This is ONE Esports’ first article in an exclusive interview series with Shunsuke. Read about how his dad responded to his choice of cosplay career in our second article.
Shunsuke is a self-made full-time professional cosplayer and self-taught photographer who started off crafting his own costumes, and photographing himself modeling them beautifully.
This year, he signed with venture-backed esports, gaming, and entertainment company Tier One Entertainment, co-founded by cosplay queen Alodia Gosiengfiao. He joins Knite and Hakken as the ultimate cosplay trio under the esports, gaming, and entertainment brand.
Most recently, Shun very unfortunately lost one million followers on TikTok and Instagram. Both accounts were removed by the respective platforms, possibly because they received mass reports on his sexuality.
Self-expression as an artist, growing one’s social media as part of his business, and how he constantly strives to improve himself are some of the challenges he’s had to face on his professional cosplay journey, he tells ONE Esports in this exclusive interview.
Breaking into the cosplay scene in Europe
Shunsuke started cosplaying with a childhood friend when they were around 14 to 15 years old, after they discovered their shared interest in the hobby.
Growing up in a small village in Switzerland, he recalls that “the cosplay scene was almost non-existent” 10 years ago, where a total of only 20 to 25 people practiced cosplay in the whole country. At that time, everyone also made their own costumes because it was impossible to buy any online.
“Once you start costume making, you get invites to events even if you’re not that popular yet, just because of your crafting,” Shunsuke told ONE Esports, describing Europe as a region that has a deep appreciation for skilled craftsmanship.
He started guesting at events in his second or third year into cosplay, which prompted him to consider the possibility of turning it into a full-time job.
“I was still studying finance and business at that time. I don’t know why I was trying to do that, because I was really into art,” Shunsuke recalled. “I wanted to have a stable job, but in the end the true me just came out.”
Cosplay was an avenue for Shun to grow in a more artistic field, so he ended up investing more and more time into it. “Opportunities became bigger and bigger and at some point I was making enough money to survive on my own,” he said.
How Shunsuke adapted when he turned cosplay into a career
In his first four years, Shun handmade at least one cosplay a month. Now, he only handmakes a costume if he intends to take part in a cosplay competition. For the majority of the time, he works with tailors, costume makers, and other artists to customize his outfits.
He made this decision three years ago because a full-time cosplay career meant that he had to juggle many other aspects of the business. What’s more, the cosplay community has also opened up so much that he feels “it has come to a point where it’s a lot more acceptable to wear stuff that is premade.”
Despite being a master craftsman himself, Shun never shared the attitude of looking down on others for wearing store-bought cosplays. Even when he was starting out, he bought costumes from time to time because he had so many characters he wanted to cosplay, and simply could not handmake them all.
“For the past two years I actually have not handmade much. I’ve only made one costume from scratch,” he shared, highlighting that he particularly enjoys those moments when fellow cosplay contestants and judges take time to appreciate his handmade costume in detail in person.
“For so many years, I was making all these costumes, and I would wear them only for one photoshoot. In photos, you can’t even appreciate all the details,” he added. “I didn’t really find joy in doing that anymore.”
Refining his craft as an artist and growing as a person
Consistently leveling up as a professional cosplayer and photographer over the last 10 years, Shunsuke is fueled by his own perfectionist attitude.
While he is proud of all that he’s accomplished, he is also his harshest critic.
“That’s how I gain skill as an artist,” he said. “Always beating yourself up and never being happy with what you’re doing, so you’re always pushing your limits.”
“In fact, most really good cosplayers I met in my life always had some form of self-hatred of their own work. They’re hardly ever really satisfied 100%,” he added.
The high standards Shunsuke has achieved for himself is evident in his work, social media following, and the deluge of invitations to conventions. Cosplay has given him many opportunities to travel and meet new people who come from completely different backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Shunsuke was, at that time, based in Turkey because he desired to experience the Middle East. Even though events were put on hold, and his earnings took a hit during that period, he is grateful that he could still “learn from Turkish people” during the enforced break in a foreign country.
“I think every human being learns from meeting people that are different,” he said. “So I would say I’ve grown the most traveling and meeting new people.”
READ MORE: Exclusive: Even after a decade in the industry, Knite still lives by these cosplay ideals