There are few people in the world that can rock it as the weathered adventurer Nathan Drake one day and gold-toothed Pirate Batman the next. If you were one of the lucky convention-goers at Supanova Sydney this weekend, you may have met both characters – all thanks to Sydney-based cosplayer Chris Stanley, known to his fans as Cosplay Chris.
From humble beginnings as a (nearly) beardless Obi Wan Kenobi cosplayer at 14, Chris has been a part of the cosplay community for years. Though today his repertoire and skills have amplified tenfold, when it comes to that first crack at the cosplay game he still wouldn’t change a thing. “Gum boots from Kmart, spray painted brown and cracking everywhere. And uh, Mum and Dad’s bed sheets. They weren’t too happy about that. I owe them so much stuff – new panels of walls got paint on them. So much stuff!”
Since then, it looks like there’s no stopping him. “There’s no such thing as being too ambitious, you’re only limited by your imagination. Nothing’s impossible. If you can do it, do it. If it doesn’t work out, be like ‘okay I tried, what’s next?’” It’s clear that this mentality is what got him from bed sheets to brilliance – Chris now runs a highly successful YouTube channel detailing his creative work from start to finish, with almost 200 thousand followers. One of the biggest fan favourites is an R2D2 custom collectible, altered to replicate a steampunk style. If money were no object for Chris, Freddy Krueger would be next to face the ultimate steampunk transformation. “Monocle, top hat, big burnt dirty moustache, twirling a cane with his glove…” We can picture it already: one, two, Freddy’s coming for you.
YouTube videos may be how Cosplay Chris garnered the bulk of his following, but that’s not to say it’s been an easy journey. As with all artists, creative block and lack of content does strike on occasion. “I’m starting to find that the channel’s getting a bit tricky and I don’t like uploading a video for the sake of having a video – it needs to be decent. I don’t like when people put filler videos up just cause they’ve got nothing else.” Soldiering on, Chris’s motivation to keep producing content is often the feeling of achievement when younger fans approach him feeling like they’ve been a part of the creative process, watching from conception to reality. During this very interview Chris was approached by a group of fans, and he took the time to ensure each had the photo, autograph and hug they requested. It’s that sort of openness that endears people to his content. Simply edited on iMovie, the Cosplay Chris channel is hitting milestone after milestone and shows no sign of slowing.
Working with chemicals usually associated with pesticides might make a inexperienced cosplayer worry about how their internet search history might appear from the outside (Spiderman andurethane, anyone?), but Chris isn’t too concerned. “It’s pretty much just urethane, resin, everything like that… They’d probably just be like, ‘this guy’s just a wacky artist’. That’s pretty much it.” But don’t let his frequent use of those materials fool you – by all accounts they can be a punish to work with. “If you get urethane and resin on you, you’re done. You get it on the floor? It’s ridiculous. I owe Mum and Dad a new floor”. It’s a tricky business.
A word to the wise: don’t get Chris started on paint, because it’ll get very philosophical, very quickly – “A world without paint? A world without colour!” But it’s easy to get him waxing lyrical about cosplay, with obvious enthusiasm permeating the conversation. His advice for young cosplayers? Don’t take it too seriously. “Have fun; don’t make it a chore. Don’t be afraid to fail, because if you don’t fail you haven’t learned anything. But just have fun with it, it’s what it’s all about – meeting new people and having fun.”
So the big question is: what’s next for Cosplay Chris? As his face becomes more familiar to the community, he ought to get used to being recognised. Just last year he was flown to Louisiana for a convention and he’s already aiming to earn enough from his creations to go pro. “I was signing stuff and next to my booth was Tara Reid! But yeah, I’d love to make a proper living out of it. If you want it hard enough, it’ll happen.” If the reaction from Supanova Sydney is anything to go by, it won’t be too far off.
You can check out Chris’s YouTube channel here
Follow him on Twitter here
Follow him on Facebook here
Interview by Stephanie Panecasio