Meet the Maker: Brian Johnson, of Johnson Arms

Johnson arms pic

Brian Johnson first caught our  attention in 2012, walking through our first Mini Maker Faire event carrying a gorgeous steampunk prop.  This year, we’re delighted to welcome Johnson Arms (established 20 76 ) as one of our Makers in our 3rd annual makers festival.  We asked Brian to tell us a bit about his art.

GCMC: What got you interested in making replica arms?

BJ: I always felt the need to customize my toys as a kid and that’s probably where it started! I’ve also always had a passion for painting and drawing, so I think these two interests finally came together with making replicas and props.

GCMC: What are they used for?

BJ: I originally assumed that the props would be used by burgeoning film makers and the replicas would sit on display cases, but it turns out that the majority of my commissions are used for something called “Cosplay”. This is where a folks dress up like their favorite character and they often attend conventions where they can show off their hard work to other event-goers. I help by supplying the iconic accessories and weapons that seem to really add to costume (I hope!)

GCMC: How many different kinds of arms do you make?

BJ: There’s unfortunately not a good answer for that! I’ve done countless projects and they all seem to be different. They range from swords to Steampunk Gatling guns and johnson arms guns

GCMC: Generally how long does it take to make one of your works of artistic weaponry?

BJ: I generally budget 4-6 weeks on larger projects and 3-4 on the smaller ones. This can change, of course, but as a rule these are the figures I quote when someone is trying to coordinate for an event.

GCMC: Will you be demoing your art process?

BJ: What I plan to do is bring pieces that represent the different stages. Because the actually process is horrifically messy, I thought it would be better to present them like a cooking show where they never actually sit for 3 hours while the food cooks! I’ll also bring some 3D printed pieces as well as their finished counter-parts to show what can be done with this cool new technology!

GCMC: What do you enjoy most about your replica work?

BJ: It’s definitely the fact that I get to make something cool out of scrap parts and my imagination. Seeing them come together is really a neat experience and the only bad part is when I have to ship them off to their new owners

GCMC: Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?

BJ: I actually do this full-time now. I did it part-time for about 5 years before deciding it was time to give full-time a try.

GCMC: What do you like about Maker fairs? Why are they important?

BJ: I really love that it’s an event where I can take my kids and they have a blast. There’s just so much to do and it’s all really interesting! I feel like this is important because in a world ruled by the internet, Maker fairs are a place to come out and interact. It’s also a place to share ideas and hopefully spark the imaginations of our younger generation. Hopefully the same people who will some day be making all the cool stuff that I can only dream of today.

Come see Brian Johnson and his awesome weapon props at Gulf Coast MakerCon April 5 & 6!

 

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About Theresa Willingham

A professional writer by trade, I'm currently co-authoring the book, Makerspaces in Libraries , for the series “Library Technology Essentials” (Rowman and Littlefield, 2015). I am the Regional Director for FIRST STEM education programs in Central Florida, and a creative partner at EurekaFactory.NET , which specializes in the development of creative spaces and programming in public libraries and other institutions.
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