An Interview with the Cosplay Queen of India: Aorin Shariyari

Kreedapanti Media sat down (virtually, of course) with Aorin Shariyari, known in Comic-cons and Otaku circles as Colour Me Aorin, the Cosplay Queen of India. We had an intriguing conversation which spoke about the country’s burgeoning geek culture and how it connects with esports, streaming and the works.

Here’s how it all went down:

How has the cosplay scene evolved in India? Especially from just cosplays of popular animes to cosplays of video games?

The Cosplay scene in India is constantly evolving while also being stuck in a loop at the same time. Though the number of cosplayers and events are increasing – and we see a lot of them on social media and groups – we are still using the same old methods of crafting. There are a handful of cosplayers who are showing tremendous improvement and coming up with costumes that really match up to the international level of craftsmanship but that’s just a handful. Majority of the people are happy with just making a large costume and winning some cash. Cosplay is so much more than just competitions and prize money or Instagram and Facebook likes.

Is it possible to have cosplay solely as a career? Also, what are the usual avenues a cosplay artist turns towards for monetization? Patreon? Brand tie-ups?

Yes to the former and a BIG NO to the latter.

Is it possible to survive and earn with only cosplay as a career? Yes, I was the very first professional cosplayer in India and my only source of income was through cosplay. For the last 6 years cosplay has paid for everything for me, from my rent to my expenses, to the expenses of my 4 pets. But that’s the point. It was just me. No one else has managed to do sustainably in the country. Everyone else has a regular job and cosplay is something they do on the side say 4-5 times a year. Or their expenses are covered by their family while they focus on cosplay. Sadly that’s the bitter truth of the cosplay career in India. Only one in hundreds is able to make it into a full time career – and even then, it is NOT easy.

Professional Cosplayers can make extra bucks using social media marketing and Support pages like Patreon, Only Fans, Kofee in exchange for providing exclusive content. Another way of earning is through commission or sales.

Many Cosplayers, myself included, have an etsy store or sell merchandise online.

Finally come the events and collaborative means of earning. Cosplayers can be hired by companies for appearances or for hosting and promoting events. However, these events are hard to come by because many cosplayers go to them for free, falling for the ‘exposure trap’.

Aorin Shariyari's Quote on Otaku Culture
Otaku Culture in India

Streaming is now a popular subsect of the culture. Is it also a career option? 

To be blunt, gaming, streaming and cosplay can only be approached as a full-time if you have a safety net! It takes months and years for someone to get the fan-following and support required to start up. The resources involved need a lot of funding. I will never recommend it to someone who doesn’t have a safety net or family money. It may seem harsh for many aspiring streamers, but money is a major factor to avoid getting blindsided later on.

What do you think of resources like Only Fans? Do you think it has an audience in India and could get wider acceptance or will it be something which people indulge in but will stay in the shadows?

Only Fans and Patreon does NOT work in india!

I speak from true experiences here. People unsubscribe a few days before the subscription fee is charged and then subscribe again  – very low move, to be sure. Secondly, I have seen exclusive images of cosplayers posted on social media sites and groups which were supposed to be exclusive and behind pay-walls. This kills the chances of getting additional subscribers. Sadly, people in India hardly care to support artists for their work or talent.

Cosplay Culture
Cosplay Culture

Have people understood that cosplay is not consent or is a lot of work still to be done?

Some people are only now getting aware of the fact that cosplay is not consent while many still can’t seem to wrap their heads around it. Online harassment, name-calling, and using cosplayers’ images without their consent is a real thing. I have even seen fellow cosplayers use my images or videos for their personal gain without my permission or knowledge. It’s a crying shame.

Pritesh Patil

Purveyor of stories, hope and rebellions. Often found exploring the nooks and crannies of the city searching for adventures and gaps between worlds. You can find him on Twitter as @TheQuillseeker.

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