Carrying on our interviews for costume season on LARP Guide, we chatted to Kelly Battman from Atira Clothing.
When did you start costuming and what first got you into costuming for LARP? Were you already working in the industry prior to this?
I began by making my own kit for an upcoming LARP event in September 2014, but I could not find the unique pieces I was after (especially for a reasonable price or quality). I was originally introduced to ARP in about 2007 when I worked as a chef and was hired to create themed banquets using food available from that time period (which always involved lots of game meats!). I would also cater for the whole events which were normally around 3-4 days in length.
After finishing some pieces it was my friend, an experienced LARPer who said to me “this kit is really good, you could sell this”. At the event I received many compliments about my kit, and many couldn’t believe it was my first time actually participating in LARP. From there I was hooked and wanted others to have the opportunity to have character pieces without compromising quality or having to spend copious amounts that many people just don’t have.
Do you have a preferred style, time period, or genre of costume to create?
I was drawn to the tribal, rustic bohemian look, turns out I have an obsession with feathers which is where I like to specialise and more often than not is what I enjoy the most. Its also what people most recognise me for. As I became more experienced I began work on other styles I personally like to wear from Victorian, steampunk, Goth, Renaissance, weddings and formal functions. I have recently started cosplay commissions.
What is the biggest reward for you working as a costumer?
I am a very practical person. I love to work when there is something to show for it, something beautiful that I and the client can be proud of. I previously work as a chef and got that same feeling of gratification when I saw people enjoy what I had produced. More so with being a seamstress, I love to see piles of materials transform in to something stunning and functional, most of all to know that I did that. From the design to the finished article.
What have your biggest challenges been?
If I am honest, the biggest challenge has been getting over my own confidence issues. I place myself under a tremendous amount of pressure to always do and be better. It is having faith in myself to trust my abilities and to trust I know what I am doing.
What’s your favourite costume you’ve created?
Its difficult to narrow down a favourite but ultimately I think it would be any of my feather pieces especially the largest headdress I have done to date. I try to make every single piece that little bit different than the last so the clients will always receive a “one off” piece, to make it special for them.
What is you best tip for someone putting together a LARP costume, who doesn’t know much about costuming?
Ultimately the client will have an idea of what they want their costume to look like. It is then a task of finding costumers who can take on board their idea and talk them through the process. Any decent costumer will research said system and character parameters based on the information given and let the client know what is physically possible and then explain what is practical for the system. Clients need to be aware that LARP kit is often exposed to harsh weathers, battles of sorts so need to be durable and high quality. If a client doesn’t have the knowledge about costuming, it is part of the costumers job to explain and work with them to achieve the desired items.
Do you take custom orders and if so what kind of ideas should people have in mind before they contact you?
I like taking custom orders and love talking about ideas and designs. From the clients idea of what they want, they need to have an idea of colours, materials, where it will be used (if needed for battle or a ballroom) and an idea of budget. I am happy to have creative control over designs but obviously I need to know what the client does and does not like. Again I am more than happy to discuss as much as is needed to pick a design that is in budget and is exactly what the client is after. Granted sometimes this isn’t possible as some are unaware of material costs and where I try to design or pick materials within their budget, I will not create something that will not look professional for my sake and the clients.
Do you LARP Yourself? Do you have favourite systems, favourite types of character to play?
I do indeed LARP myself. Currently I only have time to play Empire, where I play a Wintermark Kallavesi storm crow and am featured on the main Stormcrow page. I dont really have a favourite type of character as I have played different types. They all have their stories and paths to follow. All bring a different experience to the game and on a personal level, different obstacles to overcome.
Where can people find you?
I am mainly available on Facebook at the moment at https://www.facebook.com/atiraclothing/
My website is still under construction and will be announced as soon as its up and running.