A conversation with Scheed Cole

This week we interview the multi-talented Scheed Cole, Owner Prop and More Limited/Scheed International.  A son of the inner city, Scheed Cole, inventor, painter, sculptor, ceramist, graphic artist, interior decorator, set designer, video editor, animator and fabricator, has been an Art Educator since 1997. He has been mastering fine arts for the past 17 years and has been creating props for the past 10 years. Scheed was first recognized as a fine arts sculptor having had few exhibitions and having been commissioned to create sculptures for both public and residential areas.

How did you get started doing props in Jamaica?
The first time doing props as for my own productions, this came out of a play that was written and directed by myself. A snake was used as one of the props, also a gun with a triggering mechanism, retractable wings for angels, battle armors and weapons and a throne that breathed fire. Of course the set for the play was also designed and done by myself and the crew.

How did you get interested in doing this?
I have a great love for Sculpting, because it pulls on my knowledge of form and finishing with realism.

Did you get any formal education to do this?
I have not gotten formal training but I was trained to dispense the methodology rather than the skills, these I had gathered on my own.

What was your first prop job?
Digicel needed a big Pharaohs’ Head at the Mass Camp for Bacchanal in four days, It was done and they continued to call for my services through main Events and other companies also started asking for larger than life props and I realized I could make a business out of it.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to material to make props in Jamaica?
Of course most of the more specialized materials cannot be sourced here in Jamaica and I have only two options in this situation, to increase the cost of the job to facilitate importation or source other materials at home. The good thing about this is that I have an extensive understanding of a wide range of materials that can be found at home in Jamaica. And over the years I have experience using foam, fiberglass, paper, metal, clay, and plaster. But with more specialized materials manufacturing would be more efficient and less complicated.

Where do you get most of your materials? Abroad or in Jamaica?
The majority of my materials are bought here in Jamaica.

Where do you draw your inspiration for new projects?
A lot of research on what other countries are doing, brainstorming sessions with my team, and a reservoir of information on how materials are used in dynamic ways, to add to the attraction value of the props. I have a knack for problem solving, integrating different elements and coming up with concept solutions.

What has been the most fun project?
Every project is like a new drama series, with its ups and downs, working night and day to reach impossible deadlines. The team driving themselves beyond human limits, it could be a reality show to watch us work. But the really large props going 13 or 34 feet high or so got me really excited.

To date what project are you proudest of and why?
My aim is to travel in the footsteps of the great who built great monuments in the past and captured the identity of the people. Therefore the larger the scale the more accomplished I feel. The mountain I did for Matterhorn though Creative Media and Events is undoubtably the largest, a single unique prop of its kind locally and I believe regionally as well. It raises 34ft high and 40feet wide.

What has been the most challenging project to date?
The Helshire/Naggo’s Head restoration and renovation project. It involved the development of a large area which comprised different structures, and required specific design and project management skills for each element, also the managing of huge workforce, handing logistics, use of various materials while working under extreme timelines.

What exciting projects are you working on?
I can’t disclose, most of the work we do are like that, top secret until revealed. One of our most recent work is the set for Kenea Linton –Gordon’s Mission Catwalk, now showing on Television Jamaica on Tuesdays at 8:30pm.  I can say however that we are also developing concepts for our second set for the fourth season of The Ity and Fancy Cat Show.

Are creating any props for Jamaica’s Carnival?
We worked on two booths for the Carnival and we have been creating booths and Props for the Carnival since 2005.

What is your most famous work so far?
The Tiki Mask Entrance to the Digicel booth at the Jazz and Blues Festival 2007. 

Any advice for those who want to go into prop design?
If you believe you command a good knowledge of the anatomy and the study of the nature of things, if your are keen to detail, and enjoy creating super realistic images, and one of your specialized area is sculpting, then it is possible to embark on such a journey. Meeting deadlines can be very stressful but the pleasure of handing over the finished product makes it all worthwhile.

You are an inspiration to many as you came out of the inner city in Kingston. Please tell us how that has helped you in your career?
All experiences are a life lesson, being forced at an early age to do work at a high level of perfection, even though it was at the time physical abuse, it has served me well in having a perfectionist attitude towards my work. I have learnt the heart of patience, making do with what I have, to help me to be resourceful, and coming up with solutions, for artistic problems. Being left alone in the inner-city to fend for myself has taught me independence, and survival skills that have been beneficial in my entrepreneurial pursuits. Many more areas of my life can be attributed to the struggles I have been though to reach where I am today.

Thanks for the interview. Any closing words?
Self actualization can make you of great use to society, as well as yourself, your family and all extended relations. If everyone strives to be the best they can be with the gifts they have been given from God before they were born, they will live much more accomplished and happier lives. The most rewarding thing about being alive, is not merely existing, but to add value through sharing what you have been given, either through training which is the dissemination of information, technical skills or knowledge acquired by yourself over a period of time. Mentoring, this is to surrendering yourself to the service of mankind by offering guidance, and motivation toward the upliftment of an individual. And to be an example for the next generation to follow, through your personal accomplishments values and standards that will positively perpetuate humanity. I see myself as part of the solution, a small piece in the puzzle, to save as many as possible, through my God given gifting, and to call others to do the same.

About the author

Xavier Murphy