Stroke the Fire: Cosplay, Hobby or Career?
We have debated this amongst ourselves and with our social media friends. Should cosplay be done in fun or should it be considered a legitimate career? Cosplay, hobby or career? In our opinion cosplay is a fun release from day to day realities of everything wrong in the world. It gives us and you an opportunity to live for a day in the boots of our favorite superhero’s and villains. Cosplay which is a mash up of two words “costume” and “play,” has always been seen as the later of the word to most. I’d say 80% or more of comic con convention attendees are there to enjoy a day full of geekdom and revel in all the wares to add to collections. Yet, there are those few who are attending comic cons, excluding vendors, to make a living from cosplay.
Cosplay has become more viable as a career as the comic books, cartoons, movies, and video games have become more advanced. You can actually see a star fly across the screen or a green hulk throw tanks at airplanes. The opportunity to meet the movie stars is usually slim to none unless you can fork over the $40 and up autograph fee, and that’s if they attend comic cons. This opens the door to those, who may or may not be, sincere in portraying those characters at our local comic cons. As the numbers of cosplayers are growing, so are the elaborate costumes. Cosplayers are spending weeks and months sewing, cutting, and gluing to look as realistic as possible. The more dressed in character, the more times a cosplayer is stopped for a photo op. It’s as if they are a movie star hounded by paparazzi and fans begging for an opportunity to take their picture. There are those cosplayers who enjoy the attention for what it is, stepping into the shoes of their favorite characters. Then there are those whose primary purpose is to get enough attention for profit. So can it be more than a hobby, can cosplay be a career?
To answer that we discussed the requirements to label cosplay as a career. Plain and simple can one earn a living from cosplay? We, including reluctant me, agreed that in today’s social media driven society one can indeed make a six figure living. However, I need to be clear that this six figure living or less is entirely reserved for female cosplayers. That’s right guys, no matter how awesome your chiseled ab’s fit into your batman costume you’ll never receive the same attention as your female counter parts. Social media statics show that a pretty female cosplayer will get five times or more likes, friends, notes, etc. than a handsome male cosplayer. So guys don’t quit your day jobs. The six figure earning potential is reserved for female cosplayers alone. Here’s a quote from Don McCaskill a board member of an anime comic con:
“I have contacted some top level [Female] cosplayers to find out what they want to appear at our con. All want flight accommodations, that’s a given. Some want a small per diem, $75 to $300. Others ask for a fee for the weekend $500 to $2,500, but the top [female] ones ask for sales guarantee. In a case of one that, I won’t name, [she wanted] $5,000 in sales of merchandise over the weekend.
So if she doesn’t sell [$5,000] in product, the convention covers the short fall. If these [female]cosplayers are attending 26 conventions a year, like Ya Ya Han says she does, then they can at least be earning $130,000.00. They would also be doing mail order sales, driven by Facebook and Twitter followers. Jessica Nigri has 2.7 million followers on Facebook, and Adrian Curry has over half a million on Twitter. That’s a huge market [female cosplayers] they are tapped into, if you market it right, it’s a good living.”
Basically, the more of a fan base (followers) you have as a female cosplayer the better the opportunity to turn an hobby into a career. We don’t blame these cosplayers for capitalizing on a opportunity to make a living from something they have a passion for. However, we do have issue with those who use our passion purely for financial gain and notoriety. We are passionate about our childhood superhero’s/villains and prefer they not be represented by someone who could care less about who they portray as long as the look sexy. I (we) like to think cosplay will always be a fun hobby, besides people retire from career’s. What’s your thoughts?