What is professional cosplay?

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What is professional cosplay?

Postby deidrekim » Sun Jul 30, 2017 9:29 pm

What it says on the tin. Do people really get paid? Whatever for? How are their costumes any better than costumers with Screen Accurate outfits?
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Re: What is professional cosplay?

Postby galacticprobe » Mon Jul 31, 2017 12:15 am

I've poked around Google a bit, and some of the results I read through would make you sit back and go "Whaaaaaaaa?!"

Check out some of these (a couple are jaw-droppers, but I think those are the exceptions):
What kind of money do professional cosplayers make on average?
What it's like to cosplay for money
Professional Cosplayer Enako Reveals Her Lucrative Income
YouTube vlog: How Do Cosplayers Make Money
YouTube vlog: 20 Ways Cosplayers Make Money
How much money can you make cosplaying? (This one may be the most honest and practical blog on the subject that I've read while looking for this answer.)

The gist I got from this (albeit short) research is you can make money if the Con/Event can pay you any of the following:
Appearance Fee;
Travel (transportation costs);
"Per Diem" (lodging and meal costs);
Contest Judge;
Panel Guest.

Companies can also pay you for being a "Booth Model" (male or female, however this is biased more towards the female cosplayers). You can sell photos of yourself in costume. You can charge a fee to let someone take a photo/selfie with you. You can take commissions for making costumes or props for people. You can even sell some of your old costumes or bits thereof if you no longer use those because you've outgrown them, or you've made a better quality version of it. Major companies, if they notice you, can sponsor you to promote their Sci-Fi/Anime/Fantasy products. And of course taking all of the above into account, the more Events you attend, the more you get paid.

(Side note: The sites I found for male cosplayers were basically promotionals for professional male cosplayers looking to get hired out. Like I mentioned, most of the results I looked through were biased towards the female side of cosplay, and one of them I thought might be taken as offensive because this true professional cosplayer was sponsored for anime products and the company paid her over $100k US a year to attend events as both a "Booth Babe" - the article's words, not mine - and a panelist... and it was because she had certain... erm... shall we say "assets"? :oops: ... that gave her the perfect appearance for such anime characters. The events she attended also paid her travel and lodging, an appearance fee and panelist fee, and she also charged con-goers to take those photos/selfies with her. So she was one of those exceptions that is making more than enough to do only cosplay for income, for as long as the industry stays strong.)

And on that note, I think I'll run. (Go easy on my, Kim; you know how fast I can't run! ;) )

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Re: What is professional cosplay?

Postby deidrekim » Mon Jul 31, 2017 5:42 am

Thanks, Dino! I ran some searches through DuckDuckGo, the search engine that doesn't track their users, and it seems mostly anime stuff. But I understand that there are other fandoms out there. I am afraid this trend will leave amateurs like most people on this board out in the cold. :(
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Re: What is professional cosplay?

Postby NamelessBaroness » Mon Jul 31, 2017 1:20 pm

I'm not sure what you mean by "out in the cold." How do you expect the professionals to affect us happy amateurs in a negative way?

It doesn't really matter to me how many professional cosplayers there are out it the world; I'm still going to enjoy the challenge and creative outlet of making my own outfits.
I'm still going to carry warmth in my heart for each time little kids squee and run up to me chattering a mile a minute (I cosplay way more than just Who, lots of cartoons).
I'm still going to laugh in joy and jump up and down when someone recognizes an obscure character that I made, because I love them.
I'm still going to happily pose for pictures if someone asks.
I'll still happily talk about how I made my costumes to anyone interested (and in the case of my family members, those not interested!)
I'm still going to hang out with other fans and have fun!

Just because someone out there is getting paid, in some way, for their cosplay, doesn't make mine any lesser. It's not a zero sum game; there's more than enough awesome and fun to go around for everyone.
And if they're "professionals," they're there working, anyway. It's another day on the job for them. Who needs that stress? I'm here for the joy of it.
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Re: What is professional cosplay?

Postby galacticprobe » Tue Aug 01, 2017 3:24 am

NamelessBaroness wrote:I'm not sure what you mean by "out in the cold."

I think what deidrekim means is that most of those "professional" cosplayers that do make a living from cosplay alone are those who cosplay anime, as both her search results (and mine) indicate. It's the non-anime cosplayer that's passed over when those looking to hire someone to cosplay for them full-time, and be paid for it (handsomely, in come cases), are doing the hiring for said professional cosplayer.


NamelessBaroness wrote:How do you expect the professionals to affect us happy amateurs in a negative way?

