Bill Doran (@Chinbeard) is a replica props and model builder based in Seattle. He has turned his hobbies — playing video games and attending conventions — into his profession by serving a niche community who need high quality props and weapons as an part of their cosplay.
This conversation focuses on how Bill creates his pieces using very hands-on techniques and tools, and how built his online customer base from mostly in-person interactions.
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Show Notes & Links
An example of Bill’s YouTube videos, where he brings some how-to direct to your screen.
- Bill’s job title is “Intergalactic Arms Dealer”, specialises in video game weaponry
- Bill is not the traditional Hollywood-style prop maker
- Bill is more of a commissioned artist, working B-to-C
- DragonCon and Pax Prime, two of the bigger costuming conventions
- Master Chief Armor, plus a Rocket Launcher
- Wizards of The Coast in Seattle commissioned some gauntlet trophies
- Bill is very practical in his approach to building, but studied CAD/CAM surface modeling
- Almost everything Bill does is “Mixed Media”
- Cloud Sword from Final Fantasy VII
- Absurdist Japanese Cartoons
- Bill’s video channel on YouTube, discusses techniques and Cosplay/Maker Communities
- “Networking events” take on a different meaning for Bill. Everyone is in a big crazy costume!
“Networking should just be called 'meeting people'”
- Black Framed Glasses are the costume of the graphic design profession
- Mass Effect, and its guns
- Destiny, features very ornate guns
- Dr. Pizza
- Halo, and the rifle
- A Beginner’s Guide to Making Mind Blowing Props by Bill Doran on Amazon
- Historical Costumed Adventure Hikes
- The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson on Amazon
- Bill Doran on Twitter
- Bill Doran on Facebook
- Bill Doran on Instagram
- Bill Doran on YouTube
- Scroll Saw
- Band Saw
- Laser Cutter, basically a fancy scroll saw
- 3D Printers, but not the half-million-dollar ones
- PVC tubes
- Adhesives and Epoxies
- Foam, a lightweight replacement for metal
- Google Spreadsheet
- Adobe Illustrator
- Artistic Effects like washes, glazes, patinas
- Go to conventions to meet people (aka network). Costumes attract attention and start conversations
- Be systematic about your schedule. Fill your commissions and book your upcoming time.
- Get reference numerous images for your projects before starting
- Do business with real names, not internet aliases
- Work out every day
- Use mornings for productivity
- Check email at lunch
- Work until the wife gets home (then have dinner and relax)
- Always take the advice that comes from a seasoned expert (at least try the recommendations)
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