Cosplay has been a huge part of my life since I was first introduced to it when I was fourteen years old. It only made sense to combine it with another huge influence on me, The Legend of Zelda. Ever since I was little I wanted to be Princess Zelda, and when it was time for me to make my first cosplay, I really wanted to make her dress fromTwilight Princess. Yeah, right, that wasn’t going to happen. At least not yet. As much as I would have loved to have been that specific incarnation of Zelda, that was way beyond my skill level at the time. Instead, when the time came, after a few anime inspired cosplays for my first couple of times, I decided to cosplay as Link.
At first, I really didn’t want to cosplay Link, but he just seemed like the easier option for a novice cosplayer. I always thought of Link as a common cosplay, but that didn’t mean that I had to make my Link cosplay just like everybody else’s. The first Link I ever cosplayed was the first Link that made his debut in the original Legend of Zelda game. Suiting, no?
To start, I went to the thrift store and picked up some green bed sheets to begin my work. I was super cheap when it came to materials back then (don’t get me wrong, I’m still pretty cheap, but not as stingy as I used to be). I quickly made my legendary green tunic, bought a brown turtleneck, leggings, and boots, and I was ready to go. I had made tunics before, but I thought for this cosplay, in particular, to give it a rugged, adventure tone to it by not attaching the sides and allowing for the belt to connect the pieces together. Note to any first time Link cosplayers — don’t do that. It was a bad idea. However, I went through with it, and I ended up pinning the sides together because it kept falling apart (as to be expected, but hey, live and learn). I also kept it kind of baggy, so it’d make me look a little burlier. It didn’t work.
Regardless of the flaws, I still liked it. I knew it wasn’t the best, but I felt good wearing my cosplay. I even took it out for my first official photoshoot with my friend, and if anything, I got one really nice shot out of it. It was actually the photograph I used when first starting up my cosplay page, and set the tone for everything afterward. However, once I entered it in a cosplay competition, I’m not going to lie, I felt pretty embarrassed. I know it was intentionally made to look worn and scraggy, but seeing all the pristine, beautiful costumes that surrounded me I was feeling a little self-conscious; especially since there was a gorgeous Princess Hilda cosplayer sitting behind me (who I accidentally called Zelda at first glance- didn’t make the situation any better). I had entered contests before, and I had even won once, but I felt like I could have done so much better. When I got home that evening, that was exactly what I did.
International Cosplay Day was coming up soon, and I wanted to be Link again, but it was time to up my game. I went to JoAnn’s fabrics and picked out proper material — no more being super cheap! Being just the right amount of cheap would suffice. A beautiful light green color and a embroidered golden material for the rim of the cap. I even made the belt myself as well (it broke later — but that’s not important now). I even went as far as to make the shield myself, which was my first ever cosplay prop. Of course, I did something wrong (make note of this) by using duct tape and painting straight onto it, but was just a part of the learning process.
When I arrived in Central Park along with my friend, I was greeted by so many fantastic cosplayers who loved my cosplay! Now I know my sewing skills aren’t perfect, even to this day, but to have been supported by so many other cosplayers who were leagues above me made me feel like I could do anything. This goes for all cosplayers, Zelda or not, but keep encouraging each other! You never know who you might inspire!
Now I did feel good with the support of other cosplayers, but I felt even better when I arrived back at Penn Station on my way home when some strangers waiting for the train called out “Hey, Link!” I waved back at them and smiled, keeping silent like the hero himself. It was then that I realized it wasn’t about having the best looking cosplay, but simply enjoying being Link. Those feelings that I had when I first cosplayed Link in my old, scrappy tunic had returned in an instant. I loved walking around, dressed in the hero’s garb, doing Link-ish things, making people smile, and honestly, that’s what cosplay is all about. I, of course, still strive to improve my cosplay skills, but I always kept that memory in the back of my head and it reminds me of why I do what I do.
After the event, I still continued to work on that single classic Link cosplay, improving it every chance I got, and getting it to be exactly what I wanted. I still wear that cosplay to this day, and I even returned to the woods once again to prance about in my tunic just for the sake of having fun, but it didn’t stop there. Last year, upon the release of Triforce Heroes, I created a Blue Link cosplay, and a few months after that, Ravio, from A Link Between Worlds. By this point, cosplaying Link (yes, I’m counting Ravio on a technicality) had become a part of me. When I put on my wig and pointy ears, I truly felt how I did when I play The Legend of Zelda. I am that link between the game and the player, and it feels incredible.
My most recent project was Trainee Link, as seen in Hyrule Warriors. It’s the uniform he wears before he is rewarded the traditional green garbs for displaying acts of heroism. I feel like this is the cosplay that has become my favorite, not only for how it looks, but because of what it represents, and what it means to me. It represents the hard work and training Link went through, as well as all of my trials in completing this cosplay. I put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this cosplay (mostly tears). Link earned the hero’s tunic through his hard work and courageous actions, and I too, have been rewarded for my tribulations in September of 2016, by winning the best overall cosplay in Immortal Con 2’s cosplay competition.
I feel like this is the cosplay that has become my favorite, not only for how it looks, but because of what it represents, and what it means to mE
For me, cosplaying Link changed the way I look at cosplay. It was the realization that I didn’t have to look absolutely perfect to have fun as a character I loved. I know I’m still not anywhere near professional, but it’s not about that, and in a way, Link helped me figure that out. To be honest, the more love I had for Link, the better I did on each costume. Just be passionate and have fun, there is no right or wrong way to cosplay! At the same convention, a panelist said: “When you wear your cosplay, you want to make the character you’re representing proud.” I thought long and hard about what he said, and I can honestly say that I feel that Link would be proud of me. I know I’m not the best, but I had fun and I put a lot of passion into this project, and I know that would make him smile. He would be proud that I had the courage to do what I love, no matter what anyone else says. I also know that he would be proud of anyone who chose to take up their master swords, whether it be plastic or metal, and live like a legend — even if it is only for a day.
PS: If you have a Zelda cosplay, please leave a photo in the comments!