Saturday, August 28, 2010

Con Battle: Small vs. Large

(Don't we love how my pictures only relate half of the time? Meet Basil, my dear friend, and our main photographer~ {Yes, even though he lives in California now, he comes down to visit us~ <3 } )

Oh dear me! How dare I not update every day, you poor poor readership. This isn't acceptable, so because of this... well, here's another post to make up for the non-posting for the last two days. (Heck, if I get enough to write about, I might make another post today, just to make up for lost time.)

Seeing as I write for the Steampunks, the Cosplayers, the Goths, the Lolitas, and the Gamers (heck, there will probably be random bits of other stuff here. Who knows.) I'm going to safely assume a lot of people in these subcultures go to Conventions. Be they Anime, Gamer, or Comic Book (et cetera and so forth), Conventions are fun events where you can get together with life-minded people and essentially have a blast. If you don't know what a Convention is, ask your local Cosplayer, you won't be sorry~

This post, however, is assuming you already know what a Convention (sometimes referred to as Con here) is. Because I'm going to do a fun debate! Smaller Cons verses Larger Cons. Now, everyone has their preferences, but I'm just going to outline the various pros and cons for you.

Smaller conventions have the merit of closeness, a tight-knit seeming group, where people are often a lot friendlier with people and more open to conversation. These are great Conventions for people who don't like tight, cramped spaces as much (bear in mind, there will still be tight, cramped spaces, just not near as much as a larger con.) These are good cons for people who want to make friends easily or are going to their first convention and aren't certain as to whether they can handle the hustle and bustle of a con.

However, small conventions are often lacking in funding, and it can really show. The dealer's room won't be near as large or well-stocked, the guests might not be as well known, there won't be near as many panels, and overall, at a smaller convention, you have to make your own entertainment. Likewise, you're less likely to find Cosplayers in your series, especially if it's not a super popular series. (You're still going to see three or four Narutos. it's expected.)

So let's recap:

Small Pros:
Close-knit among Cosplayers
Good for making friends
More room/space
Good for unsure first-time goers.

Small Cons (haha. There's a pun.) :
Not near as much entertainment
Lacking in funding
Smaller dealer's room.
Less likely to find similar-Cosplayers.

Larger conventions are perfect for people who love to have a lot of action. They want to attend a lot of panels, go to the concerts, all those fun things. You're bound to meet a lot more people, and it's never hard to find people who Cosplay in your series (heck, you're probably going to find two or three people Cosplaying what you're Cosplaying. It happens.) The dealer's room is expansive, and you're bound to find a lot of fun things to buy. There's something for everyone at larger cons.

On the wise, larger cons can also seem highly impersonal. There's just too many people to be personal and super-nice to everyone. Likewise, the hallways tend to be highly crowded, and getting around is a chore. The venues also tend to be larger, which means getting from one half of the Convention to the other can take a good solid hour. (I only wish I was joking.) Some people have no troubles making friends at larger conventions, but I've found it's just hard to find a place to sit and chat, there's simply no room!

Recap time~

Larger Pros:
More Cosplayers in your series
More panels/guests
Larger dealer's room
Meet more people.

Larger Cons (I'm not even gonna say it.) :
Crowded (and I mean really crowded)
Hard to get around
Nowhere to sit and talk.


Personally, I've always preferred smaller conventions. (Less than five hundred people. Such conventions are hard to come by, unfortunately.) My boyfriend, contrary, prefers larger conventions (upwards of ten thousand people. There's no such thing as 'too large' for him.) So I've gotten a nice share of both of them. (SabotenCon 08, KikiCon 08, AniZona 09, and Phoenix Cactus ComiCon 10) Well look at that, split down the middle. Here's some bonus info, a small description of these Cons.

Keep in mind, I usually don't attend panels unless it's completely something I NEED to go to. (Say, a panel talking about the merits of Soul Calibur or something.) So these are completely based on the social scene.

Saboten 08: How can I complain? This was my first Convention, and I was a total newbie. It was a great con, especially since it was in its first year (you'd never guess. It was like they were doing it for years.) There was great paneling (so I heard), a lot of Cosplayers, and overall a great venue. This was a larger Con I genuinely enjoyed. (Then again, it was my first.)

Kiki 08: I am never going to complain about a free convention. Kiki was a one day event in November, free to get in, and overall an event to socialize. Although there were contests like the Iron Cosplay and whatnot, a lot of people were there for the socialization. The staff were friendly, the venue was gorgeous (ASU North Campus, this was held by the ASU Otaku Club, and I wish they'd hold another one sometime soon. I adore free one-day Cons like this.) I happened to spend most of the time talking to a handsome young lad who I had detested back in the Saboten days (he tried to get my satin cloak wet, come on!) We had both matured quite a bit (and I was wearing a more water-friendly cloak.) So I spent a good deal of time talking to my future-boyfriend.

