Breaking All the Rules: Cosplay and the Art of Self-Expression

A photobook project to document one of the most visible elements of geek culture across the USA in interviews and full-color photographs.
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Ger Tysk
Photography
Boston, Massachusetts
United States
2 Team Members

Thank you everyone who donated! The final total donated was $3,125. I learned a lot doing this fundraiser (this was my first crowd funding project ever!) and I'm definitely grateful to everyone who supported, shared, critiqued, and contacted me about this project. Although $3,125 is obviously short of my goal, I get to keep most of the donations (minus a 9% fee)  thanks to IndieGoGo's Flexible Funding system. 

I have been asked if I'll do another fundraiser. The answer is YES ~ but I'm not sure when I'll put another one online. The biggest lesson I learned from doing this one is to break up my funding goals into chunks so the next fundraiser will probably be for $3,000 or less so that it will be easier for me to meet the goal and to get all the money donated.

For right now, I'm concentrating on traveling and interviewing cosplayers during the last few months of 2012. You can keep up with my travels via the Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/BreakingAllTheRulesCosplay or my blog: http://www.seventhmoon.org/blog where I post my con reports and various articles about people I meet on my journey. Also please visit the main book page, http://www.seventhmoon.org/cosplayphotobook

Thank you again for all your support and interest in this book!

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Costume Play - a Japanese word originally coined describe the hobby of designing and dressing up in costumes. While that may bring up images of Halloween, costume players - or "cosplayers" - now go all out with painstakingly accurate replicas of their favorite costumes from TV shows, cartoons, comics, and movies. Cosplay has moved from a niche corner of Japanese geekdom to a global pop culture phenomenon that includes the United States.

Breaking All the Rules is a photobook that showcases the people behind the costumes. Cosplay is a hobby that breaks all the rules: anyone of any size, any race, any age, any gender, any background, can cosplay. For the past year, I've been traveling around the East Coast taking photos of cosplayers in costume and asking them why they're so in love with this hobby and the culture around it. I'd like to expand my travels to the rest of the country and interview cosplayers around the United States about their personal cosplay stories, and discover more about the history behind cosplaying and fan conventions.

This book will be a compliation of all those photographs and interviews, showcasing cosplayers in their own words. I'm raising funds here on Indiegogo to take the photographs needed for the book, and then design, print, and publish them in a full-color photobook. I don't have the money to make this book happen on my own, but thanks to Indiegogo, I want to make this project a reality.

 

This is a book for cosplayers, people who love cosplayers, and also those asking what cosplay is. While it may seem strange to express oneself through a costume designed for a fictional character, those characters are the most important part. People's lives are changed by stories, factual or fictional, every day. Those characters in those stories - the characters who they cosplay - have helped people discover new, different parts of themselves. Cosplay is the ultimate tribute, to say that yes, my outlook, my friendships, and my life have forever changed because of this story.

In this book, I'm sharing the new stories that have come about because of these tributes. The cosplayers I'm photographing and interviewing are everyday, ordinary people. They're students, waitresses, software engineers, musicians, chemists, retail assistants, and managers who, several times a year, put on a costume and become outlaws, fallen villains, ingenues, femme fatales, knights, and heroes starting out on their journeys. They are all extraordinary.

Even in the United States there are many hundreds of thousands of cosplayers, more than I could ever fit into a single book. But I hope this book is a beginning. I hope it can start dialogues between people, no matter how diverse their backgrounds. When asked, "why do you cosplay?" I hope someone can flip through the pages of this book and point to the cosplayers describing in their own words how cosplay has profoundly changed them and made their world a better place.

For more details on the project, please visit the official book website or the Facebook page.

I hope you'll join me in producing this celebration of self-expression all across the USA.

 

About me

I'm a cosplayer and photographer from Boston, MA. I started cosplaying in 2007 and attended my first convention, Anime Boston, in 2008. Being both a cosplayer and photographer has given me a unique perspective on the cosplay culture in America, and I hope to bring that to life in this book.

 

You've got more questions? Here are some answers!

Q: How is this book any different from other books on cosplay, like Cosplay in America?
A: The last thing I want to do is for this book to be perceived as a threat or slight against other people who have published books on cosplay! I don't think that we should stop writing books simply because one or two have already been published on the subject - if that were the case, bookstores would be out of business! I deeply respect the authors of books like Cosplay in America; without people like them, cosplay wouldn't be as widespread as it is today. This book is meant more as a way for cosplayers to tell their stories in their own words. I plan to put emphasis on the interview, with the pictures as an accompaniment. I want to give a voice to cosplayers around the country.

 

Q: $23,244 is a lot of money. Why do you need so much to publish a book?
A:  If the funding goal is reached, Indiegogo takes a 4% cut of any donated funds. Paypal also applies fees (around 3%). I intend to devote the donations first to completing the photo project itself; this inclues airfare to conventions around the country, lodging and other travel costs, equipment maintenance, and photo processing. The remaining funds will go to printing the book, packaging, shipping, and marketing at conventions around the country. I am publishing and printing this book myself in a limited run, and self-publishing is unfortunately incredibly expensive. I absolutely can't make it happen without donors like you.

