Spotlight On: Custom Vinylmation Artist Brian Shapiro

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Destination Vinylmation: Do you ever draw a concept then give up on it because you can’t make it work in 3D? Or do you stick with it and make alterations? 
Brian Shapiro: Luckily, I haven’t had to abandon any designs because I couldn’t adapt them, but you can see I’ve had some challenges that required some sacrifices and compromises to make them work. I will typically redraw a design on paper until I’m happy with it, and I never start painting without a definite understanding of how I want it to look. For example, when I created my Zom-B custom, I wanted to make a zombie, but for some reason I struggled with the facial proportions of the canvas’ head.

Then I came up with the idea of breaking up the face by using the nose as an avulsed eyeball. By painting in a shadow under the muscle attachments of the dangling eyeball, I think I made it look like it literally popped out of its socket.

DV: The Prospector is a very fun looking design. I hear you designed it for a special event? 
Brian: There’s a great group of pin traders in central New Jersey called the Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders or CJDPT for short.

They have monthly evening or afternoon meets, but twice a year they have weekend long events that attract over 150 pin traders from as far as Canada and the west coast! In recent years, Vinylmation trading has become popular at their events, and I have made some very nice vinyl trades with the group’s members. More importantly, I’ve made some great, lasting friendships there too. Last summer, the CJDPT decided to have a trading event in Anaheim during the D23 convention. The event was called Westward Ho! Traditionally, they will raffle off prizes at their events, and I’ve donated customs to use for the raffle. For Westward Ho! I wanted to create something fun in the spirit of the event. I came up with the idea of an
old prospector who travelled west and found pins while prospecting for gold. I painted a grizzled Vinylmation prospector with a gold tooth and a worn hat holding a sifting pan. In the custom made pan, I made a faux gold CJDPT pin from dental acrylic. The pin even had a miniature Mickey rubber back sculpted on it!

Using a model kit and some spare wood shapes, I made a covered wagon with a hidden Mickey logo on the back, and I placed the prospector and the wagon on a custom base made from wood flocked with stone and sand. I also placed a worn wooden plaque on the base with the name of the piece, “There’s Gold in Them There Hills!” In true Disney fashion, I think the set told a complete story.

DV: The details are great… including the hidden Mickey and pin. 
Brian: Thank you! And again, thank you for your interest and generous spotlight of my work!

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.