Saturday August 9, 2014 was the Second Annual Creator Owned Expo (COE) at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott. Every event develops its own “vibe” and COE’s feeling was warm, welcoming and inclusive. This Expo was a forum for creative artists within the animation, film, costume, writing and related communities to share and learn from one another.
It is refreshing to see individuals whose primary focus is creative expression and how far they can stretch their creative muscles. The day was full of exhibits, workshops and panels celebrating all facets of local creativity with much to encourage South Florida’s talented artistic community. It was exciting to meet local artists who are using all of their skills to create a cohesive brand and product. For example, George Moss of GMoss Designs, is an illustrator, graphic designer, fashion designer, fashion consultant, product developer and workshop leader who has also written a book with characters he ties into his clothing designs. It was additionally inspiring to see writers discussing the multiple platforms across which they write and how they establish individual names and identities for different readerships. In our current commercial climate of “one trick ponies” it’s exciting to see artists building brands and products built on their multiple talents.
This year marked the first annual costume contest which was preceded by a cosplay panel led by Miami Cosplayer, ZipperTan, with Cosplayers Build-It-Bradley and Handsome Jordan, titled Taking Your Cosplay to the Next Level. Again, this panel exhibited the warmth of a group that competes for prizes, yet freely shares their experiences and insights with others in the community. All three of the panelists regularly participate in, and judge, costume competitions so their advice was invaluable to the assembled audience of eager cosplayers.
One aspect of the panel and the event that was of particular significance to costume designers was the encouragement of original character design within the competition. Not all events support this idea, but it is a growing and valuable trend in the field. And, as, ZipperTan pointed out, since it’s a Creator Owned Expo, original creator owned costumes are a plus.
Some suggestions by the panelists for cosplay research included, Zippertan’s use and recommendation of Creative Uncut as a reference. All three panelists emphasized that when using character figures for reference it’s important to use sanctioned characters with 360 degree views. Many of the suggestions were extremely practical. For example, ZipperTan suggested signing up for JoAnne’s Store coupons to purchase materials cost effectively, and also, shopping at thrift stores for items that fits well and cutting those up to create the basis of the custom costume patterns necessary for creating Cosplay outfits. Handsome Jordan makes a custom body cast by wrapping the body in thin plastic and covering that with masking tape, when cut off along traditional seam lines this becomes a perfect sloper for further pattern work. Build-it-Bradley learns and shares costume making skills with friends on Skype. It was insightful to learn that many of the best cosplayers in the area learn by trial and error as they hone their skills to the next level. ZipperTan shared her list of what she looks for as a cosplay judge, a short but vital list of the top four things to consider as you build your costume. It should be clean – meaning not just laundered, but no stray threads, unfinished seams and hems, etc. It should display your resourcefulness as a creator. If you are paying homage to an established character your costume should be accurate to the character you are creating. And last, but not least, it should have a “Wow Factor”, that illusive aspect that makes your character creation stand out above and beyond your fellow competitors.
Immediately after this informative panel was the costume line-up of contestants ready to compete, then onto the actual walk-ons and judging. Next was the deliberation by the judges, ZipperTan, Build-it Bradley and the third judge, COE Expo founder and Convention Chairman, Ron Kerronian.
The awarding of prizes was exciting for both winners and audience and there were enough categories to make the results interesting, but not so many that it became tedious. Best in Show went to Alexander Andrade who did a fabulous Thor. When questioned by Examiner, Alexander, promised an even bigger and better Thor for his next Cosplay contest entry. The Best Original Character award went to Lorna Sherwin for her original woodland elf character, Zara.
Overall Creator Owned Expo is an excellent event and highly recommended for the future.
Palm Con 2014
At the Palm Beach Convention Center
September 27th & 28th 2014