For most of us, choosing what to wear on a Friday night can be an arduous undertaking. For a professional cosplayer, picking an outfit can take months, even years of planning and preparation.

But what compels a cosplayer to while away their free time squeezing themselves into uncomfortable bodysuits, where they’ll spend many hot hours traipsing around poorly lit convention centers only to be ogled and photographed by comic book fans?

For Keenan Baker, one of the selected cosplayers in last year’s Talenthouse cosplay competition, the joy of dressing up is derived from a number of things. “The imagination, the arts, the parties, the adventures, and the friends you make along the way.”

inbound8229970886555488611.jpegImage credit: Keenan Baker 

Keenan’s part of a growing number of cosplayers, fueled by Hollywood’s obsession with superheroes, the rise of social media, and a desire to meet like-minded people. “I got into cosplay through a friend. I was so overwhelmed by the experience that I said I'd do it for the rest of my life.”

For others such as Miguel Angel (aka BATMIKE), the draw of cosplay was born out of attending conventions with his kids and seeing how excited they were to meet their heroes. “The experience was fabulous, so that's when I made the decision to become a cosplayer, and what better than with my favorite character, Batman.”

batmike-cosplay-batman-dc.jpeg

Image credit: Miguel Angel (aka BATMIKE)

Aside from bringing his own kids along for the fun (Miguel’s son played Batman’s sidekick Robin in last year’s entry), Miguel likes to ensure everyone can spend time with the caped crusader. “Through cosplay, I was able to find a way to help people, visiting hospitals for hospitalized children, going to solidarity events, cosplaying with my children and cosplayer friends. Seeing the faces of the children watching their favorite heroes and characters come, full of illusion and happiness, is priceless!”

But it’s not all fun, games, and altruism. The worst thing about dressing up as your favorite superhero? “That'd probably have to be having my butt grabbed in various cosplays...” says Keenan.

And while most of us love to see our favorite superheroes hanging out with the normies, not everyone sees the fun side. ‘Sometimes I get negative comments on social media. But I’m always looking at it from a positive angle. This is my hobby, some people don’t understand that’ says Farabi Zawali, last year’s Selected Creator for his Man of Steel cosplay. However, he’s keen to stress the positives. “It’s the best when I meet friends and I’m not dressed as Superman. Sometimes they call me Clark!”

superman-Farabi-Zawali-cosplay.jpegImage credit: Farabi Zawali

Another Selected Creator from last year’s brief, Sasha Robbins of Heroes of Geek, has also had positive experiences. “A complete stranger stopped me to ask for a photo - I was in my Harley Quinn cosplay. They were so pleased and grateful, they thanked me and quickly dialed a number on their mobile. Then very excitedly exclaimed down their phone:'' I JUST MET MARGOT ROBBIE AND HAD A PICTURE WITH HER!"

sasha-robbins-harley-quinn-cosplay

Image credit: Sasha Robbins

And those looking to get into cosplay? “The community is very welcoming and inclusive. There are many ways to cosplay, you can be as accurate as you want or completely change it up with your own take on it. The most important thing is to have fun!”

If any mild-mannered office workers by day have ever harbored a secret desire to become a masked vigilante by night, our latest brief from DC Comics might be right up your street. To celebrate the DC Multiverse, DC is looking for cosplayers to participate in the ultimate global fan experience, DC FANDOME, a massive virtual fan-first experience that brings together DC fans from all over the world with an all-new epic steaming event.

Head over to the brief page to find out more.

RELATED: HOW TO WIN A POSTER ART BRIEF FROM 4 ARTISTS WHO'VE DONE IT

RELATED: HOW I SURVIVE AS AN ILLUSTRATOR ON £100 A MONTH