I have a full funds breakdown and timeline of the project that you can see here on the book website

 

Q: What happens if the donation limit isn't reached?
A: Indiegogo has a wonderful option called "flexible funding," which allows me to keep the money that is raised even if the deadline passes without reaching the goal. However, since most of this money is going to print the books, less money means fewer books, or perhaps lower quality books. I really want to do justice to the cosplayers featured in the book, so I'm crossing my fingers we reach the goal and I can print a really high-quality batch of books.

 

Q: How do I get featured in the book for an interview?
A: All my images are from photos I've taken or will take of cosplayers mostly at different conventions around the country. If you're a U.S. resident, you can fill out the survey form: http://goo.gl/XlRIZ. The survey runs until August 1, 2012. Not all cosplayers who I photograph will be featured, as I'm trying to represent as large a cross-section of the fanbase as I can, but I'll try to fit as many in as possible. Ideally, I'd like there to be around 50 cosplayers in the book. If you're interested in having a photo of yourself in the book by donating $50 or more, please see the next question!

 

Q: How does the $50 photo perk work?
A: Because I can't possibly feature everyone who wants to be in the book, I'm adding in a special perk for cosplayers who I won't have the chance to interview. By donating $50 or more, you will have the option of sending one photograph of you in costume to be included in a special user-submitted photo section of the book (size tbd, minumum 2"x3", maximum 4"x6"). The photos will include your name, your hometown, and the year you started cosplaying. Photos may be color or black&white, and may be taken by anyone provided that the photographer gives permission for it to be published. Full information about this perk will be emailed to everyone after the campaign ends on August 30, 2012.

 

Q: I want to donate but I see that rewards at the higher tiers are limited. Why?
A: I wish I could reward every single person who wanted to donate, but unfortunately, I have to factor in costs such as shipping the reward, adding extra pages to the book for names of donors, and giving away free books, which takes away from the number of books I have to sell. If the book does well, perhaps I'll have more projects and books to give out in the future!

 

Q: I want to donate, but I only have $1. Is that okay?
A: Absolutely! Every dollar helps. And even if you don't have money to donate right now, you can still help by letting people know about this campaign, and what I'm trying to do with this project. Sharing the website link and Facebook link are a big help in spreading the word.

Find This Campaign On
$3,125USD
raised by 71 people in 2 months
13% funded
0 time left
$23,244 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on August 30, 2012
Select a Perk
  • $1USD
    You're number one!

    Every dollar helps! Get a handshake or a hug from me at any con if you spot me :)

    2 claimed
    Estimated delivery: October 2012
  • $5USD
    Thanks!

    My eternal gratitude for helping this project come to physical form! Get a handshake or a hug from me at any con if you spot me!

    5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: October 2012
  • $10USD
    Shoutout

    My eternal gratitude for helping this project come to physical form, and a shoutout on the website!

    8 claimed
    Estimated delivery: October 2012
  • $25USD
    Book credit

    Your name listed in the book credits with my heartfelt thanks for helping fund this project!

    16 out of 200 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $35USD
    Signed Postcard

    Your name listed in the book credits and a signed photo postcard from me on my travels around the country! (non-U.S. residents may need to pay additional shipping for all items)

    4 out of 200 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $50USD
    Be in the book!

    Your photo in the book! Send in a cosplay photo of yourself to be featured in a special full-color user-submitted section of the book. Plus your name listed in the book credits and a signed photo postcard from me on my travels around the country! (non-U.S. residents may need to pay additional shipping for all items. See Q&A to the left for more details on user photo inclusion.)

    9 out of 220 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • SOLD OUT

    $100USD
    Autographed Book

    Your name listed in the book credits, your own cosplay photo featured in a special section, and a signed photo postcard from me, plus a signed copy of the book! (non-U.S. residents may need to pay additional shipping for all items. See Q&A to the left for more details on user photo inclusion.)

    14 out of 14 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $100USD
    More autographed books!

    The $100 perk sold out...but I've decided to offer a few more since it was so popular! So you get: Your name listed in the book credits, your own cosplay photo featured in a special section, and a signed photo postcard from me, plus a signed copy of the book! (non-U.S. residents may need to pay additional shipping for all items. See Q&A to the left for more details on user photo inclusion.)

    1 out of 15 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $300USD
    Bonus content!

    Your name listed in the book credits, your own cosplay photo featured in a special section, and a signed photo postcard from me, plus a signed copy of the book! In addition, you'll get a promotional packet with some of the images from the book, postcards, and a personalized thank you note. (non-U.S. residents may need to pay additional shipping for all items, See Q&A to the left for more details on user photo inclusion.)

    0 out of 5 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
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