Again, it comes down to the businesses hiring only anime cosplayers for professional jobs. In most of those search results, all they talk about are the businesses looking for anime cosplayers to portray a character from one of their video games, anime series or mangas, etc. to help promote that business. If you cosplay anime, you've got a chance to get your foot in the door. If you cosplay 'Doctor Who', 'Star Trek' (pick a version), 'Farscape', 'X-Files', 'Battlestar Galactica' (Classic and New) and such, you don't have much of a chance (and sadly thanks to that "double-standard" us guys have lesser of a chance at it than the girls do).

The one exception is if you happen to belong to a good cosplay group like the Star Wars 501st Legion (a.k.a. the 501st Battalion), which is an international fan-based organization dedicated to the construction and wearing of exceedingly screen-accurate replicas of mostly Imperial garb (Stormtrooper armor, Sith robes, Clone Troopers, etc.). But they also do Star Wars universe civilian clothing, Jedi robes, etc., and they get paid very handsomely to make appearances. (And according to Adam Savage - yes, the former Mythbuster who is a member of that group - they're harder to get into than getting a job at IBM... i.e. you have to know someone on the inside that's going to recommend and sponsor you.)


NamelessBaroness wrote:It doesn't really matter to me how many professional cosplayers there are out it the world; I'm still going to enjoy the challenge and creative outlet of making my own outfits.

I don't think any number of professional cosplayers will stop the rest of us fans that enjoy cosplaying for the fun of it.


NamelessBaroness wrote:I'm still going to carry warmth in my heart for each time little kids squee and run up to me chattering a mile a minute (I cosplay way more than just Who, lots of cartoons).
I'm still going to laugh in joy and jump up and down when someone recognizes an obscure character that I made, because I love them.

And get "glomped"! ;) I've had my fair share of glomping in years past, both in my 'ST: Voyager' jumpsuit and one of my 'Doctor Who' personnas. One was from a nice (if dusty) zombie girl that looked as if she could have just come from the set of 'The Walking Dead'. And yes, every glomp (regardless of how old the glomper was) always put a smile on my face.

I think the biggest smile (and watery eyes) I got was when I visited my mother in Tucson, AZ some years ago (when I was more mobile than I am now). She took my wife and I to Old Tucson Studios where she works part-time and where they filmed many western TV shows and movies: John Wayne's "McLintock!", Kurt Russell's "Tombstone", shows like 'Gunsmoke', 'Little House On The Prairie' - too many to list here. Just to indulge my inner, younger cowboy self, I put on my black jeans, a black shirt, and threw on a black cowboy hat, and stuffed a couple of "cards" I'd printed on card stock from my mother's computer into my shirt pocket. While walking around the studios' dusty streets, an elderly lady passing by started singing - just loud enough for me to hear - "Have gun will travel reads the card of a man...".

So I stopped and said a pleasant 'Hello' to her and asked if she would like one of my cards. Her eyes widened and she said "You don't!" Well, I did. I pulled out one of the "Have Gun Will Travel" cards that I'd printed (from an image found on Google) and gave it to her. She hugged me so tightly because it was one of her late husband's favorite shows (and they'd filmed at least one episode of the series at Old Tucson). She had her friend take a photo of me with her so she could put it next to the one of her husband. I kissed her cheek and thanked her for recognizing my feeble attempt to recreate Paladin's trail clothing. She said she thought I'd done the late Richard Boone (Paladin) proud, and the photo she'd had taken, and the card, would be like a shrine for her husband. (I was in my early 50s, and I still almost cried when I hugged her again before we parted ways.)

So it's not only the fun you have with cosplay (of any kind), but it's also the joy that you can - even unexpectedly - bring to others that fills you with that warmth.


NamelessBaroness wrote:I'm still going to happily pose for pictures if someone asks.
I'll still happily talk about how I made my costumes to anyone interested (and in the case of my family members, those not interested!)

Ditto, here, Baroness. As a professional model-maker friend of mine says "The biggest secret I have to model-building is, there are no secrets. If I know something you're asking about, then I'll tell you about it." And on this note, the one thing you have to watch out for are those "Stitch Nazis" who will ask you about your costume, and then proceed to tell you everything wrong with it. I ran into one of those at Timegate 2013 (and so did quite a few from what I'd heard at that Con). Granted, he was dressed out as the ultimate 11th Doctor from Series 5 - makes me wonder how much he spent on that costume because it really was first rate, including the wig - but I didn't need to listen to him pick apart my 2nd Doctor costume that was made from painstaking make-your-eyes-bleed staring at every publicity photo and steady, clear screen grab of Pat Troughton in costume to get that coat as accurate as possible.

