Dolly Fallon talks making costumes, favorite video games, and more.
Having recently graduated from college with a mission to become the greatest costume designer in all the land, Dolly Fallon is turning heads across the cosplay scene where she mixes her hobby and career aspirations. AiPT! sat down with this Boston resident to talk gaming, crafting and, of course, cosplay!
AiPT!: Let’s start out by learning about where you’re from and how you spend your time when you aren’t cosplaying or working on a new project.
Dolly Fallon: I was born in Sydney, Australia, and moved to America when I was four, so no accent! Came right to America and out the window it went. [laughs] In my spare time, I’m usually working on my fashion design brand. Dollilicious is not only my cosplay name, it’s also the name of my fashion design brand. My primary focus is currently athletic wear. I have my own site, dollilicious.com, and I have a store that I’m working on getting connected with my site.
AiPT!: Why athletic wear?
DF: I work out every day at 6 a.m. Waking up in the morning is the best time to work out, you’re so much more awake for the rest of the day. I participated in athletics all throughout high school, slowed down in college and then got back into it for health reasons. There’s a lot of frustration with gym clothing and the lack of fudging pockets! There’s a lot of secret pockets in my designs so you don’t have to get a locker for your stuff.
AiPT!: Growing up, were you always a nerd or is that something that developed later for you?
DF: Oh my god, I’ve always been so freaking weird. [laughs] I grew up as a huge cartoon kid. You may notice that a lot of my work is based off of shows from the early ’90s and 2000s. It’s what I grew up on, and since I didn’t have a lot of friends, I spent a lot of my time watching TV. In middle school, I wasn’t the biggest reader, I liked things with pictures, so that’s why I was immediately drawn to manga. My Mom was happy I was at least reading something and then my uncle helped get me into comics.
AiPT!: When I was growing up, being a nerd wasn’t something that I could advertise. I had to hide it until I got older and met like-minded friends. Would you say your social experience was similar? Did you keep it to yourself or put it out there regardless of what people thought?
DF: When I was in middle school, people called me “emo” and “scene” and I didn’t care. I put it out there. I was loud AF. I had weeb written all over me and advertised what I was into. My hair was really loud and people called me the girl with the bleeding hair. I was angry as s--t looking. [laughs]
AiPT!: Tell me about your first exposure to cosplay. What was your initial reaction? How did you come to understand this was different than Halloween or a themed event? How long did it take for you to decide this was something you wanted to be a part of?
DF: When I was little, I thought I wanted to be an artist, so I took a manga class in middle school and I ended up becoming friends with a girl who introduced me to conventions. I was like, “wait there are conventions for these things?!” This girl told me that people dressed up at conventions and my idea of dress up was a fudging schoolgirl outfit. Going into it, I was shocked, I expected to see Japanese schoolgirls but instead I saw a guy streaking in a trench coat at Anime Boston. I thought to myself, “sweet I saw a penis!” at my very first con. [laughs] So after that, I started going to Anime Boston every year.
It wasn’t until sophomore year of high school that I made my first legitimate cosplay, which was Rikku. But the first cosplay I ever did was Souseiseki from Rosen Maiden. I bought the outfit and my boyfriend made me a big suitcase that I could walk around with, since the characters are dolls that sleep in suitcases.
AiPT!: What is cosplay to you? A hobby, something you’d like to turn into a full-time career or a launching pad to reach another goal?
DF: Cosplay for me is low-key, a hobby, but also a career. My goal is to be a full-time costume designer. Costume design as a career is almost always freelancing, unless you work for one of the bigger companies that can afford to keep you on staff. It’s all about trying to get as many jobs as possible. So cosplay is something that I do to self-advertise my work, but it’s also something I thoroughly enjoy. I love dressing up and it’s a good way to show what I can do for other people with my skills.
AiPT!: A quick skim through your Instagram page reveals an impressive number of different characters and outfits over a span of just six months. How do you manage to create so many different quality cosplays so quickly?
DF: I’m a very schedule-orientated person. My day is very structured and planned out. It’s kind of like exercising in a way, if you want to get something done you have to make time for it. It takes organization and focus but you also have to be realistic with yourself about what you can get done in a day. Even if you set aside just an hour a day, it really adds up and suddenly you can say to yourself, “oh wow, my cosplay is finished!”
