Making Money With Your Art With Creator Creator Lionel Vogt

deemarie · October 3, 2005 8:47 am

Lionel Vogt is one of those rare artists who actually makes money with his art. His unique life-size, and often life-like, creator creations were a huge hit at the recent DragonCon convention. Moon_Shadow, our Renderosity Front Page News contributing reporter, was able to drag Lionel away from his creative dungeon to answer a few questions, and perhaps get your creative-juices flowing, so that you too can Make Money with your art!
What inspired you to create the masks at DragonCon? Message2425862.jpgI started nine months ago to resolve a problem we had run into. I had a friend in need of a fox role-playing mask. We searched for three months for one. Finally, as an act of desperation, I decided to make it for him. We went to a thrift store; picked up stuffed animals; skinned them; and proceeded to make the mask. I worked on it for about a week, then held it in my hands and asked, "Where in the heck did you come from?" I was very nervous about it and gave it to my friend. He was absolutely delighted with it. The next step, if I could make the fox, could I make the lion? The lion took two-and-a-half-weeks. It was a creation I had always wanted. It was like some after school special If he had only tried! It's not just making the masks it's giving people a dream, giving people a piece of themselves. The mask becomes an extension of the person. What do you think the future will hold for your creations? This is all extremely new to me, so I'm still overwhelmed by the response from people who have seen my art. I'm not going to get a swelled head, because I know how quickly things can change. Ultimately, I wait by the phone hoping for a production company like Jim Henson's Creature Factory to give me a call. I honestly don't know if I'm going to make it or not. It has been a whirlwind trying to make rent, but I hope I'm going to [make it]. Stay tuned and keep checking the website for new creations. What sort of magical functions can mere humans do with their masks? Basically the entire idea was to create creatures with realism that was functional. It occurred to me that the masks themselves should no longer be a hindrance, but instead, should be an augmentation. Since I had a serious background in electronics, I decided it would be best to utilize that knowledge to allow people to see the world in different ways. The masks have a certain technological novelty to allow the user to see and hear the world in many ways. The Lion mask has an infrared sensitive camera system, with a fish eye lens (which is a wide-angle lens), that allows you to see clearly. Also, the high-brightness infrared L.E.D.s gives a low-level light vision to about 50 feet.
Right now, on my desk in my workshop/studio, is a wolf that has an amplified hearing system. Microphones in each ear allow a person to hear a whisper across the room. Because the microphones are in the ears, it's directional. This is the first series of the wolf masks. The second series will have modified amplifications, so it will convert ultra-high frequencies into lower frequencies; that humans can hear as wolves actually hear. As each mask is so unique, what are the steps to creating the basic mask? I start with photos of the actual animal in front of me. Then I use recycled foam from packaging materials. It's attached to a hard hat helmet band, which is adjustable and strong enough to support the weight of the mask. Then, I put layers of sculpted aluminum mesh to bring up the structures of the face. Next, I make a plastic cast jaw, or make the teeth by hand. I begin working with Celluclay [Instant Paper Mach]. It adds rigidity to the mask. There are several stages of sculpting individual features before adding the fur. If it doesn't have fur, I'll begin the next step, which in the case of the dragon would be scaling.
Message2425859.jpg Message2425860.jpg Lionel working in his dungeon on his award winning dragon mask
On the masks that do require fur, I apply the fur in various lengths, and can use up to ten different pieces on the face to make it go in the correct direction to give a natural, realistic, appearance. The final trim work is airbrushing the eyes and using Fimo [oven baked polymer clay] to sculpt the nose. After the upper jaw is finished and the teeth are inserted, I set the lower jaw mechanism in elastic for the neutral balance. Then the component that holds the lower jaw to the chin is placed so it reacts well when the user speaks (for articulated masks). Original masks [as well as other creations] can be found on Lionel's web site:
All supporting images are copyright, and cannot be
copied, printed, or reproduced in any manner without written permission from the artist.

Message2425908.jpgWe would like to thank Mel Kae [Moon_Shadow] for taking time from her busy schedule to help cover the DragonCon convention.
October 3, 2005

Article Comments

SndCastie ( posted at 12:00AM Mon, 03 October 2005

Thank you so much Moon_Shadow and Lionel for a wonderful interview. It is amazing what you can do when you put your mind to work. SndCastie

Runefire ( posted at 12:00AM Mon, 03 October 2005

Great interview, great work Lionel, awesome concepts :)

rabbit_dawn3d ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 05 October 2005

Now, there's something I'd never thought of... Skinning a stuffed animal. :) Very inspirational interview for some of us aspiring costume makers. :)

Tayit ( posted at 12:00AM Wed, 05 October 2005

Hi, I clicked onto this story because I saw the associated picture of what I believed to be someone in a fur suit. I was just curious as to whether or not anybody has actually approached you to craft fur suits. Judging by the photos provided on Renderosity, your work is absolutely stunning. I know of at least 50 people who would be very interested in having something as complex as that to go with their fur suits, whether it be wolves, foxes (of which I know quite a few), or other animals. Your work is extremely cool and so very detailed! Keep up the great work and I hope all pans out for you in the future!

oscilis ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 06 October 2005

I think your masks are fantastic and wish you lots of luck with them. Imagine being able to feel and hear like a wolf!

Solion ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 06 October 2005

Right now I am doing full fursuit costumes as well, I will try and get some pictures up of the full sabertooth costume up. People interested in getting a mask or costume done can reach me at (solion at comcast dot net) If you havent seen it. take a look at the lion video, that is a full suit. One of he ther things I am working on is a digigrade leg system with some energy return. But time to do R&D is hard when you are trying to make enough money to eat. But the idea is a leg harness based on another I saw that will give you an energyreturn when you step and allow you to spring about in a longer stride. Lionel

deemarie ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 06 October 2005

Thanks so much Lionel for taking time out of your busy schedule for the interview - and thank you also Moon_Shadow for stepping in at the last moment to help us out with DragonCon. Dee-Marie

ice_magistrate ( posted at 12:00AM Thu, 06 October 2005

Great work dude! i've been making halloween costumes just for the fun of it.but you're putting really cool technology behind the facades is way cool!

nemirc ( posted at 12:00AM Fri, 07 October 2005

Good luck with Jim Henson's creature shop! And thanks a lot for the article. I've read your name in the "higher forums" a few times before and it's good to put a name and face to the nick :p

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