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Make-up artist and cosplay influencer Tatiana Scheetz was an unusual child. Sure, like many girls her age, she knew every single word to The Little Mermaid, and she idolized Ariel, but her fandom didn't end with Disney movies and typical children's fare. The 36-year-old says she remembers almost wearing out her copy of The Making of Thriller when she was growing up.
"Watching how they put the music video together enchanted me every time I saw it," Scheetz told SYFY WIRE. "You would think as a six-to-seven-year-old girl I would have been afraid, but watching how they did the zombie makeup, costumes, choreography, and set design... I was just in awe."
Scheetz grew up to get her certification in cosmetology, but she was slightly disappointed to realize that studying the art of make-up doesn't necessarily involve special effects. "So, you could say I’m self-trained," she admits, having added SFX and cosplay make-up skills to her repertoire on her own time. "The supplies I use aren’t professional grade, either. I do a lot of trial and error with less expensive things I find at the craft store. Having a family a five, I can’t afford to buy a lot of the items that a professional FX makeup artist would typically use, so I work with what I can afford."
Approaching her cosplay looks from a budget seems to work for Scheetz, whose work rivals any professional. She's transformed herself into every fictional character from Mary Poppins to Jafar with incredible results.
Do you remember the first time you saw cosplay? How long did you wait to get started on your own?
I first saw cosplay online through social media. I started connecting with Disney Princess cosplayers first because I’m a Disney fanatic, and then followed other cosplayers through them.
I waited until October 2016 to get started on my own because it was the first time I felt confident in a cosplay. I spent three or so months preparing a Maleficent costume for Halloween, and when I received so much praise for my costume, I decided I wanted to try it out at a comic con. It was a total hit and I haven’t stopped cosplaying since then.
What geeky movies/TV shows/video games were you into as a kid? Who were your favorite characters?
One of my favorite movies was The Never Ending Story. The Princess Bride was another one. And, of course, all Disney movies. My favorite TV shows were cartoons like Thundercats, She-Ra, He-Man, Jem, Rainbow Bright, and Fraggle Rock.
My favorite video games were all things Nintendo: Mario Bros., Tetris, Street Fighter, and Mortal Kombat.
Tell me about your children! How does being a mom interact with your fandom?
I am a mother of three children. My 18-year-old son is a senior in high school, my 10-year-old son is in fourth grade, and my mini-me daughter turns five in April.
My 18-year-old came with me to my first con when he was 15. He was Diaval, or Maleficent’s bird as a human. That was his first experience as well. He loves to perform, but he'd prefer to use his skills on the stage. My 10-year-old loves sports and is exactly like his dad so cosplay is not really his forte, but he’s always interested to know what character I’m transforming into next.
My daughter loves to dress up and loves the makeup. Sometimes we will do a transformation together. We did a princess series and an Incredibles transformation together. She has her own vanity now and practices makeup on herself. The end result is... hilarious to say the least.
How long does an average cosplay look take you, from start to finish?
A full cosplay look, depending on how much detail is in the costume, can take weeks to months to fully complete. If I’m doing a makeup transformation, I can usually pull that off pretty quickly. Once I have the clothing and items I need from the waist up, I can complete a makeup look within a few hours.
The longest look I’ve done has to be Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy, which took me four to five hours. The quickest was Velma from Scooby-Doo.
Do you construct your cosplay? Do you ever buy pieces and wigs?
I’ve never fully constructed a cosplay from scratch, buying the fabric and sewing it together or crafting my own accessory pieces. But I do a lot of thrift store shopping and I'll deconstruct or redesign the clothes to fit a cosplay I’m doing. Occasionally, I will just buy the cosplay if I have the means to do so. But even then, I slightly alter it to put my touch on a cosplay.
I normally buy all my wigs. I’ve only made one wig, which was the yarn wig for my Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas cosplay. A lot of people say that’s one of my best cosplays.
How do you decide which characters you want to emulate?
I think of characters that I know and have a connection with and I start from there. I honestly don’t feel comfortable doing characters I don’t really know... even though I’ve done a couple, for the most part, I have to know who the character is.
Sometimes I will get a request and if I don’t know them, I will research them before transforming into that character.
If you had unlimited money and resources, who would your dream cosplay be?
Hmm, that’s a hard one. I suppose I would love to have the full-on Nebula get-up. Professional grade makeup supplies and all.
I do a lot of photo edits where I put my makeup transformation on a character to see what my cosplay would look like if I had the legit costume.
I would also like all the armor for Wonder Woman. One of my goals is to make it myself, but I hesitate because, as I said, I don’t normally craft my own pieces. But I do want to learn.
Do you attend cons? What is the fan community like where you live?
Yes, I do. They are so much fun, especially when I cosplay someone everyone knows. I get stopped every few minutes for a picture and it makes me feel like a star for a day or two. When people call my name (the name of the character I’m portraying), it’s an amazing feeling.
I especially love when other cosplayers compliment my cosplay. It’s such an honor to have other cosplayers who understand the hard work that goes into putting a cosplay together compliment your work.
I’m proud to be a part of the cosplayers in the Philadelphia and tri-state area. It’s an amazing community and everyone I’ve met have been extremely supportive.