I have to say, Patreon really helped me a lot. I don’t think I would have been able to do as many cosplays as I have without it. Money is something I’ve always struggled with and you know stupid loans are so fun to pay. But ultimately, if this is something you’re passionate about and it’s important to you, you have to make time for yourself. For example I only game 8-10, I get up at 6 a.m. for the gym every day and the rest of my time is devoted to work and whatever comes.
AiPT!: I know that you’ve got a lot of experience with crafting and costume creation. Is there a crafting skill you’ve little to no experience with that you’re looking to jump into?
DF: Armor! Katarina was my first low-key armor and prop cosplay and it was my first time using worbla. There’s a makers space in Lowell, Massachusetts, called Lowell Makes, that has a ton of cosplays using the area. It’s fantastic because I have this big open area to work, they even have spray booths. So lately, I’ve started getting into armor, I’m using EVA foam right now.
AiPT!: To play a bit off of the previous question, is there a cosplay you’d like to make but you feel is a bit out of your wheelhouse now?
DF: The comic book version of Blackfire from the New 52. NOT the Teen Titans version from TV. I’ve just started her and I’d like to get her done for Boston Comic Con, but it’s going to require a lot of body paint and it’s really hot there, so maybe I’ll save it for a different con. [laughs]
AiPT!: Tell me about the best experience you’ve had through cosplaying.
DF: Oh boy. I was at Katsucon as Cindy Aurum from Final Fantasy and it was actually my friend Danielle’s cosplay. So a few friends and I walked down to this big hand sculpture that a lot of people hang out at by the beach. There was a group of cosplayers I didn’t know doing a photoshoot and I noticed them eyeing me, so they came up to me with the desire to praise my butt. It was so funny, they came up and said, “hey we didn’t know if this would be rude to ask, but could we do the praise the booty photo with you?” and I said, “Oh, of course, go ahead!” and then other people who weren’t even a part of the photoshoot came over and asked the same thing. I had a good 15 different people asking me if they could praise the booty.
AiPT!: As you may have heard, a man was arrested a Phoenix Comic Con for threatening the police with real weapons. Along with that concerning incident, there’s a very real them verses us mentality in politics and the media right now. Do you worry about your safety at cons and do you think cons will need to change how they approach security and weapon props?
DF: As someone who experienced Anime Boston after the Boston marathon bombings, I can say that Massachusetts is probably one of the best states for convention security. They check every little thing. PAX East stands out in my mind especially. They were great with getting people in and out really fast, even with metal detectors, prop checks and bag checks. It sucks because people like the guy in Phoenix ruin it for everyone. But I’ve never felt unsafe or threatened at a convention.
AiPT!: You had mentioned gaming was something you spent a lot of time on. PC or console gamer and what type of games are you into?
DF: I would love to be a PC gamer. When I was in middle school I was in one of the top guilds in Guild Wars, I would game all night, every night. But in college I haven’t had the time or the money to get a proper gaming computer, so I’m playing on my dinky little laptop. Thankfully it will run League of Legends.
Currently I have an Xbox One that my boyfriend bought me. He wanted to be able to game together and he was nice enough to get one for me. Right now I’m playing a lot of Overwatch, that’s my main game.
AiPT!: Off the top of your head, if I asked you for your top three all-time favorite games, what do you pick?
DF: It would have to be Overwatch, League of Legends and uhhhhh probably Sims. I hated the Sims after three but leading up to that it’s a game that I cherish in my heart. They should have stayed at three, four was a joke! Overwatch is probably my favorite game that has come out in a long time. Mercy is my favorite and I’ve logged over 160 hours on her.
AiPT!: What’re you most looking forward to in 2017?
DF: All the cosplays I’m about to pump out. I don’t know why but 2016 was the year of me starting a ton of cosplays and not finishing them. I hate having a dirty room, so I’ve purposely ripped them all out of my cosplay and dumped them on my floor. They’re going to stare me in the face until I’ve finished them and put them on hangers in my closet.
Here’s where you can find Dolly online: