violet evergarden back view

2019: A Year in Review

The decade is coming to an end, so it’s time for a special cosplay recap! I’ll talk about the costumes I made, the things I learned and the milestones I reached, and of course my plans for 2020.

Cosplays of 2019

violet evergarden
Violet Evergarden at Dokomi 2019 (photo by bild_er_leben)

This last year, I hit a new low record: I only managed to complete one new costume! Violet Evergarden is a big project I started in 2018 already, when the series hit Netflix and I fell in love with it. It took me sooo many hours to complete with long breaks in-between, but this costume is very dear to me, and I put more blood, sweat and tears into it than I could’ve imagined! Thank you for cheering me on as I shared my progress on FB and Twitter.

With only one new costume completed recently, it’s all the more important to look back at what I achieved in the last decade. That’s why I’ve put together my personal Top 10 list of costumes from 2010 to 2019! Learn more about Violet and my other favorite cosplays and how I made them.

In 2019, I got new photos of some very old costumes – and I also managed to throw away costumes that didn’t sell, something I have never been able to do before. My storage is overflowing, so I have to make this a habit and get rid of old projects, fabrics and UFOs (unfinished objects)… It’s going to be tough, but I have a feeling it’s easier now that I’ve started!

My last photoshoot this year was as Margarita Surprise from the game Grim Grimoire, a costume from 2008 that was still unfinished so I never got good photos of it. Erik and I experimented with dry ice for the first time to create a laboratory setting, and I love the effect!

margarita surprise
Margarita Surprise (photo by bild_er_leben)

There are a few projects I was very enthusiastic about in early 2019, when I rediscovered my drive to make new costumes and really dig into R&D. I drafted patterns, sewed mockups and bought materials for multiple projects, but they all fell to the wayside as the year progressed.

belldandy wig
Testing the Belldandy wig

One of these unfinished projects is Belldandy from Oh! My Goddess. I styled the wig for my book Wigs² – Level Up!, did a few test photos and really liked myself as Belldandy! Although I like to say I’m more the Urd type, I have been eyeing Bell’s dress for a long time, so I finally gave in to the urge and started frantically shopping for fabrics.

I picked lightweight fabrics – chiffon and faux silk satin – to achieve the elegant, flowing aesthetic that I love so much about Fujishima-san’s illustrations. The white dress is draped over a boned bodice to make it look light and effortless while still giving shape to the garment and holding everything in place.

I hit a snag trying to finish Bell in time for a con this summer, I was disappointed with my work and my pace so I never found the drive to pick it up again. But I’ve promised myself I’ll get back to it next year, it’s too far progressed to give up now! And I still believe it will look beautiful in the end if I put my heart into it.

Conventions & Panels

As you can see from my schedule this year, I made it a point to teach more panels at conventions – something I had to cut back on the previous year because I simply didn’t have the time.

In 2019, I traveled to two conventions abroad. These were the perfect opportunity to present my wig books to an international audience, so my designer Anna and I worked hard to complete the English versions in time for each con!

At AnimeCon, I taught my Wigs 101 panel and handed out my Wigs 101 book to the cosplay guests. It was so nice to get their feedback! AnimeCon is a great place to meet cosplayers and con organizers from other countries and just have a great time with everyone. The con hosts the Dutch qualifiers for many cosplay contests, and they also have their own international contest called C4 – Clara Cow’s Cosplay Cup – which is super well run and a huge show! If you ever get the chance to attend AnimeCon (now in Rotterdam), do take the trip. It’s so worth it.

artists alley table
My table in the artist’s alley at KôyôCon

In November, I was invited to KôyôCon, now the second biggest con in Denmark. I took the road trip with my boyfriend and it was a wonderful experience. I hadn’t been to Denmark in over 10 years since I guested at J-Popcon 2007 and 08. Not only was I excited to see how the fan community had evolved, I also went on a trip down memory lane to visit my old study town of Aarhus and the beautiful, raw countryside along the way. We spent a week in Denmark and it was the relaxing vacation we really needed, since work has been so stressful lately.

My panels are an activity I’m really proud of because I feel like I can make an impact in the community – not just with tutorials, but especially with discussion panels on community topics.

I established the “Over 30 Cosplay” panel at German anime conventions years ago, the latest of which you can rewatch on YouTube (in German). This year Connichi asked me to host a panel on “MeToo in the Fan Community” to discuss the hot topic of sexual harassment and objectification of female cosplayers. I was blessed with wonderful panel guests – including AigueMarine Cosplay, Calssara and artist Christina Zhu – and we all agreed that we’ll be back for more next year!

