This week for our costumer interviews we had a chat to Callum and Russell from Dustmonkey. They focus on post-apocalyptic clothing that wouldn’t look out of place in a Mad Max film, and you might have seen Callum’s posts on LARP Guide before if you’ve been here a while!
When did you start costuming and what first got you into costume creation for LARP? Were you already working in a different part of the industry prior to that?
Costuming of one type or another probably started about 5 years ago, but that was entirely costuming for ourselves rather than anything else. The majority of that was design work, as we both tend to have a very clear image in our head of what we want a final piece to look like. I think the thing that got us from casual costume makers into people with home workshops and an order book was the decision to run our own event and costume it. From that we were forced to learn and learn fast, and the reception to what we created has been amazing. From that people started asking us to make them various costume pieces and thus Dust Monkey was born.
Do you have a preferred style, time period, or genre of costume to create?
I think both of us would say Post Apocalyptic is our preferred genre of costume creation, although we have started branching out into some sci-fi costume for Shadow Wars, which is a fantastic system we have both played at; and one that has been very supportive of our leap into the world of professional costume creation.
What is the biggest reward for you working as a costumer?
The response from the customer on seeing their order finished. We tend to always go a bit over regarding time we quote on a project, not because we are bad at quoting but because we ‘finish’ a piece and then inevitably end up adding a little something because we think it would look cool. We never change the quoted price for that, we just do it because…. why not?
And what have your biggest challenges been?
Costuming an entire event, giving ourselves 11 months to costume about 45 people with costume changes, having to design and create 4 distinct looks so that at a glimpse players can see a costume on someone and go yup thats a slaver, rather than umm.. what is that?
It was a hugely daunting project but we kept each other going, bouncing ideas around and we both feed off each others energy and ideas. Quite often one of us will make something that directly inspires the other to make something else. It is a really good partnership, Post-apoc life-partners is how we describe it!
What’s your favourite costume you’ve created? Can you describe it? Even better – do you have a picture of it?
I think we have a few, my favourite thing that Russell has made is probably the heavy slaver tyre armour and the mohawk helmet. They just scream PA while at the same time being unlike anything I have seen at a LARP before. They are just badass to be honest. As a rule if Russ goes really quiet for a while but tells me he is making something, i am fairly sure to be blown away by the end result.
Favourite thing I have made would have to be the jacket and armoured sleeve combo that I took into the studio with Charlie recently. The jacket was for a customer, and the sleeve was inspired by something the Wasteland Pirate made and the vambraces from the Mad Max game.
What is your best tip for someone putting a LARP costume together for their character who doesn’t know much about costuming?
Just throw yourself into the deep end and give it a go. It always seems more daunting at the start so set yourself something easy to do first. You will be surprised with the result and with that confidence try something a bit harder, and progress. Within a year you will be amazed that the basic thing ever daunted you.
Do you take custom orders, and if so what kind of ideas should people have in mind before they contact you?
We do indeed, although our order book tends to fill up quite quickly. If you want to order from us have a good idea of what has inspired you, reference images are very useful as is information about the character, as that will really help us design the overall look. Not their entire backstory, but just a few snappy sentences. Of course your budget is key, expecting a bespoke jacket with a budget of £100 just is not possible and ends up wasting everyones time if we talk about the ins and outs and then at the end tell us you cannot spend more then £100.
Do you LARP yourself? Do you have any favourite systems? Favourite character types to play?
We do both LARP although increasingly less often due to being busy with our own system, custom orders, real life etc.
We both love Shadow Wars, but both of us are trying to get over to Poland and Germany this year to go to their fest level Post Apoc systems which is where a lot of the kit that has inspired us is.
We would be lying if we said we did not enjoy a scrap, so fighty characters are our usual fallbacks.