Making Art Out of Records with Colton Tran of TransylVinyl & Broken Vinyl Record Art

Posted by Billyjam, September 24, 2012 10:49am | Post a Comment
People buy records from Amoeba for more than one reason. While most record collectors buy vinyl to spin it on their home turntables or perhaps out at DJ gigs, and some simply to add directly to the shelves of their prized collections, there are others who buy albums from Amoeba for aesthetic reasons. These are mostly the folks who will buy vinyl strictly for art's sake: buying LPs simply for their wonderful cover art - regardless of the music  contained within the record's grooves. And then there is Amoeba Hollywood regular Colton Tran who literally makes art out of his Amoeba vinyl finds. This the mixed media artist does not in the traditional Steinski cut-and-paste type approach of sampling sound bytes off records and transforming them into new pieces of collage audio art. Rather the prolific independent artist/filmmaker makes art directly out of the actual vinyl that he cops on his regular trips to the SoCal Amoeba's bargain bins, and takes home to his studio to painstakingly transform into pieces of art like his “Jason” titled & inspired piece above (48" by 36" in size) which was made out of all vinyl: ten black vinyl 12" records plus four red colored 12" records to create the blood effect. Recently I caught up with Coltron to ask him what exactly goes into creating his art, getting the right records, who the market for his pieces (which sell from $50 to $500) are, and also about his in-the-works feature length project Gloom.

Amoeblog:  Rob Galluzzo from Amoeba Hollywood was into your work before I heard of you and wrote about your art on the wonderful Icons of Fright website where he called it "horror art."  He was referring to specific pieces but is that a fair tag of your overall work or is "Broken Vinyl Record Art," as I have seen written on your site, more how you describe your medium?

Colton Tran: When I saw the title "Horror Art" I was a little worried, cause I didn't want people thinking that horror is strictly what I do. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge horror fan, but I want my art to be diverse. I want to be able to create anything that inspires me and not be tied to a certain genre. So to answer the question, I feel that "Broken Vinyl Record Art" is a more accurate way of describing my art. My first couple of pieces were definitely inspired by some of my favorite horror films (Scream, Jaws, Trick 'r Treat) so I understand why Rob only thought it was horror.

Amoeblog: For those you have never seen your work up close can you describe what goes into creating these pieces?

Colton Tran: In this case, I feel that seeing is definitely believing. When people first see the photos, they can't completely grasp how it's all made from broken records. So when I have someone interested in commissioning a piece from me, I try to find a way to expose them to an actual piece. What goes into creating these pieces? Hmm... well, I have described creating these as being similar to a jigsaw puzzle. I start every piece by being inspired by a character or film. Then I just start creating, nothing is planned... eventually it just comes together and becomes a full image on its own.

Amoeblog: How did you come to chose to work with vinyl for your art?

Colton Tran: I first started working with vinyl a couple months after moving to California. I had been wanting some artwork in the apartment, but couldn't find anything that fit my tone. So my friend Laura and I went to find art on Venice beach and saw a bowl made out of vinyl record. That is when I decided that I was going to create my own art for the apartment. We ventured over to Amoeba and bought maybe 6 vinyl records. My original idea was to keep them whole and create "Ghostface" from Scream somehow... then out of nowhere I had the urge to break them and piece together a image. That is when I finished my first piece... the iconic Ghostface.

Amoeblog: When did you first start doing your art and how many pieces (approx) have you made over that time period?

Colton Tran: I first started doing my record art at the end of February. Since then I have created 12 broken record pieces! Here is a list of the pieces so far: Ghostface, Jaws, Sam (from Trick 'r Treat), Alien Abduction, Hello Kitty, Grateful Dead, Jack Skellington, Mini Jack Skelllington, Jason Voorhees, Alien original poster, Alfred Hitchcock and Jurassic Park. I have 4 new pieces that I am really stoked about! The four classic Universal movie monsters.

Amoeblog: What kind of collectors buy your art and do you often get special requests from folks?

Colton Tran: There's a variety of different collectors that purchase my art. The most popular group interested in my art are usually involved in the film/music industry, also Horror fans respond well to my work as well. Yes, I get special requests all of the time, but I only create the pieces that I feel connected to. My agent at Paradigm actually sent a special request, so that is when I created one of my favorite film directors... Mr. Hitchcock.  Alfred was the first human I had created out of record... I loved that challenge.

  How important is the record label on the vinyl to you in your crate digging?

Colton Tran: Ha! Crate digging... I can smell it right now (Mmm the muskiness :/). The labels are actually pretty important to me. I like using records that have darker labels, but it all depends on the piece. Some call for more of a specific color, so I will have to search more thoroughly. I like to leave a full record on every piece that I do, so I will spend more money on a specific artist that I like. My "Ghostface" piece actually has a full Britney Spears record on it. She's my secret obsession... we'll not so secret anymore. Oops.

Amoeblog: What do you like about Amoeba for vinyl finding and what's the typical amount you will spend on records there?

Colton Tran: I love the atmosphere that Amoeba provides. One time when I was digging through records for about a half an hour and there was a live band playing! Where else can you experience something like that?! Typically I will end up spending about $24 - 30 bucks on records with every visit. Sometimes more if I need to buy some colored vinyl.

Amoeblog: Do you only buy 12" records from Amoeba or do you ever buy 7" or other sizes - or even those heavy, easily breakable old 78 records?

Colton Tran: Usually I only purchase the 12" records, especially if I am creating a large piece. It would take way to many of the 7" records to fill the canvas! Sometime I will purchase 7" records if they have a really cool design or color that I need. If I can find the old 78 records I snag em pretty quick. They are definitely a lot easier to break!

Amoeblog: Is there a correlation between your record art and your filmmaking?

Colton Tran: I feel that there is a direct correlation between my record art and my filmmaking. I have always been very interested in art and just creating in general. I started directing and editing films at the age of 12.  As a kid most of my films were Horror, so that's when that whole obsession began. I feel that my record art is a way for me to express my love for specific films and characters that have inspired me throughout my life. My most recent films have been heavily inspired by German Expressionism, i'm a huge Tim Burton fan.  Even though no one will know, I want to start making some record pieces of my own movie posters and characters. That would be really fulfilling for me.

Amoeblog: Can you tell me about your film Gloom and any other upcoming movie projects you have in the works?

Colton Tran: I would love to tell you about our latest film Gloom. My crew and I actually flew into Utah this week to start filming! The film style for Gloom is German Expressionistic, which consists of working with a lot of shadows, bright colors, sharp angles, contrast, & forced perspective.  As a filmmaker I really want to bring back the old school film style to modern audiences, especially the younger generation. I would like them to experience films that aren't jam packed with CGI. I want to create films that bring back the practical effects such as; miniatures, distorted practical sets, puppets & practical monsters and creatures that can actually interact with the actors. That is our goal with Gloom, to give audiences a ride through an whimsically eerie, dark fantasy world. Gloom will have a similar feel to my last film Monstrosity. Check out the trailer to see the feel and tone of my filmmaking. Regarding my upcoming projects, I have several in the works! One that comes to mind is a feature film based off of my short film 4.

Colton Tran is currently pulling resources together to open an exhibit later this year. For more on visit and or via the TransylVinyl + Broken Record Vinyl Art Facebook page, and be sure to check out his latest directors reel clip below.


Relevant Tags

Broken Vinyl Record Art (1), Transylvinyl (1), Vinyl As Art (2), Record Collecting (23), Amoeba Hollywood (876), Colton Tran (2), Horror Art (1)