First things first: yes, you can make a career out of being a professional cosplayer and paid model, but the odds are stacked against you. For every cable channel veejay and online gaming spokesmodel you find, there are probably hundreds — even thousands of hopefuls who never made it past the go-see.
So, how would you go about realistically converting your passion for cosplay and the skills you acquired while doing cosplay, into a job that will also help you pay the bills? Here are five suggestions:
Senior Graphic Artist and Design Lead
Cosplay is, at the most basic level, a form of artistic expression; so, it’s not such a big leap to go from cosplayer to professional digital artist. Graphic artists and design leads are particularly in-demand in today’s multi-media market — where everything from screen tees to MMORPGs need a good designer. What’s better than getting paid to doing something you love?! Exactly.
Real World Examples: Hazel Velas (h_matsumoto) and Adz Sison (menismastah)
Brand or Community Manager
Cosplay teaches you a lot of stuff that they seem to overlook in the university setting — things like quality control and time management and getting along well with others. These skills are — surprise, surprise — what good managers need to do their jobs well. So, the next time your folks nag you for “wasting your time” with cosplay, say that you are actually going though a management internship for a highly specialized niche market — that’ll shut them up 😀
Real World Examples: Robert Wong (evaguy_01) and Paul Mendoza (battlechaser)
Contractor and Fabrication Specialist
Most cosplayers are good with their hands in the uh non-AV idol sorta way. Some people are so good that they have been commissioned to construct props, parts, and entire costumes for fellow cosplayers and even corporate entities such as gaming companies, electronics manufacturers, and events organizers. And because these skills are rare and highly-prized, you can pretty much get away with your asking price when doing commissions. That’s the law of supply and demand at work!
Real World Examples: Guy Singson (katsune) and Lyron Aquino (burikiboy)
Many cosplayers outgrow the habit at one point, and some move on to challenge the cut-throat world of fashion. This is a particularly hard road to take, for those who chose it — we’ve all seen ANTM and Project Runway. However, with a quirky and surprisingly well-defined point-of-view gleaned from their roots in cosplay, many cosplayers-turned-designers are now highly sought after for editorials and shows. Who knows — the next h. naoto could be you.
Real World Examples: Cat de Jesus (dustydoll) and Karina Nash (kachan)
You can simply attend events all your life, or you can choose to put up your own events for fun and profit. With the amount of market research you’ve done as the market, there will be few of the miscues that professional events firms commit because they simply do not understand the cosplayers they want to cater to. But be warned: it’s sometimes a thankless job – the amount of work you put in does not automatically translate to a huge profit at the ticket booth at the end of the day.
Real World Examples: Pablo and Tanya Bairan (kero-chan and acewildgal)