PROFILES IN POWER: NIKKI BRITTEN OF FANTASIE NOTIONS COSPLAY
I met Nikki Britten at a recent Convention. She is approachable, vivacious, warm, creative and simply loves to chat about her craft and the movies that inspire her along the way. And so here we go: an insight to the world of a truly amazing Cosplay Princess /Queen/ Boss..
Q: Tell us about yourself and how you got into cosplay?
My name is Nikki Britten, owner of Fantasie Notions Cosplay. Cosplay was something I found through theatre actually. As a kid I was very involved in community and school theatre. For me, the costume is just one piece of the work. Cosplay, like acting, involves truly embodying the character, studying their voice, movements, and gestures. In high school my theatre department had lost a number of its wardrobe inventory, so I tried to give back by sewing dozens of original costumes. I’ve included a picture of my early work, a production of a midsummer nights dream. Every costume except for the ‘4 lovers’ was made by me.
I was also a huge fan of anime, so one of my friends invited me to A-Kon, the largest running anime convention in the United States. I was really excited and had no idea what to expect. The night before, she calls me and asks what I’m wearing.
Me: “ummmm…jeans and a t-shirt?”
Her: “oh, you’re not cosplaying?”
Me: “what’s cosplay?”
And so it began. That night was my first con crunch. I slapped together a Winry (full metal alchemist) cosplay out of some scrap fabric, an old wig, and my dad’s work gloves!
From there it became my favorite hobby, especially after my grandmother passed. Both my grandmothers sew, and they both taught me everything I know, so by contributing to create I feel as though I am allowing them to live on through my work.
Q: Most favourite /least favourite costumes and themes?
Too many to name? I really do like everything. I’m a big fan of Disney, steampunk, anime, musicals, original fantasy characters, Marvel/DC. It’s hard to think of a genre I don’t like. I think, even if it’s not my style, I respect the cosplayer who made it. For instance, I don’t make a lot of armor builds, but I am always fascinated by cosplayers who make giant suits of armor. And as for “overdone characters” I don’t think there really is such a thing. People complain a lot that “you can’t do (Harley Quinn, Spider-Man, Deadpool, insert name here) because everyone does it.” But, that comment missed the point. It’s not about being the first to do something, or even the best. It’s about getting to be in the skin of a character you love.
Q: Lot of Travel and Logistics involved..any tips?
A: A little planning goes a long way!! When I can to London this summer I had lists for everything! Even simple cosplays like my Christine Daaé have up to 5 or 6 pieces to account for. Additionally, you need to ensure that you have everything you need in case something breaks or needs maintenance. This summer, while I was smart enough to bring a wig head, I forgot the piece that attaches the head to the table which allows me to actually work on the wig!! So for every wig I needed to style I had to put them on my head and style it. So much for that plan!
Since that generally means a lot of luggage, I recommend bringing cosplays that have interchangeable pieces (e.g. two cosplays that use the same corset or petticoat) to save on space. Also, shoes tend to be the biggest issue travelling. Luckily the theatre industry has a solution: character shoes. These are basic shoes in simple colors designed for use in dance and on stage. They are not cheap, but they last forever if you take care of them and they become very comfortable once you break them in. I’ve had mine for almost 10 years and they look brand new!
Q: Any characters you have not yet played you’d like to try?
Again, too many to count!! I really love Odette from the Swan Princess (white and black swan) and would love to cosplay her. I am slowly working my way through the Disney circuit. I also really want to make some of Padme Amidala’s outfits from Star Wars, ep. I. Terrible movie, but her costumes were on point!! My favorite is the white gown she wears at the end, all those layers of ombré silk chiffon!
Q: Ever met any real stars that play the characters you dress as or are involved with similar brands?
Yes!! I met Jodi Benson (voice of Ariel) while I was dressed as Ariel at Dallas Fan Expo in April of this year! It was absolutely surreal, and she is so kind!
As for other celebrities I’ve met, while I really admire their work, I haven’t (yet) cosplayed as their characters.
Q: You do look a bit like Gemma Arterton. Is that an ok compliment? Ever been mistaken for an actress at a Con?
That is very kind of you! I haven’t, however people have assumed that I “work” there. In Texas when I cosplay as Snow White I’ve had a few people stop me and ask “what time is the next talk?” or “where is the bathroom”. It’s pretty funny!
Q: Fandom has had a tough time recently with its reputation tarnished by online trolls etc. Is your experience of the fan community generally a positive one?
Hmmm, this is a tough one. The fan community in my area and here in London has been exceptionally kind. The people that I’ve met at cons and talked to on Facebook have been nothing but positive and supportive of myself and each other. That said, I notice a big difference online from random trolls. For instance, one of the first pictures I posted of my Snow White, some Rando Calrissian decides to comment: “fugly”.
I don’t know why people decide that, just because they’re behind a screen, it’s ok to say stuff they never would in public. The point here is, people use anonymity to be “ugly”. Additionally, online there tends to be a culture of “nerd shaming”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone try to explain concepts to me that I already understand because “you’re not a ‘real’ nerd”. Women, especially female cosplayers, tend to get this a lot because there is a percentage of people who think that pretty girls can’t be geeks. Dude, I can sing every line of “the hero of canton” I do not need you to explain that Firefly is “kind of like a western, but in space”. In public, however, my experiences have been mostly positive.
Q: How tough is the craft of the seamstress to master?
I don’t think you ever really “Master” it, which is part of the fun. Every time I make something I am learning. Whether it’s a new technique or just a way to save time, every single project teaches me something new.
Q: Fave movies and why?
Labyrinth-because David Bowie in tight pants is a gift! Seriously though, this movie is a huge creative inspiration to me. Every year I attend the Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball in Los Angeles, and this movie is central to that event and community.
The Fisher King– This film is the combination of genius directing, incredible imagination, and superb acting. Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams, and Michael Jeter are outstanding.
Serenity– do I need to explain? I have a sticker of Jayne’s hat on my phone and Nathan Fillion is a badass!! Browncoats forever!! (Tangent: if you are a firefly fan and haven’t watched Con Man yet, do yourself a favor. It’s hilarious!!) All of Inara’s costumes are on my cosplay list!
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind– I hate rom coms, and this film is kind of the anti-rom com. Telling the story of a relationship in reverse, from break-up to beginning, this movie, to me, embodies what love really means. It’s not the perfect, happy moments, or the sweeping love songs. It’s knowing a persons faults, insecurities, and shortcomings, and loving them anyways.
Q: Plans for the rest of the year? Any big cons /events to look out for?
Well, I just got back from Labyrinth of Jareth, But I’m already working on my upcoming events! In late October I’ll be at Dallas Fan Days (hopefully as Ezma from Emperor’s New Groove), After that, it’s Steampunk November, where I’ll be debuting two original steampunk pieces. Finally, sometime next year I’ll be appearing in Steampunk Glamor Gazette, a local steampunk fashion magazine.
JAMES MURPHY SECRETLY WANTS TO COSPLAY..AS DR JONES..;)