And when someone like Colin Baker passes you on his way to one of the panels and says "Look at you! That's one of the best Pat Troughton looks I've seen!" (this coming from the man who worked with Troughton), it really rubs you the wrong way when some Stitch Nazi picks your costume apart. (This is when it pays to have a decent "Stop All" waiting in the wings. When that Stitch Nazi started on me, I simply put a hand up to stop him and paraphrased Troughton's line from "The Three Doctors" when the Brig started questioning him: "It's no use your talking to me about all this, my dear fellow. As far as I'm concerned, you haven't happened yet. Don't you see? I'm just a temporal anomaly." And then I walked away leaving him standing there fuming because he couldn't continue on attacking my costume.)


NamelessBaroness wrote:I'm still going to hang out with other fans and have fun!

Which is, I think, what most of us do when we attend Cons: we have fun with other fans.


NamelessBaroness wrote:Just because someone out there is getting paid, in some way, for their cosplay, doesn't make mine any lesser.

Easy, Baroness. No one is saying it does. If anything it makes your cosplay more special because it's something you like doing and want to do so you can bring joy to fans (especially those little "ankle- and knee-biters"... like my grandson). I'm sure you don't ask people to pay you before you let them take a photo of or with you. (Some of those professional cosplayers charge up to $30 or more for a photo - either of them alone or a selfie.) Some even charge the same for a pre-printed photo with their autograph on it. However from that aspect it only makes people like you look even better to the fans because you let them take your photo for free.

That's got to mean a lot to some little kid that wants a photo with you, but his parents are on a tight budget and probably didn't pay some utility bill just so they could attend that convention. Now, having to put out another $30 for a photo? I've been there - not paid the electric and gas bills once just to go to a Con. My daughter (now approaching 27) was just 4 at the time, and she was thrilled to have her photo taken with a Sailor Moon. How sad would that have been for us if we had to tell her that we couldn't afford an extra $30 for that photo because we only had enough money for the Con tickets, hotel room (for one night), and still be able to buy her something small from the Dealers' Room and get something to eat?


NamelessBaroness wrote:It's not a zero sum game; there's more than enough awesome and fun to go around for everyone.
And if they're "professionals," they're there working, anyway. It's another day on the job for them. Who needs that stress? I'm here for the joy of it.

Well, some of those professionals that get paid over $100k a year probably like that level of income for doing something they love, which is cosplay. (It was Mark Twain who said, "Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life." Maybe some of those professional cosplayers look at it that way; they love doing what they're doing, the pay is excellent, so their stress "may" be minimal.)

For most of us, cosplay is a hobby. We buy what we have to for our costumes, sometimes finding bargains on so-close-enough-items-that-you-can't-tell-it's-not-the-real-item pieces, and sometimes having to fork out a couple of hundred dollars for a replica coat or shirt (or having one made) because, well, we're stuck and can't find that close-enough piece off the rack. Yeah, we might have to save up for a few weeks (or months) before we can buy that replica, or have one made if a ready-made replica isn't available, but we still do it because we love doing it.

Would we like to get paid for doing it? I'm sure a lot of us would, but does that mean we're going to stop doing it because we don't get paid, or can't land one of those great paid-cosplay jobs? Not on your regenerations! :) Now, having a great costume and presence at many Cons could get you noticed, and someone may want to hire you to be one of those "Booth Models" at their business stand. If that happens, wonderful! That Con could be paying for itself, and you could find yourself being asked to attend another Con with that business, and not only get paid to be a Booth Model, but also have your Con admission paid, and possibly travel and hotel fees paid. But if that never happens, then you're no worse off than you've been before, and things are just as normal as they've ever been.


So I think deidrekim's original comment - which was very specific about amateurs:
deidrekim wrote:...like most people on this board...

was referring to the businesses over-focusing on anime cosplayers, and not giving any attention to 'Doctor Who' cosplayers. (I look at it this way: it's the businesses' loss.)

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Re: What is professional cosplay?

Postby deidrekim » Tue Aug 01, 2017 5:25 am

Baroness and Dino, thanks again for yr detailed and thoughtful answers. Those have been helpful to me. I'm concerned that pro cosplayers will start taking the place of us "amateur" costumers at cons, even small ones, competing in costume contests, being on all costume panels, getting paid for attending a con when an actor or writer or artist or prop maker or costume designer (all pros) could have been hired instead. How would you like to attend a con and find that you couldn't enter the costume contest (if that was yr thing) because only pro cosplayers were allowed entry, just as an example?

