The “Artistic Temperament” : Dispatches from Cosplacon Part I

Hello, and greetings from Cosplacon in Jefferson City!

One whole big hotel of cosplayers wearing everything from papier-mache anime heads to ghostbuster uniforms (complete with unlicensed nuclear accelerators). This is cosplay daughter’s favorite convention because it’s all about the cosplay. ūüôā

The creativity and artistry on display here is amazing (photos soon, I promise!) and that has me thinking this morning about a subject that has occupied my attention of late- “the artistic temprament.”

I’m not an artist myself. I would never claim that title. This modest experiment in creative nonfiction (and the occasional steampunk hat) are but small forays into that landscape. ¬†I’m at best a technician and wordsmith.

I know this, because I recognize a true artist in my daughter, and her best friend.

I also recognize it in the amazing folks I’ve met in and through this cosplay adventure, like my friend Sarah in the UK, who built/sewed/fabricated this Rocket Racoon FROM SCRATCH.

Sarah as Rocket

I also see it in the amazing creativity on display, the shipping and combinations on view at a convention like this: Hello Kitty Darth Vaders.  Master Chief as Master Chef.

I am amazed and impressed by these artists.

But as a Mom (which is a key element of this particular blog) I also see the struggles and challenges of being a member of that tribe.

I’ve written before about cosplay daughter’s strict attention and near-obsession with detail. ¬†She sees minute differences and shadings that I simply don’t. She finds variations of color and configuration that I can’t even perceive to be ESSENTIAL to her design. ¬†And sometimes, when she can’t realize her vision, she just simply refuses to go on.

(Remember those long fall boots? My first blog post? They’re sill in pieces in the garage. ¬†Every once in a while she mentions them, but hasn’t returned to try and make them work.)

I saw that kind of thing again over the last couple of weeks with another artist (who needn’t be identified by name here, it’s not important) a costume and clothing designer. ¬†She had invited me, cosplay daughter and cosplay best friend to model in a fashion show here at cosplacon. The theme was to be the ball scene in Labyrinth.


I was going to get to wear a BALL GOWN AND CREEPY MASK. Made by a REAL COSTUME DESIGNER. I was STOKED. The girls were too. How fabulous!

But then- attention to and control of detail. Costume designer communicates that she will need all three of us to commit to showing up for hair/make-up, rehearsals and photos at 11:30, for a 5:00 show that lasts until 6.  And during that time we are sequestered so as to not ruin the moment when we appear.

Wow. Ok, that’s a deal breaker for the girls, who aren’t excited enough to give 7 hours of their convention day to realize the vision and promote the business of someone else. ¬†It’s a bit much to ask.

But I’m still in! (*chanting*) ¬†Ball gown! Ball gown!

and then, just a few days before the convention, the designer reveals that she is simply not happy with the level of detail and scheduling notes that she’s getting from the convention (which like most of these events is volunteer run by young people with day jobs). ¬†She won’t compromise her vision or risk the time and control she needs to make her art happen.

So she pulls out and refuses to participate. Rats.

As the girls would say: “sad face.”

sad face

So- was this a bit self-important and divaesque? Maybe. The convention organizers apparently thought so.

But here’s my observation- this is the kind of attitude and approach that makes the art fabulous to begin with. That attention to detail and confidence to demand that it be right or not happen at all is what can give us great works.

But it’s also hard and challenging- for the artist and for the fans/supporters. ¬†I really was looking forward to that fashion show. I have also spent hundreds of dollars on a pair of boots that are still in pieces in my garage.

Both things are frustrating.

and the artists themselves- when they disappear in Salingeresque fashion, can lose business, or fans and then no one gets to see or appreciate their work.

There’s lots of definitions out on in the internet of the “artistic temperament”- everything from medical dictionary references to mood swings and blasts of creative energy; to centuries-old meditations on originality and self-involved self expression.

But I’m not sure any of these are really important or really capture my new experiences of being a artist groupie.

I do, however, often think of ¬†Deborah Harkness’ amazing All Souls¬†trilogy in which all artists (from playwright Kit Marlowe to mathematician and astronomer Thomas Harriot) ¬†are actually daemons- brilliant, magical, vague, fickle, creative and destructive all at once.

Do I think my artist friends and family are daemons?

Of course not.

Do I think those artistic folks that surround me have abilities that seem otherworldly in their magic and inscrutability?


And how wonderful, challenging, rewarding and frustrating is it that I get to travel alongside of them?

more from Cosplacon later! I promise!

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