Why Make an Iron Man Suit? A 16-Year Old Artist's Story...

Why Make an Iron Man Suit? A 16-Year Old Artist's Story...


By Jackson P. Laverman


My first suit of armor started with foam camping mats held together with twine and painted black.

Needless to say, it looked ridiculous. But that’s where it started. My journey toward Iron Man happened after looking at the costumes other people had made, in particular armor from the Halo videogame series. I scoured the internet looking for ways to build a suit, and found a community called the 405th Infantry Division at 405th.com. There I found designs, methods, and tutorials to create a suit of armor.

Pictured above: Jackson Laverman's computer screen shows the 2D designs he had to work with for the project.


I completed a helmet, but due to my lack of experience, it had its (many) problems. I even started a full set of Halo armor, but indefinitely postponed it as soon as I saw the “Iron Man 2” trailer.

I had a new goal: Iron Man.

I started planning for the project in mid-December of 2009. Iron Man 2 released on May 7, 2010, and I wanted to wear the suit to my local theater on opening day. I found the designs online—designed by many different people who submitted their work to several online communities; I myself did not create any of the designs.


Then I began the long process of Pepakura and fiberglassing an entire suit of armor. Pepakura is a method by which 3D models are converted into a 2D pattern that is printed out on cardstock, then cut out and glued together into a 3D form.

Needless to say, it is a very time-consuming and tedious process, one that takes a considerable amount of determination to finish. My family complained about bits of paper confetti littering the house.

Pictured above: My pepakura Iron Man Helmet got people talking on Facebook.

Pictured above: The proud Iron Man suit builder with his work in progress.

Pictured above: Pepakura work... DONE. NEED FIBERGLASS.


About mid-March is when things really started moving and taking shape. My parents started worrying about my sanity when I asked for resin and an alien-sounding substance known as Bondo. So I took my mom with me to an auto parts store to purchase Bondo body filler and resin. As a sophomore in high school, I was very busy. This, coupled with my inexperience, led to a few rushed final components roughly two weeks before opening day


Pictured above: The Bondo coated paper helmet. Time to sand and paint.

Pictured above: From paper to iron. Jackson's Iron Man Helmet is complete.


Wearing the suit at the Shiloh 14 Cinemas was truly a rewarding experience. I mostly posed in pictures with people and interviewed with the Billings Gazette. People seemed to really like it. It was a wonderful feeling when I saw the surprise and wonder in people’s eyes as they looked at me, a “real” Iron Man standing in front of them—and the little kids totally freaked out and begged their parents to get a picture. 

It was a freeing experience as well. Admittedly, I am a self-conscious person, but when wearing a mask and bringing joy to people without them knowing who I was, all those inhibitions vanished. Two other venues I attended: I visited my younger brother’s elementary school wearing the suit and educated the kids about the process of making the suit; and I appeared at a kid’s birthday party. My regret is that I did not have the opportunity due to my schedule to participate in any charity events (as was my intention). 


If someone were to ask me what I would have done differently, my first reaction would be that I should have been more careful making the suit. But on second thought, I don’t think that I would have done anything different in the whole process.

Many people have made far better suits that completely blow mine out of the water. I applaud them. I love seeing other people using their gifts and talents to create something awesome. I did what I could with the experience and tools I had at my disposal.

This was about a sixteen-year-old guy learning, growing, developing, and realizing that if he truly wanted something, he could achieve it through hard work and perseverance. He learned about the design process on a project and saw it through from beginning to end. He learned that it did not matter if people said that he wasted four hundred hours of his life, he completed something profound that gave personal satisfaction and momentary joy to many people. In hindsight, it was never about the suit---it was about the guy inside it.

--Jackson Laverman

If you want MORE on me, visit my FB PAGE.

Also...  check out more awesome documentaries by filmmaker,  Jay 'JR' Friesen at RED FUTON FILMS.

All my pictures, written work, and Iron Man costume are created by Jackson Laverman. Also, I don't own the character Iron Man (Don't wanna get sued).


MORE Iron Man Stuff from Stan Winston School:


THE FIRST IRON MAN SUIT: Making the Mark I 'Cave Escape' Suit



Pictured above: Jackson created this suit of armor for a local Shakespeare Festival.

Pictured above: Jackson's other creations include this Commander Shepard Armor from N7 - Mass Effect 2.

Pictured above: When it's shot correctly, this suit is a DEAD RINGER for the real thing.

More IRON MAN STUFF from Stan Winston School:

Making of the Mark I "Cave Escape" Suit
Real Iron Man Suit. Real Performance. Creating the Mark III