Life Out There with Faith Roswell

As a Wasteland Warrior, Faith Roswell is no stranger to the European post-apocalyptic scene. But as an established travel blogger, she’s also no stranger to what the rest of the world has to offer.

Faith hails from the UK and may be best known for her blog “Life Out There” which covers her travels all around the world, specifically at events that focus on the post-apocalyptic side of things.

“I’ve always been interested in the end of the world,” Faith tells me, “especially the ways in which people would relate to each other, and over time my style evolved until I looked as though I’d walked out of a Mad Max film.”

Faith’s interest grew deeper as she found herself wanting to learn more and more about real life experiences with this genre. “There are just so many ways the world can end, so many approaches to the genre in films and books, and the fact that it is such a genuine threat makes it fascinating to discuss!

“For a long time, I thought I was the only strange survivalist-type weirdo walking around in giant boots but as soon as I learned about Wasteland Weekend, I decided I’d go the next year no matter what. So that’s what I did in 2016!”

Photo by: Event Master Photography

As a former professional model, Faith knows how to work the camera, as evident by her Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms. She says that she started her blog as a “travelling clothes horse” but soon realized that her large following was more interested in her travel stories than her photoshoots.

“So I started a new blog for my adventures and it grew from there! I now write about my adventures around the world – especially urbex (urban exploring aka looking around abandoned places), covering the ‘how to’ of solo exploring, sharing travel tips and pictures… and have a ‘no yoga poses on a mountain’ guarantee.”

Faith considers herself a professional adventurer now, spending all of her time and energy on her craft. “I travel the world visiting abandoned buildings and vehicles, unusual festivals, hidden sculptures, local legends, and interesting communities – and then I come home and write about them. I’ve filmed documentaries and done some public speaking about my experiences and though I’m usually asked about urbex, I’m also a huge fan of anything postapocalyptic – I’ve visited four countries for major events so far, and I’m planning my fifth for 2018.”

Life Out There has evolved into quite an adventure in itself, spanning the gamut from a beginner’s guide to Wasteland Weekend to a week-long log exploring abandoned prisons in Romania to “a visit to one of Belgium’s most notoriously guarded castles.”

Plus, Faith offers more tips and tricks for those looking to live out a similar adventure, including “a full-disclosure guide to how I travel so cheaply, skills to learn in case of an apocalypse, and my ‘Seven Dubious Wonders of the World.’

“I’m planning some giveaways at the moment,” she continues. “I’ll be giving a notebook just like my own journal away, with personal messages from me, extracts from my travel diary, postcards from current tours, and bonus tips for adventurers! Instructions will be on my Facebook and Instagram pages.”

Back in January, I interviewed Chris and Mika from Rad Roach Gear, who are part of the European Wasteland Warrior scene. Faith is also a member of that elite group of costumers, so I asked her how she got involved. Was there an initiation? Did she have to sacrifice anything?

“I introduced myself in a Wasteland Weekend forum and found an email in my inbox the next day, asking me if I’d like to join the Warriors at Wacken Open Air metal festival, as a prospective member. I already followed the team on social media but it didn’t click that it was THE Wasteland Warriors until more of the team started mailing me and I recognised their profile pictures.

“Wacken was my first major music festival and I hadn’t thought to check the line-up. I was on a nine-hour bus journey when I thought I should probably do that. When I saw Iron Maiden, Ministry, Steel Panther, and Twisted Sister listed, my screech woke up half the bus. Whoops…”

Faith also had her first go at cage fighting at Wacken – an experience I’m sure she won’t soon forget. “I was ridiculously nervous but I was fighting against friends and we’re all super supportive of each other – and I happened to win my first one! You’ll definitely see more of my character “The Deathhawk” in the cage…”

Faith’s current ventures have taken her all over the world as she strives to see each and every abandoned corner that lacks the love from mainstream blogs.

“I got to experience Junktown for the first time. It’s a postapocalyptic festival in the Czech Republic. The climate and atmosphere is very different to Wasteland Weekend and I love both! Junktown is based around an abandoned military base with bunkers and permanent structures built by the tribes, which they work on and revisit throughout the year! It’s definitely worth a visit, especially to certain places in the grounds which are home to some very interesting and elaborate legends about the ‘new world.'”

