photo by Bill Rhodes
“I encourage everyone to participate joyfully in life’s masquerade.”
Once upon a time Paul Hersey was a mild mannered mainframe programmer who loved to dress up in costume for raves on the weekends. He found a tribe of visionary kindred spirits at the Burning Man Festival, which he attended for more than 10 years. Each summer he would make elaborate costumes for it, learning by trial and error how to make them comfortable, durable and original.
He experimented with many materials and hit on latex as his perfect medium. He used it in a unique way and his “organic” style began to emerge. People started asking him to make costumes for them. His influences come from classic visionary artists like Boris Vallejo and Frank Frazetta, HR Giger and Alex Grey. He also finds inspiration in the ancient cultures of Egypt, India, the Norse and the Celts.
In the mid 2000s the off-shoring of most mainframe jobs put him out of his day job. His wife Jennifer, who comes from an entrepreneurial family, encouraged him to follow his bliss. Organic Armor was born in 2007. Paul has been making amazing things for creative people all over the world ever since.
Organic Armor has been seen in films and music videos, including Lindsey Stirling’s Master of Tides, and Giorgio Serafini’s Don’t Let Me Go, in photographs by John Farrar, Bob Armstrong, Winterwolf Studios and Laura Dark, and on models Hannah Mermaid, Meagan Machine and Evie Wolfe. It’s been featured in magazines: Femme Rebelle, CosCulture, Yallah, and Kultur; and favored by world renowned dancers Jaydee Copperfield, Neon of World Dance New York, and Badia of Sacramento.
Paul and Jennifer run the company together. He is the main designer and fabricator, she does all the marketing, admin and weed pulling. She is also an artist, communitarian and teacher. They live in Asheville, North Carolina, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with their son, cat, dog and six chickens.
In 2015 they began teaching workshops in the unique methods of the Organic Armor Arts through an online course. They are expanded their offering with Horned Headdresses in 2017.
In 2018 Paul had an accident with a falling tree. It forced a semi-retirement. We had to stop accepting commissions, and selling costume pieces online and at festivals. We have continued to sell the courses.
In 2023 we revamped the website at last, with a focus on the courses, moving the hosting to a new platform. We look forward to continue to work with inspired and inspiring students of the Organic Armor Arts.
“I am an artist’s artist. Most of my customers are creative people of one kind or another. I find my aesthetic comrades in underground culture where people make their own worlds.”
Some articles and videos about us from over the years can be found here.