Artist Alley: Interview with David Carpenter

David Carpenter, FX Props and Armor Creator
Hey there fellow followers! Stephanae cracking down this Marvelous Monday with very special edition of artist alley for you all. In the past we have done some amazing and spectacular artists with comics, pop art, media and so much more. Yet we have never done a Costume builder whom within themselves is a whole untouched level of artistic talent far beyond comprehension. With measuring, sculpting, painting and the sheer finalizations to create a master piece these artists by trade give it their all with each and every piece mastered by their own two hands for the fans that come from near and far to enjoy their awe inspiring work. Among them is one man, with a talent in great and many opinions gives a new meaning to a jaw dropping experience. His work shows every ounce of his dedication, passion and heart ship to strive to do what he loves most. So without further ado I give you all, David Carpenter!

GIGA: What made you first decide to get into creating props and weaponry?

DAVID: When I was 6 years old my parents took me to a drive in triple feature. Star Wars was the main feature and the one that I wanted to see, but since it was the main feature I had to stay awake through two other movies before I could see it. Watching the drive in screen late at night while laying comfortably on a blanket in the back of my parents station wagon was not an easy thing to do at age 6, but I was determined to stay awake. At this point you probably think, ok, so Star Wars was the inspiration for getting in to the prop and costuming field, but that’s not actually the case. I mentioned that I had to stay awake through two other films, those other films were Damien the Omen, which I found pretty boring at age 6, and the second film was the original ALIEN. This was probably not the best movie for a 6 year old to see in retrospect, but I most likely would not be doing what I do now if not for that. For months after that night I had reoccurring nightmares, until one day at a big flea market I came across a guy selling old magazines. One that caught my eye was called FANGORIA magazine. Inside it had photos of monsters, but I saw that the monsters weren’t real, they were just rubber costumes that had people inside of them. It pretty much cured my nightmare issues once I realized this for myself. From that point on I had a strong desire to be the one in the monsters scaring others. Oh, by the way, I fell asleep half way through Star Wars.

GIGA: What’s the creative process and or materials you use to achieve the outstanding look of your creations?

DAVID: Processes and materials can and will vary widely depending on what I’m making. Most often, everything is dictated by the budget and the time in which I have to complete the project. A lot of the props and costumes I do for commissions tend to be made out of EVA foam. It’s a very durable, inexpensive and extremely lightweight material, all of which is good for cosplayers. When walking around all day at a con the last thing you want to be doing is lugging a heavy set of armor, sword, or rifle around. Not to mention, foam is impossible to break if you accidentally drop it. For my personal projects, like the one I’m currently working on, the materials are much more advanced. Resins, Platinum Silicone’s, Urethane rubber and foams, the list goes on, and the expense goes way up.

GIGA: What sort of genre do you veer towards when it comes to making your props?

DAVID: Personally I tend to specialize in Video game and/or Sci-Fi mostly. It’s what I enjoy the most. Cool looking stuff with a lot of LED lights in it. Lights make everything cooler.

GIGA: Has there ever been a project that you have always wanted to achieve? Why?

DAVID: There is always something new I would love to try making, always new ideas, but when it comes down to it there are only so many hours in the day so I have to pick the ones that I want to do the most. I’m always looking for a challenge though. I like to tackle things that are out of my comfort zone to try and push myself to learn and figure out new things. Right now I’m working on a project that’s probably the most complex challenge I’ve ever had.

GIGA: For our readers alone, where could they go to commission work from you?

DAVID: Right now I have all commissions closed until I complete my current project, but I expect to have them reopened by around July. I can be contacted via my Facebook page or my main website

GIGA: Along with your ingenuities within the prop world, do you as well cosplay your work?

DAVID: Yes, I have been costuming and attending conventions for over 20 years. I don’t attend quite as many conventions as I used to, now mostly only if I am invited as a guest, but I always make it a point to create at least one really cool costume for myself to wear at Dragon Con every year.

GIGA: Was there every a piece that was overly challenging for you?

DAVID: There are always challenges, but if something gives me a problem I keep at it until I figure it out. As I mentioned earlier, my current costume project is extremely detailed and complex. Certainly the most challenging I have ever worked on, but nowadays we have the internet. If I have questions on how to do something I can often look it up and see how others went about it. Much easier to obtain knowledge now then when I was first starting out in the pre-interweb days.

GIGA: As well as attending Comic Cons, do you partake in booths to sell your work there as well?

DAVID: Not really. For a few years I worked with the Anime Network and ADV Films in costume, touring Anime conventions all over the U.S. to promote the release of the Guyver Anime series. It was fun and a great way to promote my costuming business, but it was also a lot of work. When I go to a con now I want to relax and have a good time, not work.

GIGA: For our starving costumers, prop builders and all around Cosplay Fans, what’s the best advice you give to someone who is just started walking this path?

DAVID: Start out with smaller / easier projects and work your way up if you lack the necessary skills. Don’t become discouraged if your not happy with the results, keep at it and you’ll learn from your mistakes. As I mentioned earlier the internet is a treasure trove of information so use it to research if you have problems or questions on how to do something. If your doing this as a hobby or a possible career don’t expect things to click overnight. Like any other field it can take many years before you feel confident in what you’re doing or to make a name for yourself. Most importantly do it because you enjoy doing it, regardless of others opinions.

Started out at an early age with a strong interest in costuming and Special Effects makeup. After high school moved to California to attend Joe Blasco Makeup institute and earned a degree in Makeup and Special Effects. Worked on numerous low budget and independent films while in California. Years later returned to home state of Virginia and began a career in old world style Glassblowing. Costuming and prop making remained a strong hobby while working as both a production and artistic glass blower for over 15 years, eventually achieving the status of Master Glassblower. During that time made glass artworks for films, television, museums and private collectors all over the globe. In 2006 retired from Glass working and went full time with first love of SPFX, costuming and prop making. Operated and maintained the How-To costuming website since 1998. Known widely for the Guyver costumes and starting the EVA foam floor mat costume making trend, has also had very diverse artistic work experience including Tattoo Artist, Web designer, Nightclub designer and even worked as a Photographer for Hustler Magazine.
If you want to find out more on David, see more of his work or just commission a piece yourself, follow the links below!