My Love Letter to Cosplay at 2016's TED Conference

By Adam Savage

At 2016's TED conference, I talked about cosplay as storytelling, which is really personal to me. Even more than prop collecting, it's a weird thing to be driven to do. And yet it's important.

I was privileged to be a speaker at 2016's TED conference, which was held in Vancouver. You can watch my talk, which was about cosplay, here or scroll below.

I had a totally different talk prepared for TED this year, and I threw it out completely two days before I left for Vancouver.

Adam Savage speaks at TED2016 - Dream, February 15-19, 2016, Vancouver Convention Center, Vancouver, Canada. Photo: Bret Hartman / TED

Originally my talk was going to be about art and science, which is a talk I want to give someday, but it felt like a lecture. And I'm not a university lecturer. A week before TED I realized this talk didn't have the resonance that I wanted it to.

Art and science -- STEAM -- is a topic near and dear to me, but I wanted something more personal. More genuine.

Then my wife suggested I talk about costuming. She furiously workshopped the talk with me even after I left for Vancouver, spending dozens of hours with me on the phone. In the end, I wrote most of this at the TED conference itself.

Cosplay as storytelling is really personal to me. It's also probably the hobby I'm most embarrassed about. Even more than prop collecting, it's a weird thing to be driven to do. And yet it's important. I feel like in talking about it, I'm trying to be a permission machine.

Hence my TED talk and my upcoming panel at Comic-Con, where I will be joined by award winning costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Coming To America) and cosplayer Jay Justice. (By the way, yes, that's me as a kid. I made my own suit of armor. Didn't you?)

I hope people watch this talk or my Comic-Con panel and feel it's OK to cosplay. And if they do, I hope they Tweet me a picture.

See you at Comic-Con!