January 26, 2013

Steampunk Spliced Owl Mask - EpicLeather

Steampunk Spliced Owl Mask
I tried to find a piece of non-fan-art from Nathan Rodriguez (DA's Epic-Leather) to feature but ultimately it was this mask that I found most intriguing, a Splicer from BioShock. I have to admit that, like a lot of games, I bought BioShock on steam while it was cheap and haven't actually played it yet. I think for this game in particular I watched it at a friend's house for a while and was too overwhelmed by the late game that he was in, and subsequently underwhelmed by the early game when I went to play it myself. But with the beautiful new BioShock Infinite (link is NSFW and loud!) coming out I may have to catch up on the series, especially to see something as beautiful as this mask, in game!

I really like the "realism" on this mask. I looked around for similar masks by other people and they were all very flat and rigid but here the feathers have so much fluidity and depth that this mask seems real. The rings around the eye are very owl-like and you can imagine that, when worn, that ring effect would be amplified. The stitches around the eyes also help to emphasize this and it looks wonderful. Worth extra mention is the belt buckle system on the back instead of those pesky knots!

I would've liked to see some stronger colors or perhaps some mottling. The smooth texture fits the beak very well, but as you move up and outwards from there it makes the colors blend together except at the extreme edges. For something that is purposefully dysmorphic - like a genetically altered person from a video game - it looks too smooth. Mottling would break up the colors as well as give it a stranger texture to fit the mood.

Overall I think this piece deserves a 5. The only real issue is thematic and, from what little I've seen of the game so far and of Nathan's work, he's made this mask his own and that's a sign of a true artist. My positive and negative critiques are a little at odds here, praising beauty but asking for ugliness; ultimately the choice is Nathan's and I'd just like to see him commit to the ugly or admit that this work is mostly due to his own brilliance.

Nathan is a leather artisan and he has been doing this for a little over two years now which I think is amazing considering the quality level. He sells all his work on Etsy including this one. There are some really great pieces there so it is certainly worth a look. The prices are a bit high but that's the norm when working with leather.

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