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@sweetieplague (Chicago, IL)

The idea to cosplay as the C2E2 sign has been in the making for around 4 years now. I was previously inspired to think outside the box by creators like @vj_daguru, who is the mastermind that cosplayed the ACen Hyatt statue as well as the person who cosplayed the Javits Center. Absolute legends! That had planted a seed in my mind and this costume is what bloomed. I’ve always loved taking inanimate objects or non-human characters and reimagining them into humans. It’s a fun design challenge which can lead to delightfully creative and surprisingly recognizable results.

Focusing on creating a convention-specific costume was right up my alley. C2E2 is “the con” for me—it’s the event that I always plan the most for and try to debut something big. The idea to “go as the sign” is one that was just sort of… there. I threw it into my future cosplay list and let the idea marinate. One of the main sources I ended up drawing inspiration from was a character who was onstage for about 5 seconds in “The Spongebob Musical”. The costume design by David Zinn for that show is outstanding. The show is a visual delight, but the costumes are on an entirely different level. The specific character who inspired me was a man in a giant, armless Krabby Patty showgirl getup. It was so camp.

The first iteration of my design drew heavily from the boxy nature of the Krabby Patty costume. I wanted to nearly disappear inside of the costume, save for my legs and head. After doing some quick math on the ratios to figure out how big this sign would be once I crawled inside of it, I discovered that it was very likely out of the realm of things I could tangibly build and maneuver through a convention floor. I scrapped that idea and went back to the drawing board.

I had done some heavy research into showgirl costuming and started pulling directly from that to figure out how to bring those darn letters and numbers into reality as the flashy showgirl piece of my dreams. Looking at the structures that were available for sculptural showgirl costumes, I began investigating the idea of using a backpack fixture, like what you would see used for giant feathered wings. I scavenged my old costumes and took the back piece from an original character I used at a haunted house around 10 years ago and tossed that into the ring.

With that, the costume suddenly had feasibility. That back piece informed the rest of the sculptural elements of the costume, and everything else was made on the fly. Besides that structure, my design was very loose. I made up the small details as I went, which is a refreshing break for any cosplayer! I really had to trust that seeing the forest instead of the trees would serve me in the end, and I can say that I was thrilled with how it all came together.

Ever since the start of the pandemic, I’ve struggled to watch new films and TV shows—an aversion to new conflicts, perhaps? Anxiety manifesting in odd manners, maybe? I had begun to worry that I was falling out of touch with the rest of the convention base… worried that I would never capture lightning in a bottle with another cosplay as everyone moved on to new series, shows, and stories (as I rewatched the 1931 Dracula for the 7th time because the I know the story doesn’t stress me out). Because of this situation I find myself in, it was very appealing to create something instantly recognizable to anyone at the convention. 

By design, I chose to stay in the main lobby of the convention (where the actual C2E2 sign lives) since my costume would have been far too large to navigate the show floor on a packed Saturday. The pictures and joy from others were never ending, which was an incredible honor. In the past, there have been several times where I have been excited to wear a costume that barely anyone recognized. You go into it knowing that you made and wore this cosplay because it was something you loved, not because everyone would instantly recognize you.

However, as the C2E2 sign, I went into it knowing that I would likely be quite recognizable. People (including me, obviously!) love how iconic the giant sign in the lobby is. It can sometimes have a line that stretches for an intimidating long distance. In dressing as the thing that people love taking photos with, I wasn’t surprised that I ended up being in and posing for a lot of photos. It was really fun to embrace that and get to talk with so many different con goers. With some of my other recognizable costumes, they grab the attention of that character’s fanbase and I end up having a lot of great conversations with people who also love the same specific thing. In this case, anyone who felt inclined to approach me had an instant connection to what I was wearing, no matter what specific fanbase they were a part of. It was really special to be able to reach across interests like that and see so many people smile and light up when they saw what I had created. 


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