"The Phoenix Gauntlets" Collaboration: Part 1

There are just a few things that have kept my fascination since my childhood - one is (as you might know when reading my blog) my obsession with armor and swords. I have little knowledge about it but I just like it all. Kinda like most of my geeky & weird obsessions - I can’t explain it, they just crept into my head and made it their cozy home and it has given me tons of fun adventures.

Throwback to like, almost 10 years ago and the moment I discovered the work of Lumecluster - an US based allround master of her craft that is equally as obsessed (but with a hell more knowledge) with armor and all that good stuff. I lowkey kuch stalked her for years - until she somehow found me, followed me back (cue my fangirling) and we got to talk to another (cue more fangirling until the end of this blog) about two years ago. She’s been creating some insane stuff for years already prior to this - her masks started in 2014 and she “only picked up” armor around 2016. I highly recommend checking her website out to see a ton more work she has done, as it’s too much to talk about: “Lumecluster: Where dreamers find courage” !

She invited me to - what would become an almost two year - collaborative project where I would be invited to capture her newest project: the Phoenix Armore. Once she was comfortable sending me her work to photograph and capture - I would be able to do so, if I wanted of course. Needlessy to say, I was freaking hyped and couldn’t say yes quick enough. Which also tested me in my limits of “non-disclore-verbal-agreement” as I was not allowed to talk about anything just yet. For. So. Long. This is actually my very first real public announcement, together with some overhyped videos on my own profile on Facebook and a quick livestream on Instagram just now - so you go figure HOW MUCH I wanted to share this!

But today is the day and today I can finally share more about it. While I won’t showcase or tell just yet what entire project I’ve planned in collaboration with her (where she also basically gave me free reign to do anything I wanted within her concept) - I will be sharing some exquisite insights in the work I will be shooting. I must stress these are not my images and I gently borrowed these from her website and blog, which I highly recommend checking out and giving it a read as it tells a hella lot more about it all - + you can even see Adam Savage himself putting it to the test :)

The two pieces I own here are both “small” - and when putting them on I could immediately feel how much love and research went into it. Not just the gauntlets on itself - but even the gloves. What I thought where first 2 sizes (small & medium) turned out to be two times a small. And all puns intended - the second prototype felt like a glove, even being a bit on the tiny side for my big lady hands! They’re super comfortable and they work with touchscreens. How about that …

The devil is in the detail and I’m pretty sure Lumecluster has been doing a lot of exorcism to get it out there - I’m incredibly humbled to be part of such an amazing project and to continue working with her on this. There is a 3rd pair in the make (one I will commission) - so I’m incredibly looking forward to see the beauty that will be the final piece. While I don’t think it could get any better after the second prototype, I’m sure Lumecluster will do just that …

The “Phoenix Gauntlets” by Lumecluster - 3D printed iridescent armor gauntlets to suit any shieldmaiden or warrior out there who wants to stand out and don’t compensate the fantasy for reality and the reality for fantasy.

The “Phoenix Gauntlets” by Lumecluster - 3D printed iridescent armor gauntlets to suit any shieldmaiden or warrior out there who wants to stand out and don’t compensate the fantasy for reality and the reality for fantasy.

So about the gauntlets: I received two pairs. One is the golden set (shown above) which is one of her earlier prototypes and a costum-colored pair featuring a gorgeous teal and purple color theme - close to the purple & blue one shown here yet different and striking in it’s own way!

As Lumecluster is a perfectionist, one could barely see a difference at first sight. While the gold has been worn a bit and shows some imperfections (I absolutely love as they tell a new story) - the new set is pure iridescent colorgasms and I’m living for it!

When I got the box, I eagerly unpacked all the pieces. Because that’s the best part: they’re not just gauntlets. They’re MODULAR - which means they’re detachable from another and can be worn in a variety of ways: you want to go casual? Don’t wear the wrist-piece. Feeling elvish? Casually attach one of your two options and become an elf. Feeling the need to steal the show? Get the other set, turn out your led-lights and literally shine your way into reality. Not feeling warrior on a certain day? Just wear the wrist-pieces on their own. Subtile and elegant? Take your pick. Want to show off? Turn on your leds!

It’s awesome. I’m a sucker for versatility, as I LOVE re-using pieces in my sessions. She literally gave me so many options now and I can’t wait to show what I’ve been cooking up with that. The following projects are also all dedicated to showcase their assembled and individual beauty - so stay tuned for sure if you want to see some serious action!

LumeclusterPhoenixGauntet_ALL.jpg




Collaborations: Introduction

Collaborations

How, where and when to start in the creative industry

One of the best and most “affordable” ways to build a portfolio featuring amazing creative or fantasy designs (beside renting) was reaching out to others through the internet. In fact, it’s also what lay the entire foundation of what the studio is right now - it did take about almost ten years roughly from when I started serious until what it is now. It was definitely a road where I’ve learned a lot, by experiencing, making mistakes, listening and doing this. But it’s been one of the most wholesome experiences of my entire career and I would love to talk more about it!

