I was lucky enough to score an interview with a rising star in the cosplay scene, Fiona Nova! You may have come across her on Twitch or been unlucky enough to get matched against her in Overwatch. AiPT! was excited to sit down with her to discuss Patreon, the tricks of the cosplay trade and her immense love of gaming.
AiPT!: Where are you from and what do you do when you aren’t cosplaying?
Fiona Nova: I was born in Italy, which surprises most people *laughs*. I’ve traveled around a lot because of my parents. I’ve lived in France, London and I’ve been in the US for about 11 years now. But I was enrolled in a French school where I got here, because my mother’s French. I speak three languages: French, English, and Italian.
I’m in school for fashion merchandising and marketing at FIT in New York. It was really exciting when I got in! Outside of cosplay I go shopping–it’s a passion. I’m very into fashion. I really like sports, I play volleyball for my school and I used to play basketball. Unfortunately they don’t have a basketball team for my school.
AiPT!: Growing up and traveling so much, were you always into the nerd scene? Or did that develop for you later?
Nova: One of the main things I spend my time on outside of cosplay is playing video games constantly. When I was younger it was always a passion; my little brother and I were always obsessed with The Legend of Zelda. I’m stuck in Overwatch right now though, so I haven’t had time to play much else. Well, I’m also playing Horizon Hero Dawn and I love the game. The plots so good.
Overwatch is a really toxic game. Sometimes I think I’d be a happier person if I didn’t play it *laughs* So many trolls!
AiPT!: How long have you been cosplaying?
Nova: About two and a half years now. I actually started cosplaying because my little brother suggested we go to New York comic-con. I saw all these cosplayers and we were both drawn it, everyone looked so cool. My brother was immediately like “You should do this!”.
AiPT!: Would you say there’s a big cosplay scene in New York?
Nova: Well when comic-con is here yeah it’s crazy. But afterwards it dies down a lot. I know about ten cosplayers in this area. It’s not as big as people think. New York doesn’t even have that many cons to be honest.
AiPT!: What was your first cosplay?
Nova: *laughs* That’s a hard question because I honestly don’t remember! I think it may have been Catwoman?
AiPT!: Out of all the cosplays you’ve done, which has been your favorite so far?
Nova: I did my Widowmaker cosplay for Katsucon this year and I think that would be my favorite. Making it was hell *laughs*. It took me six months to make it. A LOT of mistakes were made. But at the end it came out great and I was really happy with it.
AiPT!: Would you say that was the most frustrating cosplay you’ve made?
Nova: Yeah! Her body suit is the weirdest thing I’ve ever sewn in my entire life. It’s basically not possible so you just have to do your best to make it similar. If that body suit wasn’t tattooed on her body, it wouldn’t sit the way it does. It’s just impossible! So it was the most frustrating but I definitely learned a lot from it.
AiPT!: Has there ever been a cosplay you’ve given up on making during the process? Or put on and decided it was just too uncomfortable to wear?
Nova: I came close with Widowmaker *laughs* The process was incredibly frustrating and the body paint was awful to wear. I did a Psylocke cosplay that I couldn’t finish. At the time I wasn’t very good at sewing; today I could definitely make it to fit me properly, but back then I couldn’t get it. The costume was very uncomfortable and was basically falling off of me.
AiPT!: Is it fair to say cosplay is for everyone?
Nova: I don’t think people should be restricted from doing a certain cosplay based on their size, sex or skin color. Why stop someone from dressing up as something that makes them happy? To tell someone that “you can’t do this” because you’re a girl playing a boy, or vice versa, no I don’t agree with that.
AiPT!: What would you say is the average amount of time you invest into creating a cosplay?
Nova: I can make most basic articles of clothing in a day, such as pants or a jacket. Armor making definitely takes a lot longer. I have to set goals for myself each week. There’s painting, designing, sanding and so on. Armor pieces are usually a month and a half process. It can depend on how big and what it looks like.
AiPT!: What’s the most ambitious cosplay you’ve attempted?
Nova: Definitely Widowmaker. The body suit wasn’t something I could pick up quickly. It was a weird design and took a really long time.
AiPT!: When you’re making these cosplays is there a line your drawn with funds/time investment?
Nova: Absolutely. I improvise all the time. Leather is a great example. It’s expensive and unfortunately a lot of great character costumes use it. So I’ll use pleather instead–it looks like the real thing and works just as well. There are times that I can’t find a cost effective alternative, so I’ll just say screw it and not include some small detail.
AiPT!: Are your costumes entirely made from scratch or a combination of homemade pieces and store bought props?
Nova: Well it’s funny because while I do craft a lot of my own stuff, I actually have all these prop makers reaching out to me, offering their equipment and pieces if I’ll advertise for them. It’s a nice compliment!
I can’t make wigs so those I have to buy. I also get a lot of my pieces at thrift stores, especially belts.
AiPT!: I noticed that a lot of your cosplays are based off of characters from video games. Is that the area you intend to focus on or do you have plans to branch out into other genres?
Nova: My cosplays are focused on gaming because I am so into gaming. Those are the characters I see the most.
When I first started cosplaying I used to be very focused on anime, I had a lot of friends that introduced we really into anime. But once I started to get confident and come into my own I shifted to my passion, which is gaming.
In terms of branching out, if I see a character and I like it, I’m going to cosplay it. It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter whether it’s from gaming, anime, manga, whatever.
AiPT!: When you’re cosplaying, how far into the character do you get?
Nova: I’m myself. I don’t role-play. If you want me to strike a pose of the character I’m playing, that’s fine, but otherwise I’m myself. I’m going to laugh if I try to role play.
AiPT!: Patreon is an area where there’s a lot of strong conflicting opinions right now. Some people say it’s exploiting fans, while others say it’s a valid way to fund an expensive hobby. What’re your thoughts?
Nova: I think the majority of the criticism comes from people who’ve never cosplayed before and have no idea of the amount of time, money and effort that goes into it. Patreon isn’t just for cosplayers, it’s for all sorts of content creators. Artist spend a lot of money on supplies and tools, why isn’t there criticism there?
I don’t see any problem with asking for help and support for doing something that makes a lot of people happy. Patreon is simply a way for people to support their favorite content creators by choice. No one is forcing you. I don’t understand the hate. If a cosplayer’s fans are willing to support them, what’s the problem?
AiPT!: What’s your next con?
Nova: Anime Central in Chicago. I’ve never been and a lot of my friends are going so I’m really excited.
AiPT!: What cosplay can we expect from you next?
Nova: I’m working on a new Widowmaker since she just got a new skin! I’m also planning on doing Lich King eventually.
AiPT!: What’re you most looking forward to in 2017?
Nova: To get my 3D printer and start using it with my cosplays. I’ve taken a few classes on 3D modeling and I’m really excited to incorporate it into my cosplaying. I’m also really excited to continue to grow on Instagram and Twitch. It’s been a lot of work but I love seeing my work pay off.