Q: It’s good to see you guys again! We have another special guest. Charles Mason II is a professional steampunk artisan who has a lot of experience. He makes costume accessories, foam projects, prosthetics, and almost anything else you can envision in the steampunk aesthetic. Charles also worked as a special effects makeup artist and has experience as a professional baker. Needless to say, he’s a well-rounded artist. How are you doing today, Charles?
A: I'm doing fine, Stephanie. Thank you for asking.
Q: Every steampunk fan has a unique opinion about the genre. What does steampunk mean to you?
A: It's a place that best reflects my unique style and it happens to be a match made in heaven. During my whole life, I got by with junk in my drawers and stuff that people threw away on a daily basis. I harnessed recycled material into my new art form.
Q: Do you have a favorite version of steampunk? Victorian, Wild West, post-apocalyptic, or something else?
A: When I first started, I was drawn to a mixed media of post apocalyptic and alien tech. After studying steampunk clothing and characters for months, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to make a new version early on. I don't have a name for it, but my style is original. You can run across a picture of my pieces and you know it's mine. That's how much my style has made an impact on the Internet in this world.
Q: I don’t believe steampunk is limited to a particular age group, but it definitely appeals to young adults. Why do you think steampunk is so popular among teenagers?
A: I'm glad you brought that up. When I’m attending conventions from the East Coast to the West Coast, I see a pattern with the young steampunkers. We don't have enough true hearted heroes who are willing to give and teach. I approach the shy ones talk to them about their dreams and aspirations of what punk means to them, hoping that I can help harness their true talents inside their young minds. I work with children at my workplace Home Depot. I help run one of the largest kids workshops in the nation because it's about giving back to not only the community, but kids that need a guiding hand or someone to look up to.
Q: Supposedly, the Mortal Engines will be released as a live action film at the end of 2018. It’s based on Philip Reeve’s book series of the same name. As a steampunk fan, is that exciting news to you?
A: It's very exciting and I really want people to understand the steampunk genre in its true form. I haven't seen it done right with TV for some odd reason. It has a curse for getting off the ground and becoming a mainstream thing. I'm currently working on a TV project. I have my fingers crossed, hoping that I can help steer steampunk in the right direction.
Q: Your official website is Lord Mason’s Extraordinary Designs. What kinds of steampunk projects do you create?
A: My official website is lordmasondesigns.com. Some people ask what they don't make well and put boundaries or borders in front of themselves when it might be too hard. I never do that to myself. I try to make everything without limiting myself. I created masquerade masks plus large and small props for the teapot that I made for a play out here in Beaverton Oregon. Also, I create night light airships, drawings, sketches, and I will try to create whatever the customers hearts desire. No project is too small or large for me.
Q: How long have you been working as a steampunk maker?
A: I started on this path back in 2010 when I made my first watch. My wife bought me a watch that didn't fit my wrist because I am a very large individual, so I didn't want to give it away or throw it away. I made my first leather band that started off this whole entire way of me steampunking everything.
Q: I’m sure you worked on many projects. Do you have a favorite steampunk project that comes to mind?
A: Oh, well, that's a tough question, but I'm going to say my 8 foot tall steampunk teapot. Creating this beast from PVC pipes and foam wall insulation was a major undertaking. But in the end, it looked so real that everyone thought it was metal and rust. I call that a big win.
Q: You were a contestant on a reality television show called Steampunk’d. Would you mind telling us about the experience?
A: It was an experience that I don't want to do over again. Creating steampunk art in a hurry is not a wise decision and developing PTSD from the show hit me hard for a solid year after the show ended. It took some deep meditation to get me back on my feet and better than ever. That's all I can say about the show or want to. It's in the past and I'm putting it behind me, looking to the future in a more positive way.
Q: Do you still keep in touch with anyone from the show?
A: Indeed I do. I made wonderful relationships and friendships with not only the cast, but with their husbands, wives, boyfriends, and girlfriends. They will always be a part of my personal family and the steampunk genre. What we had to go through together means a lot and I will never forget them. They are my brothers and sisters. The one person I don't keep in touch with is Morgan.
Q: I thought the show’s judges had a lot of interesting comments. Did you find their criticism useful?
A: Being an artist on the level I’m on is lonely and it can be really hard to take criticism from others who aren’t on the same level as I am. I took away that I must finish my pieces all the way through and not half ass it.
Q: You also create foam projects or costumes. Is it difficult to make foam projects?
A: One of my pieces turned out so good that people thought it was a real metal chest plate. I think using foam is a really fun and inexpensive way to make your vision come to life. I try to get more people on this art medium because if I’m having this much enjoyment from creating foam, I want to share it with the world.
Q: There was a time when you worked in Hollywood as a special effects makeup artist. Did you enjoy the experience?
A: I was raised on horror and sci-fi movies with a lot of special effects. My dream came true at 19. I got my first gig in a special effects shop under Screaming Mad George. But it was Mike McGee from Alex in Wonderland who gave me the courage to pursue my passion further. If it wasn’t for this man, I probably would not have done the things I’m doing today.
Q: Which movies did you work on?
A: I worked on movies and TV commercials. I think Cold Space X was the film where I built a prop space capsule that looked real. But my first film was called the Legend of Diablo. I worked as an intern makeup artist, but I also had an opportunity as a zombie, plus I did so well, they put me on the cover of the DVD.
Q: You’re also a professional baker. Why did you dive into the realm of artistic baking?
A: When I left Los Angeles, I moved to Portland Oregon to become a baker. I attended a pastry school in Portland for a year and during that time, I thought I could transform my artistic flair into food. When I do something, I go above and beyond, and it shows. Putting 10 years in the kitchen had its pros and cons, but it was time to move on.
Q: What else should we know about you?
A: Just know that I will always do my best to provide original artwork to inspire young adults, older crowds, and anybody with an open mind and open heart. I’m always trying to share this gift with the world and I’m always here when you need me. Just call or send an email and I will give you my time.
Q: That was a really cool and educational interview. Thanks a lot for joining us, Charles. You’re a very talented steampunk maker and I know we’re going to see more of your work in the future. I appreciate your positive outlook on life. Best wishes for your career and future steampunk adventures.
A: Thank you all. I love my steampunk family from coast to coast and overseas.
Another interview comes and goes. I really enjoyed talking to Charles. He seems like a tremendously talented and well rounded creator. I also thought he was very friendly, honest, and genuine. We live in such a competitive and insincere world, so it's refreshing to meet people like Charles who have great character. Please take a look at his official website called Lord Mason's Extraordinary Designs. You can commission him to make all kinds of cool steampunk projects. I'm going to post the link below. What did you enjoy the most about this interview? Leave a comment and let me know. Feel free to become a subscriber by filling out the contact page on my website. That's a wrap for now and stay tuned for my next post.