Ok, so this isn’t a topic that I’m exactly the best to talk about, but it’s still something I just want to share my thoughts on. I’ve guested a few conventions, and I’ve got friends who are invited to guest as well, and there’s a thing I’ve noticed that really bugs me.
The way I see it, there’s two kinds of guests: The ones you invite just to be there and the ones you invite to do a job.
For the first one, I don’t think there’s huge expectations on either side: You give someone a ticket, they show up in cosplay. Other than that, it’s a pretty freeform guesting. The cosplayer gets free entrance, free promotion (mention on FB etc) and the choice to showcase whatever cosplay they’d want, and time for photoshoots etc. The event gets some eye candy/attraction to their event. No money are involved, so it’s pretty simple and low cost for the convention and low effort for the cosplayer.
Then there’s the other kind of guest: This is where you’re expected to host panels, wear specific cosplays, judge contests etc. For this, there are high expectations from the cosplayer: You should wear something impressive, not just whatever cosplay you feel like. There’s a lot of planning before (if panel) or many hours of work during the con (judging). It might seem like easy, fun work, but it’s actually quite exhausting. Some cosplays are downright painful to wear.
Of course, that’s all fine, if you pay the cosplayer for their time and work. Sadly in my experience, conventions feel that this is not something you pay for. And to many cosplayers, that’s actually still acceptable – most of us do this as a hobby, not a job.
The issue in my opinion, is when the convention has unreasonable demands AND still don’t cover all expenses for the person they invite. If I travel somewhere to do a job for which I also need to spend many hours preparing, I don’t expect to pay for the trip. I’m not asking for luxury hotels or first class plane rides, but a place to stay (that isn’t an air mattress in a busy area) and a way to get there (that doesn’t take me more than a day) is – I think – a reasonable price. Afterall, many cosplayers spend many hundred hours on their cosplays and also 100s of euros.
So if you’re a convention and you want to invite a guest, consider this. And if you’re asking your cosplayer to work for free and in heavy, uncomfortable cosplay, consider offering to bring a helper on your dime, too. When you think about what you’re getting in return, this is really not unreasonable.
Just some random thoughts from me 🙂