Dino, I had no idea that there was that bad experience at a previous TG! I'm usually so busy w/ panels and running the Wardrobe Portal that I don't always have a lot of time to just sit and chat, alas. There are those types in Civil War re-enactments and the SCA, also (we called them authenticity mavens). These people need to be given the cut direct! I offer mention in costume panels, esp. for the reassurance of beginning cosplayers, that these rude people just need to be ignored. But if there's real harassment, I would report it to Security. Some people just need a talking to. (Sexual harassment is also bad and needs to be reported to Security.)
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Re: What is professional cosplay?

Postby galacticprobe » Tue Aug 01, 2017 2:56 pm

deidrekim wrote:Dino, I had no idea that there was that bad experience at a previous TG! I'm usually so busy w/ panels and running the Wardrobe Portal that I don't always have a lot of time to just sit and chat, alas. There are those types in Civil War re-enactments and the SCA, also (we called them authenticity mavens). These people need to be given the cut direct! I offer mention in costume panels, esp. for the reassurance of beginning cosplayers, that these rude people just need to be ignored. But if there's real harassment, I would report it to Security. Some people just need a talking to. (Sexual harassment is also bad and needs to be reported to Security.)

Kim, I had no problem putting that guy in his place (which was well behind me... in my dust, so to speak). He had offended several of the con-goers, and word got around about him. People snubbed him, rather well, too, at least the ones I'd seen doing it. Maybe I could be considered one of those. It was early on the Saturday, and I guess things got a bit too hot for him because I remember seeing him storm out of the hotel lobby, and I never saw him again. (Even out of costume I'd have recognized him; he had a distinctive face.) Those that he'd bothered were asking some fellow con-goers where he went, presumably to avoid him, and I'd heard that he got in his car and drove off. I guess we spoiled his "fun" and he left. And yes; I remember how busy you were during that Con. We barely got to talk at all, but at least we managed to squeeze in a little time for it.

And before I got hurt, I used to do US Civil War Living History (different from re-enacting, though similar - more like interpreters interacting with the public rather than people acting as though they were in the 1860s and never breaking character). So I know what you mean. (It's where I learned of the "Stitch Nazi" term. For prop builders we call the nit-pickers "Rivet Counters".) The Living Historians/Interpreters were the more relaxed of the bunch. Even there I had some re-enactors make disparaging comments on my US Revenue Cutter uniform (the precursor to today's US Coast Guard) because of the machine stitching. (Sewing machines were invented in the 1840s, but they were expensive so only the rich, or the government had them.) I put those Stitch Nazis in their place by telling them my wife was a lighthouse keeper and her lighthouse has a sewing machine, and she made my uniform (which in reality, most 1860s sailors did make their own uniforms, though the government furnished the fabric for them). Some of those Stitch Nazis got a little too carried away and my friend's wife slapped their faces (rather hard - I even felt it!) when without warning they lifted her skirts to see if she was "wearing the correct number of petticoats" and whether they were hand or machine stitched. She raised such a ruckus about sexual assault (and her voice carried) that everyone in the park stopped to look at some very red-faced Stitch Nazis standing there, with slap marks showing through their embarrassment, as Security came over. Once Security learned what happened, they escorted the offenders away from the event.

As for professional cosplayers taking over cosplay contests at conventions, I think that may only happen at the really big Cons, like the San Diego ComicCon where they pull in hundreds of thousands of dollars and can afford to fork out the money for professionals to compete. Those contests get a monetary award. The smaller Cons don't make that much money and I don't think the professionals would be interested in competing, especially since they would only win a ribbon. They might attend as a guest, but that's nothing new. They've been doing that for as long as Cons have been going on, I think. When we had some decent Cons in my area we had model competitions where modelers would put their work on display (usually on one side of the Art Room - which is where the wife and I worked), and the guests, sometimes actors, sometimes professional modelers, sometimes both, would judge the models and award ribbons for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. We even had professional modelers, one of them a local who worked as a sub-contractor for Greg Jein of TNG et al fame, attend as guests and talk about model-building both as a hobby and a career. So far as I know, they haven't taken over the modelers' contests, and any they would enter their works into would be big ones, with a money award. I think it's the same thing with professional cosplayers. You won't see them taking over Cons like WHOlanta, or Dragon*Con Atlanta. They're focused on the big ticket Cons: San Diego comes immediately to mind, or Stan Lee's Comikaze.

