The Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo (Calgary Expo) returned over the weekend, and with it, the Masters of Cosplay Qualifier contest.

Autumn Desjardins, a cosplay artist originally hailing from Strathmore, competed in the “Masters” division of the contest, alongside her partner, Conor Anderson. 

“To be in the Masters Division, typically you either have to have won four or more major awards, or be a professional in the industry,” said Desjardins. “I have qualified to be in the Masters Division since 2016, so I have actually been competing in this category since I was 16. Through years of competing, I have won almost 20 awards in cosplay.”

The term “Cosplay” refers to the costume, as well as acted depiction of characters from all across pop culture, such as television, cinema, manga and graphic novels, anime, comics, and so on. 

Desjardins created a costume based on designs from The Legend of Zelda, Breath of the Wild video game. This included both textile, and prop elements. 

At the competition hosted during the Calgary Expo, divisions were also open for “novice” and “intermediate” level competitors. 

According to Desjardins, people from across all walks of life and demographics come out every year to walk the stage and show off their craftsmanship.

“They will have kids, to adults, to seniors competing. There are no restrictions on that … you will find people from all different backgrounds, all being able to create incredible things,” she said. “The last two people who won this competition in previous years, one is a pastry chef and another is a chemical engineer.”

Effort, budget, and skills that go into developing cosplay range anywhere from pennies to thousands of dollars. Costumers may decide to incorporate leatherwork, sewn fabrics, carved and sculpted foam, or even custom-coded electronics into their designs. 

Desjardins estimated the costume she has designed, worn by Anderson, took over 600 hours to craft in order to be ready for the stage. 

“Every year, I want to learn whatever I need to for a build. Every year, that usually means new techniques and new skills,” she said. “This year, I learned how to engineer and build light-up acrylic weapons. I did not know how to laser cut or engrave, I did not know how to solder joints – I learned all that for this costume.”

The qualifier contest hosted during the Calgary Expo was part of the Masters of Cosplay Circuit. The winner of Calgary’s event received an invitation to continue to the finals at the Toronto Fan Expo in August. 

Despite the competition, Desjardins said the community involved are an exceptionally friendly, welcoming, and helpful bunch, who are open to sharing information and aiding their fellows. 

“One of the people I am competing with in my division has been taking pictures every week for the past couple months because he is so excited to show me what he has built, and I do the exact same thing,” she said. “I have judged friends, I have seen friends win, I have competed against them. It is such a good community to be a part of and definitely not as daunting as it seems.”

By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 04, 2023 at 15:28

This item reprinted with permission from   Strathmore Times   Strathmore, Alberta
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