“I visited two ‘free’ communities – Christiania in Denmark and Slab City in California – before heading back to the Mojave for Wasteland Weekend 2017… but you’ll have to visit my blog to see what happened there!”

As for her next adventure, she says that it will be a bit closer to home. “I’m doing a cyberpunk tour of London, and then I’m planning my travels for next year. It’s going to be even more action-packed than this one and might possibly include two new countries for me to explore.”

Photo by: So Say We All Photography

As I often like to do with these interviews, I had to ask about any advice for those looking to share a similar experience as Faith’s. Since her expertise spans both blogging and costuming, I figured that this would be a good time to get some wise words on both topics.

“Costuming is always a work in progress; I don’t think a single person I know feels their outfit is 100% finished! It will evolve over time. Watch videos on Youtube; Nuclear Snail is excellent and many of the Wasteland Warriors members have their own channels for costuming. Pinterest is full of ideas… and the Wasteland advice is: ‘needs more dirt!’ If you think your outfit is weathered enough, it probably still needs more dirt.

“For bloggers, find a niche and then consistently fill that market. It can take time to build a following which can be really disheartening. Sometimes it feels as though nobody is looking at or caring about what you do but you have to stick with it if it’s your passion!”

Exploring the German Postapo Scene: An Interview with Rad Roach Gear

Photo by Freitag Fotografie

If you’ve been following the current post-apocalyptic costuming and LARP trends, you may have noticed that the European scene is some serious business. No, really… they don’t mess around. Most notably is what’s going with the more hardcore events like Oldtown, Bunker Springs, Fate, Resistopia, and more. Germany has risen as a hub for the very best of this scene, in my opinion, and a couple of the recent stars to shine are Chris and Mika from Rad Roach Gear.

Photo Credit: Moritz Jendral

These two started the business in 2015 after attending their first post-apocalyptic LARP. “I came up with the name because i wanted it to sound interesting,” Chris told me. “And yet convey the message of something that is tough and has a relation to the trash we use to build some of our gear, while not sounding boring and standard.”

Being a huge fan of the Fallout series, I just had to ask if the name was inspired by the game’s squishy, mutated enemies, but Chris assures me that it’s only partially the case. “Rad is slang for radical but also means radioactive, so it comes in pretty handy. And as radroaches convey the feeling for me, we agreed to name our project Rad Roach Gear. So yep, it’s based on Fallout… kind of.”

But it’s where Rad Roach Gear has gone in such a short time that is most impressive, mostly proven by the photos in the gallery below. “Although it started with building LARP equipment, it quickly evolved into much more,” Mika said. “By now we have built show outfits, props, weapon props, decorations, and artsy shit in general. With RRG we take the freedom to create not only post-apocalyptic gear, but also stuff influenced by other genres like horror, dystopia, tribal, etc.”

Photo Credit: Moritz Jendral

In that short period of time, Rad Roach has developed a distinct style that American costumers like our previous interviewee, Larry Hastings of Vulture Production, cites as an influence. “Man, I should have made up a fancy and cool word by now,” Chris joked about naming their style. “But to keep it simple, I would describe my style as ‘art that you can wear.’ Although when I build props or decorations, I’d just say it’s ‘art.'”

Mika, on the other hand, does have a word for her style: “Fancy-shmancy raiderswag.” We couldn’t agree more.

And while it may be a lot of work for the two, Rad Roach Gear is not their full-time job. Mika is currently dividing her time among university study, work, and crafting while Chris has another job. “Building post-apocalyptic props is not really a thing that can make you a living because there is basically no market for it — even less so here in Germany. I studied Graphic Design for two and a half years, and after that i worked as a painter and decorator. But to be honest that doesn’t really matter as people who build postapo kits can come from any background whatsoever. You have lawyers, construction workers, chefs, students, etc. Basically, anyone who loves the genre can join and be creative.”

Chris’ graphic design background did help with the interpretation of his vision for RRG projects, but he cites tabletop gaming and painting miniatures as an early inspiration for what colors to use and learning how shadows work on a real 3D model.

Photo Credit: Traumerloren

Mika has always been interested in art and has several outlets for her creativity. “Next to costumes, I create a lot of jewelry, synthetic dreads, and anything else that comes into my mind,” she said. “For example, I sewed a harness last year.”