And if they do look like they're starting to encroach on the smaller Cons, just get the Con Organizers to invite fewer of them, or stop inviting them altogether (which is a bit drastic). The Organizers can also put it in the Cosplay Contest Rules that it's "Amateurs Only - No Professionals" and even state that if someone has won a monetary prize they're considered a Professional and not eligible to enter. There could be a Check List that perspective contestants have to fill out and that could be one of the questions on it. Then when the Check List is handed in for contest registration, the reviewer can see the entrant had won money competing, making them a professional, and then tell the entrant "Sorry, but this is 'Amateur Only', no professionals, and anyone who's won a monetary prize in cosplay contest is considered a professional." (It's the Organizers' Con; they can make the rules, and it's all legal and helps protect the amateurs.)

This sounds like a great panel discussion topic, one I wish I could get to a Con for!

Dino.
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Re: What is professional cosplay?

Postby deidrekim » Wed Aug 02, 2017 5:30 pm

Interesting stories!

Good on the slapping!

I think I remember this 11th Doctor. Not his face. I could have sworn he was at this con w/ a group of Tenn. costumers who were all rather elegantly turned out. That's the only time that I've ever seen them; they kept to themselves, was my vague impression. Nice people, but very tailored costumes; there was a Five, but that's all I remember.

It seems like pro cosplayers are everywhere.
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Re: What is professional cosplay?

Postby galacticprobe » Thu Aug 03, 2017 2:16 am

Now that you mention it, I do remember seeing a group of people that were wearing really great-looking Doctor costumes. My family did talk to some of them while I was wandering around, sitting in one of the rooms listening to a panel discussion, or grabbing that small chance to talk to you or Mike. (I really miss you guys!) My wife took some photos of one person dressed so perfectly as Tom Baker in his nearly-monochrome Season 18 costume, and he even looked a lot like Tom Baker did during those years. (I wonder if he was part of that group?) He posed for a photo with our daughter (whose real name is Nyssa - yeah, we did that to her).

Everyone I got to talk to at that Con thought everyone in that group was great, and only had problems with that Eleven. He was more like a re-enactor in that he never broke character, even when people tried to talk to him about anything. I was close enough one time to hear what amounted to a confrontation between that Eleven and (oh, Glob! I can't remember his name now... I could be wrong, but I think it was our (PA's) friend, dressed out as the 5th Doctor, who passed away a year or so ago; I spent a lot of time talking with him and he was one of the nicest guys I've ever met). The Five had asked that Eleven about his shirt, and that Eleven responded in a nasty way about how the Five looked in his clothing, making the comment something like "How could you let yourself go like that? What a mess! I can't believe I was ever you at one time. Oh, thank heavens for regeneration!"

It was like watching a version of "Time Crash" that was written by Roman Polanski! The Five was trying to politely enter a conversation but that Eleven acted more like the 6th Doctor did at the start of "The Twin Dilemma" when he was being abusive. Totally uncalled for. I was ready to hobble over and tell that Eleven to go back to his own Time Zone when that Eleven walked off on his own. (Obviously his only goal was to belittle as many cosplayers as possible.) So I sat with the Five for a while and we just talked about anything that the conversation drifted to. It helped take his mind off what happened and cheered him up again. Others must have seen it, too, because word of it got around quickly. It was after that when people started snubbing the Eleven (which irked him, from what I can remember). So when he finally got to me I was ready, and I guess I was the snub that broke his last straw because no one saw him again after those few people saw him get in his car and drive off.

I'm sure pro cosplayers aren't all like he was. (And if that Four who took the photo with our daughter wasn't a pro, he should be! He could make money as a Tom Baker impersonator; he looks that much like him!)

Having pros around isn't a bad thing if they're like the ones my wife and daughter talked to because they can give helpful tips on what to make or how to make it, or even where to find it. But you're always going to get the "holier than thou" at some point, unfortunately because as the saying goes: "There's always one somewhere." (And to be fair, I've met regular cosplayers with that same sour attitude at several Cons we've been to, and we've been to ones in New York City, Valley Forge, PA, Richmond, Norfolk, Hampton, and Virginia Beach, VA, and Baltimore, MD. We didn't meet any sour "regulars" at the Time Gate, though, which is why I really wish my back would play nice with the rest of my body so we could make the drive down for WHOlanta, and I really want to get to a Dragon*Con one of these years... if "Murphy" will ever let me!)

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