Missyeru is one of the most well-known cosplayer within the League of Legends world (and beyond). Most see her work as setting the standard for professional cosplaying.
What aspects of your career as a cosplayer don't most people know or think about? In other words, what lies below the visible surface of costume production, event attendance, and photo shoots?
Hmm well I’d say there is a LOT of time management that goes into costumes, and cosplay. I get hundreds of messages from all my different social media, and the internet can be a huge time sink. As far as getting photo shoots theres a lot of things such as location scouting, getting the right photographer for each costume etc. You want to look your absolute best, and with the internet being such a instant thing, its important to not post horrid photos or unflattering etc. Event attendance is a lot of fun, but I'm finding having a handler is almost required now. Especially if you are on a time crunch, if I as the cosplayer tell a fan I'm not able to stop for one photo, I get casted as a bitch etc. (I could be on the way to the bathroom, shoot, panel anything If you dont stop you are considered mean because to them its 1 photo and they don't realize that them stopping you gets a instant crowd and 1 photo turns into 30) However if I have a handler and they are the one to turn someone away they are more understanding.
Is it common for professional cosplayers to also have educational backgrounds in costume design and cosmetology as you do?
I personally have an associates in Fashion Design, but I studied Costumes, and a certification in Cosmetology. I've talked to a few others, and it really varies. Jessica Ngiri for example does not, she's going to school for marketing I believe.
What proportion of your time is spent creating costumes for jobs/clients rather than for cosplay?
Technically my real job is making costumes for the entertainment industry and that can be anywhere from 10-60 hours a week. I make costume for me when I can, usually late at night, and around that. I wish I could devote all of my time all the time to my cosplay but unfortunately that wouldn't pay the rent.
In what ways has your cosplay career helped or influenced your career as a costume designer?
I think my costume design career has helped my Cosplay career more actually. I learned how to make things properly, and in high quality from costume designing, and I translate that to how I make my cosplays. A lot of time professional cosplayers cut corners to have MORE costumes, and have a quantity over quality mentality.
Are you ever been commissioned to create cosplay outfits, or are most of the costumes you design for films and other performances?
I rarely take private commissions. I just don't have the time. I know there is a lot of money with it but I'd have to quit my job to focus on that, also a lot of privet commissions want really amazing high quality costumes, fast and for not a lot of money. Almost all of the costumes I design are for films, videos, webseries, and performances.
What influenced your decision to start selling prints? Is this one of the most popular means by which cosplayers build up income?
I started selling prints because I was getting a lot of request from people on my page to sell them. I think they CAN make a lot of money, if being sold at a con, however I've never sold at a convention yet, just online. I know a lot of cosplayers sell prints to make money, and the profit margin isn't bad. It's a easy thing to sell, and they are easy to ship and transport.
How did you get started with attending events, conventions, and parties as a professional cosplayer (that is, being booked to attend instead of just going for fun)?
A lot of it started with networking. I attend a lot of conventions as is just because i'm a huge fan and gamer, So it's always a super plus to get paid to go to an event I would normally go to! I'm a on a few companies lists as a perfered cosplayer, and I tend to work parties for them semi often. However I've only been invited to one convention so far as a guest, and that was a lot of fun. I'd like to get more involved in doing that, and i'm not quite sure how to go down that route.
What practical advice (or warnings) would you give to a friend or family member who would like to follow in your professional footsteps as a costume designer and cosplayer?
It's a high risk carreer path, and since it's all freelance there is no job security, and that can be super stressful. I'm always looking for gigs to book with any free time I have to make money. I'd eventually like to work consistency with a company as their spokesperson, or in their community team, getting fans excited about upcoming events and releasing of new content and characters. As a consistent job I do Social Media for Whimsic Alley, and that's a lot of fun.
Some of my plans for the future is to start merchandising more, I've been working on more T-shirts, and a full on clothing line with dresses and leggings for women. I'm currently raising enough money to pay the overhead start up costs to make those happen.