Creating a Successful Cosplay Group
So, I know I've written about being a part of a group cosplay, but I don't think I really talked about how to go about successfully creating and maintaining a group cosplay. Currently, I am a part of three groups. I have a consistent group, which is STL Hero Academia, and two one-shot groups. One of the one-shot groups is a Fire Nation Disguise Avatar group, where I will be Suki and my S.O. will be Sokka, as well as having a Katara and Azula. If you are in Saint Louis and would be willing to cosplay with us as the other characters in October, please message me so I can get you in contact with the leader. The other group, which I am the leader of is a Bunny Suit group. I don't want to go into too much detail, because I want it to be a surprise for you all.
Anyway, you'll want to start by figuring out if you want this to be a repeat group (the same members wearing multiple or the same outfits), or if it will be a one-shot group (Members meet for this one outfit, have a photoshoot/meetup, then disperse). You'll also want to pick out what fandom and outfits you're wanting to bring to life first. Once you have these couple things, you'll want to determine whether you want an age limit. Specifically, both the bunny suit group and STLHA are 18+ groups because we want to make sure everyone is financially responsible and can get themselves to meetups/etc. For the bunny suit group, I am also flat-out refusing to allow children into my group because I don't want them objectified. I don't allow for anyone to take advantage of these kids.
So, once you've figured out the basic structure for your group, you'll want to create an application. These are important because you want to make sure that these cosplayers know what they are getting into. Asking their name, best way of communication, and age, as well as what character(s) they are applying for are important for you as well. If the applicant has a history of drama, you can reject their application. Unfortunately, this is really predominant in the Saint Louis area, so it's easier to sit down with them during the interview process and let them know what you expect of them, as well as what they should expect of you. Treat it as if you are hiring them for a job. It's basically what it is in the cosplay community. You can always hire your friends, but they should also know that you have expectations for the group.
When I was creating the bunny group, I let everyone I interview know, that I wasn't going to put up with drama or slacking. I'm teaching 14 people how to sew bunny suits, because I don't have the time to create all those on my own, and for my vision, we can't just buy them. That's another point you'll have to address as well. Will you allow your group members to buy their cosplays or will they be making them? I'm super difficult and like to design things myself, so I make sure we have a one-of-a-kind cosplay. There is no shame in buying your cosplays, I just prefer to make it difficult on myself. (Lol) Let your potential members know what you expect of them when they apply so that if they don't have the technical skill to sew their own pieces that they won't have to magically figure all that out. Communication with everyone is suuuuper important.
You'll want to create a group, either through discord, facebook, instagram, etc. to make sure all your information stays in one place where it won't get lost. I have a facebook group, as well as a group chat, since some of my members may not get notifications for the new posts I make. I also have a no drama policy and if my members don't communicate that they can't make it, I'm not their baby sitter, so I can't be expected to chase after them. They have to talk to me if something comes up. Everyone is an adult in my group and I'm much more likely to get upset if they don't talk to me, than if they ignore me. I don't have time to chase after everyone. It shows respect, and I show them what they show me. Please do the same for your leaders in the groups you are part of.
Try to have a deadline in place. Make sure that it is firm deadline and everyone knows. I have had to kick out a couple people from my group because they weren't pulling their weight, and the same has happened with STLHA. There is no hard feelings, and I hope everyone knows that, there's just a rhythm you have to keep hitting, and sometimes people aren't able to stay on that. It's okay to admit that you need to step away. But you need to communicate that with the leaders so they aren't left wondering. It's all about showing respect and creating a safe place for everyone. With the deadline in mind, you'll want to create meet ups where the members can work on their pieces or ask questions in person so they can have a better idea of what to do with their costume. For example, I try to have one or two weekends out of the month to get a specific part of the suit done. That's all we work on during that time. If a member is unable to make it, or doesn't get what to the point we've discussed, they talk to me and we create a makeup day.
Sometimes, your groups will not allow for makeup days, so you need to be prepared for that. Everyone has a life that they can't devote to cosplay 100%. Every time I have to schedule a makeup day, my work suffers a little. I have to speed the people through, and luckily, I have some very quick learners. You also want to make sure that your members treat you with respect and don't have you roll over if they don't want to do something. Don't be rude about it, but don't be a pushover either. You need to be assertive and make sure everyone is aware of your leadership.
I hope this has helped in making sure you are well on your way to creating successful cosplay groups! Please let me know if there are any questions you may have or suggestions you'd like to add as well!