… If you are relying on Moroccan Cosplayers to animate your event, then you owe them basic necessities like Transport, Food, and Water which most don’t provide.
Meet Aya, a 22-year-old cosplayer and musician who loves to try new things. Like other creatives interviewed, her interests and hobbies change frequently. If she’s not studying and working hard, she often plays the bass, reads, and cosplays. While there’s a lot that can be said about her, today we will focus on her cosplay hobby.
The first anime I ever watched was Detective Conan when I was 7 years old, I still watch it to this day! he was actually the first anime character i ever liked. I also grew up watching some great animes like City Hunter and Great Teacher Onizuka. My interest in anime was also heightened by RPGs like Final Fantasy and Persona 5.
What Made You Start Cosplaying?
Aya confessed that whenever she would watch anime she would be fascinated by their outfits and would imagine herself wearing the same clothes or items. Although this idea was intriguing to her, Aya had no idea where to start nor even consider the thought idea of cosplay. However, everything changed when she watched Black Butler.
My first cosplay was Ciel from Black Butler. When I watched him, I loved his goth aesthetic and personality. To make his outfit, I tried ordering a wig from Aliexpress and commissioned a tailor to make his suit. However, it did not turn out well. The wig was low quality and the tailor messed up my order since she was not used to niche outfits like the ones I commissioned.
Aya’s Ciel cosplay was done when she was 15 years old. Surprisingly, her parents were entirely supportive of her hobby. She confessed that she is both grateful and lucky for her parents who understood her interests, unlike others who hide it from everyone around for multiple reasons including shyness and fear.
… I really enjoyed cosplaying but I could not continue cosplaying since I lacked the money. Its a very expensive hobby to have, so in a way to not give up on my interest, I just practiced make-up until I could afford to buy what I needed.
What Were Some of The Obstacles You Faced when Starting?
As mentioned in the previous quote, the most difficult aspect of Cosplaying is the cost. While a wig here and a brush there can be cheap, costs accumulate, and suddenly you find yourself spending +1000dh on wigs, makeup, accessories, paint, and clothes.
Similarly, Moroccan Cosplayers also struggle with a lack of options. Since the items they purchase are relatively niche, the shops that provide them have the liberty to increase their prices freely, that is if they are able to find said objects. This is why most local cosplayers rely on creativity to recycle items into cosplay material.
MORE IMPORTANTLY: Moroccan Cosplayers are constantly facing sexualization and harassement from their surrounding environment. During events, people often touch or take pictures of female Moroccan cosplayers without their consent, under the name of “cosplay appreciation.” It goes without saying that this alone is enough to discourage cosplayers.
Has Cosplay Ever Helped You in Other Aspects of Your Life?
Absolutely! Thanks to cosplay, I learned how to do make-up for different looks and skin types. It also helped me get some make-up artist gigs for a while… Now that I think about it, cosplay also gives you confidence in yourself! During cosplay, you are impersonating a character along with their attitude and looks, so you feel badass and cool.
Can You Explain The Entire Process of Cosplaying a Character?
Everything Craft Related
The entire process of cosplaying starts with inspiration. Whatever character or outfit that Aya likes from media like videogames or anime, she would consider cosplaying. She makes sure that she matches the character’s skin color and body shape in order to make it as accurate as possible.
Afterward, she studies the character’s facial features from their eyes to their lips so that she can apply make-up accordingly. Next up comes wig research, Aya considers whether she can recycle a previous wig or purchase a new one, along with their hairstyle. Once that is noted, she attempts to recreate their outfit either by recycling thrifted clothes, buying bodysuits, or sewing pieces together.
Camera, Lights, Action!
Once everything is ready, Aya prepares a photo shoot to share her cosplay. She usually prefers setting up the location at her house for multiple reasons. She confessed that she humbly uses her phone and a tripod to get the job done.
I used to think that I needed a professional camera and lights to make great pictures, but those were merely excuses that I made because I was too anxious to dive in I think that everyone should just start their hobby regardless of the lack of equipment. I also believe in the importance of details. You will find that they have a great impact on the final image, no matter how insignificant you think they are.
After Aya captures more than enough pictures, she imports them to be edited. She specified that she uses Polarr, Pixlr, and a make-up setting app to edit pictures. She usually focuses on eye color, shadows, and texture details as well as enhances the colors of make-up and outfits.
Proper color grading and image re-touching is a difficult task to master, and I honestly still struggle with it. But that’s how we learn, right? Trial and error.
For example, I spent a week learning to sew with a machine, I dived deeply into it and I ignored every other responsibility. I don’t personally recommend that, but that was valuable to me as I learned to split my goals into bite-sized milestones to achieve my final objective.
Bonus Question: Why Play The Bass?
