Local cosplay artist to be a judge for international competition qualifier

·3 min read

Strathmore’s Autumn Desjardins has been invited to appear as a panelist for the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, as well as a judge for the upcoming Masters of Cosplay qualifier competition.

Though Desjardins has served as a contest judge before, she said this will be her first time as a master’s qualifier judge.

“Most people in Calgary don’t ask me to judge unless I tell them that I can because they assume that I’m competing,” explained Desjardins. “I went to one of the organizers, said I am not competing this year and if he was looking for an extra judge to let me know and he said ‘we’d love to have you.’”

The Masters of Cosplay qualifier will see cosplayers entering from across North America. The winner of the qualifier will then receive an invitation to compete again in Toronto at the Toronto Fan Expo later this year.

To qualify as a competition judge, a cosplayer must first themselves be considered to be a “Masters Division” competitor, which suggests having claimed four or more awards, or a Best in Show during a competition.

Desjardins has been competing in the master’s division for six years and represents Team Canada internationally.

She added that contest judges will often be specialists in one field of costume design. These may include sewing specialists, armour specialists, leatherwork specialists, etc.

The skill showcased and level of craftsmanship on display at such competitions will rival, and according to Desjardins, sometimes exceed that of industry professional costume designers.

She explained that creating such costumes to become fantastical characters will regularly take eight months or more to do at the masters and professional level.

Bearing this in mind, many who cosplay are creating their costumes domestically out of their own homes.

“Because of COVID-19, people have had two years to create their builds. It’s not something you can just put together in a weekend. It’s something that people put a lot of time and effort into,” said Desjardins. “Within that planning, often times a person will have to say ‘okay, here’s something that defies the laws of physics. How do I make it real?’”

Financially, costumes can run a person anywhere between $12 and over $1,100 depending on the project.

The Masters of Cosplay qualifier will consist of pre-judging and on-stage segments.

Pre-judging is backstage, where a contestant will speak with the judges about how their costume was made, talk about the intricacies and present a build book with documentation about the contestant’s process.

On stage, a contestant will complete a walk – similar to that of a fashion show, pose, and to a certain extent – play the character they are imitating.

As a panelist, Desjardins will be talking about learning leatherwork for pop culture and cosplay.

“We’re looking at things like The Witcher, Wonder Woman, Lord of the Rings. A lot of those suits of armour are made out of leather so we’re just going to talk about how that happens and introducing people to leather working,” said Desjardins, who learned to craft with leather, among a host of additional skills, with the primary intent to incorporate new ideas, methods and materials into her costumes.

“I find that, myself personally, I’m a lot more confident when I’m in cosplay … and it’s a way to reflect different characters or different aesthetics that resemble you,” said Desjardins. “We find ways to represent ourselves by dressing up as characters that we really like, and that passion really drives it forward.”

The Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo will be taking place April 21 – 24.

John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times

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