Anizona 09: Just needs to be said. I loved this con so much, and I'm really sad to see it go. Anizona had a huge amount of controversy among the Arizona congoers and whatnot, and I understand that. They had cancelled the year before, there were financial crises, and things just weren't as good as they could be. However, the people that were at the con were amazing. I met more people than I could count, and everyone was very nice to the girl in the giant dress hanging around with the Naruto/Luffie hybrid. The people who put on Anizona said they'd be doing more small-time events, but I haven't heard of any. Fooey. (Maybe I'm just not looking.)

PCC 10: Now this is a large con (All of you people who attend Otakon and AX regularly can start snickering at my thought of ten-thousand or so being huge.) Thankfully, I spent most of it in a dressing room awaiting the Tokyo Girls performance (more on that in another entry, perhaps~) What time I DID spend in the Con was overwhelming. I'm not going to say I didn't have fun, it was just too much for me, and I got very very sick afterwards. (More about post-Con-sickness in my "Convention Survival" entry for later. Look out for it!) However, I did have fun doing something totally uncharacteristic, going to panels. (Well, just one). Cosplay "Who's Line Is It Anyway?" We were run by a lovely Steampunk gentleman, and poor JJ got to go up and participate. He's enough social butterfly for the two of us, I swear~


Whether you like them large or small, conventions overall are just plain fun, and I highly recommend people attend them~

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cosplaying in Public

Seeing as this week is Spirit Week at my school, this gives me the necessity to rock it and go all out. Today happened to be Superhero/Supervillain Wednesday. So of course, I went as Joker. (No particular incarnation, seeing as this was closet Cosplay… mostly. The outfit itself was, but I have a wig specifically for Joker and one of my original characters, it looks like something a teenage rebel Joker would have, then the makeup is a full coverage whiteface like Jack Nicholson, with eyespots and lipstick like Heath. Confusing, right?)

Which brought me to a sort of thought, I’ve Cosplayed in public before, actually I do it quite a bit. Likewise, I have friends who do it too, our favorite meeting places being at malls and such. Some people absolutely love it, and others hate us for it, so where is the happy medium?

Well, this is why I’m here, I’m going to try and give you a happy medium, here are just some rules to go by when you’re out Cosplaying in public.

Know your venue. Some malls appreciate your patronage, and some just won’t want anything to do with you. Oftentimes, it’s good to find out from other Cosplayers which malls are “Costume-friendly”. This will save your life. Seriously.

Likewise, know the limits, most malls have some form of dress code, so make sure you’re not breaking it! (A personal experience from my na├»ve days is getting kicked out of a mall because I didn’t know dull face makeup wasn’t allowed. Oh the days. Contrary, another mall is totally fine with the Joker makeup, and actually think we’re being VERY cool.)

Manners, manners, manners. People hate when I harp on this, because while yes, you should be able to act how you want, when you don a Cosplay (and to some extent any extreme fashion that people may dub as Cosplay), you are playing ambassador to the rest of us. I don’t care if you are an annoying teenybopper, don’t act like one. Otherwise the rest of us get dubbed as annoying teenyboppers, and then no one takes us seriously, and then we get kicked out of malls. Heck, don’t let it get so bad like it is in Japan, where you’re only allowed to Cosplay in various venues, and the entire subculture has a baaad stigma attached to it. That means don’t be overly loud, don’t try to scare people, and just… be a generally nice person. Is that so much to ask?

That being said, don’t intentionally try to scare little kids. Some kids are going to be scared around us, and some are going to want to run up to you and hug you because you look like you stepped out of their TV. To quote the Lady of the Manners from Gothic Charm School: “Just disengage their sticky little hands”, smile, and try to be polite. Even if you don’t like kids. I happen to really not like kids, and I’ll still smile and say “thank you” if a little girl tells me I look like a princess. (Keep in mind, sometimes getting in character with slightly older children isn’t too bad. When I Cosplay Joker, there’s this one kid who actually said “Why so serious?” to me, and he and I made a game of saying it back and forth, really cute~)

Save the really elabourate costumes for Conventions and Photoshoots and such. Things get damaged quite easily, and you worked hard on that gown, didn’t you?

Likewise, be careful about full face makeup and masks. As I said above, some venues are alright with it, and some aren’t, in general, it’s probably a good idea to avoid unless you really know what you’re doing. (For some reason, people seem to think that because you’re in bright colours and clown makeup, that you’re going to try and shoplift. I think the point of shoplifting is to be inconspicuous, but people will have their opinions either way.)

