Cosplay as a Hobby: Learn Useful Skills and Improve Mental Health

is cosplay a good hobby?

While it may seem like a weird hobby from the outside, cosplay actually promotes some very practical skills. The technical skills you learn can be useful in a variety of industries, while the soft skills are advantageous in everything from making friends to job interviews.

In general, the benefits of cosplay include hands-on skills such as sewing, prop construction, and hair styling. Cosplay as a hobby also helps to develop problem solving, time management, and money management skills, all of which can be useful in many other areas of life.

Cosplay is actually a pretty complex hobby. There are so many aspects of making a costume, including the clothing, wig, makeup, and props. On top of that there is the role-playing aspect of cosplay that also helps in the development of social skills. Overall, cosplaying is actually a very useful hobby that teaches skills you can utilize in other areas of life.

sewing machine and supplies
After you’ve been creating costumes for a while, you will accumulate many of the different tools and skills that are necessary to try more challenging cosplays.

Learning skills with cosplay

The most obvious benefits of cosplay include the hard skills that you learn from constructing your own costumes. It’s a very hands-on hobby that will force you to get better at sewing and crafting over time. 

At the very least, you’ll learn skills that will allow you to alter your own clothes and do a better job at DIY home improvement projects that can save you money in the future. But you can even go as far as becoming a seamstress, hair stylist, or prop designer (for movies and such), if you enjoy the process and want to further develop your craft.

Skills you can learn from cosplay include:

  • Sewing/fashion design. Whether you’re designing your own costume for your D&D character or trying to bring a character’s costume to life, you’ll end up with a lot of skill in sewing and altering clothing.
  • Crafting. There are a lot of different types of crafting that go into cosplay creation. You might be working with wood, PVC pipes, painting realistic textures, sculpting clay, creating jewelry, and so much more.
  • Hair styling. There are so many characters that have unique hairstyles so you’ll have to learn some professional hair styling techniques. Even characters with simple hair will need basic styling of bangs.
  • Stage makeup. Because cosplay is generally worn with the intention of photographing, you need to learn the techniques for applying makeup in a way that looks good in pictures and will last through a hot day at a convention. You’ll need to learn more complicated techniques if you ever what to cosplay a character with different colored skin (like green, or purple, etc.), or characters with large scars.
  • Performance art. If you are interested in acting, there is also an element of role-playing in cosplay that can help you develop your skills.

Read more: Do cosplayers always make their own costumes?

the cost of a cosplay
Even a simple costume like my Red XIII from Final Fantasy VII can end up being pretty expensive I commissioned the costume pieces, but still had to buy the wig, ears, shoes, etc. for a total of $205 for the cosplay.

Learning soft skills with cosplay

In addition to the obvious, hands-on skills, cosplay teaches a number of soft skills that you can utilize in any kind of environment. These are abilities that can help you get ahead in your professional life and manage some aspects of your personal life.

Some soft skills that I’ve learned from cosplaying include:

  • Problem-solving. Every time you create a new costume, you will run into something you have never done before. Maybe you’ve never had to alter a pattern, or you need to figure out how to make a sword. Every time you run into a new task or unexpected problem, you are forced to use your resources to figure out how to solve it. Overall, it keeps your brain flexible so you can get good at approaching problems from different perspectives.
  • Communication. Not only will you need to learn social skills while cosplaying at conventions, but good communication is also important when asking for help in online forums. 
  • Time management. The first few costumes you make will inevitably be finished last minute, the night before the convention. But as you continue, your time management will improve, and you’ll be able to plan your costumes in advance. This is one of the most valuable skills you can develop, with benefits in any number of careers.
  • Money management. Cosplay can be expensive if you’re not careful. You’ll need to learn how to budget for all the materials you need to construct your costume, as well as the miscellaneous pieces (like shoes, hats, ears, etc.).
My little pony cosplayers
Thanks to cosplay, I was able to meet a great group of friends.

Making friends with cosplay

For many of us who have grown up a little socially awkward, cosplay also offers the unique opportunity to make friends. By going to conventions, you can find other cosplayers who have similar interests in anime, comics, or gaming.

For someone like me, who struggled to make friends, cosplaying was how I was finally able to become a part of a group. Not only did we hang out at conventions and plan cosplays from the same series, but we also had weekly get-togethers where we could work on constructing the costumes and props together. We could help each other out with the skills we learned so that over time we could all become closer together and better at cosplay too.

Tsubasa sakura cosplayer
As you get better at cosplaying, you can use the skills you learn to create intricate costumes.

How cosplay can help improve mental health

There is another aspect of cosplay that is not often talked about, and that’s the benefits it can offer for mental health. I suffered from pretty extreme anxiety through most of high school and college, but cosplay gave me a way to use my nervous energy and work through it with creativity.

The hobby has also been helpful for some of my friends who deal with depression. Cosplay gives them goals of getting a costume finished on time. It also forces a certain amount of social interaction, especially at conventions, which helps with overall mental health.

Cosplay helps to improve mental health by:

  • It’s a creative outlet. If you are artistic at all, finding a creative outlet for self-expression is one of the best things, you can do for your mental health.
  • It keeps you busy. Sometimes the best way to combat mental illness is to keep yourself busy. All of the detail-oriented tasks in designing and putting a costume together can take a lot of time and keep you moving forward from day to day.
  • It gives you a goal. Actively working toward a goal is something that has been immensely helpful for my own mental health. With cosplay, every costume that I set out to make becomes a goal that I can plan out and achieve.
  • It forces social interaction. Whether you are at conventions or putting a costume together with your friends, cosplay fosters a sense of community with others who are dressing up from the same series.
  • It increases confidence. As you get better at cosplay and put yourself out there more, you’ll find that your confidence in yourself and your skills improves. 

Read more: are you ever too young for cosplay?

Emily Joice

My name is Emily, and I have been cosplaying since my very first convention in 2008. Over the years, I've experimented with all different kinds of cosplay costumes, especially loving the process of creating props and styling wigs. I also delved into cosplay photography, and love exploring how to optimize costumes so they look excellent in photos. Most of the photos you find on this site were taken by me over my years at anime conventions.

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