Spotlight On: Vinylmation Custom Artist Joe

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We here at DV are huge video game fans, so we were excited when Vinylmaiton Custom artist Joe got in touch with us. Joe, a huge video game fan himself, focuses on video game characters for his designs. Joe, who resides in Pennsylvania, recently talked to us about himself as an artist and his new 9” Bioshock Sander Cohen figure.

Destinaiton Vinylmation: Besides Vinylmation, what other art forms are you into?

Joe: I have been painting with acrylics on canvas since I was about 12.  Haven’t put my paint brush down yet… I’m 28.  I also enjoy making custom hand painted/sculpted action figures.  I focus on a making video game characters from games that I’ve come to love.  I also collect vinyl art figures, original paintings, and way too many action figures!

DV: What other Vinylmation customs have you created?

Joe: I have only created a few Vinylmation customs so far, but plan on making plenty in the future, especially video game based vinyl.  So far I have made a 3″ NES Nintendo controller and 3″ Shadow of the Colossus vinyl.  The 9″ Sander Cohen was my first in that scale.

DV: That Sander custom really caught our eye here at DV. I like the use of the whole canvas to convey different representations from the game. 

On his website, Joe described in his own words some of the features of the 9” Bioshock Sander Cohen:

I used only a pencil and acrylic paints, no stencils or shortcuts.  He is by far my favorite villian from Bioshock, so I wanted to point out some of his features I gave him that are also seen in the game.

His right ear is the symbol for the “Incinerate” plasmid.  Basically gives him fire at his fingertips to defeat foes.  His left ear represents the “Houdini” plasmid, which helps him to teleport short distances.

I painted his face in a skin tone, then went over it many times with mostly subtle shades of white and grey.

I wanted to emphasize the flower on his jacket lapel, so I made it bigger than it should be.

For the back of his head, I painted a wooden bunny mask.  Many references to bunny masks in the game, including his symbolic poem about not being able to take his off.  Confetti surrounds his mask to represent the confetti falling when you first lay eyes on Sander Cohen in Bioshock.

Also wanted it to be possible to turn his head around and make it look as though he’s wearing the mask.

His back focuses on a mannequin (really a person forcefully covered in plaster) holding an empty picture frame on a stage. The mannequin was part of Sander’s work of art which he called his “Quadtych”.  It featured multiple mannequins holding picture frames that you had to fill as part of a mission in the game.

DV: How long did it take you to create Sander Cohen?

Joe: Lots of research, planning and painting went into creating Sander Cohen.  I wanted to include many of the aspects of his character from the game Bioshock in the vinyl.  I would say overall it took about 25-30 hours start to finish.

Concept Sketch
Concept Sketch

DV: What do you enjoy about creating art on the Vinylmation shape?

Joe: Creating art on Vinylmation is a lot of fun for me because Disney is deeply rooted in my childhood.  I loved watching the Disney movies as a kid, and being able to create artwork in the shape of Mickey now is awesome!  Painting on CYO Vinylmation is easy and enjoyable for me due to the soft smooth finish of the blank figures.  I will mostly stay true to the Mickey shape, but once in a while I might chop an ear off or add to his shape with sculpting apoxy.  A hair dryer and a sharp knife go a long way with soft vinyl!    

DV: Looking at your work, you’re obviously a huge video game fan.  What are some of your favorite video games?

Joe: Talk about deep roots!  My parents bought a Nintendo for my brother and I when I was about 5, so I love a lot of the 8-bit titles like Mario Bros. 3, Double Dragon, Wizards and Warriors, Jackal, Operation Wolf…the list could go on for another page.  And don’t get me started on all of the quarters I pumped into boardwalk arcades at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware!  The huge arcade cabinets for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and X-Men drew me in, and in turn started me in my action figure collecting!

DV: What games are you playing the most right now?

Joe: Right now I am playing the newest Mortal Kombat for 360.  Got the arcade stick and all!  Toasty!    

DV: What video game characters will we see next in Vinylmation form from Joe?

Joe: I am planning on working on more Bioshock themed Vinylmation.  At least one more 9″ and a possible full set of 3 inchers (chaser included).  Other than Bioshock, I’d love to create characters from the days of the original Nintendo.  Maybe even make them look overly pixelated.  Planning on making vinyls from Mario, Donkey Kong Country, Double Dragon.  I am also more than likely going to work on 9/3″ sets of game characters.

DV: Joe, we appreciate your time and look forward to seeing those old school Nintendo customs. Stay in touch. Please visit Joe’s blog to see more of his Vinylmation customs as well as his other creations.

About the author

Nick LoCicero

Nick LoCicero has almost 20 years experience in the media industry. He has worked on numerous Disney related media projects, most know at WDWNT for WDW News Tonight. He has been visiting Walt Disney World since 1982. After moving to Orlando in the late 90's he became a passholder, developed a fascination with the history of the vacation kingdom and has spent way too much money on park merchandise.