A general guide: Don’t Cosplay alone. Some people can get away with it, but when you’re flying solo, you open yourself up for a lot more mockery and potential harassment. I’ve found that traveling in a group of two or three tends to keep trouble at bay. (No. Seriously. I’ve had bits of harassment before, which is why I always keep my boyfriend close at hand when we’re out Cosplaying. No one goes solo, especially not me.)

Overall, have fun with it. Cosplay is supposed to be fun, just keep some things in mind so you’re not alienating others, because then they’ll alienate you, and then nobody’s having fun.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How to be a Good Seller

Well, a lot of things involve online shopping nowadays, which with some people, is a near-perfect match, and others have trouble with hit-or-miss. How do you know you’re getting a good deal for the money you paid.

The sad truth is, not all online shops are the most reliable shops in the world. It’s all over the internet, so you can’t see, feel, or try the object (we’re going to assume clothing/costume pieces here) before you buy it. It’s hard to know when you’re getting a good deal, or you’re getting gypped.

Which is why I’m here, unfortunately, the guide for the buyers comes later, but right now, this is for sellers. Whether you’re selling handmade items (which we’re going to focus on here), or resale (may or may not be touched upon later, it’s not my area of expertise), this guide is for you.

(For Seamsters/Seamstresses) Invest in a dress form! People like to know what they’re purchasing is going to look like. I almost exclusively buy from people who have their things on dress forms, because then I know how it’s going to look. If you can’t afford one right now, then have a friend (WHO IS THE SIZE OF THE CLOTHING PIECE. Do not stretch out the fabric in something you’re going to sell! Likewise, if it doesn’t fit right, people will assume it doesn’t fit right on THEM either,) model the piece as you take a picture.

In any piece, multiple photographs are necessary. We want to see most every little detail so we know what we’re getting! (Some people also want to see what the seams/inside looks like. You don’t have to include those pictures immediately, but it helps to be able to take them at a moment’s notice if needed.

Be polite, remember that people aren’t going to want to purchase from a grouch!

Be honest about measurements, because if you aren’t, you’re going to get a lot of negative feedback from angry people about how their clothes don’t fit. (I assure you, negative feedback is NOT something you want.)

Sell at a reasonable price, people aren’t going to spend twenty-five dollars for a plain pink headband. (Ooh boy, there had better be something very special about this headband to sell for that high.) Likewise, if you’re selling handmade ball gowns for twenty dollars, you’re discrediting yourself and not making any profit. I’m not an expert on pricing, but price according to quality, cost of the materials, and the nature of the item. If you don’t want to make a profit, you can sell for lower, but make sure you’re at least covering the price of the materials. There’s no reason for you to be paying to sell your stuff!

Remember your “repeat” customers. If someone frequents your shop, include various things to let them know you appreciate their returning business, and dedication to your shop. I’ve known sellers who write thank you notes, I’ve known sellers who include either small pieces of jewelry or other accessories when someone purchases something as large as a dress, the list goes on, really. If people know they’re appreciated and feel special, they’ll be more likely to frequent your shop.

Research what you’re selling! I’d put it in larger font if it wouldn’t be such an eyesore. HOWEVER. Research is important. If you want to sell Lolita clothing, then look at how the brands do it, read the Handbook, don’t use cheap, shiny satin, and the like. If you’re selling Cosplays, then research what the character actually looks like, and replicate it properly (trust me, I’m not seeing any ninjas in crushed velvet here.) The cheap, slutty Halloween costumes are NOT viable Gothwear, the list goes on. That being said, try to avoid putting fifty-million terms in your item name. If you want to describe how this item would work in various styles, then do so, but putting in: “Cosplay Gothic Lolita Steampunk Skirt in Five Colors” only makes you look like an uninformed idiot.

Originality please. If we see an item that’s pretty much a replica of another, you’ll be discredited as a designer of clothes/jewelry/costume pieces, et cetera. Start out making your own designs, it helps, really, it does. If people commission you for replicas, then you’re free to do them (if you’re so inclined. Some people don’t like to do them, I understand that.)

For resale: Be honest about any defects in the garment. If there are stains, tears, and other damages, we need to know about them. You’re NOT going to have any happy buyers who think they’re getting something in near-perfect condition and instead find it in tatters. Take “damage shots” (pictures showing the damage) of these pieces.

Overall, I hope this helps you in the lovely world of selling, best of luck to you~ (That being said, if you have any shops you’d recommend, comment and tell us about it~)

Also being said, if there’s anything you want me to write about, feel free to E-mail me~

Monday, August 23, 2010

Review: Silversark on Etsy

(Note: Picture taken from Silversark's Etsy page, found under "Off-White Blouse with Detachable Sleeves -Plus Size" I do NOT take credit for this picture, as it belongs to Ms. Stephanie of Silversark, thank you~)

This is a seller that I've bought from twice, and would certainly recommend for just about anyone wanting to get into Lolita.

