A guest contribution by Michael Magnus.
When H.P. Lovecraft said “one can never produce anything as terrible and impressive as one can awesomely hint about”, he’d never met Samuel Lee.
Samuel Lee of Prince Armory recently created a suit of leather armor inspired by the stories of H.P. Lovecraft. Upon first glance, the suit is somewhat awe inspiring, however it becomes even more impressive when you begin to pay attention to the intricate details.
Over the last 15 years, Lee has gained significant acclaim, having his work featured on television, in commercials, and on Broadway. Most recently, he was commissioned to create a tangible version of the Warrior class’ armor in Dark Avengers 3 to be used in their promotions and commercials. Each suit that Lee designs are one-of-a-kind and custom-made, with some suits selling for $15,000 or more.
Lee developed an entrepreneurial streak at a young age. While other kids had lemonade stands, he had a woodworking stand, selling swords and birdhouses he constructed in his dad’s garage. This evolved into foam construction when LARPing in high school, and then started dabbling with a beginner’s kit from Tandy Leather after admiring the armor at the renaissance fairs. For the most part, Lee is self taught.
“When I started over 15 years ago, we didn’t have resources like YouTube that beginners have today,” Lee said. “Most of what I learned was through trial and error, which honestly is one of the best teachers I’ve had because you learn why some things work and why other things don’t.”
Although Lee aspires to one day focus on creating high fantasy armor concepts for the film industry, the majority of his current work is creating custom orders for clients who want something unique. Recently, Prince Armory was approached by a customer requesting a “Lovecraft inspired” suit of armor, but gave Lee some freedom to develop the concepts. Although not as well-versed the Lovecraftian lore, Lee said he’s always appreciated the style and aesthetic of the genre.
“Lovecraft inspired this dark, sinister, and other worldly theme that’s pervasive in our culture,” said Lee. “His influences are seen in everything from pirate shows to anime to art, and everything in between.”
He began this project by researching references and finding inspiration from other artists renditions of the Lovecraftian genre. While some artists do elaborate sketches before they begin, Lee’s process is a little bit more organic.
“I don’t really like working from concept drawings,” said Lee. “I can either spend an hour of creativity on a design in the beginning that I’m then locked into, or I can spend weeks of creativity developing and evolving the concept as I go along.”
Whatever his process is, I’d say it works. This suit of armor is stunning.
In the Spring of 2019, Price Armory launched the Prince Armory Academy for those wanting to learn leathercraft. Although your first project may not impress the Great Old Ones, these in-depth leatherworking tutorials are a great place to get started.
Michael Magnus is a digital advertising lecturer, consultant, and freelancer based in North Texas. When not teaching or with his family, Magnus promotes the art of leatherworking as a recreational leathercraft historian and content creator with the Elktracks Studio.