By Andrew Dodson on August 3, 2013 at 2:52am
The main focus of Player Theory is the games. We read about them, we play them, we write about them, and then we really hope that you read what we think. The world of video games isn't something that just encompasses the virtual - it's become somewhat of a culture in and of itself. In the physical world, that culture mostly takes the form of geeky t-shirts, and occasionally for the particularly enthusiastic, a tattoo. For some people, though, a video game can be a driving, creative force that inspires them to not just play the game, but take what they see and what they like and actually try their hand at creating it in real life. Anyone that's been to a comic or game convention can attest to the sheer amazingness of some these creations.
For this article, I got to sit down (well, sort of) with Olivia Mears, an artist when it comes it creating costumes and props inspired by video games. I met Olivia in college, and ever since, it has always been impressive when one of her projects graced my Facebook newsfeed.
PT: This is a site that focuses on games, so let's get serious right off the bat. What games are you playing right now?
OM: Right now, it's mostly "Borderlands 2" DLCs and "Deus Ex', if I'd stop saving myself into a corner.
PT: What types of games do you typically like playing the most?
OM: Open world RPGs. Basically, Bethesda games.
PT: Is there anything coming out in the near future that you're excited about?
OM: "Bioshock Inifinite" DLC. Only after that will I concern my wallet with others.
PT: You cosplay, design clothes, make clothes, paint, create all kinds of physical art and props, sing, play video games, and do the college thing. Did I miss anything?
OM: The most important: Eating and sleeping. I guess that counts as doing the college thing. Oh, and martial arts since I was 13. That's important, right?
PT: Haha, oh yes. What kind of martial arts do you practice? Is it a big part of your life?
OM: After watching enough "Power Rangers," I knew I wanted to do martial arts. It took awhile before finding the right place to study that wasn't "TakeMyDo" instead of TaeKwonDo. I had to switch dojos when it closed, so I never earned a blackbelt, but I'm high ranking in TKD and Combat Hapkido, with some training in Karate.
PT: What interests you about cosplay? What was your first cosplay? Is there a particular cosplay that you've done that's your favorite?
OM: I was 11 years old, and it was my last year going trick-or-treating with my family. I didn't want to wear a tutu or bikini version of a character from the store shelves so I cut open a green pillowcase, sewed a few things, and went as Link. A very scrappy, sad looking Link. With braces.
PT: You do everything yourself, is that right? Was it a skill you developed specifically for making costumes, or was it something you already knew how to do?
OM: Correct. My grandmother taught me how to hand-sew pillows when I was very young to keep me busy. I made clothes for my figurines and misshapen plushies until finally buying a sewing machine.
PT: How does the selection process work when you're deciding to make a new costume?
OM: Usually as a joke. "I should make Elizabeth's costume just to have an excuse to throw table salt at friends..." If not that, it's because I just really loved the character or game they were part of. I'm making Golden Saint armor for the fact that I can't get over "Shivering Isles" even after several years.
PT: You don't stop at just making costumes. In your opinion, what's the coolest prop that you've made?
OM: "Fallout 3" Shiskebab. There WILL be fire.
PT: I see you on the Internet a lot. What do you think you're most known for?
OM: Taco Belle or the "You must be like 200lb with a bag of Cheetos" Xbox message photo. I prefer the first one since no one accused me of not being a real princess.
PT: It was the "Taco Belle" picture that I first saw you online in. How did that actually end up happening? Was it a planned picture?
OM: Not planned at all. The costume was for kid's birthday parties and I was out having pictures taken. The friend I was with suggested picking up food on the way back and it wasn't until we were at Taco Bell that we thought of the pun.
PT: That wasn't your last dealing with Taco Bell. With the Live Mas scholarship contest, you made a dress out of Taco Bell ... well ... trash. How did you come up with that? Can you tell me about the process of making the dress?
OM: Having a dress form helped. I only had a week to figure out a submission and figured I was already known for one dress associated with Taco Bell, why not another? I used a strip of scrapped fabric around the torso to create the corset backing. Then after 7 days of meticulously cutting, sewing, and patching on nearly 300 wrappers I had a completed trash dress.
PT: If money was absolutely no object, what character would you want to cosplay as?
OM: Rose's final form from "Legend of Dragoon." It was my favorite game as a child right next to the "LoZ" series, so I definitely would not want to be cheap about it.
PT: Who would you say your biggest influences are in regards to your art?
OM: Kamui Cosplay (dat armor) and JoEllen Elam of Firefly Path! Both are phenomenal at what they do, and it's easy to see their passion in their work. Clothing/costumes aside, I listen to film and game soundtracks ("Lord of the Rings," "LoZ," "Bioshock," etc.) to paint or sculpt. I've nearly outplayed the "Oblivion" OST if that is even possible.
PT: You run a little art business, too: Avant-Geek. What type of things do you make for people? Where did the name Avant-Geek come from?
OM: I came up with the name Avant-Geek during a graphic design course here at WCU (Western Carolina University). I couldn't decide between avant-garde fashion or video games for my topic. Problem solved. I make and sell accessories and paintings at the moment. Unfortunately, I just don't have the time for full costumes. My own can take months to finally piece together.
PT: Are there any projects you're working on now that you'd like to reveal or tease at?
OM: Golden Saint armor and a few DC-themed swimsuits. I have designs of a Holiday Harley Quinn that I'd like to make, but I have no idea when I'll get around to actually making it.
PT: Recently, there was a picture put up of you in some painspike armor from the "Fallout" series. Can you talk a little bit about what happened with that with the comments?
OM: Ha, yes. The Internet happened. I'm used to critical, negative comments but not threats. Especially rape threats. Not cool, man.
PT: Has anyone ever said anything like that to you in person? Or just on the Internet?
OM: Never in person. Then again, I don't get out much.
PT: Do you feel that people think that their comments mean less on the Internet, and that it's not "real life"?
OM: Definitely. Trolls. Trolls everywhere, wanting to make someone mad. That [obviously] doesn't make it right, though. Having the nerve to even joke about that online still says something about yourself in real life.
PT: I'll finish this up with another serious question. Of all the character costumes you've made, if you could put one on and gain the powers of that character, which would you pick?
OM: Really wishing I had made that "Elfen Lied" costume now. I'd honestly be terrified to have Elizabeth's powers unless I could travel back through previous "Tears." Maya's cool if siren powers came without the full body tattoo (the next costume would require way too much body paint for my liking). I guess I'd pick Ty Lee and try to resist poking people, and I've always wanted to be able to paint with my feet.
It is safe to say that video games have successfully infiltrated popular culture in today's time, and while playing them is certainly one way to appreciate them (the main way, I suppose), one can not ignore the people who play a game and then take it to the next level. Olivia Mears is one of these amazing people who can take the creative energy she received from a game and focus it into a real project that people can hold and touch. At the bottom of the article, there's a list of websites to click if you're interested in seeing what other stuff she's concocted. Olivia's talent and sense of humor when it comes to that talent definitely makes her someone to check out and follow online.
To end this article on a strong note, here is a picture of Olivia in her painspike armor wielding a real life shishkebab from "Fallout 3." Enjoy!
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