked back. Alas, with the highs come the lows: controversy, fights and disturbing news. The latest thing to pop up is not a controversy as such, but an open discussion. Cosplayers all around the world have voiced their opinions on whether or not crowd-funding for cosplay is okay. Nobody could deny that it is a really expensive hobby to have. I can’t afford to cosplay half as much as I would like to so I don’t, and that’s just how it is for me.
Personally, I fall into the ‘I’m not so okay with it’ category. I understand it’s great to have people who want to fund and help you nurture your hobbies and, even better, when those people want to help you practice your skills when you don’t have the funds to. I completely understand, but what I don’t understand is asking people to fund your hobby; people you may have never met in person or spoken too. Complete strangers. Something about it just doesn’t sit well with me.
I’m not the only who feels like that, but there are some who feel a lot stronger about it than I do. There are mulitple forum threads where people have discussed this attitude towards crowdfunding within the cosplay community itself. Here is one such example.
I was raised with the mindset that hobbies are my hobbies and I shouldn’t ask to have them paid for me. Granted, that only applied after I was old enough to get a job of my own and I couldn’t really afford a lot of the things I wanted until I started working. When I did start working the odd job here and there, I saved up and I went for it. It started with shoes, then onto makeup, nail polish, books and clothes. I buy my own things unless they are gifts. If I don’t have the money and it’s something I need (by need I mean my life would feel colourless and empty until I get it) I will borrow the cash, get it and pay whoever back as soon as I have it.
When it comes to cosplay, I do exactly the same. That doesn’t always work out so at times I get cheaper fabrics to make ends meet. What I do not do is ask for funds and pay people back in prints or, as some brazen people are attempting, just straight up ask for funds with no guarantee or anything in return for their kindness.
When the Gofundmes started popping up to help fund cosplays, I first thought it was a joke and treated it as such but, after a quick search, I found hundreds of accounts. On Gofundme I don’t see any sort of reward system, so in essence people are just asking you to pay for their cosplay and, like I said before, that really does not sit well with me at all. The funds they are hoping to raise are not small by any margin. I have seen one cosplay fund for $500 and another fund looking for $1000. From what I’ve seen from these Gofundme campaigns, sometimes things don’t always go that well.
On the other hand, there is Patreon. I love Patreon, and I think it’s a great place for artists to do their thing. When cosplay funding pages started popping up, I may have rolled my eyes just a tad, but it sits a little better with me because there is a reward system of sorts. Now I’m not ‘an eye for an eye’ sort of person but, if you are going to ask complete strangers to help fund your hobby, I think that at least some form of thank you is appropriate. Which is what Patreon offers. Different values of contribution per month get you different types of rewards. The question that pops into my mind is, why not sell prints like all the other cosplayers out there? Simple, because there are so many cosplayers out there who already have an established foothold and it can be a very scary place when going against some of the best cosplayers. Like Yayahan, Kamui, Leon Chiro, LadyLemon, Drefan etc. The list is endless and the talent is intimidating.
Patreon offers cosplayers a chance to give their fans what they want in terms of the cosplays they want to see. Cosplayers already do that but this is just another form of fan engagement. Some fans feel comfortable buying prints at conventions or on a cosplayer’s official website and some fans contribute monthly and get paid in kind. It’s a system that works but is still managing to draw a lot of criticism from some members of the community. There are a lot of cosplayers out there offering tutorials on how to make cosplays/ props so it’s not purely one sided or beneficial to only one person. It’s a symbiotic relationship.
If you don’t follow through and have no valid reason for your patrons to pay, you lose contributors just like possibly losing your job if you don’t show up to work (maybe not on the first go, but you get what I’m saying). Patreon effectively makes cosplay your job and, for some, that is a dream come true. Cosplayers world-wide cosplay for a living and kudos to them, I just know that I definitely would not be able to do that. I love my hobbies as a hobby and not as something I do for a job. My job needs to excite and keep me intrigued but I need my hobbies for that little break as well.
In the end it’s very much a case of whether you care what people think of you for crowd-funding a hobby. If you don’t have any qualms about it, you go Glen Coco! But if you are of the mindset that hobbies need to be paid out of your own pocket, it’s always worth taking a step back and thinking about why some people choose to crowd fund. Their job may not be adequate or they might need the external support; there is a plethora of reasons as to why crowd funding became their option.
This topic is touchy and will definitely be talked about more as the cosplay season picks up again. What do you think of this? Are you pro crowd funding or anti crowd funding and why so? Let us know down below!