With a degree in criminal justice and experience in martial arts, it just makes sense that Jake Pierle, BA’14, became a superhero. When his fellow IU Bloomington classmates asked him about his future plans, Pierle would jokingly say, “I’m working toward being Batman.”
In a way, he did. Pierle’s hobby is cosplaying—portraying a specific character while wearing costumes and accessories, often homemade. He enjoys creating costumes and props by hand for himself and others, though his greatest satisfaction comes from seeing the reactions his costumes evoke.
“It [cosplaying] makes people happy,” says Pierle. “Making other people smile is exciting and super fun.”
The first time he cosplayed at a comic convention was 2014 at the Indiana Comic Con in Indianapolis. He went as Captain America in a costume he made.
“I was walking around and everyone was smiling at me or stopping me to ask for a photo.”
He knew that he wanted to keep making his own costumes.
The majority of Pierle’s costumes are superheroes, because he makes costumes of characters he loves. The Green Arrow costume (in the photo) is one he is especially proud of, because he spent a lot of time on the details. The bow took several days to make, the quiver and the arrows about 10 more hours.
“I watched ‘The Backyard Bowyer,’ who is a guy on YouTube that makes his own bows. I taught myself how to make bows by watching,” says Pierle. “You can’t bring weapons into conventions, so I had to make my bow look good, but not function as a weapon.”
When it comes to his clothing, Pierle says he prefers to hand stitch his pieces. “I’m not an expert on the sewing machine, so I save it for big pieces,” explains Pierle. “I do the small pieces by hand, so I can do it with finesse.”
Pierle says the best part of cosplaying was getting involved with the Heroes Alliance, a non-profit organization where people can give back to the community through wearing their costumes at hospital and charity events.
“The kids want nothing more than to meet a superhero,” says Pierle. “There is nothing better than a kid getting excited about meeting Spider-Man.”
This article appeared in the Fall 2016 issue of the Indiana University Alumni Magazine.