CU Denver Live!’s Art of Costuming

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ANNUAL EVENT CELEBRATES COSPLAY

On Oct. 3, CU Denver Live! hosted The Art of Costuming, an event that celebrated professional costume builders. The event lasted from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and featured a panel of cosplayers and costume enthusiasts: Jim Shima, Ginny Diguiseppi, Alyson Ridge, Patrick Gillies, and Karl Brevik. All five of them have been involved in cosplaying and costuming in various ways for years. They shared the mic during a 75-minute panel about the art of costuming and set up their own displays where they greeted attendees after the main event.

The panel discussed varying aspects of their work in the field of costuming. Diguiseppi and Brevik are both professionals. Diguiseppi, who started out cosplaying as a hobby, recently quit her job to follow her passion full time.

In talking about the leap into self employment, Diguiseppi said, “Two things led me into it: One thing is my dad raised me to be really entrepreneurial and the other thing was that what I was doing for work is marketing. Marketing is intricately tied with professional cosplaying. You sort of have to self manage your brand. I have sort of a ‘web-personality’ and that takes a lot of marketing to pull off. It’s all based on having an audience.”

Diguiseppi has a YouTube channel, Ginny Di, and mostly enjoys dressing as Belle (from Beauty and the Beast) and Arya (from Game of Thrones) because they are both “strong female characters who are incredibly relatable and recognizable,” Diguiseppe said.

Brevik is a professional actor and cosplayer. Between gigs, he runs an organization he founded known as CareActor Select. With this organization, he allows children, usually those who are ill, to meet their favorite characters.

“We found the power of positive imaging,” Brevik said. “There were these kids who’ve been in the hospital day in and day out for the last six months of their life. All of a sudden Spider-man is here and Spider-man helps them. Of course we cannot statistically prove it, but we at this organization have found great success in those moments where a kid gets to go, ‘I’m not bummed. I’m not hurting. I have these things to look forward to,’” Brevik said.

Such passion for costuming has led to other forms of success as well. Jim Shima, who is an electrical engineer by day, uses his technical skills to build various film droids. He even had the opportunity to collaborate with Disney and Skywalker Sound to create a voice-changer that was used for actors such as Adam Driver in The Force Awakens.

Gillies has similar attachment to Star Wars. He is a cosplayer within the Rebel Legion and is a base leader for the 501st Legion, both of which are highly managed costuming guilds. They have specific guidelines for materials, designs, and even seam placement on costumes.

“You go back and you watch and look for what colors are there,” Gillies said. “What pieces exist? What does the fabric look like? When you read that costume library reference piece, it’ll say you must have these things.” Ridge finished out the group as a non-professional cosplayer. Just because this is not her only job does not mean she has a lack of commitment.

“I’ve been working on my Rapunzel for probably five or six years now and I keep re-doing something,” Ridge said. “Keep updating it. I finally got it after six years.”

After the panel, each of the costumers displayed some of their favorite outfits, and guests were allowed to chat with them while making their own mini-props. The Art of Costuming was a great success, thanks to an enthusiastic audience and amazing art on display that no one would be ashamed to geek-out about.

Check our Instagram for the rest of the Art of Costuming Pictures: CU Sentry
Photos: Taylor Kirby – CU Sentry

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