What is Organic Armor?
Organic Armor is a versatile method of constructing costumes and props using a combination of latex rubber, fiber, and acrylic. It was invented by Paul Hersey in the early 2000s. He has continued to refine and develop it, opening the studio and business in 2007. Now semi-retired, he made wearable art for creative clients all over the world for more than a decade.
In 2015 Paul and his wife Jennifer began teaching other artists how to use these methods and materials. An international community of artists is currently engaged in expanding the possibilities of the artform.
QUALITIES OF ORGANIC ARMOR
- It looks like metal, leather, bone or other natural materials but it is lightweight and comfortable.
- It’s flexible and durable – bounces back if you accidentally sit on it. You can pack in a suitcase without worrying.
- It lasts for many years. Fifteen year old armor that has been to Burning Man mutiple times still looks great.
- It’s lightweight. The Cleopatra headdress in this photo weighs less than 3 pounds.
- You can dance all night without getting a neck ache and spin around without poking anyone!
- It’s easy to care for – wipe off with a damp rag.
See examples of Organic Armor in the galleries.
“We make our pieces look great but they also feel great. You don’t have to suffer for fantastic style!”
More questions? See our FAQ here.
Who are Paul & Jen?
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 and Organic Armor was born in 2007.
Their work 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. They co-teach the courses and workshops. She is also an artist, communitarian and teacher. They live in Asheville, North Carolina, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with their teenage son, two cats, a dog and six chickens.
“I encourage everyone to participate joyfully in life’s masquerade.”
Some articles and videos about us from over the years can be found here.