Books

For the first time, my tutorial books are now available in English. I am so excited to bring them to a new audience! To make my books available worldwide, I also opened my Etsy store where you can now order the English e-books of Wigs 101 and Wigs² – Level Up! Read more about the latest book.

english wig books
Proudly presenting the English edition of my wig books

While Etsy sales aren’t staggering, my books have already found their way to places as diverse as Hongkong, Brazil and Canada. This sure feels exciting!

With both books out in English, I feel like I can fully focus on bringing out new content now – book no. 3 is already in progress. 2020 is going to be a great year if you like tutorial content.

yaya han book
Yaya Han’s World of Cosplay book cover (Source: YayaHan.com / Sterling Publishers)

Another professional project I am immensely proud of is not my own, but belongs to one of my favorite creators in the cosplay world: Yaya Han just announced her very first book that will come out in May 2020.

As a first-time author writing (quite literally) the book of her life, Yaya hired me in the beginning of 2019 as one of her copy editors, to help her perfect the manuscript and make sure it appeals to cosplayers and newbies everywhere. It’s a roundup of 20 years of cosplay and a fascinating life story! I truly enjoyed the hour-long discussions about all the important issues she brings up in her book. Yaya is an ever-inspiring voice in the cosplay community. To support her, pre-order the book now. Learn more on her website!

Blog

Launching my own website is still one of the best decisions I ever made. It’s only been running for a little over a year now, but it gives me so much joy to put my tutorial content in a nice new format and talk about cosplay in longer posts than I can on social media. I struggle with putting out content on a regular basis, but a steady stream of page visits shows me it’s not in vain!

I started this year to post not only wig tutorials, but also general cosplay tutorials – finding the perfect fabric for your cosplay or costumes for beginners – and I’m using my own platform to talk about community topics. My piece on Racism and Blackface in Cosplay – a completely overhauled version of an article for Cohaku magazine – is my most successful blog post ever.

blackface blog post
My blog post of the year: an educative piece on racism and blackface in cosplay

The success of these new posts encourages me to diversify more and talk about what matters to me, and to the community as a whole.

I feel a responsibility to speak out on issues like sexism, racism, competition, and how we can build a community that feels welcoming to every cosplayer. This is not just about me: I want to bring together people and give them a platform to talk about their own experience.

Having the power to do that is a gift that I learned to cherish this year!

Goals for 2020

The no. 1 project in 2020 will be my third wig tutorial book. I’ve written the text and gathered all the materials I need, now it’s time to style and photograph the wigs with step-by-step pictures! The topics in the book were picked on popular request from my followers, so I hope you’ll like the result. I’ll reveal the tutorials and styling projects as I go, follow me on Facebook for updates!

Like I did for my last book, I found some amazing cosplayers to model the wigs for me, so these photoshoots are something I really look forward to. I’ll keep working on the wigs during off-season so that I’m ready for the outdoor shoots when spring rolls around.

poison ivy
First photoshoot for Wigs 3: Symphonia Cosplay as Posion Ivy (wig styled by me, photo by bild_er_leben)

In general, cosplay photoshoots are something I really missed this year. To be honest, I often didn’t feel like taking the time out of my weekends to prepare for a shoot, but next year I want to pluck up the courage, reach out to new photographers and get more pictures taken of old and new costumes.

oerba yun fang
Fang at Dokomi 2016 (photo by meermiau)

Next summer, I will make an old dream come true and have a Final Fantasy XIII photoshoot as Fang with Inulein as my little “sister” Vanille! I made my Fang costume for Dokomi 2016 and never quite finished it. A lot of prop work and plotting left to do – as well as getting in shape for this badass fighter girl! I’m scared. But determined.

As for new costumes – I have one project I’ll be modeling for my own wig book that I’m really excited about. All I’m going to say at this point is that it’s super retro! I love it already. Then there’s Belldandy that I started this year, and probably another retro anime cos (or two) that I bought the wigs and fabric for.

wefts in teal and blue
Wefts for one of my upcoming wig projects (purchased from Arda Wigs)

Seeing my slow pace this year, I think that’s more than enough already! I still have a ton of unfinished costumes and dream projects I may never have the time to complete, but I’m done pressuring myself. Life’s too good to spend it worrying about the things you didn’t do, and routes you didn’t take.

What I do want is to be a positive influence in the cosplay community. My panels, blog posts, guesting and editing work that I did this year gave me the confidence that I really can make an impact and encourage other cosplayers in the amazing work that they do.

Thank you all for your support during the last year and the decade before – it has been quite a ride!

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