As a child Chad Taylor enjoyed learning from his father how to work with his hands and the satisfaction of knowing that a job was done well.
As an adult, Taylor’s ability to work skillfully with his hands became a passion that could be combined with another great passion of his — creative, innovative art through graphic designs.
Taylor’s talent to turn art into 3D images, props and costumes is the kind of artistry worthy of wearing to Comic-Con conventions as well as commercial and theatrical performances.
From cool comic book superheroes and villains to awesome animated and sci-fi characters — you name it and Taylor can make it. His company, Incognito, Costumes and Props is creating some of the hottest attractions for costume events, art collectors and stage productions in the region.
“When I first got into this, it was a personal endeavor to have my own collection of Star Wars costumes,” said Taylor who admits Boba Fett, the bounty hunter chasing Han Solo in the original Star Wars, was one of his favorites.
“That’s where it started. When I was a kid watching the Star Wars films — that’s what really got me going. I thought it was really, really cool. I think I started out as a kid being mesmerized by the films. It was all real to me. Then I learned about the miniature sets and what it takes behind the scenes to make everything. It was still real — still tangibly real — and that really appealed to me. So I decided that’s what I want to do — replicate the same stuff for everyone else.”
Taylor and his professional team recently gave an inside look at what it takes to handcraft a do-it-yourself, or DYI, kit by building Iron Man live online. The Walker Valley High School graduate who turns 27 in June, said the majority of his clients are Comic-Con convention goers. In 2013, more than 120,000 costume clad comic fans attended Comic-Con over four days.
With newer events like the Annual Superhero Half Marathon and Relay on May 18 in Morristown, N.J., Taylor may find his business booming with new customers who are interested in his expertise. He said demand for his specialty props and costumes vary from county to county and across the country.
“In the Cleveland area it’s generally personal collections — pieces people have been looking for and unable to find or no one is making and it’s way out of their budget,” Taylor explained. “They’ll come to me and ask if I can design it for them. As far as the nation goes, I find that the majority of my products are based on whatever hit movie is out.
“Iron Man has been a really good one. I’ve done a lot of Thor stuff and a lot of The Avengers. Those are really huge franchises that people love. They have a lot of products you can buy, but they don’t have certain specifics. So people will contact me. Mostly it’s people who cosplay (short for costume play) and dress up for conventions. They can’t make the costumes themselves so they need someone to make it for them.”
According to Taylor, his wife, Joanna, is the professional makeup artist on the team and is very supportive, even dressing in costumes and attending conventions with him.
“She’s kind of like my sidekick. We go to the Comic-Con conventions together. She always dresses up and has a blast! She creates some of the outfits, too!” he said.
Since Comic-Con is about celebrating art and imagination with people who share the same passion for that art, Taylor’s talents are ideal for his growing customer base. But his aspirations for exploring and improving graphic designs and learning more about special effects is a burning desire without creative limits.
Taylor, who said he is very excited about the new Star Wars movie due out in 2015, admits he would jump at the chance to work with Industrial Light and Magic, the special effects company founded by Star Wars creator George Lucas.
“Eventually I want to be in film work. That’s like my dream — to do film work,” he stated. “Recently, since the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy came out, Weta Workshop, based out of New Zealand, is pretty much my dream company to work for. Just the quality and craftsmanship that they have — they really are in a whole other league compared to the majority of production teams. They’re in a whole other bracket.”
Working as a 3-D designer and owner of a company on the cutting-edge of the latest technology in 3-D printing, Taylor and his team at Incognito use a revolutionary machine that produces an item, layer by layer, similar to a glue gun, until their sketches becomes three-dimensional objects.
“Anything we create or sculpt in the computer using Zbrush, Autodesk 3DS Max, Blender — using any of those 3-D items — we can create, build and print out on our 3-D printer,” said Taylor, who has taken a quantum leap into 3-D designs since his childhood days of sketching cartoons.
“I was into “(Teenage Mutant) Ninja Turtles,” “Star Wars,” “X-Men” and “Spider-Man” cartoons, but I didn’t really understand the comic books,” he said. “It wasn’t until I was an adult that I really got into the comics and saw a whole different side of it. Once he started researching how to create his own costumes in 2005, Taylor said he found websites that taught him about special effects when using specific materials.
“Then I found certain clubs and organizations that help one another. At the time it was new to everybody! Once I got into it and started going to conventions everybody loved my work. Then I started selling the pieces I made and once I learned that people would buy the things I made I thought, ‘I keep going to school for other stuff and for other trades, but people keep coming back to buy my creations. So, eventually I made it a full-time business and started selling the costumes and props I made.
“I grew up with a very mechanical childhood. Through my father, I learned a lot. I can be underneath the hood of a car one day — on top of a roof the next working on a building or I can be sculpting a tree the next. So really, I can do anything electronically, mechanically or cosmetically. I love working with my hands.”
In this world there comes a time when children and adults want to look and act like superheroes. That time is usually at a Comic-Con convention. But when that time arrives, it is Chad Taylor, the man behind the masks, behind the costumes, that just may be the person with the company to bring the superhero, supervillain or the super sci-fi character out of you in the nick of time.
For further information about Incognito, Costumes and Props, visit Facebook or call 865-315-7767. There will be an Open House on June 13 at 1 p.m. at 3325 Davy Crockett Drive N.E. in Cleveland.