“Very surprised and very grateful”: fursuit maker Beauty of the Bass talks about a $14,000 sale.
by Patch O'Furr
Previously: Furries support independent art with $14,000 and $15,600 fursuit auctions at The Dealers Den.
A creepy-cute aesthetic
“I prefer to work on scary, creepy, odd, gory and crazy designs,” said UK-based fursuit maker Beauty of the Bass in her recent Dealers Den auction.
Ghatz, the suit shown here, doesn’t belong to the lucky winner — theirs is waiting to start — but this completed work can show why her talent earns a price as high as $14,000.
The Krampus-like aesthetic stands out in a crowd of technicolor fluff. Imagine basking in the spookiness in person, then being chased by this creature through delightfully twisted nightmares. The maker’s vision is detailed in her FAQ that pairs her with compatible clients.
(BotB) — Things I look for in a design and application:
- A well written and thought out application form.
- A clear reference of the character in question with a strong idea of concept and direction the client wishes me to go in.
- On the other hand, I am looking for artistic liberty suits. These will be done on an ‘offer me a price’ basis.
- Interesting, scary, gory, unique, tricky and extravagant designs will have more of a chance to go through.
- I am wanting to do a belly suit, so will be looking for that opportunity!
- WEREWOLVES. MYTHICAL CREATURES. DEMONS.
- Silicone drool, skin and gore effects. This does not require lots of mold making, therefore I am more than happy to do this.
- Willingness to go the extra mile for the extra effects and will be happy to push the boat out with me, as i’m wanting to push myself.
- Unique species, uncommon species and hybrids.
- Mutations, extra parts, double jaws, double faces, scars.
- Long fur accents, manes and mohawks with the NFT fur upgrade.
It’s another example of unique vision seen in a 2017 story: Q&A with Kazul of Kazplay, first place winner for cosplay at Blizzcon. Kazul wanted to create a living illusion for her Hogger suit — to hide the human form and “look like he smelt like a wet, dirty dog” — and be more than a person wearing a rug.
(Kazul) — With all my work I strive to make convincing characters. When I hear people ask “how is it moving like that?” “How is a person inside that?” when I know that I’ve tricked their brain well enough that they can only see what is in front of them as a real creature, that’s when I win.
Vision like this inspires a comment I sent to a contributor working on an upcoming story. It’s about “the technology of the fursona”.
(Me) — I’ve noticed that fursuiting is kind of assumed to be a default for fursonas (even though only a small portion of fans use them) for how photogenic they are. Many artists seem to draw characters more as fursuiters than toons or other. Many suits are tailored to the wearer rather than the wearer adapting their performance to them… and the more they’re cranked out as a standard process, the more they share similar character. Their first material quality is being soft and tactile, above illusions with sound, light, unusual motion etc. Tech can change that. Some makers counter these trends.
Beauty of the Bass responds to a Q&A following the Dealers Den auction.
(BotB): Hey there! First of all, thank you for doing some research! It’s nice to be not asked the same questions this time.
(Dogpatch Press:) How do you feel about such a high priced auction? I see this went for around 3x the price of a usual full suit commission from you.
I’m over the moon! I got quite dizzy and overwhelmed when I saw the price rise to £6,000 within 20 mins of the auction going live. I just couldn’t believe that it was happening. I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure it’s 1000% worth it for them. I’ll be throwing in some extras too. But overall, I’m very surprised and very grateful. I wasn’t able to relax until the deposit was paid!
I really liked looking over your work… the best part is how it takes chances. Do you have a favorite costume you made, or a favorite commission? (Not necessarily the same. Being satisfying and easy could be different from best look.)
Well thank you very much! These past 3 years have been my first 3 years in business. Before that, this was all a hobby. (Not counting 2020 as I have been without a workshop so far! Long story.) So these past years have been a lot of experimenting and figuring out how to best make the costume quality and to look the way I wanted. I went through a phase of making the eyes too big and low down for my liking, the heads got a bit too big as well at some point. So there have been a lot of tweaks made during these years. However, 2019 was certainly the year where I really catapulted myself into a style I’m happy with. I really pushed myself, because of this, I’m at a level where I’m very happy with my current skill level and competence.
Consequently, my favourite projects have come from 2019. My all time fave is the one you point out, Ghatz. They were also an incredible person to work for, so enthusiastic. I felt like they were cheering me on throughout the whole thing!
Your FAQ with “Things I look for” was nicely thought out. I can really see potential for working with clients with a unique character and not just cranking out a generic fox or whatever. Can you say more about creatively collaborating, or has a commission ever gone in an unexpected direction?
Yes, this is because I’m actually looking to deviate from the ‘fursuit’. I’m looking to create costume creatures, animatronics and performance suits. Rather than a generic ‘furry’ vibe. Therefore I will be looking for designs that steer my business into that direction. Glad you like the concept behind it!