Although her post-apocalyptic work is quite amazing, she says that it’s a general direction for her that can lead to other ideas. “It can be influenced by sci-fi, tribal, military, haute couture, and much more. I’d love to do some dystopian/dark futurestuff sometime.”

You can’t just throw some random shit together and call it a post-apocalyptic outfit.

But it’s the improvements to her techniques that Mika hopes to use on these new projects. “I’ve learned different techniques to weather different materials and I’ve learned to find the proper order for the single steps while creating an outfit. But I still tend to get carried away with sewing and end up thinking, ‘Shit! You should have weathered the fabric first…’ Also, I had to learn that good things take time and that quality goes over quantity… and to not force a creative process (at least not too much!) Mistakes were made!”

Chris, however, approaches his technique from a different angle. “To be perfectly honest, my techniques really did not change that much, but I learned that you need to be patient and that a proper kit requires time and preparation. You can’t just throw some random shit together and call it a post-apocalyptic outfit. Of course, I learned to apply different techniques more properly over time, but that’s just the natural development when you learn a new skill.

“Nowadays I draw most of my inspiration from people in the community building awesome gear,” he continued. “To namedrop just a few, Aesthetic Apocalypse, Radioactive Armory, Wasteland Pirate, or Dust Monkey for example. Also the usual influences like movies or games — basically anything that makes me go, “Wow, now that’s cool. Let’s try to build something similar!”

Photo Credit: Micha Beckers

Mika finds most of her inspiration from fashion, be it extravagant haute couture, fetish gear, or even sci-fi costumes. But she says that there’s also an equal part from tribal and native cultures, as well as ancient religions. “Honestly, I feel this question is hard to answer because I, too, have the philosophy of ‘That looks cool, I’m gonna make my own version of it!'”

Mika and Chris are proud members of an elite group of European post-apocalyptic costumers known as the Wasteland Warriors. Chris describes the group as more of a German/International post-apocalyptic act. “We met the Wasteland Warriors at the Roleplay Convention in Cologne in 2016,” he recalls. “After that we became members and met a lot of awesome and talented people. A highlight was working at the world’s biggest metal festival, Wacken 2016, with them as part of a booked walking act. It was hard work but lots of fun!”

Since Rad Roach Gear was started, the two have created several props, accessories, and full costumes. Chris says that his favorite kit would have to be his Wasteland Warrior Riot Gear that’s based on an actual chest protector from the ’80s. “Over the last year i added tons of cool stuff to it and I kept the pieces modular so i can interchange equipment. Last summer i realized that my head got sunburned so i added a hood, for example. The process of building gear is a continous development. In Germany we have the saying, ‘Your gear is NEVER finished!'”

Photo Credit: Rad Roach Gear

“I have the feeling that I always like my latest stuff the most,” Mika adds. “I get tired quickly by my own stuff. But if I had to name something that I like the best it would be my Motocross helmet and my plateau boots, because in combination they give you strange proportions and make you look creepy! A few things i am working on right now seem to turn out pretty decent, so stay tuned.”

Completely intrigued, I asked about those current projects. Just what are Mika and Chris working on? “I am working on a postapo tribal/voodoo/bellydancing outfit with an elaborate headpiece and some basic stuff for a few LARP events in 2017. I have tons of unfinished smaller stuff like masks, jewelry, or gloves in my room, so these things are finished spontaniously. I often create things that aren’t postapo-related at all like dreamcatchers, decorations out of bones, dreadjewelry, etc.”

“I’m working on a mutant costume for an upcoming LARP event in May 2017,” Chris added. “Also, I’m experimenting with casting real animal skulls in resin so you can use them with gear more easily. Other than that, there are tons of different small ideas I am working on: hats, gloves, an acidthrower prop, goggles, different modded Nerf guns, a vest and a jacket just to name a few.”

Chris says that his process involves taking a step back and refocusing when he runs out of ideas. This helps him regain energy and try something different. “I don’t believe forcing creativity works when you’re shooting for the best result.”

Photo Credit: Freitag Fotografie

This advice directly carries over to those looking to get into the hobby for the first time. Whether you’re an established artist looking to branch out into costumes or a veteran costumer looking to get into the distressed and weathered post-nuclear side of things, it’s all about trial and error. “Don’t try to be perfect at your first try,” Mika advises. “I like the creation of postapo-style clothing because it unites many levels of different crafting types. You are going to have to sew, to age, to design, to screw, and to collect and use materials you never used before. It takes time to become familiar with it. So take your time but don’t settle for mediocrity.