Silversark is run by Ms. Stephanie, who is a fantastic seamstress with reasonable prices for her high-quality clothing. She has items that would work in any Lolita's wardrobe, be you Gothic, or Sweet (heck, a few of her pieces are very friendly to Classical Lolitas like myself.) I happened to buy my first Lolita pieces from her, and they have served me well over the time I've worn them. Her clothing is reasonably priced (and very cheap where Lolita is concerned), and I would recommend her for beginner Lolitas who aren't necessarily sure if they want to dive headfirst into the fashion.

The two things I bought from her are This beautiful offwhite blouse and This gorgeous Classical skirt. Both pieces are sewn to perfection, without any corners cut. Ms. Stephanie doesn't mess around when it comes to customer satisfaction (noted by the fact that she and I exchange many messages on Etsy so I'm completely informed about the quality and details about all of her items.)

Silversark is recommended for beginner and advanced Lolitas alike, and I give her high reviews. Let's break it down, shall we?

Service: 10/10 Ms. Stephanie is always prompt and polite in her responses, and is always happy to help me with coordination ideas with her creations. She's always been willing to tell me about the little details in her pieces, and never leaves a detail out if I ask for it. She's honest, straightforward, and very nice.

Shipping: 10/10 She usually ships out the same day of payment, or the next day if things come up (which have never happened when I purchase from her.) Seeing as I live a good many states over from her, shipping is usually about three or so days, so I'm never waiting more than five days. Everything is shipped in a Priority Mail box with plastic wrapping protecting the clothes. In my experience, her shipping usually doesn't exceed eight dollars within the USA.

Quality: 9/10 I have never had a problem with the clothing itself, as I've said before, seams are serged, everything is in place. However, the only complaint I could have is that it sometimes seems that the skirts themselves are plain, relying more on the design instead of little details that make things exciting. They're good for beginner Lolitas, but I think some of the skirts could use a little more details (maybe extra ruffling, use of overskirts and underskirts combined, just little extra details.)

Fit: 9/10 The ONLY reason I am giving this a 9/10 is because of the blouse. The offwhite blouse is said to fit a bust to 44in. I expected the waist to be a little larger on me, but the bust surprised me, seeing as it was slightly snug (not tight or anything, but not loose like the waist was), and I have a 39in bust. If a girl with a 44in bust had ordered this blouse, they might have had gaping holes between the buttons (this is an assumption, not a garunteed promise.)

Overall, her shop is rated a 9.5/10, meaning I highly recommend it.

Happy shopping, dears~


Hello everyone, and welcome to my own little corner of the world. Please, pull up a cushion and make yourself comfortable.

Now, you’ve seen them before, there are hundreds of Goth, or Lolita, or Steampunk Blogs, so why am I adding to the amount? Well… because I’m not just a Goth (of the Victorian Aristocrat persuasion, thank-you-very-much.) Nor am I just a Lolita, or just a Steampunk. Heck, I’m not just a Cosplayer either. I’m a lot of things. Just like you are a lot of things. This blog takes on a whole plethora of fashions, subcultures, and whatnot. Now, every entry might not pertain to you, and that’s not a bad thing, you don’t have to read it if it doesn’t interest you. (Goodness knows the people here for the fashion probably won’t be as into my video-game discussions.)

A bit about me? Oh man, I already had trouble keeping this within a two-page poem for English class, but I’ll try. My name-of-choice (read: Stage name, Internet name, name that everyone-and-their-cat-calls-me) is Harra (or Harra Arial, Ms. Arial, Madame Harra, and the like if you’re feeling particularly formal.) I’m female, and born in 1993 (do the math.) Yeah, pretty young, I know. Because of this, I know some people won’t take me seriously, and that’s okay. I don’t have the wisdom of age yet, and I totally understand it. All the same. I have an enjoyment for things that are out-of-the-ordinary (and no, the goal of this is NOT to piss off Mom and Dad. As many people have said before, I do this because it makes me happy.)

Where else to go from here… oh right! My interests are pretty varied (read: They go all over the place), but the specific things I’m going to write about in this blog would be alternative fashion (with heavy emphasis on Lolita, Steampunk, and Victorian Gothic), Cosplay (and, by extension: Conventions), videogames (well… somewhat. I’m not as big a gamer as I should be.) And the like. Interests that I have that probably WON’T come up as much: Acting, writing, singing, role-play, and… all sorts of stuff. Oh! I also have a major thing for etiquette, I can’t get enough of it (even though I probably don’t practice it as much as I should. I’m polite, but all the super-fine-point stuff is usually lost on me at the moment.) Therefore, expect to see a few posts about that.

Without further ado, I officially open this lovely little blog~ Welcome to The Subculturist!