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Community Focus: Karin Olava

October’s crisp chill grips the air like a reminder that the reaping season is nigh. This may have some of you contemplating the creation of a Halloween costume. If you need inspiration, look no further than a member of our ever-artistic community who lives a life in which every day is Halloween.

Karin Olava is a Cosplayer. With mastery over the crafts of sculpting, makeup, and textile design, she makes an art of climbing into the skin of her favorite heroes. Like a post-modern chameleon, she has morphed to resemble everything from a Stormtrooper to a Zombie.

We’re honored that she’s added a Guardian from Destiny to her cast of characters. The Hunter that she’s brought to life has been given the royal treatment, with everything from weapons to armor wrought in her foundry. We’ve enjoyed following her progress on Twitter. With some help from her friends, the end-result is appropriately intimidating.

Costume/Gjallarhorn: Karin Olava Pettersen 
Duke MK.44: Orion Works
Photography: Danarki
Copyright: Karin Olava Pettersen

To get to know the lady behind these many masks, we’ve made her the focus of our community for this week.

Tell us all about your history with Cosplay.
KO:  Well, I’ve been creating things for as long as I can remember. Both of my parents are craftsmen, so my childhood was filled with tools, fabric and paint – which is probably what got me into costuming, and then cosplay. I also grew up with an older brother that I played games and watched Power Rangers with. That might have something to do with my game addiction.

My first cosplay was in 2007. It was an anime character, but I didn’t really get that much into it at the time. A couple of years later, I rediscovered my Star Wars love when I met the 501st Legion costuming club. In 2010, I made my first serious cosplay, Darth Talon. The next year, I was a full member in Stormtrooper armour.

Since then, I’ve mostly been looking at and making  game-related costumes. I’ve gathered many different skills over the last few years and took an SFX course last year. The Hunter is my latest cosplay, but I’ve got plans for more.
What is it about becoming the legends that you embody that inspires you to do such amazing work?

KO:  Thanks! It’s a number of things actually. I'm drawn to solid and believable design. Sometimes, it’s the storyline and lore. Other times, I might simply be drawn to a couple of lines in the script that just gives me the drive to create a costume. I am in large part drawn to more badass, strong and somewhat “rogue” looking characters. I like to say it’s a combination 40% character personality and love for a game/movie/comic, and 60% on how much I just love the design.

What about Destiny has provoked you to make an emotional connection to a game that has yet to be released?

KO:  Well, as I mention above, I have an older brother that might have influenced me to get the first Xbox to play Halo with him (we use to link our consoles and play together). That was my first sci-fi game crush, and to this day might be my favorite fps game. I've been a Halo and Bungie fan ever since. So, when I found out you were making a sci-fi fantasy game, you had my attention. The designs in the game are just stunning! It’s what I would call “sci-fi concept art porn”, if that makes any sense, hehe.
As for the game not having been released yet, from what I’ve seen this far, you are giving me exactly what I want from a game like this! Stunning scenery, entertaining gameplay, intriguing storyline, and badass armour and weaponry.
Our goal is to give you a lot to choose from. Did the Hunter appeal to your rogue sensibilities?

KO:  When I first started looking into making a Destiny cosplay, there wasn’t much that showed gameplay, but I already liked the story of the different classes. In the end, I just had to pick one. First, I was looking mostly at the Titan, but when I came over the Hunter design featured on, I knew I'd found the character for me. It was the bone armor that sold it. Who wouldn’t want a skeleton on their arm?
We’ll find out when the game ships, of course. Since you were not so patient, tell about the process you employed to create your own Hunter gear. What materials do you use?

KO:  As with most costume projects, it starts with collecting references and figuring out a plan of attack. I like to write down little notes and sketches to get an idea for how I want to go about making the different parts. I often start with the piece that inspired me the most and complete it before starting on the other parts. Looking at it gives me some extra drive to finish. For the Hunter, I started with the bone armor and worked my way from there. The thing I finished last was the prop weapon, Gjallarhorn.

There are a number of materials used to create the Hunter. Most of the armor plates were made out of a thermoplastic called worbla and craftfoam/eva foam. The bone around is just expanding foam covered in paper clay. For the visor on the helmet, I simply modified a visor for a motorcycle helmet. Gjallarhorn is made more or less with the same materials, but with some added ornate buttons. The wolf detail was sculpted in super sculpey. 

It’s pretty badass. Where do you plan to wear your Hunter gear?
KO:  The Hunter has already seen a small cosplay convention here in Norway, but it will see a more familiar setting at Spillexpo (GameExpo) in Norway in November. Other than that, I have no planned events thus far.
What do you have planned for the future?
KO:  I have some game related costumes planned and in work, but as I once heard “don’t make the internet a promise”. Though I'll never forget that Titan...

We would tell Karin it's not polite to tease, but we’re as guilty of that as anyone. Until she begins work on a Titan, we’ll feast our eyes again on her epic Hunter (armed with equally exotic munitions). Keep an eye on this 'player, and check out her Facebook page to see all her creations, including this one, in the stunning high-resolution that they deserve.

We’ll be watching, looking forward to the legend she becomes next.
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