Cosplay Closet Essentials: Harley’s Joker

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He’s one of the biggest Jokers of the cosplay world, and even though Harley’s Joker doesn’t cosplay anymore, he still has a wealth of knowledge for cosplayers new and old to draw from. With backgrounds in acting, art, design, photography and more, Harley’s Joker has a lot of creative drive and passion. His Joker prints and posters can be found at Mr Misiano’s Joker Emporium at

Photo credits to Harley’s Joker himself, Anthony Misiano.

Your Joker is considered one of the more iconic Joker cosplays. Did you have to work at that Joker grin or do you just naturally have such an expressive face—or was it all in the makeup?

“It’s a mix of all of the above. I’ve always had a very expressive face, but when I’m smiling as the Joker, it’s much more exaggerated and extreme than my natural smile. The makeup helps a bit at extending the illusion, as my lipstick is painted on continuing about a half inch on either side beyond where my lips naturally end, altogether adding about an inch of width to my apparent grin (which is a lot if you consider a humans mouth, at rest, is only about 2 inches wide).”

Did you use your acting background to help you get into the “role” of the Joker?

“Not intentionally. When I’ve been dressed up as the Joker at a convention I’m not acting or pretending to be the character, I’m just always thinking about the way everything appears for the cameras. But I have trained professionally as a mime when I was in college, and I guarantee that experience does play into my physical depiction in photos. As a mime you learn to use your entire body as an instrument of emotional expression with posturing & posing, and I always think about what my body as a whole is communicating in a photo, not just my face. I don’t think people realize in many of my photos how much work my body is doing, they get distracted by my face [laughs].”

Do you feel that your time as the Joker aided you in your acting?

No, they’re very separate worlds for me.”

How is in-character cosplay different from stage/screen acting?

“It’s hard for me to say as I’ve never really attempted in-character cosplay. But I think it’s really just the level of commitment. But let me clarify this before people get offended, lol. What I mean is that if you’re at a comic convention and you’re “playing the Joker”, you’re not REALLY playing him, in that if you WERE you’d be running around stealing stuff and killing people. When you’re acting, whether on stage or in front of a camera, the level of commitment to the character can sometimes be VERY intense. Of course, it’s handled in a very carefully controlled and rehearsed environment SO no one gets hurt, and there’s of course, a script to follow and scenes one exists within, but sometimes the psychological and emotional roller coaster one puts themselves through can be intensely exhausting depending on the role. It’s just a different medium. Cosplay should be more fun than that, and I believe it is. Which is a good thing.”

You have a background in costume design as well. Was that immaculate Joker cosplay designed/made by you?

“I designed each and every inch down to the last detail. I love costume design, deeply. As I love almost all forms of design. Visual expression is the dearest thing to my heart, as it is the one thing that came naturally to me straight out of the womb. I’ve been drawing years before I can remember, and I’m sure one day when my memory goes I’ll continue to draw and design things.”

Have you done or considered doing cosplay commission designs as another creative outlet?

“I have. Just waiting for the right combination. The right person, with the right character in mind, who also (unfortunate reality moment here) has the right budget to be able to pull everything off. My Joker costume was a work in progress for nearly a year before people saw it, largely because I’m not a wealthy individual, and had to slowly drip feed money toward building materials and supplies as it came.”

What advice would you give for aspiring or beginner cosplayers who may not have the acting and design background that you have?

“Don’t worry about the acting side of things, but start drawing. Start drawing now. Practice every day, and find what inspires you. And go to the source, the core of that inspiration. Don’t look at what other cosplayers have done, that’s like the 5th degree removed from the source. Find a character you love and learn EVERYTHING about that characters history and visual evolution. Look at as much media related to that character as you possibly can and never stop being a sponge. Then start applying your own, original and creative ideas, even if they’re just very minute, make your project your own. Don’t aim to please others, aim to impress yourself.”

And finally, what three items do you consider essential to any cosplayer’s closet or workspace?

“A mobile repair kit, fashion tape, and a sketch pad.”

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