Creating a Costume: The Psychology, Tradition, and Art of Cosplay

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Last month thousands of Salt Lake citizens walked up and down the streets dressed in costumes varying from Captain Jack Sparrow to Sherlock Holmes. Those not in the know may ask why people dress in those ridiculous costumes, and that’s one of the questions the “Concepts of Cosplay” class aims to answer.

Tracie Bradley teaches the “Concepts of Cosplay” class on Mondays and Wednesdays at 2:30.

The class focuses on the construction of the costume itself, as well as the cultural traditions of cosplaying, and the psychology behind cosplaying. Rylie Jo Beardall, a student enrolled in the class, described the experience saying “We’re working on making our costumes, but we also have a psychology teacher in with us that helps us analyze our characters a little more and get to know how they tick so we can act like them better.”

The way the class functions is on a shared schedule of sorts (get quote from Nick), alternating between “work days” when the students work on constructing their costumes, and lecture days, when one of the professors involved, Tracie Bradley, Ivo Peterson, Jeff Lamb, or Nick Marsing teaches about one of the “Concepts of Cosplay”.

Ivo Peterson, one of the professors involved in the project, described himself as a guest speaker of sorts saying “I do one or two presentations.” He went on to say “The class teaches how to create a pattern, and how to use fabrics in different ways. The job of the class is to create a costume.”

Peterson described the work of the students saying “Some of the costumes are very unusual, but quite realistic.”

When asked what the most important thing students need to know going into the class, Bradley replied saying “They have to sew.” She went on to explain “We’re calling it ‘Concepts of Cosplay’ because we don’t really do cosplay, we do costume construction. But there’s also some psychology involved and we review cultural things that are taught in the Japanese courses, it’s not just a cosplay class, it’s a little more involved.”

The class involves more than just design, it touches on the psychology involved in Cosplay. One of the other professors involved, Nick Marsing commented “They actually create a personality profile for their character. They then see how that’s different from their own personality.”

Both teachers and students seem to be excited about this class and it’s crossover into different studies and disciplines. “This is just a great class because it gives a whole new perspective on creating something. It’s not just sewing a dress, or something like that, but you’re actually creating a costume, something that impacts personality, and has roots in different cultures, and other things.” Marsing said.


If you’re interested talk to the counsellors about signing up next semester. The class is set to last for about a month, ending with finished costumes in October. It counts for 2 elective credits, and is held in the Home and Family Studies building.

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