To celebrate the start of the most terrifying #SPOOKYSZN in living history, VICE asked a few of our favorite artists and photographers to create costumes based on prompts forged from the depths of our brains. Armed with nothing but $25 and their own wild imaginations, the artists were tasked with building cheap Halloween costumes and sharing their scary good savings tips. Supported by GEICO.
This year Halloween falls on a weekend. It’s bound to be memorable. With safety as a priority, many of us will be enjoying the holiday from the comfort of our own homes. Photos of you in your costume will be at a premium. So we enlisted some help.
Jazmin Jones is a multidisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn. While preparing for virtual Halloween gatherings is new terrain, Jones sees it as an opportunity to focus on developing every detail of her costume. As someone fascinated by the post-Internet era, she took to her prompt (“monochrome”) effortlessly, creating not only a totally cool cyborg costume but her own world—all for under $25. We talked to Jones about how she went about creating her look on the cheap.
What is your favorite Halloween memory?
I secretly love watching the Disney Channel original movie, Halloweentown. “Halloween is cool.”
What is your favorite costume you’ve ever worn? Least favorite?
Favorite costume was dressing up as an Oompa Loompa from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The orange skin, green hair, and white overalls is such a look! It was disappointing when I realized that the Oompa Loompas were essentially slaves. So I guess it’s my least favorite costume as well.
Tell us about your prompt and how you approached the costume you came up with:
I decided to make a cyborg costume because I’m an e-girl at heart and a product of the post-internet era. I spend a lot of time considering how technology influences human behavior, for better or worse, and throughout the pandemic I’ve relied on my devices to maintain a sense of connection with the world. For this look, I wanted to be half-human, half-cyborg. Not only would it give the effect of a machine coming undone, but it’d also be cheaper to only cover one side of my body.
What was your initial reaction to the prompt?
Every year, I try to pull off a last minute halloween costume for less than $25. So this prompt was perfectly aligned with my way of being!
How would you describe your costume?
Cyborg; Afrofuturistic robot realness; A bionic baddie unraveling at the seams.
What was your inspiration for your costume?
Last year I met Onyx Ashanti, a musician, performer, and programmer who 3D prints wearable prosthetics that translate his body motions into synthesized sound. Simply put, Onyx is a real life cyborg whose work I deeply admire. When I was creating this look, I thought a lot about the electronics and cords that are beautifully integrated into his body.
Additionally, I have to shout out all of the cosplayers who share their workflows for robot costumes online.
What was your inspiration for your backdrop?
I wanted to give an e-girl vibe. I’m also in a relatively empty apartment for the time being. I figured that using the screens of my TV and laptop could help create a futuristic backdrop.
What were the steps to making your costume?
My goal was to make the side of my face and hand look like an exposed motherboard, so I was collecting small trinkets that I later applied with eyelash glue. In the electronics section of my local thrift store, I found this USB port for $3.98, which I deconstructed for parts. As it turns out, motherboards are near indestructible, so my partner Yeelen Cohen helped me break it in half with brute force.
I thrifted these dad-on-vacation type sunglasses for a $1, covered the lenses in tape, and spray painted the frames silver to match my outfit. I wanted them to look like a cooler take on the computerized Google Glass glasses, so I embellished them with stickers, motherboard bits, and attached some silver shells with green paper clips.
I cut the bottom out of several red cups and painted them silver, which I used to create my hair accessory and arm panel. I taped the bottoms of the cups, which were also painted silver, to my elbow and shoulder to look like robotic arm joints.
I spray painted some press-on acrylics silver, taped the motherboard to the back of my hand, and connected bendy wire from the motherboard to the tip of the nails. I used the thin silver duct tape to secure the wire to the nail, which made the acrylics even more secure.
How did you make your backdrop?
I wanted to make a backdrop that would be cute for a digital halloween party, since I plan to quarantine this year. I just moved into this apartment, so I didn’t have a lot of physical materials to work with, which made lighting critical. Yeelen helped me take the photos, and they positioned me below a porch light for the closeups.
Inside, I tried to make a portal of screens using a big flatscreen hooked up to my laptop. I turned on mirrored displays, sat in front of the flat screen, opened Photo Booth, and voila! I was sitting beside a digital version of myself. My partner took some photos through this orange stool we have, which added another dimension to the location.
How did you use the $25 budget?
Things I had at home:
- Silver accessories (chains, hoops)
- Silver top and skirt
- Eyelash glue
- Synthetic hair
- Silver eyeshadow
- Bendy colored wires
- Red cups
Things I got at a craft store:
- Silver duct tape $4.59
- Thin silver tape $3
- Silver string $2
- Silver spray paint $7
- Silver glitter $2.50
Things I thrifted:
- USB port (for motherboard parts) $3.98
- Sunglasses $1
- Star garland (.75)
Any additional savings tips for DIY costume makers?
Stay home! Party online! Save money that you would spend on drinks and door fees and keep it safe. Donate to your friends’ crowdfunding campaigns instead.
If you stay home, you won’t have to worry about buying expensive clothes or shoes! You won’t even have to wear pants! People will only see you from the neck up, so you can focus on elements like hair and makeup to make a strong visual impact.
Supported by GEICO.