Growing up, Vicksburg native Vivian Collins helped the family business by inserting scores of individually painted thumbtacks into styrofoam eggs to form scale-like patterns.
Her parents, Donna and Michael Collins, are artists who operate “Dreams of Fancy,” which specializes in fashioning decorative dragon eggs that the Collins family regularly sells at conventions across Mississippi. For the process, Michael would lay out as many as 300 thumbtacks for a single egg, all of which Donna would paint before Vivian arranged them.
Later in her childhood, Vivian Collins learned about cosplay, a practice that involves people dressing as characters from varying media, often at conventions like the ones where Dreams of Fancy sells its dragon eggs. Hobbyists frequently craft their costumes themselves, a skill in which Vivian’s father is familiar. Since he was a teenager, Michael Collins has been actively involved in and making his own costumes for live-action role-playing, or “LARPing,”a type of interactive role-playing game in which participants portray characters through physical action.
Watching her father at work and seeing photographs of cosplayers online inspired Collins to make costumes for herself, and she got her first chance to do so when organizers for the Huntsville Comic and Pop Culture Expo in Huntsville, Ala., invited her parents to open a vendor booth in 2017.
Collins, who was 12 at the time, fortunately already had a costume on hand that she had made herself a few months prior for Halloween of the character D.Va from the video game “Overwatch.” Her challenges in making a costume for herself were somewhat unique; due to health problems since birth, Collins has used a wheelchair all her life.
“You don’t really see much representation of popular characters with disabilities or who are in wheelchairs, so a big part of the challenge for people like me is figuring out how best to make a costume of a character who isn’t in a wheelchair work for you,” Collins said. “A big part of it for me was learning to make a costume out of everyday objects and upsize them into costume pieces that worked for me.”
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