When you see Eleanor Barnes—known online as Snitchery—in one of her stunning cosplays, one of the first things you’ll notice is her striking Japanese sleeve. It’s not every day you see a beauty influencer with such a bold black tattoo. She loves that tattoo and wears it with so much pride that you’d never guess it’s actually a cover-up. “I used to have a woman with her hands up and a snake tattooed on my chest,” Barnes says. “I got it on a whim and there was a lot of saturated black in the hair. I sent it to my family group chat and nobody answered. Then I got a message back that the thumbs were backwards.”
Barnes freaked out upon realizing the tattoo’s mistake and wound up reaching out to 13 to 15 artists to see if they would cover up the design. Every single one of them said no, aside from one artist who told her she’d need to commit to a chest panel and a full Japanese sleeve. Over the course of about six months Barnes got the sleeve session by session, thus going from being a college student with a few small tattoos to a very visibly tattooed person.
This was Barnes’ first major transformation, but it wouldn’t be her last. She began experimenting with creative makeup while still in high school and although she thought cosplay was cool, she didn’t have the confidence to go full out. That would change when she created her first cosplay with Aang from “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” With the first one under her belt, she started taking on other nostalgic characters from her childhood.
“Now I’ve cosplayed 200-plus characters,” Barnes says. “Because I’ve done a lot of the heavy hitters, I’m doing more obscure and ridiculous characters. We’ve moved into the Nigel Thornberry and Bob Belcher territory. We’re kind of hitting the bottom of the barrel, but the bottom of the barrel has actually been some of my best content. I typically look for things that are timely and I just cosplayed Jinx from ‘Arcane.’ I love finding characters that most cosplayers wouldn’t touch or aren’t interested in.”
As Barnes has refined her cosplay skills and carved out a place for herself, she’s been able to watch the cosplay world itself change. Five to 10 years ago, cosplay wasn’t nearly as visible, accessible or diverse as it is now, something that Barnes has worked to change. “I used to be really dedicated to trying to be as accurate as possible to the character,” Barnes says. “My purpose for cosplay was to pose and look exactly like the character. Now because I’ve done so many and I’ve carved out a bit of space for myself in that industry, I have a lot more freedom to be creative and to take on characters that would typically be hard to humanize or yassify.”
Barnes has paved the way for other cosplayers who want to make creative cosplays with items they can find in a thrift store or in their own closet. She’s been able to showcase her custom creations through social media and has witnessed the community grow, especially once TikTok came around. “I’m a Millennial Gen Z cusp, so I thought TikTok was for the kids and I held out until quarantine,” she says. “Then we all got super bored, downloaded it and got addicted immediately. I’ve grown faster on TikTok than any other platform and I have a weirdly supportive audience. My audience is almost entirely women and it’s been a really cool place to just nerd out.”
Barnes has accomplished many of her cosplay goals, but there’s one thing she hasn’t done yet and that’s to make her official cosplay debut in a public setting. “I often left my New York apartment in cosplay, just to run an errand or grab a package,” she says. “I’d just be going three flights of stairs and would see, like, 16 people while dressed like a Fairly Odd Parent. That’s probably the most public I’ve ever been with cosplay. But with TikTok, people are going viral doing cosplay in their bedroom and for the most part, you used to only see these costumes at conventions.”
In just a few short years, Eleanor Barnes has taken on the cosplay world by storm and sometimes as Storm. There’s no limit to her creativity, whether that’s putting together a cosplay as sexy Ghostface, covering up a tattoo gone wrong or starting a paranormal podcast for Spotify. It’s Snitchery’s world and we’re eagerly awaiting who she’ll turn into next.