Thursday, January 24, 2013

Spotlight On: Custom Vinylmation Artists Melissa and Brandon

Last year, we introduced you to Melissa French and Brandon Specht. They teach Art Portfolio at Millennium Middle School in Sanford, Florida. They are also Disney fans and Vinylmation collectors. Last school year, they gave an interesting assignment to their students (see it here). This year, they challenged themselves.

Destination Vinylmation: What character did you choose for your first custom and why?
Melissa: I chose a Classic Pluto design with pie-eyes similar to Classic Mickey. (I started this custom long before the Classics Collection was released.) I knew I wanted to do a Disney character but having never done a custom before, I was worried that any character that had too many details would come out sloppy.  I drew up a sketch for Pluto and I loved that he can exude so much personality though his simple features. Although Pluto wasn't a stand out character to me before this custom, he's definitely grown on me and I've started picking up some Pluto Vinylmation when I find them.

Brandon: I chose Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Of course mines a bit different than the 3” Oswald chaser. My version is “Epic Oswald” as he appears in the game Epic Mickey for the Nintendo Wii. The style was a bit different than the classic black & white character. First off, I added some shades of blue similar to how he shows up in the game. In addition, my version is meant to look like the paint is dripping a bit (another throwback to the game).

DV: What was the most challenging part about painting the nine inch? 
M: Although I chose this Pluto for his lack of details, I overlooked where on the figure the designs would be. Having his collar hit where the head meets the body and having the tongue extend from the mouth to the body were both very difficult. I also found the hands to be very difficult. I had a hard time getting the paint to lay properly and not pool in the finger lines.  The best advice I could give is to be patient, let layers dry completely before repainting, and go into it knowing you'll need to do some touch-ups.

B: The weird thing about painting this piece was that it was meant to look a little loose, almost abstract. In some ways it made it tremendously forgiving! On the other hand, it proved a bit difficult to try and mimic things like dripping paint.

DV: You created a custom box for your figure, tell us about the images we see on the box.
M: When I designed my box, I imagined that Classic Pluto was part of a "Pluto" series. I designed a the large Pluto on the back with more modern eyes than the classic Pluto figure. Some of my favorite Pluto moments occur during Christmas specials, so I created a smaller, similar Pluto wrapped in Christmas lights and wearing antlers.  For the background, I tried to create the look of the board and nails in Pluto's doghouse.

B: Again, the box was inspired by the game Epic Mickey. I used similar colors and text. I also continued the dripping paint motif. This time, it was blue paint pouring down the side of a white box. I also added the Epic Mickey logo on the back with a paint brush just below (Mickey’s weapon of choice in the game).  Then I started thinking it would be nice to write something on the back. Melissa and I tossed some ideas back and forth. I can’t remember who thought of it but we eventually decided on “it was all started by a RABBIT (mouse crossed out). I think it showcases Oswald’s somewhat jealous personality in the game.

DV: Any plans on another Vinylmation themed assignment?
M: We are doing the Vinylmation unit this year with some changes. Our students first created a series of Vinylmation based on a theme of their choosing and drew a poster of all the designs in their series. We again did the plush, plaster, and box projects. We are also happy to say that through a generous donation, we have 3 inch Vinylmation for each student to create their own custom in the upcoming weeks!

B:  Honestly I’m not sure why we don’t just change the course to Exploring Art in Vinylmation. Every time I think we just about have our curriculum set, one of us has another idea for a project (usually Melissa).  This year alone we've dabbled in plaster, designer plush, and clay.

DV: How can people keep in touch with you?
M&B: If you’d like to keep up with us, please follow us on Instagram and YouTube
Our Class: @mmsartportfolio
Brandon: @belgiumwaffle
Melissa: @frenchtoast611

On YouTube:
Our Class: MMSArtPorfolio

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