As for a commission going in a different direction… no I haven’t had one go like that. They have all been very upfront about what they wanted!
I saw you talk about “scary, creepy, odd, gory and crazy designs”, and Ghatz looks like a Freddy Krueger cartoon dream demon. It makes me ask what influences you to make designs unlike popular cute animals?
They are just what piques my interest. I have always been a scary creature fan. Always drawing dragons and werewolves growing up. Never been a fan of acting cute or drawing cute things… so it’s just my personal interest really! As for coming up with ideas… It’s just stuff from my own head. The biggest inspiration I took was certainly from ‘The Smiler‘, [a roller coaster] for Bass’s colour scheme and markings. But apart from that I tend to give it some good old fashioned thought!
You went to animation school. Is fursuit making your main job now? How does it feel compared to mainstream animation work, and is it something that you have to explain as a job to people who might not take it seriously?
This is my main job yes. I never did animation, I left university and started my own business. I would have hated being stuck behind a screen all day. It does take a loonnggg time to properly explain what I do and who I cater to. I often just say I make full body costumes, werewolves and dragons kinda thing!
Can you talk about the business (besides the craft and art)… like acquiring a workshop, what’s it like to offer your work and put yourself out there and keep on track with supplies and meeting obligations… do you have any thoughts for other artists about making it a career?
Well, the first workshop was offered to me as part of a deal that fell through. So I had it for a few months and then was recommended to the second one. It was a BEAUTIFUL old roof space on the Lincoln high street. Couldn’t have asked for a more perfect place.
The next one, I found by walking around Liverpool on Google street view, and finding numbers for businesses that I could see have a few floors above ground level. It took a while, but I have found myself a fantastic space above a solicitors, above a pub! So as far as finding a workshop goes… you just have to not be afraid to put yourself out there and talk to people.
Being self employed will always come with it’s perks and drawbacks. Self discipline is a must have, and you have to learn a lot of lessons yourself. Instead of someone hovering over you, making sure you are doing things correctly. There is a lot to manage! I’m in charge of PR, Advertising, production, dispatch, sourcing, schedule… list goes on. But I wouldn’t have it any other way, I love being in control.
If I was to part with some wisdom for people looking to start on their own… make sure you have a backup plan. Make sure you have the demand, build it before you dive head first. Take risks of course, but be smart about it. Look after your name, because the reputation of your name is everything, especially in business. You must act professional with your customers, and remember to have respect for those who are interested in your work.
It’s easy to become jaded at some points with work, even with something you love doing. If that happens, try to look at why it’s happening, and try things from a new angle. Add something new into the mix, never stop trying to improve. Keep pushing, don’t get comfortable with your methods or stale.
Has the high priced auction gotten lots of attention, or hate or trolling? Do you have any thoughts about what high prices mean to the fandom?
I actually asked my friends if they had seen any bad reactions from it, as I have seen it happen to other makers. No bad reactions so far! In fact, I have been overwhelmed with the support that I have been getting from comments. A lot of them congratulating with ‘well done’ and ‘you deserve it.’ So I’ve been very very grateful to that as well.
I don’t really concern myself with other makers and their prices, apart from when I was scoping out how much I should be charging. I do struggle to price myself. But mostly, I go off what I feel is comfortable, the feedback, and the demand. Like I said, I need to pick which design will steer my business in the direction I want it to go into. Pricing is part of that. I’m thinking about this as a unique business move, not as a ‘fursuit maker’.
Here’s a few extra questions from readers.
Kattywampus (@Feanyx): I noticed a lot of times, these high-priced auctions are “anything goes”. I wonder if these artists are prepared to deal with things other artists wouldn’t deal with, and if that’s what drives the price. I.e., questionable fetish material, etc.?
It depends what they ask for. I’m open to creating fetish material, especially for the price it went for! I would feel very cheeky declining that. Plus, I’m not bothered by fetish gear in the slightest. There are a few things that I would draw the line at, but I can’t outline them all here. Normally I would most likely decline, unless I really liked the idea. But in this case I would certainly open the options up more.
Renato Santos@Dracontes): Does the amount reached by the winning bid put pressure on the costume maker to provide a service they feel is commensurate with it? How will that affect the artist’s usual commission process?
Not much will change, as I put everything into the costumes I produce. They can have just about anything they want for that price! Within reason of course. I will however be offering to make some extras from them, I will have so see what I can offer! I have already been rethinking my price list in time for reopening, so this has given me a confidence boost really!
Thanks to Beauty of the Bass for talking about her work. Coming up next is a followup with the fursuit buyer.
- “Our way of giving back”: Glitzy Fox talks about buying a gift fursuit from Beauty of the Bass.
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