Cosplaying is a fun experience, as you’re able to dress up as a character you admire and feel like someone else for a day. The cosplaying community is huge, which is why I enjoy interviewing cosplayers from around the world to showcase their work and find out what inspires them. The latest interview is with Dan Ballestero, who is known for his work as Geralt of Rivia and other gaming characters. As a male cosplayer, it was great hearing Dan’s perspective on how cosplay can benefit mental health, create new connections and be an expression of freedom.
Thanks for taking the time to be interviewed Dan. How did you get into cosplay?
I got into cosplay because I once went to a convention dressed as Darth Vader. A friend of mine worked with George Lucas and he got the Vader’s suit. So he gave it to me for using it since it was made for a 2 meter tall person.
A lot of cosplayers are nervous when they’re first starting out since they’re dressing up in public. Can you describe your first cosplaying experience and how you felt at the time?
Actually, I was kind of anxious. Not nervous. But the surprise of having hundreds of people surrounding me to take pictures covered any other feeling.
Credit: Makar Vinogradov
You’ve done some great cosplay work as Geralt of Rivia. What do you think it is about The Witcher series that makes it so popular with fans?
Thanks so much for the compliment! I appreciate that you liked my work with it. I assure you that people started to get into the game only since The Witcher 3. Due to it’s marketing campaigns and because it stopped being an Xbox and PC exclusive. I remember when I played TW1 and TW2, and I used to tell people about it, but 90% of them didn’t know it.
Now with multiplatform more people had the chance to play it and well, of course the game is a PIECE OF ART! CD Projekt worked their lives off with that game to deliver something worthy of being called art.
Credit: Makar Vinogradov
Who are some of your favourite fictional characters and have you had the chance to cosplay them yet?
Oh, I have plenty of characters that have marked me somehow. Such as Geralt, Master Chief, Dovahkiin, the Assassins from AC, Nyx Ulric and more. There are some like Master Chief that I want to cosplay so bad. But before trying it out, I need to know for sure I’ll be able to build the best armour there is.
As you grew up in Costa Rica it’d be great to hear about what the cosplay scene is like in your country. Is it popular?
The cosplay community has grown exponentially in Costa Rica. Every time, more and more people comes to the cons with or without cosplay. And there will always be someone who is just starting on cosplay and you can see the efforts and kindness when they approach you and ask for advice.
As a male cosplayer, do you feel that cosplaying has positive effects for mental health?
Yes! It frees you. I was an extremely shy person and was one of those guys who were bullied at high school and didn’t seem to fit anywhere. But when I found this community, they took me in. Cosplay helped me on developing my social skills and looks, to think outside the box and grow to a professional level.
Do you make your own costumes?
I have a team of people with different skills who help me produce high quality material. From sewing, to 3D modeling and printing etc. I’ve learned a lot from them and I’m always there working side by side with all that’s needed for my costume, or someone else’s costume (as I did when I worked the armour pieces of Jannetincosplay’s official Widowmaker Talon costume for Blizzard).
Some people just don’t have the skills or time to make something, but may have excellent ones for something else. And there are many fields you work on when making a cosplay costume.
Have you ever earned any money from cosplaying?
I have and I’m so thankful with all the people who follow and supports me. Because of them, I can do this for a living, which is something too magic to be real and allows me to meet amazing people and make new friends around the world.
When doing photoshoots, do you work with a specific photographer, or do you feel it’s better to have a network of people to work with?
I personally like to work with Jannet’s photographer Makar Vinogradov or Jannet herself. Our style and ideas are always perfect when together and I have a very specific style that I learned from Jannet, and it’s about making the photos look like art. She’s the only photographer with whom I feel confident and know that will always look after how my poses are, light, background, facial expressions etc.
I also have photographer friends from other countries, whose skills and style are really, really good and I like to work with them as well. Some of them in CR are OTR Productions are Esteban Barquero, Ashley Gamboa and Gabriel Jiménez.
What kind of advice would you offer to someone who’s thinking of cosplaying for the first time?
Always look forward to improve! Check all details, learn new skills! Listen to those who are better than you and grab your inspiration from them. Be kind with the community, make good friends, dream and accomplish!
Which characters are you planning to cosplay next?
Nyx Ulric, Minato, Ichigo, Ezio, John Wick, Classic Dante, Arno Dorian, Remake Flynn Rider, Geralt Wolven Armor, Leon Kennedy… I don’t know in which order they’ll be, but those are my main plans so far.
Credit: Makar Vinogradov
Dan Ballestero is a profesisional cosplayer from Costa Rica who has made a name for himself with several gaming characters. You can check out his Instagram to see his awesome costumes.