Decorative artist Jesse Ganteaume works on a prop inspired by "Vikings," a TV show that appears on the History Channel.


Finding Work Through Cosplay

Decorative artists are always looking for new opportunities, new niches and new ways to ply their craft. Jesse Ganteaume, who has developed a successful decorative painting business in northern Virginia, found such an opportunity by delving into the world of cosplay.
Cosplay is the term used to describe the popular activity in which the most devoted fans of popular TV shows, movies and comic books dress in realistic costumes and wear them to the various “cons”—i.e., sci-fi and fantasy conventions that take place in cities around the country. Many of the fans wear armor while wielding fake swords and shields. Well, somebody has to paint those things, so—as Jesse figured it—why not him?

This replica costume from "Game of Thrones" caught the eye of renowned author George R.R. Martin

Jesse first got involved with this type of work a couple of years ago, when a friend of his—Chris Franklin—needed help putting the finishing touches on a replica of the King’s Guard armor from the HBO TV series “Game of Thrones.” “He did great work with the molding to create the various pieces, but he just didn’t know how to paint it,” Jesse explains.

So, Jesse stepped in to give the armor a look of authenticity, using a combination of trompe l’oeil, antiquing and gold-leafing. Chris wore the armor to the 2014 ConCarolinas, where the main celebrity attraction was none other than George R.R. Martin, whose epic book series, A Song of Fire and Ice, is the basis of “Game of Thrones.”
“It was pretty cool,” Jesse says. “George R.R. Martin saw my friend wearing the armor, called him over, and they actually hung out a bit. They were even in an article together.”
It wasn’t just any article, but a feature in the New York Times, in which Chris in his armor poses solemnly next to the famous Mr. Martin. “There were also articles in a couple of other magazines about that costume. Since then, any time a friend suggests something they’d like to do, I’m all in,” Jesse reports.

Jesse created this prop as a replica from the TV show "Vikings."

In addition to the armor from the “Game of Thrones,” Jesse has created replicas of swords and shields from the History Channel’s “Vikings.” “I have friends who dress up as the characters from that. They’re all very good at making costumes, so any chance that I get to help them, I love to do it,” he says.

Exactly where all of this leads, Jesse isn’t quite sure. However, the publicity that the “Game of Thrones” armor received—with kudos from one of the world’s most famous authors, no less—was encouraging.
“Wherever it leads, I’m open to it,” Jesse says. “This is all very recent, but I’m hoping that the more of these projects that happen and the more I can generate a bit of exposure, it might actually lead to something.”
Jesse feels fortunate to have developed a new potential niche for his business.
“It’s something I would have never thought of before, but in hindsight, getting involved in work like this is really a no-brainer. I would absolutely love to do something like this on a more professional level. It’s great to be able to use my craft to do something I really enjoy.”