Now before I continue there are two quick things I want to address:
1. While I did say it’s the cheapest way, things can run up quickly. And it takes a lot of work, time & communication to ensure all parties are happy: so I will be breaking it all down in a few articles to come for all for all of you! But it’s a hell lot of fun, it can be way more affordable than buying - though I also highly recommend doing this as well. More about that later as well :)

2. This article is entirely based on my own experiences & what I’ve heard from designers. While I try to write this as objectively as possible - the golden rule to always keep in mind is that people may have their own system and you’re working with another person. Stay polite, stay honest and stay true. That’s half of the work already no matter the case.

A recent, very succesfull collaboration between myself & Eline Deblauwe (baldcap & make-up) with model Spooky. The dress is by Royal Black Couture (dress) with who I’ve collaborated many times before. This idea came to life when she visited me this summer and was . I reached out online to a designer who could provide gloves & through there I came in contact with Dark Virtue Designs (of which more collabs spawned …)

A recent, very succesfull collaboration between myself & Eline Deblauwe (baldcap & make-up) with model Spooky. The dress is by Royal Black Couture (dress) with who I’ve collaborated many times before. This idea came to life when she visited me this summer and was . I reached out online to a designer who could provide gloves & through there I came in contact with Dark Virtue Designs (of which more collabs spawned …)

So what ARE collaborations?

A collaboration is when two or more people decide to team up together for unpaid, on one or multiple projects to bring an idea to life, either national or international or a combination. In a case of international collaborations, usually item(s) are shipped to each other but I’ve had various cases when I teamed up with international models that brought pieces with them when they traveled to me too work on ideas.

Collaborations are an amazing opportunity to meet new people, create work of entire new levels and as a way to challenge yourself and each other to create epic new work for yours and theirs portfolio. For others it’s a way to break away from client assignments or to try & learn new techniques to showcase and attract new clients. And for others it’s a creative breath of fresh air.

The core is always the same: it’s to create new work on unpaid or tf base to add to one’s social media, website and ideally (online) portfolio.

When & how do you start with these?

Honestly and in theory: you could start at any time with this, even if you just picked up a camera. But in practice, there is a bit more too it: You’re working with other people so it’s not simply a matter of “ask & receive” - but a matter of “ask and work for the team greater good” and being aware you will most likely be reaching out to complete strangers to trust you and send you something to shoot that needs to be send back unharmed.

When reaching out a first time (I will designate an entire blog to this topic later & more), make sure you have at least some (recent) examples of your work. It could be your website or just your Instagram even or even just a collage showing some examples. Keep your message straight and short and explain you’re interested in collaborating - if you have a theme or concept, add it straight away as well in a line or two. And ask if they would be interested. Like I said: nobody needs an essay. Just make clear who you are, what you want and what you have to offer (both as person and with your work).

Another collaboration (still one of my favs) was with Pioro Blue - who created this gorgeous silver crown she borrowed to me alongside a ton of other designs. Makeup is done by Jane Von Vintage on Nymphiah, the wig is bought from Websterwigs and the dress is a secondhand one of my clients got me!

Another collaboration (still one of my favs) was with Pioro Blue - who created this gorgeous silver crown she borrowed to me alongside a ton of other designs. Makeup is done by Jane Von Vintage on Nymphiah, the wig is bought from Websterwigs and the dress is a secondhand one of my clients got me!

I cannot stress enough that when reaching out, you’re probably working with strangers at first. Your interaction matters just as much as the results: be patient and understanding, even if you receive a “no” answer or in cases: not even a respond. Nobody owes you to send free items to shoot and you’re the asking party. While I get this is frustrating - you don’t know what’s happening behind the screens. Maybe they forgot, maybe they don’t do well with sending a negative respond, maybe they are tired of too many requests, maybe you didn’t read a FAQ or bio where they state they don’t do collabs or tf, maybe something came up, … There are plenty of reasons and in the best case - you simple leave it there as well. It’s definitely not ideal and I will be honest I don’t always respond either anymore in times when it’s just too much or many; but on the other hand I’m also a firm believer that we are allowed silence at times even if social media makes us believe we don’t.

If you do get a yes - always keep in mind it’s a team effort. Communicate about what’s happening or going to happen, ask what your time schedule is to borrow a piece, maybe check up if they like the choice of team, see who covers what in expenses … Especially in the beginning. Once you’re more established and/or you have a name - usually people will trust you faster but it still can never do any harm to check up when in doubt or when you do something entiterely else. People will say yes based on what you showed and what they see, so making a full change and experiment without warning might not be ideal.

Collaborations can be absolutely amazing and while I do touch a lot on the "lesser fun” parts - I think they’re equally as important or even more as it’s easy to just ask around and expect things to just happen because of that. For me, they have made me some of the best friendships so far, the best pieces in my portfolio and some of my fondest memories of creating. Getting to know and work with others who have the same vision as you, being able to make something to life we can all enjoy and share is one of the best aspects of my job and I hope this series of blogs will kindle that inspiration for you as well!


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—- PATREON —-