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Fri, 1 Mar '13

Cosplay Friday: Johnny Bias is Objectively Awesome [Full]

There's no costume too tough for this master maker.

You've had a long week, so why not grab yourself a cup of coffee and curl up with a brand new edition of Cosplay Friday. Today, we're shining our spotlight on Johnny Bias, a cosplayer whose work extends far beyond his own body. Johnny came into the cosplay world inadvertently and, after creating pieces for friends, has began a successful career of creating items he can show off all on his own. Check out his tips for getting started, feast your eyes our gallery of his work and read about his encounter with an adorable real-life Batman!

TOKYOPOP: So, tell us, how did you get started cosplaying?

Johnny Bias:
Honestly I was cosplaying long before I was aware it was a thing. When I was younger I started LARPing a lot and would make multiple outfits for all of my characters and loved the experience. Then I found Steampunk and started altering old clothing which turned into me constructing items with fabric and leather and really starting to make costumes. My first REAL cosplay though would have to be the Deadshot I did as a part of a Secret Six group at the last Wondercon.

TP: Secret Six? Hell yeah. What’s your favorite costume to wear and why?

So far my favorite costume to wear is my Steampunk Riddler. This was the first costume that my girlfriend Samantha (Steampunk Nightwing) and I worked on together when we first started dating. It has a lot of sentimental value and I learned a ton about garment construction in the process.

TP: The couple that cosplays together stays together. How did you create that costume?

The main construction of the costume is machine sewn wool, tooled leather with a few modified vintage items as accents such as Victorian sunglasses and 20's Jeep headlight housing for the top of the cane.

TP: You have done a lot of work on other people's costumes - do you prefer to craft for others or for yourself?

Honestly, I enjoy them equally for different reasons. There is something fantastic when you finally hand over a costume or a piece and see the cosplayer’s face light up and you can tell it’s exactly what they pictured. On the other hand, there is something to be said about making a costume for yourself based off of a character you love and really watching it come to life, day by day.

TP: What kind of unique challenges arise when you're crafting for someone else?

The two largest challenges that come with making anything for someone else are 1) not having them on-hand to try something on! I remember handing off the bustles for both our Steampunk Poison Ivy and Zatanna the night before [San Diego] Comic-Con and being worried sick about not having had a chance to try them on or alter them at all beforehand 2) I am way harder on my craftsmanship when making something for someone else. When working on my own costume, I can justify a small imperfection here and there, but if the item will be worn by someone else I will be unhappy until I can make it as close to perfect as possible.

TP: How important do you think knowing technical skills (like sewing) is in cosplay?

I think it varies from person to person. For me, it is very important to learn everything I can so it opens up more characters in the future. If I don’t know how to make something, I would rather learn how to do it myself than commission it so I can add that to my tool belt. On the other hand I have seen some cosplayers that do amazing work with little more than E6000 and a trip to the thrift store.

TP: If you had unlimited time and money, what would be your dream costume to make?

Marshall BraveStarr (BraveStarr) with a fully transforming Thirty-Thirty.

TP: That would be a sight to see. What words of advice would you give to those who are interested in becoming a cosplayer?

Get started now and get your hands dirty! I meet so many people that say they want to start cosplaying but they don’t know how to sew, make armor or work with leather…none of us do when we start. The best thing to do is find a cosplayer (or a few) that can show you the ropes and practice, practice, practice. It takes time, frustration and love, but over time you start to really see how far you have come and it’s a great feeling.

TP: What’s one mistake you think beginning cosplayers make and how can they avoid it?

One of the largest pitfalls I see people dealing with early on is avoiding learning the more challenging skills like machine sewing, pattern making, leather work, etc. These skills are great to get a grasp on as early as possible so you can refine them with each new costume. The longer you wait to learn them, the more you will regret it in the future.

TP: What's you favorite experience you've had in costume?

My favorite experience was at last year’s Comic-Con when we were in our DC Steampunk group and this adorable boy (maybe 5) dressed in a really great Batman costume runs up to us with a very stern look on his face. He goes into a full on Christian Bale Batman voice, introduces himself to all of the heroes. He then pulls out a Batarang, goes down our lineup pretending to throw it at all of our villains with the meanest look on his face. After he gets to the end, he nods, throws his cape back and runs off, not once breaking character.

TP: That is too cute. Any upcoming projects you’d like to talk about?

I am working on my favorite comic book character for Wondercon…I can’t say who exactly, but it is a companion piece to one of Samantha’s current costumes. It is going to be a very real world take on a character which I have yet to see.

Be sure to check our gallery of Johnny's impressive work over at Nerdist.com!

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