I grew up in a household filled with music, My dad is a self-taught musician. As a result, I became interested in music, and I tried several instruments like the Piano, the Ukulele, the Drums, the Kalimba, and many others.
But for some reason, Bass was the most enjoyable instrument i ever played. Something inside me just clicked. Since then, I made it my goal to become a really good bassist. so far I’m trying to learn new techniques every month to keep myself motivated. One of the songs I’d love to master is Hysteria by Muse. Though, I can’t seem to get it right…yet.
What Can a Cosplayer Do To Improve?
Aya’s biggest advice for aspiring cosplayers is to focus on wig styling and make-up technique. In her opinion, a well-styled wig and a good make-up look help differentiate between a normal cosplay versus an amazing one. Additionally, she recommends cosplaying a character that matches your skin tone and body structure for accurate results.
Can You Define Your Main Audience and How Do You Appease Them?
I would say that my main audience is a cross of music and anime fans at once, so I got lucky with the people who follow me. However, I like to do things for myself so I don’t consider myself an influencer. But sometimes I get suggestions from my audience who give great ideas, like cosplaying Rei from Evangelion.
What Do You Think of The State of Cosplay in Morocco?
In all honesty, the state of cosplay in Morocco isn’t that bad. I find that Moroccan cosplayers are so creative with the resources they have. The amount of passion and craftiness they have is simply amazing, especially when considering that a lot of us struggle with limited budgets, options, and even household situations.
However, I wish that things would be more accessible to us in the future… Where it currently stands, we purchase from online websites like Aliexpress or eBay for all of our material, including clothes and wigs, which only got more expensive after the new law was passed. While it’s hard to make it a reality, it would be awesome to get sponsored for our efforts.
What Do You Think of Moroccan Otaku Events That Rely On Cosplayers?
It depends on the event. Some events will offer participating cosplayers transport and even food, while others are a great opportunity for exposure and to connect with other cosplayers. However, there are some that exploit us. If you are relying on Moroccan Cosplayers to animate your event, then you should be able to cover their basic necessities like Transport, Food, and Water which most don’t provide.
Horrible Experience From Shotaku
As a shining example of what NOT to do when organizing an event that accommodates cosplayers, as well as the catalyst for writing this blog post on cosplay, Shotaku is an event that I hesitated to name-drop at first. However, with the approval of Aya and wanting justice for those cosplayers who struggled, I added this section.
Shotaku was one of the worst recent Otaku events to manage cosplayers. They lied to us by saying that they would have changing rooms to accommodate us, mirrors, bathrooms, and all basic necessities provided.
However, when we arrived on the day of the event, all the cosplayers had to stay in the dusty backstage. There was a small room, that could barely hold two people, and a non-functioning bathroom with a dirty, blurry mirror.
The event also lacked air conditioning in summer, and the venue filled up with more people than it could take. They also didn’t allow us to bring our own water or food. Instead, we were forced to buy from their one, single stand which had ridiculous prices… To top it off, there were cases of theft, a couple of my friends had their wigs and money stolen.
After confronting them about it, they said that they were not to be held accountable for our belongings and that we should take responsibility for it, knowing that most of us brought suitcases along. From there, everyone in the Moroccan Cosplay community agreed to boycott them until they fixed their ways.
They did issue an apology later on their Instagram page, however, the damage was already done, and not much can be said to salvage the situation.
What is Your Biggest Achievement with Cosplaying?
I would love to cosplay a character that wears traditional Asian clothing, such as an empress, or something fancy like that. I think their clothes are very beautiful, and it would feel empowering. Genshin characters come to mind, such as Raiden Shogun, or Ninguan.
However, I know that a sewing project like that one will be difficult, even more since I want to pay homage to how it’s traditionally done.
What is a Character You Would Love to Cosplay?
I would love to cosplay a Genshin Impact character like Yaya Miko. Her clothes have amazing traditional Japanese clothes, and I would to embrace something of a historical empress character. But I know that sewing her dress will be difficult since I have to pay homage to how it’s done.
Can You Share Some Advice for Other Cosplayers?
I would say, you do you! Listening to criticism can be healthy, and it will help you improve in the long run, but you shouldn’t be plagued by it! In the end, you should remember that you are doing something that you love, for yourself and yourself only.
What is Next for You?
As much as I believe that one should have hobbies and keep the fire alive, my priority is to get my degrees and more precisely, get a PhD. I don’t necessarily want to work in my field of study, but my motto is ‘better be safe than sorry’. And in a world where art is shaky, I’d rather walk the safe path!
What is Your Latest Obsession?
My latest obsession is the bass guitar, and it has been for the past 8 months. I play every day for hours until my fingers hurt, and that’s when I bandage them and play some more.