I first learned of the talented designer/fabricator Shari Finn by watching Samantha Swords, the closest thing our world has to a real-life Brienne of Tarth. Ms. Swords, a/k/a Samantha E. Catto-Mott, is an artist who also happens to be a championship swordfighter, with her specialty being medieval European combat styles of the sort you'd see in Game of Thrones. Here's Swords discussing the unique and functional armor she wears:
Swords names Finn, who works for Weta Workshop as a sort of modelmaker extraordinaire. Remember the exoskeletons in Elysium? That was Finn. So were the weapons in District 9, the "venom tray" in the most recent Spider-Man, the masks and props in Mad Max: Fury Road.
Enter a caption (optional) Shari Finn Shari Finn Shari Finn
And on the side, Finn creates functional, medieval-style armor for women like Swords', which reminds us of the U.S. military's efforts to find female-specific body armor.
Enter a caption (optional) Enter a caption (optional) Enter a caption (optional) Enter a caption (optional)
You're undoubtedly wondering how Finn wound up in such a unique line of work, which involves a lot of the same skills of a hands-on industrial designer. Finn reveals that she was drawn to production design and special effects from a young age; while most of us watched Indiana Jones as kids and were swept away by the movie, Finn was struck by the environments depicted in the film. "I realized that it was a set, that it was 'fake' and that someone must have made it," she says. "That there was someone whose job it was to fool the audience into believing it was real. I loved it…. I was left with this feeling that I wanted to be there adding muck and grime and cobwebs and making it look real."
Here's Finn explaining how she progressed from art school student to designing props on Avatar:
"What tip would you give," Finn was asked in an interview, "to someone who wants a job like yours?" Here's her answer:
"Stick to what you're passionate about. Go hard at what comes easily. There are many good schools, but it doesn't really matter what you've studied. If you're really passionate and the skill shines through, you'll make it. I spent six years studying and when I entered the industry I realised I was about at the same level as those who had spent all their time building model kits."