Walter White mask signed by Bryan Cranston got bids north of $40,000 on eBay. Eric Peterson
Landon Meier's masks of Ron Jeremy, Mike Tyson and babies. Eric Peterson
Landon Meier of Hyperflesh in the Art District on Santa Fe creates masks of various characters and people. Eric Peterson
's super-realistic, signed mask of Breaking Bad
's Walter White (a.k.a. Heisenberg) attracted bids north of $40,000 after the series' critically acclaimed finale. The Art Distict on Santa Fe
-based Landon Meier tells us when latex and silicon masks cross the boundary and become art.
After graduating from Colorado State University
in 1999, Landon Meier moved away from painting and started making masks as Hyperflesh
His trademark latex baby masks, ultra-realistic and oversized to fit adult-sized heads, are the stuff bad dreams are made of. "I like mixing and matching reality," he says. "An adult walking around in a giant baby head is a nightmarish experience."
"I've always been into special effects, the horror genre and masks," he adds. "I like weird, creepy shit."
Going viral with Sheen, babies
Based in a studio in the Art District on Santa Fe since summer 2012 after a decade working in his basement, Meier has since sold more than 500 baby masks, most of them the original crying bestseller but also numerous disgusted and happy counterparts. They go for $350 and he has a six-month backlog. Forget getting one this Halloween -- unless you want to shell out big bucks on eBay.
And lately Meier has become a hot product in Hollywood. He made a similarly realistic Charlie Sheen silicon mask in 2011 in the middle of Charlie's infamous meltdown -- "when he was going nuts," says Meier.
Comedy Central bought one for Sheen's roast. "They never used it," says Meier. "But it got me a lot of publicity. People went crazy for it." (He's sold nine to date for up to $5,000. Sheen has one)
Later in 2011 a video featuring his baby mask went viral and millions of New Yorkers saw a Mets fan wearing one on TV. Hyperflesh sales boomed in New York.
This year Meier again struck viral gold when Bryan Cranston wore a mask of himself as Breaking Bad's Heisenberg at Comic-Con at San Diego. Cranston's assistant contacted Meier about a First Friday picture on Instagram and Meier loaned him the mask, which was a big hit at the press conference for the final episodes of Breaking Bad.
Cranston subsequently brought the mask on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Colbert Report, The Late Show with David Letterman and Live with Kelly and Michael.
The night after the finale, Meier closed an eBay auction on that very mask, signed by Cranston, with several bids that were north of $40,000. (He was still sorting through the "bullshitters" at press time.) He gave one to Cranston and has sold others for $2,500 to $5,000. He's got a couple more he will sell on eBay before Halloween.
Walter White was a natural for Hyperflesh. "I love the character and I love the show," says Meier.
A Jesse mask?
"Aaron Paul has sort of contacted me through Bryan Cranston's assistant and tweeted about it. He really wants me to make a mask of him."
Step off, Pinkman.
"My next one is probably going to be Stephen Colbert," he says. "I've already done Breaking Bad."
He's also done Mike Tyson and Ron Jeremy. "I make masks I'd love to wear," says Meier. "I would like to think I'm making art. Some people have a hard time getting that. 'It's just a mask!'"
As for the Breaking Bad finale, Meier says he liked it, but he would have preferred a bit more Sopranos-style ambiguity. "If Walt would have just looked at the meth equipment, then fade out -- you don't know what happens," he says.
See Landon Meier and Hyperflesh this First Friday (Oct. 4) at the Colorado Arts Center, 841 Santa Fe Dr.
Eric is a Denver-based tech writer and guidebook wiz. Contact him here