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Bellingham
Thursday, May 6, 2021

Bellingham gets animated

Mario, Deadpool and Naruto came to life as anime lovers donned their carefully crafted costumes at the Bellingham Anime Convention.

“I started Bellingham Anime Convention eight years ago at the Bellingham Public Library with 20 attendees,” Jennifer Lovchik, registration coordinator and director of finance for the Bellingham Anime Convention, or BA-CON, said. “We are hoping [to see] between 500 and 1,000 people.”

Lovchik said it takes her team a full year to plan the event.

The convention hosted a variety of booths including 43 artists, eight vendors and six community tables Saturday, May 12 at Whatcom Community College.

“I like to support people who are passionate about something and I love cosplay personally, I think it looks so cool,” Lovchik said. “So many of the teens I work with use this as a way of creative self-expression, so I love to facilitate that. That’s where I got started doing it and that’s why I continue to do it.”

Mario and Princess Peach at BA-CON Saturday, May 13. // Photo by Kirstyn Nyswonger

Attendee Bella Henriksen said she spent about $250 for her full costume. That included specialty beads, vinyl, a wig and contacts. It took her about three months to finish.

“There’s craftsmanship, armor, makeup, wig styling, there’s even posing in character,” Henriksen said. “You have to be a bit of a performance artist. It’s transformative.”

Henriksen began cosplaying about six years ago when a friend asked her to dress up.

She said she likes doing group cosplays and is slowly getting into cosplay competitions, where one could potentially win cash prizes for work done on costumes.

“I’ve found cosplaying in general has improved my self-esteem,” Henriksen said. “It’s improved how I interact with people.”

Clare Duncan is a volunteer at BA-CON, and said she was into anime in middle school and early high school. She had friends that shared her same interest and invited her to group cosplay at Sakura-Con, a three-day anime convention in
Seattle.

“There’s also nostalgia in it for me,” she said.

Duncan said she had never been to BA-CON, having recently moved to Bellingham, and said the event was better than she had expected, especially for a local convention, which in general aren’t as popular as the larger, more well-known ones.

“I’m impressed by this one. I think it could start competing against some of the bigger conventions in a few years,” Duncan said.

“There’s a special camaraderie and culture that comes around dressing up.”

Jesse Worland, BA-CON attendee

Jamie Campbell, founder of Arts by Jamie, has been selling her drawings, pins, bookmarks and fine art prints at conventions since she was 13, when an anime club she was a part of went to a convention. She thought she could try her hand at tabling.

“I’ve made $200 to over $1,000 at conventions,” Campbell said.

Campbell said she takes certain things about a convention into consideration, like how long a
convention has been around, how popular it is and its overall size.

“[These conventions] mean a lot to me,” Campbell said. “It’s doing what you love and it’s in an environment I’m very comfortable in.”

Kate Hinkle is the founder of Wisppit, a company that sells drawings of anime characters and cartoon cats.

“It’s been a really good way to meet other artists and other people that are interested in the same stuff as me and to meet people that I normally wouldn’t get to meet, because they’re interested in my art,” Hinkle said. “I get to share that with them, it’s important [to me].”

Cosplayers sitting together at BA-CON Saturday, May 13. // Photo by Kirstyn Nyswonger

Alan Richardson, who cosplayed as Deathstroke, a supervillain from DC Comics, spent $600-700 to make his costume from scratch.

Richardson used to live in North Carolina and never really had opportunities to attend conventions of any kind. When he moved to Bellingham, he made a costume, attended Emerald City Comicon, and has been active in cosplay ever since.

“I’ve always liked dressing up and I thought, ‘Why not, go out and do it,’” Richardson said. “It’s a good community and [a] good hangout spot.”

Jesse Worland, an attendee, enjoys seeing new artists at the artist alley and hanging out with people who share the same interest as him.

He tries to attend any convention he can to have the experience. He cosplayed as Revolver Ocelot, a character from the video game series, Metal Gear.

“Not many people recognize my character,” Worland said, “But when there is that connection, it’s special.”

Worland said he did a lot of sewing for his outfit, and in all, spent about $45 and two weeks completing his costume.

“There’s a special camaraderie and culture that comes around dressing up,” Worland said.    

BA-CON gets better every year and it’s quickly growing, Worland said.

The Bellingham Anime Convention, which
began in 2010, has plans to put on the event next year.

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