One of the things people love about cosplay is that it connects to your passions. Whether you're a fan of movies, video games, comics, TV shows, there are tons of characters ripe for cosplaying. For many fans, it's an expression of that deep love for content that moves you. But, cosplaying can be difficult and even scary to get started with. Especially if you're new to this type of public self-expression, but it can certainly be worth it.
While it's not hard to don a costume or put on a mask, there's a certain time commitment that comes with cosplay, energy, attention to detail, and even with support from friends and family.
That's why many cosplayers that are new to the experience look to others for inspiration. The internet is an amazing resource for new cosplayers, as many experienced creators post tutorials online.
A perfect example of someone who enjoys the fun part of cosplay is Wes Johnson of the Wes_IRL Twitch channel, and formerly Smosh Games. Over the last few years, he's gained a cosplay following for his unique takes on Link, the hero from the Zelda video games, the Winter Soldier, a Marvel hero with a tragic past, and a few other popular characters.
But that's not all Wes is known for, he's also a prominent streamer.
Just like in cosplay, anyone can learn the basics of streaming, provided they have basic equipment, and the dedication to invest in their audience. But there is a certain degree of expectation when it comes to mastering all of the technical needs, as well as having the confidence to let your personality shine when you interact with viewers. There's a skill and comfort level necessary to keep the conversations going and narrate any video games or other activities.
Wes Johnson has been part of the streaming community since 2012. Wes started at Smosh Games, a gamer podcast that frequently featured funny skits about video games and associated entertainment. Wes became on-camera talent for Smosh, in addition to providing his technical expertise in editing and filming video content, as well as IT support. In 2018, Wes left Smosh to pursue solo streaming efforts creating his Wes_IRL Twitch channel, and the IRL Bros YouTube channel.
Wes After Smosh
These days, Wes Johnson pursues streaming, content creation, and cosplay as a solo career. You can find Wes on Twitch running his aforementioned Yeet4Intiative Dungeons & Dragons campaign on Fridays, and he frequently games with his audience on other nights of the week. Wes also has a YouTube channel, the IRL Bros, which features original content and replays of his DnD streams if you're not able to catch a live event.
But it's not all about streaming and cosplays, Wes has also participated in several charitable pursuits to give back to the communities that mean the most to him. That includes raising money for children's charities such as Children's Hospital Los Angeles and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Getting Started As a Cosplayer Or Streamer
If you're interested in being a successful streamer, Wes Johnson's career is a good example to follow. Though he may have been a gamer his entire life, it wasn't until that first opportunity at Smosh Games that Wes saw the potential of pursuing his passion as a career.
This invaluable experience at Smosh Games taught Wes a few things about video production, as well as what it meant to cultivate an audience online. Namely, anybody can become a streamer as long as they are willing to put themselves out there. While becoming a PC streamer can be more difficult to get started, every modern video game console has exactly what you need to get started.
Both Xbox and Playstation have streaming apps specifically built for the hardware. This allows anybody to explore streaming games pretty much out of the box. But of course, streaming isn't limited to video games, and even Wes himself utilizes his Twitch channel for roleplaying experiences, like his Yeet4Intiative Dungeons & Dragons game.
Getting involved in this side of PC streaming is pretty easy for anybody. All you really need is a camera and a mic, and you're ready to go. Wes does recommend having a high-quality mic though. If you're going to spend money on your setup, that's definitely where you want to go at first, so you're creating a high-quality experience for the people who tune into your streams.
From there it's all about investing in what you want to stream. If you find that PC is your thing, you may want to put your money towards a more powerful rig so that you can play PC games on stream, or a higher quality camera for better video, or improved capture software so you can stream with others at the same time.
The main thing is just getting started. The sooner you take the leap into streaming, the faster you can learn how to cultivate the types of experiences you want to have with your audience.
Much like streaming, the most important thing for new cosplayers is to take the leap to get started. Find the characters that speak to you, the things you're passionate about, and get invested in those. If you're a fan of movies, pick out one of your favorite characters. If you don't physically resemble them, this can be your opportunity to design a different take. Creativity is a massive part of cosplay after all.
Wes notes that new cosplayers can utilize the tools they have around them. And then with things like old clothing, thrift shops are great options to find cheap additions to your costume closet. Finding objects you already have on hand that can be reformed or adapted to your cosplay is another great idea. These can help you get started before you really decide how much money you want to spend on this as a hobby.
The top-tier cosplayers can spend thousands per shoot. Not everybody has that kind of money to invest in one outfit, so starting out small is a good way to get a taste of the experience before you make a major commitment. Look to other cosplayers for inspiration, and most of all make sure to have fun!