Welcome to our second Artist Highlight from the As You Wish Helmet Project! If you don't know what the project is, please click here to learn more! This helmet along with 49 others will be displayed a Star Wars: Celebration VI in Orlando, FL from Aug 23-26. Starting Monday, August 27 these helmets will be auctioned on eBay by the Make-A-Wish Foundation with 100% of the proceeds going to support Make-A-Wish.
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Artist: John Brosio
TDH: John, tell us a little about yourself.
Brosio: I am primarily a painter. My original aspirations were to film and special effects but I was always painting and drawing on the side. And, as fate would have it, folks one day started offering money for my work and it soon demanded my full attention. I do very much miss character design, molds, and mask making but we only have so much time. [TDH NOTE: John is an AMAZING painter. Check out some of his work at his website, listed above!]
TDH: What drew you to the As You Wish Helmet Project?
Brosio: What drew me to the project was two fold - I was very excited just to be part of something that matters as much as Make-A-Wish. That was a done deal right there. Secondly, I miss working with masks and practical effects/ props. I used to do it all the time and it was nice to get back into it.
TDH: Tell us a little about your inspiration for the Spirit Hunter helmet.
Brosio: First of all, I want to thank Lucasfilm and the Make A Wish foundation, dream makers both, for putting their energies together in this cause. I am honored to be a small part of it.
This helmet is very much inspired by the tradition of Hopi kachinas. A first glance at Boba Fett will of course remind someone of a Celtic Knight in the configuration of the eyes. But that simple shape, colored as it is, also immediately reminds me of the Hopi Kachina Dolls that I have very much come to enjoy and appreciate. There was no doubt in my mind that I would move in this direction. Star Wars is admittedly very informed by cultural artistic traditions from around the globe but it has never given much of an overt nod to any Native American traditions. On the flip side of this, however, I did not want this piece to go down as an example of artistic thievery. I very much want to acknowledge the rich and vibrant traditions that drove this project for me and note that there is considerable deviation from some of the material I chose for guidance.
I am the only artist responsible for this piece BUT - I would like to give credit for some of the assistance I received. First off, this character helmet wears a supply of poison arrow darts that were made by Doug Meyer of North Carolina. A brief rundown on Doug can be found at this site: Practical Primitive | Guest Instructor Workshops . His work is superb and it is said that he has "literally written the book on River Cane Blowguns." Secondly, I would like to thank Toby at the Kachina House in Sedona, AZ with whom I spoke about the possibility of using an aspect of the Hopi language to name this piece. And, although it is titled in English, we did settle on a secondary, Hopi version of the name which I will discuss more later. The Kachina House is a hidden little gem in a town that is better characterized by an ocean of tourist art. Kachina House was such a relief to walk into given the quality and dignity with which they handle Native American art. They can be found at www.kachinahouse.com. And my partner, Linda: Her almost lifelong love of Native American culture was a valuable guide in this, my first real interpretation of those aesthetics. I would also like to thank the late Dale Kirn, a model maker who taught me how to execute much of what I did with this piece. And last but not least, I would like to thank Laura Redish of Native Languages of the Americas - firstname.lastname@example.org
Native American Artwork that inspired John's helmet for the As You Wish Project:
TDH: Tell us a little about your process in creating the Spirit Hunter helmet.
Brosio: First, I was originally thinking that it would be primarily white. And you can see where some of the decorative are starting to go on as blue in the midst of that white. But Linda, who has much more of a feel for this aesthetic, thought that there was not enough black. And it then hit me that I should obviously make it that very characteristic blue and paint the details on in black. It was a no brainer after that point.
The second "thing" about this piece is that, while I decided to include "battle damage," a first pass at this effect looked way TOO damaged. It looked almost like this thing had been to the moon and back. So I spent about two weeks stripping off the paint with Easy Off (not that easy or safe - be careful!) and started over. THAT was stressful.
Progress photos of John's helmet for the As You Wish Project:
TDH: You mentioned the helmet has two names...
Brosio: As far as the name: Spirit Hunter. My original thought was to find a Hopi language term for "bounty hunter" but no such concept exists in their language. I started doing research and contacted several people for help in using what might be based on a Hopi term without being either disrespectful or grossly inaccurate in my decisions. Also, given that the inspiration for this piece is Hopi Kachinas, the context of it immediately moves from the completely material to the somewhat spiritual realm, for lack of a better term. So I thought of some entity hunting spirits on a different plane somewhere. Laura Redish at Native Languages of the Americas wrote back to me to state that:
"Well, 'hunter' is Maakya in Hopi, so I guess you could always just say Hikwsi Maakya, which literally means 'spirit hunter.' It really would not make much sense to a Hopi speaker&but I guess that's the beauty of fan fiction, you can take it in any direction you want!"
So there it is: Spirit Hunter (Hikwsi Maakya)
TDH: Now that the helmet is finished, if there is one thing you could change or do differently, what would it be?
Brosio: Hmm - Can't think of too much I would change. I already stripped it and repainted it once!
TDH: With your helmet finished, what is your next project?
Brosio: My next project is back to painting. I do that full time (and teach) and I have several ideas up and going - I'm glad to be getting more "out there" with my work but you'll see what I mean down the road..
The finished Spirit Hunter helmet:
Click images for a closer view. This helmet will be available for sale via eBay starting Monday, August 27 with 100% of the proceeds going to support Make-A-Wish.
Keep coming back for more Artist Highlights as well as final helmet photos from the As You Wish Helmet Project!