“You have the chance to build something amazing out of scratch and are only limited to your imagination, so please don’t settle for mediocrity. This way your clothing can reflect who you are as a person and an artist and you’re never gonna want to take it off!”

Photo Credit: Traumverloren

Another important tip from Mika is about comfort. “Try to make your clothing as wearable as possible. Even if that means you have to wear parts of it for a few hours in your room. Nothing sucks more than spending a tremendous amount of time on an outfit you don’t wanna wear.”

Chris agrees, adding that you should always start small and not overthink what you’re trying to make. “Be prepared to scrap entire projects because you realized that what you had in mind doesn’t work. If that happens, take a step back, disassemble what you built and start new. The good thing when building postapo stuff is that you can’t really fuck it up by destroying your piece. The more you destroy it, the better it will look if you reassemble it because any scratch and hole you made can be repaired and makes your work more believable.

“Start small to save money. Develop your own style. Crafting props isn’t something that can be done one way only, and what may work for others may not work for you!”

Another piece of helpful advice from Chris comes in the form of the old time/money/quality triangle that service professionals and craftsman have been reciting to their customers for years. “You can’t have all three,” he points out. “If there is little time or money, then quality will suffer. The more time and/or money that is available to the project, the higher the quality can be. This theory perfectly applies to building your own postapo gear. If you search for good materials at fleamarkets and yard sales, it will take time. If you dont want to spend this time you will need to spend money for a quality build.

“And for the love of all that is high and mighty, weather and distress your gear! And don’t be afraid to destroy something! The destruction of perfectly good items is part of building postapo gear. A lot of beginners have a fear of ripping apart ‘that new jacket they bought,’ just to end up with a jacket that looks only halfway done. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty! Immersing yourself into a post-apocalytic atmosphere only works when your gear looks old and used, so do not just throw on some fetish gear and assless chaps. A bit of dust is not enough weathering to look like proper post-apocalyptic gear, at least in my opinion.”

Be sure to check out the work of Chris and Mika at the Rad Roach Gear Facebook page and support their art by throwing a like their way.

Next up we have an interview with Deadbeard Props, so look for that one coming next week!

Mouse over gallery images below for photo credits. Header image by Freitag Fotografie.

Interview with a Raider: Larry Hastings of Vulture Productions

What was once left to Hollywood pioneers like John Mollo, Tom Savini, and the late Dick Smith has now taken on a new life of its own in recent years. Propmaking and cosplay is enjoying an amazing new level of respect in modern pop culture thanks mostly to resources like YouTube, social media, and our desire to work with our hands again.

The majority of propmaking and costuming seems to focus on two main topics (high fantasy and video games), but we’re more interested in those that specialize in the post-apocalyptic sub-genre. From Nuclear Snail‘s now-infamous weathering technique of dragging a leather jacket behind a car to the plethora of Fallout weapons made from resin casting, post-apocalyptic propmaking has gained a solid foothold in the industry.

So for this inaugural interview, I sat down with Larry Hastings of Vulture Productions to talk about his inspirations and what got him started in the post-apocalyptic costuming game.

“I originally got started in prop making by constructing my own mandalorian costume,” Larry told me. “After a while I felt the need to branch out and try some other things. Not knowing where to go, I stumbled upon some post-apocalyptic costumes on Google one day and figured I’d give that a shot.”
But it was the German scene that really affected Larry the most. The Wasteland Warriors group has a style that Larry saw as more advanced than anything he’d seen before. “Their costumes are extremely detailed and everything is busy with just the right amount of rest areas in between,” he said.

It’s that German style that Larry still draws from today, with the German Wasteland Warriors even learning from his style. “That’s insanely amazing to me,” he tells me. “They’re the reason I started doing this to begin with. It’s an honor to hear that. It’s like I pulled inspiration from them and now they do it from me. Everyone helps everyone with what they make.”

But Larry’s style wasn’t always so detailed and inspiration, he confesses. “Like most people I started off using dirt. Now for my weathering I use paints, dyes, and a ton of other things — sometimes even rust powders.”

