Cosplay Family Spotlight: Cotter Family Cosplay

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Count Dooku (Dad), Asajj Ventress (Colleen), Original Sith Witch design (Chris), Darth Traya (Mom), Jedi Dr. Who (a family friend). Photograph by Mad Scientist with a Camera (Bryan Humphrey).

Cosplay is becoming more and more popular around the world and at conventions. I’ve personally found a lot of joy and personal confidence doing cosplay at conventions, and the number one reason I started was as an activity with my son. After seeing a great panel about Cosplay Families at Rose City Comic Con, I thought it would be a great opportunity to talk to parents and families who cosplay and spotlight them here on GeekDad!

Cosplay Family Spotlight is a new recurring segment where I interview and spotlight a cosplay family. This week, I interview Cotter Family Cosplay.

Interested in participating? Leave a comment here or reach out to me on Twitter @billythebrick.

How many members of your family are involved in cosplay?
Cotter Family:
So the endeavor is the entire Cotter family (sans one, who escaped the nerd gene) and we work under Cotter Family Cosplay on Facebook. There’s Dad Cotter, Mom Cotter, who are both over 60, and two daughters: older, Colleen (Goblins Go Cosplay), and younger, Chris (Throw Fabric At Bear Cosplay).
How did you and your family get into cosplay and prop/armor making? Did one particular member start it or did you all jump in together? What was your first cosplay?
Cotter Family:
Colleen in The Wishing Dress from ‘Phantom of the Opera’ (her first costume!). Photograph by Megan Corrigan.

Colleen: I think I can take credit for this one. As kids, my sister and I loved playing dress up and acting out scenarios. I was a huge fan of The Phantom of the Opera growing up, and I longed to have a replica of one of the gowns from the stage show, so my mom offered to help me make one. This was my first costume–The “Wishing Gown” from ALW’s The Phantom of the Opera.

When we were finished, I had this epiphany that, from now on, I could do this for any costume I wanted. So I started making more costumes. And soon I was dragging my sister with me to conventions to help me with these costumes. And pretty soon she was wearing costumes, too. And then we told our parents, “You know, it would be really cool if…” And here we are.

Do you have a favorite cosplay of yours? A favorite group cosplay you’ve done as a family?
Cotter Family:
General Leia (Mom), Teenage Ben Solo (Chris), Rey (Colleen), Han Solo (Dad). Photograph by Mad Scientist with a Camera (Bryan Humphrey).

Dad: Count Dooku. As a group: in some way Han Solo Family on vacation, and in some way the Night Sisters.

Mom: After the last con, I think Darth Traya, actually, but most fun together was the Solo Family. Being with Dad as Dooku is a high point. Game of Thrones … Oh, and Night Sisters was great to be with!

Colleen as Red Death from ‘Phantom of the Opera.’ Photograph by Chris Cotter.

Colleen: I don’t, really, because each costume has a different meaning and application for me. Morrigan from Dragon Age: Origins is fun to wear. The Red Death from The Phantom of the Opera was fun to make. Alice Elliot from Shadow Hearts is a character I adore. Every costume has a purpose.

Asajj Ventress (Colleen), Count Dooku (Dad), Flemeth (Mom), Morrigan (Colleen). Photographs by Chris Cotter.

Group-wise, I love doing characters together with interesting relationships. With my dad, I love being Dooku and Ventress (Sith Master and Apprentice). With my mom, I love doing Flemeth and Morrigan (mother and daughter witches). With my sister, we’ve done all sorts of things, but I’m especially looking forward to costuming this summer as pirate partners Jack Rackham and Anne Bonny from Black Sails.

Chris: I have a great, personal, attachment to my two versions of Jack from the Mass Effect series because I get to represent a gaming experience and a fandom that mean a hella lot to me. (Not to mention repping the untouchable Courtenay Taylor).

Zorin (Chris), Walter (Dad), Seras Victoria (Colleen). Photograph by Mom Cotter.

Otherwise, group costumes really make the event for me. Being able to act off each other and create quite a presence–not to mention everyone who flocks to my parents to tell them how awesome they are for dressing up (so awesome). So, I had a ton of fun doing Solo Family Vacation… Hope to replicate that with my Dad and Westworld soon… And my sister recently surprised me by revealing she’s doing a Scanlan to match my Percy from Geek and Sundry’s Critical Role (we’re doing a group with our extended Comic-Con family), so I think that will be immensely entertaining. We pick odd things to do, as sisters!

Speaking of group cosplay, do you always try to cosplay together? Or do you all do your own thing?
Cotter Family:
Sansa Stark’s Wedding Dress (Colleen), Margaery Tyrell (Chris). Photograph by Megan Corrigan.

