The Collected Mutineer wears many hats. Blogger, writer, teacher, traveler – but most importantly, cosplayer. The Mutineer – who also goes by Nina – has a hand in countless fandoms, from Star Wars to Sherlock to The Handmaid’s Tale and beyond, and her cosplayers reflect an incredible amount of skill and talent in bringing those fandoms and their characters to life.
Nina also cosplays with her cousin K, The Collectress, as part of The Collected Cosplayers. They can be spotted at conventions up and down the California coast, slaying together no matter what characters they’re wearing.
But how does she accomplish all of it? How does Nina balance work, cosplay, and other nerdy pursuits? Read on to find out.
Temple of Geek: First off, can you tell our TOG readers a little bit about yourself?
I’m a 29-year-old Hiddlestoner, Cumbercookie, and Cosplayer. I’m also a writer and teacher who loves travel, music, and classic film.
TOG: What drew you to start cosplaying?
I’ve always loved dressing up, particularly because my family didn’t celebrate Halloween when I was a kid. So while my friends were planning Halloween costumes, I got my fill by playing dress up at home, pretending to be Sleeping Beauty or Josefina from “American Girl.” When I was in college, I heard about cosplay and was intrigued by the idea, but didn’t really know where to start. Things really got kicked off officially when my friends and I decided to go to WonderCon 2014 as the Avengers. I realized pretty quickly that it was a great creative outlet for me.
TOG: How long have you been cosplaying?
In theory, since I was a child. In reality, four years going on five.
TOG: Do you have a particular favorite cosplay that you’ve done? Why is it your favorite?
I have quite a few faves, but I think my default answer has to be Loki. It’s the cosplay that I keep coming back to, improving, and creating new versions of. This is partially because I really love the character…but I think it’s also because there are so many awesome versions of Loki from both the comics and the films. Male or female, ruler or spy, old or young, Loki is always mischievous. I will do as many Loki and Lady Loki cosplays as possible, I’m sure. I’m pretty partial to the Agent of Asgard one I’m currently working on. It’s mostly complete, and I did a test run at Comic Con Revolution.
TOG: What’s the most difficult/challenging cosplay you’ve done? Why?
Probably my Winter Soldier. That “metal” arm was crazy to make, and I wasn’t completely happy with it. It took lots of hours to not only make a pattern, but then to create with foam and worbla. I know more about how to work with those materials now, so I’m planning on making a newer arm for the future.
TOG: What’s your process for choosing what characters to cosplay? Is it just characters that you love, or do factors like the complexity of a costume or being comfortable in said costume come into play?
It’s kind of a mixture for me. I do typically tend to gravitate toward characters that I really enjoy or admire or aspire to be like, but sometimes I just see a dress or something and think “That’s so pretty, I MUST HAVE IT.” And sometimes, it is definitely about comfort. That was a huge factor in choosing to cosplay Ofglen from The Handmaid’s Tale. While I loved that it was making a statement, the dress and cloak are also super comfy. No corset! I also dislike wearing heels, so I try to incorporate boots or flats when possible.
TOG: What’s your cosplay “build” process like? I know it can be a pain working on cosplays around work/school, so how long does it usually take for you to complete a look?
My build can take anywhere from a weekend to several months (or even years, depending on how long it takes me to accumulate pieces). The norm is usually a month or two. The type of build and my personal schedule definitely play a role in how long it takes. If it’s something I’m creating fully from scratch, then it definitely takes longer. If it’s something I can modify or piece together from existing things, then the time is shortened considerably. I made my comic book Lady Loki in about 3 days, whereas other projects (like the Jack Sparrow I’m currently working on) have taken soooooo long to come to fruition.
TOG: What’s your favorite thing about cosplaying?
There are a lot of things I love about the whole experience, but one of the coolest aspects is when people stop to talk to me about things that are meaningful to them. If I can make a personal connection with someone because of what I’m wearing or what I’ve crafted, that’s really special.
TOG: Would you rather do a casual cosplay or have to scramble to finish a detailed one?
Depends! I’m kind of a lazy perfectionist (figure that one out), so my gut instinct is to say casual so that I can take my time and be careful with the detailed one. But sometimes, you have to scramble!
TOG: Do you have a “cosplay bucket list” of characters you’d like to do someday? If so, what are some of the things on it?
For sure. A small sampling would be Arwen (which I actually get to do at the end of summer), Sarah from Labyrinth, Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, and the Tenth Doctor.
TOG: You write for The Collective, an all-things-nerdy blog, and you also cosplay with your cousin as The Collected Cosplayers. How do both of those things factor into your cosplaying life?
The Collective has been a great avenue for my personal cosplaying life. I often post cosplay galleries on the blog, and taking pictures of cosplayers while also in cosplay myself tends to open up conversation and create wonderful relationships. As far as The Collected Cosplayers goes, that’s something that I’m very blessed to be part of. I feel that cosplaying is a lot more fun when you can do it with friends or family, so having a built-in cosfam is great. Especially when you have anxiety at conventions, as I tend to have! A lot of the time, my cousin and I help each other with our builds and sometimes coordinate our cosplays. I’d say that we play off each other’s strengths pretty well, so that’s pretty awesome.
TOG: What are your interests outside of cosplaying? Are there any other nerdy things we should know about you?
I love to write, and my ultimate aspiration is to be a YA and/or historical fiction author. As a result, I’m quite a bookworm. I also have a soft spot for comics. And film scores! My fandoms are many, but they include Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Marvel, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The 100….I could go on.
TOG: What are some of the best things you’ve learned about yourself since you started cosplaying?
Honestly, it’s just nice to know that I’m not alone. I always thought I was a little weird for basically wanting to play dress up as an adult, but discovering that there are so many other people who also love cosplay is fantastic. It’s also a great way to connect with other artists, be they costumers, writers, or photographers. I never really knew I needed that community, and it’s a great one to be a part of.
TOG: Do you have anything in the works that we should look out for?
At SDCC 2018 I’m hoping to debut a casual Raven (based on Piccolo’s art) as well as Jack Sparrow. There are some other new things in the works as well, like the Arwen that I mentioned, and a few secret projects that I’m not quite ready to divulge just yet!
TOG: Not a cosplay related question, but I know you’ve cosplayed characters from The Princess Bride recently, so as a massive fan of that movie, I have to ask: Wesley or Inigo?
TOG: And finally, where can we find you online to follow your further cosplay adventures?
I spend most of my time on Instagram at @thecollectedmutineer. You can also follow me on Twitter at @impalamutineers.
Be sure to follow Nina for more cosplay adventures, and read our interview with K, the other half of The Collected Cosplayers, here!