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Check out these ultra-realistic masks of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Mark Zuckerberg that cost $20,000 a piece and a month to make

A picture of actors wearing realistic masks of Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and others.Actors wearing realistic masks of Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and others at an event this month in New York.

Trey Hicks/PROOF.

  • Landon Meier is the artist behind realistic masks of tech figures like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.
  • The digital artist Beeple showed the masks at an event this month during the NFT conference in New York.
  • Meier told Insider that each original mask cost $20,000, and took a month or more to make.

Revelers during the NFT conference in New York this month were treated to the surreal vision of an unlikely group of entertainers. It seemed the likes of Andy Warhol, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had all at once taken the spotlight together.

But it was an illusion made possible thanks to a set of highly detailed — and expensive — silicone masks.

The digital artist Mike Winkelmann, known as Beeple, was behind the spectacle, in which actors donned ultra-realistic masks of the controversial figures during NFT NYC 2023, at a satellite event organized by PROOF, an online network of digital art collectors.

The masks themselves were made by Denver, Colorado-based artist Landon Meier, who meticulously crafts the life-like visages, Beeple tweeted

The idea of a collaboration between Meier and Beeple had been simmering a while, and kicked off in late 2021, when Meier made Beeple an Andy Warhol mask, the mask-maker told Insider. Beeple did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment ahead of publication.

Meier said he then spent pretty much all of last year working on more than a dozen masks for Beeple, crafting the likenesses of figures in the tech zeitgeist including Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos.    

He charged $20,000 for the first mask he made of each figure, and somewhere in the range of $7,000 to $15,000 for copies of masks for which he’d already created the mold, he said.  

The cost may speak to the labor and time-intensive artistic process behind Meier’s creations. A brand new mask can take a month or more to complete, a process in which Meier researches reference photos, creates designs using the graphic program “ZBrush,” and then 3-D prints a mold. 

Meier also pigments the silicone material for the masks, fine-tuning the opacity and color to create the look of realistic flesh and skin texture, he said. 

Then there’s the hair, which Meier said is made out of higher-end synthetic fiber that he works in with tools like felting needles, and often styles with a hot iron. For Elon Musk’s signature undercut do, Meier said he even brought in a professional hairstylist to help recreate it.  

A photo of a mask of Elon Musk, made by Landon Meier for Beeple.A mask of Elon Musk, made by Landon Meier for Beeple.

Landon Meier.

“It inevitably becomes ‘uncanny valley,'” Meier said, referring to the phenomenon of experiencing an unsettling simulation of reality. “It looks real, but something’s off — it becomes very, very disturbing.”  

The masks can be a little bigger than actual heads, lending another bizarre element to the theater of it all, he said. For an actor wearing it, the experience can also be intense on multiple levels, Meier said — the response of beholders, and the encumbrance it can impose on breathing and vision. 

“You become a celebrity and get insane amounts of attention, but the masks themselves are very hot,” he said. “You’re gonna sweat your ass off, but they’re so much fun to wear, it’s worth it.” 

Beeple, whose digital art piece “Everydays: The First 5000 Days,” sold for almost $70 million in 2021, tweeted about the masks this month, saying he’d been planning to deploy them as what he called “living sculptures.”

—beeple (@beeple) April 15, 2023

 

“I think Beeple is an incredible artist who has created an avenue to share his art,” said Cameron Bale, co-founder and producer of NFT NYC. “I think art has always been a way for people to express their commentary on these things.”

Read the original article on Business Insider
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