There are definitely occasions where we’ve done our own thing–something we’re particularly passionate about, are doing with other people outside our core family, or, perhaps, there aren’t roles for everyone in the family. But we do attempt at least once every con to find a Cotter grouping–maybe all, maybe just two of us, but something.

Colleen: I usually have more fun in a large group than by myself because you have other people to play off of.

Do you have a favorite piece that challenged you?
Cotter Family:
Dad working on Mad Max from ‘Mad Max: Fury Road.’ Photograph by Chris Cotter.

Dad: Tywin’s belt. I had to learn to electro etch copper plates.

Mom: Colleen and I made Chris a Jack costume from Mass Effect 3 when she was living across the country from us. She hadn’t tried it on even once before she wore it for Dragon Con that year, so that was definitely a risk!

Rystall (Colleen) and Oola (Chris) from ‘Star Wars: Return of the Jedi’ (both farthest left), Jyn Erso (Chris), and Mon Mothma (Colleen) from ‘Rogue One’. Photograph by Cotter Family.

Colleen: Doing body painting and prosthetics has been really new and challenging for me. I wear a bald cap as Ventress, but I actually had to make latex horns and style a gravity-defying bald cap wig for Rystall Sant (of Jabba’s Dancers), which I had no experience with. Somehow, it worked ok.

Chris: Designing my Sith Witch this year for Celebration: Orlando was both a kind of relief and challenge. On the one hand, I didn’t have to squint at screenshots for five hours wondering how to make an exact shape, but, on the other, I had nothing to rely on but my own sense. Which I can’t say I was using a lot of when I made that head-dress taller than any doorway… I honestly thought that thing was going to fall apart right out of the gate. (It didn’t ever!)

What’s your favorite “medium” to work in (sewing, EVA foam, resin casting, etc.)?
Cotter Family:
Dad: 3D printing what we need.

Mom sewing a mock-up. Photo by Chris Cotter.

Mom: Mostly, I sew.

Colleen: I enjoy cloth pieces and sewing. I also recently discovered I love embroidering!

Chris: We try to develop what Colleen calls “complementary skills,” so I’ve been branching into foam, Worbla, and leather, and really enjoying it! (Though I can’t say anything’s really turned out…) Also, I seem to do an awful lot of hot gluing…

It’s been awhile, but I used to do quite a bit of scale model building and I see a lot of similarities in techniques between small-scale building and prop and armor building. Have you ever done any scale modeling or smaller scale builds?
Cotter Family:
Dad: Yes, I have built plastic scale and also RC planes and helicopters. The plastic scale tools and skills apply directly to creating props.

Colleen: I haven’t, but I’ve seen my dad’s work. And my husband paints miniatures. He uses some of the same technique to paint props for me. It’s really cool to see.

Most of our readers are parents and, like me, want to share their geeky interests with their kids. I’ve been doing father and son cosplay with my son since he was born. Do you have any suggestions on how parents can get their kids interested and involved with cosplay and fabrication?
Cotter Family:
Mom & Dad: This is difficult since some kids take to what parents do and some do not. Starting early is good, but you have to allow the kids to pull away if they need to. Kids often pull away and often come back. It went the other way with us: they pulled us in. But we did get them into Star Wars early, and encouraged play with costumes.

Colleen: I see this all the time with friends, many of whom have been very successful in getting their kids interested. The main thing I see is don’t force it. You may think this tiny Ewok costume is incredibly adorable (it is), but if the kid hates wearing it, it will not make a good memory for them.

Something along the lines of “Being a geek isn’t about what you love but how you love it,” is sort of the new geek mantra. Do you have anything, besides cosplay, that you consider yourself a geek about?
Cotter Family:
Arno Dorian and Elise de la Serre from ‘Assassin’s Creed: Unity.’ Photograph by Mom Cotter.

Dad: Computers (recently built a Raspberry Pi) and my work in engineering.

Mom: Always been an interest in Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Gaming, and not just in costumes.

Colleen: I’m a pretty big Phantom of the Opera geek. I’ve seen the show numerous times in five different countries. I love seeing the nuance and variations in each performance and translation (I also love languages!). And I love playing video games.

Chris: I nerd way hard into video games–both playing and the writing of them. I love writing for other people, for causing reactions and feelings in others. Having a great costume someone enjoys can elicit a similar experience; I guess I geek over making someone’s day. (And any game that lets me use a sniper rifle…)

What upcoming conventions do you have on your schedule that people could see you at?
Cotter Family:
Colleen: We feel very lucky to be going to San Diego Comic-Con!
I’ll be there too! I hope to see you. Thanks so much for participating!
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