The CosFame Game – Part 1: Going Pro Isn’t What You Think…

Detailed Illusion and Messy Mia are adorbs!

Hey Cos-Nerds.

photograph by BoldDaniel

Today We’re gonna talk about CosFame, what is means to be ‘CosFamous’, how you get there, and what to expect.

Disclaimer: I know I’m not cosFamous. I don’t really want to be. I’d much rather be that cosplayer who writes funny shit and people like my blog than being recognized in the street by feral packs of otaku. Luckily, they tend to hibernate in winter. So we’re safe… for now.

The CosFame Game

So you wanna be famous?
You wanna be a star?
You wanna be in movies?
You wanna sing along to the Pussycat Dolls?

I think I’m sexy, and I don’t care what you say

Let’s get this out of the way: if you cosplay because you love being a character and/or you love crafting the outfits, I don’t think you should try to become cosFamous. I think, (and this is just my opinion, you are free to disregard, I won’t be hurt… *sobs*), I think if you love this hobby, just enjoy loving it. After a while, recognition will come naturally through meeting fellow cosplayers, photographers or fans of the cosplay’s source-material.


League is always a good choice. Cosplay by Ashari Cosplay

I think it’s important to understand the difference between recognition and fame. Recognition has more to do with people getting to know the person you are: whether it’s talented at posing, mastering embroidery, or being the best person to shoot with because you’re adorable AND reliable. Fame is more widespread, both in scope of the number of people who know your (cosplay)name, and what you are famous for. Basically recognition to the power of Holy Crap. (see figure below)

Science Cat

Fame = Recog HolyCrap

Huehuehue I studied Sciences

Protip: you get back what you put out there. If you show up to shoots late, miss events, constantly owe money, or show up drunk to important things (like one MC I had the discomfort of watching…) then you’re going to get a negative reputation.

Keep in mind, when you play the CosFame game, you’re no longer (cos)playing to have fun, you’re (cos)playing to win. Obviously not playing to ‘win’ as in, winning ribbons and shit. Though ribbons are cool. (NOTE: NOT A DR WHO REFERENCE. IT JUST LOOKS THAT WAY. SHUDDUP.) I’m talking about winning over your soon-to-be fans. Because you can’t be famous without the fans who know who the hell you are.

Still want to be CosFamous? Or just want to read about how CosFame does and doesn’t work in the Social Media Age? Let’s go!

Misconceptions about CosFame and Going Pro

Detailed Illusion and Messy Mia are adorbs!Detailed Illusion/Niq Cosplay and Messy Mia winning the WCS Canada primaries

  1. I’ll be rich!
  2. I’ll get free things!
  3. I’ll get recognized in public!
  4. I’ll get to travel all over the world and do stuff I love
  5. Everyone will want my picture
  6. Everyone will love me
  7. It won’t be that much work compared to a ‘Real Job’
  8. It’ll fill that dark hole in my soul that spiders have started to nest in  <_<

*Puts on my Debunkin’-Spelunkin’ goggles*

*patent pending


1.    I’ll be Rich!

Erm. Well. Maybe you’ll make a living? I’m not privy to Yaya Han or Jessica Nigri’s T4 statements. Or, whatever the IRS calls the paper that says how much money you’ve made in a year before they say how much tax you need to pay them. They’re professional cosplayers which means they are surviving off the money they make, but my guess is that they aren’t exactly rolling in [insert American president on the 100 here]s.

(I think this is my most Canadian post yet…       … sorry…  )

So, I sell stuff at cons, and while I by no means make back the cost of my costumes, I will usually make back the cost of half the table. Usually. If I’m at [redacted] that one place I don’t go to anymore, I might not even make back the parking I had to pay to sell there. #goodJobCon. These aren’t expensive tables. Even my costume output is low compared to the ‘pros’. Yeah, they have more time to make more costumes and devote to their business, but if you go pro, you’ll still have costs that you have to deal with.



Travel to cons.



Catfood. (for your cat, obvs)

So without getting tooooo deep into costs (that’s in the next post!) if you want to be above the poverty line, you’re going to have to either supplement your Cosplay Job with something else until you’re in the Yaya/Nigri tiers of fame, or start a cosplay commune with other likeminded costumers.

Protip: Do research on communes before starting one. Successful ones! None of that Power family stuff, okay?

 Starting out, you won’t be able to cover your costs of life. That’s just a basic fact. You need enough people to not only know who you are, but to want to pay you for stuff. Whether you’re selling prints, or costumes, or books, etc. Even if you do reach the point you can ‘go Pro’, you’ll still have to watch the bottom line so you don’t end up starving.

2.    I’ll Get free things!

Swag bags are a thing. So are gifts from fans. There’s also endorsements, but when you come down to it, Cos-Celebrities are on a different ‘fame level’ than music/tv/movie stars. You’ll probably still get thank you gifts from conventions, or gifts from fans (maybe?) but the type of gifts won’t be the super-luxe spa packages with the latest designer sunglasses or anything. Food, a mug, or fan art are more likely gifts.

