Update: Since the publication of this article the location of the next street meet on Central New Mexico Community College West Side has been changed to the CNM East Side.
Since 2018, Street Meet New Mexico has been an avenue for local creatives to build connections and strengthen both their professional lives and community ties. Street Meet is a monthly scheduled meet-up in which local models, photographers and cosplayers — hobbyists and professionals alike — come together to take photos.
The Albuquerque event was first started by former University of New Mexico student Megan Kamauoha as part of the larger Street Meet collective, which exists in several other cities including Los Angeles and Seattle.
Street Meet is held in changing locations across the city and often has themed nights which models and cosplayers are expected to base their outfits around. Darian Reid first became involved through Kamauoha while they were both students at UNM. Now, Reid is a host for the cosplay side of the event; they help to organize and book event locations and pick out monthly themes alongside other hosts.
The professional connections are one of the highlights of the event for fellow cosplay host Maeday Cosplay. These connections are fostered when creatives of varying experience come together to help each other and share their skills, furthering the abilities of everyone in the community at once.
One local cosplayer, Grace Knight, has been doing cosplay for the last 12 years. The last four years she has spent doing Street Meet, she said, have been invaluable in helping her turn toward a professional cosplay career.
“We get a lot of newer photographers, newer models, newer cosplayers that show up, and a lot of them don’t know photographers or models and they wanna work with people. So we really help connect people in that way in the community,” Maeday said.
Leif Kilburn started as a featured model at the very first Street Meet before picking up photography. He agreed that Street Meet provides him and others a great opportunity for practicing their craft, and building community.
“I want to do modeling and photography … a little more professionally and (Street Meet) is a really good place for meeting people and talking to them about ideas. And I guess after all these years, I’ve got some friends there — it’s fun just to go see them and do things,” Kilburn said.
The love of the craft pulls artist Tiger Lily Cosplay back to the event. She said Street Meet gives her the opportunity to show off her hard work outside of conventions, which she often finds to be overcrowded and inaccessible for her friends who are immunocompromised or otherwise anxious in large crowds.
“It is one of my absolute favorite hobbies to do,” Tiger Lily said. “It’s one of my favorite things. I cannot tell you the joy I get from having little kids come up to me and go, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re Poison Ivy.”
For Reid, the strong friendships they have been able to make with people who share their same passion keeps them invested in the event.
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“Honestly, what I’ve gotten out of Street Meet is making some of the best friends I’ve ever made in my entire lifetime. That’s what I want for Street Meet: to make that close community,” Reid said. “Even though there’s a lot of us, and there’s a lot of people who come out to the meets, I genuinely hope people will find their friends, their group of people and their own little creative niche.”
The next Street Meet will be held at Central New Mexico Community College West Side on Sunday, March 19 from 2 to 5 p.m. More information about the event can be found on their Instagram @streetmeetnewmexico_official.
Zara Roy is the copy chief at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @zarazzledazzle