Larry describes his first piece as “a mess” compared to what he has now, although it’s something he can’t part with. “I don’t keep it around because I don’t think I couldn’t get rid of/sell it, but to remind me of the progress I’ve made in the past few years… which has definitely been evident.”

And it’s that progress that Larry is most proud of, although he admits that he doesn’t currently have a definitively favorite piece. He is, however, proud of a set of heavy armor he built from real steel, leather, and durable plastics. It’s a set that was inspired by one of the Wasteland Warriors and has become his latest signature costume. “Thus came my honor Vulture gear,” he described. “The one with the big gun I carry. God, I love that whole outfit, although most of the armor pieces can be used for other costumes.”

Larry and the Vultures

With that peer inspiration comes other forms, mostly from Fallout 4. “When I can’t figure anything custom to build, I play Fallout… like, a lot. So I built my heavy cage armor from Fallout 4.” Other inspirations include historical references, like those of World War I. “Currently I’m working on a trench soldier wasteland costume. I’ve always been in love with the trench warfare look and I figured it’d be awesome to mix that with wasteland costumes.”

Larry and the rest of the Vultures (a group of friends and fellow costumers who make up Vulture Productions) were recently hand-picked to help with the Southeastern Commonwealth movie being filmed in Florida. The Vultures packed up their best gear and braved the 13.5-hour trek from Ohio to the Sunshine State to help with props, costumes, and even a bit of acting.

“Everything about that trip was kick ass, except the 13.5-hour drive,” Larry joked. “But no sooner than we arrived in Florida we were put in a hotel then Frank (Bowen, creator and actor on the indie film) was going to his workshop to finish up some things. As dreary and sleep-deprived as I was, there was no way in hell I was gonna skip that. So needless to say for the first two days I was up 35 hours. Just pure excitement.”

Larry and Frank met during a photoshoot for Fallout costumers at Dragon Con this last September. The Southeastern Commonwealth webseries is set in the Fallout universe, based on the collection of states in the American Southeast known by the same name. The first episode, “Will to Power,” was released late last year with Larry and his crew being featured in the second episode. “We worked on a lot of stuff and shared stories and had some good times,” Larry recalls. “The filming was insanely fun, also! There was some damn good times down there and more will be had soon as no sooner than we finished the filming we were already talking about an episode three! So keep an eye out for that as well.”

Larry with the Vultures and Frank Bowen at the 2016 Dragon Con Fallout photoshoot.

While Larry is currently at the top of his game, he says that he wouldn’t mind going professional with it, although it’s not a hard and fast goal. “I’m not really attempting to make anything out of what I have. I have, however, met an amazing group of people. There’s Steve, Danny, Nikki, Frank, Josh, Nathaniel and so many more people than I know I’m forgetting to mention. But I love all those guys (and gals). Maybe in the next few years I’ll meet more people like them. That’s all I could ask for, however I wouldn’t be upset if I got offered a job to make costumes for movies, shows or just general costume production. That’d be pretty awesome also.”

In closing, I asked Larry what advice he’d give to those looking to get into this field. Thanks to helpful YouTube tutorials, propmaking is more accessible than ever, but Larry believes that it still comes down to hard work and plenty of practice. “It’s a learning process,” he admits. “Like most things you aren’t going to do the best just starting out; you have to commit the time and energy to it. Many a time I’ve bashed my head trying to figure out how to make this and that fit together and also look good, so you just have to stick with it. Find what makes you happy and make it post-apoc. Don’t listen to anyone who throws your ideas down, you can literally make almost anything fit into the genre so long as you apply the time and effort. Look for inspiration, talk to people who inspire you.”

And most importantly, don’t be intimidated by the big leather-and-spike-clad Wastelanders who dominate this hobby. While Larry describes himself as a “post-apocalyptic, town raidin’, whiskey drinking, cigarette smoking, irradiated wasteland badass” on his Facebook profile, he’s a genuinely good guy. “You’d be amazed how many of us are fun and friendly people who just love to talk about our work with fans. Just keep at it!”

I’d like to thank Larry Hastings for the interview and encourage you to check out his work at Vulture Productions as well as on The Southeastern Commonwealth webseries. If you have a post-apocalyptic propmaker you’d like to see featured here, shoot me an email and let me know!

Next up on the interview agenda is Mark Cordory of Mark Cordory Creations! Look for that interview coming soon!