Though, food, mugs and fanart are still pretty damn cool.

What about endorsements?

Wigs! Fabric! Games! There’s a pretty big potential for endorsements if you do reach Yaya/Nigri levels of CosFame. But even if you don’t, endorsements are one area that you’ve got a good chance to get free stuff from. Or at least a pretty good discount.

Cosplay and cons are big damn business these days, and there are a number of start up companies that cater specifically to us fancypants costumiers. Wigs, contacts, business cards, replica props, etc.

With enough followers, it might be worth contacting a couple companies and asking if they run sponsorships, or would be willing to consider giving you a discount in exchange for plugging their wares to other cosplayers.

3.    I’ll get recognized in the street

Have I told you folks about that time I got recognized in public?


Story time!

A guy in Target came running up to me and was like:


And I was like:

“No. I cosplay, but-“

And he was like:

“Oh, sorry.”


“Never mind.”


 Then he left.


And that’s my story about getting recognized in public as a cosplayer. #BestStoryEver

I’ll get recognized at Cons these days, but it’s usually about my blog, so it’s less awkward. For them.

Calamity: “You can check out my blog for updates, and funny shit”

Cosplayer A: “Oh, yeah, I read it!”

Calamity: “OH. uh.” *awkward pause.* “You, you do?” *looks at Melting Mirror, then back at Cosplayer A* “…really?”

I am the best at social interactions.

So remember how I said earlier that Fame was Recognition to the power of holy crap? Some people may recognize you. They may also be the kind of people/moments you don’t want to be recognized by/at. Like while you’re in the washroom, waiting to pee. Or at the doctor’s office suffering from an allergic reaction to whatever your cat rolled in.
You might get mis- recognized…
Vickybunnyangel - Masq photos by Eleventh Photograph

pictured: Totally Yaya Han. Just ask her.

Or you won’t get recognized at all. In these situations, it’s best to apply Murphy’s 2nd Law:

When you want something specific to happen, something else will instead.

4.    I’ll get to travel all over the world and do stuff I love

Pffft. You don’t need to be famous to do stuff you love while traveling! Just solid budgeting skills and a passport.

Maps made with this thing.

(Actual) Protip: Use incognito mode when browsing for flight prices. It stops the sites from recognizing you, and only showing more expensive flight costs.

Go forth and travel! Love your hobbies! Why wait to be ‘famous’ or a ‘professional’ to do awesome things, when you can do them now?

5.    Everyone will want my picture

A photo of me Sempai?

Maybe not everyone, but a whole bunch of people, Yeah? So, good enough. Pictures of just you, with you, up your skirt/kilt… though I absolutely think that any time you take a picture of a cosplayer you should always ask first.

And to the creeper creeps who take ‘surprise’ upskirts and down shirts, you’re disgusting and should be charged with invasion of privacy and public lewdness. /rant

6.    Everyone will love me!

Oh…. honey, no.


There’s this weird as fuck phenomenon that happens when someone makes it big. You’ve seen it, you may have even said some of it at some point. It’s dumb and wrong, but it still happens.

  • She sold out, now she’s just in it for the money.
  • He’s only famous because he’s hot.
  • If I showed my boobs like that I could be famous too.
  • He doesn’t even make his own costumes. He just says he does.
  • She’s such a bitch, did you hear [Unsubstantiated rumour]?
  • I bet he just wants the attention, and I heard he lets his photographers fucks him.
  • She’s such a fake. Pretending she’s nice like that. [Never having met said person]
  • His abs are totally fake. Omg.

And so on.

Shop cat

He ain’t no size 2. And he totally dyes his fur.

It. IS. SO DUMB. But it’s such an easy habit to fall into. It’s the need of some people to tear others down, just because they’re jealous. Or believe some rumour you heard somewhere.

The internet is a tool, the internet trolls are awful, broken excuses for human beings. You can’t always ignore them, unfortunately.

Then there’s the people that WILL want to be your friend, for the wrong reasons. Wanting to latch onto your fame, money, attention, use you, etc. Some will even pretend o have your back in public, but then tear you down in private. Jettison those ones.

On the other hand, you’ll have the chance to meet more like-minded people who can become WONDERFUL friends. The tricky part is telling the different.

So, keep your wits about you.

7.    It won’t be that much work compared to a ‘Real Job’



*points to your current cosplay*

Is that easy? What about the one before? Not stressful?

Work is work, the difference is you hopefully love costuming so it’ll be less of a drag (unless you cross-play, ohoho!) than a regular run-of-the-mill job.

8. It’ll fill that dark hole in my soul that spiders have started to nest in

*STARES INTO THE HOLLOW OF YOUR SOUL* Cosplay Cat? Get my Got2Be Glued hairspray, lighter, and PolyFill. We’re goin’ into spider-exorcism business.

Fun fact: Cosplay cat is scared of spiders. And moths. And most things.


Pictured: Not a brave cat.

 Follow the rest of this series:

Part 2 – Realities of Starting A Business

Part 3 – Playing to Win 

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