ARTIST FOCUS: VINCENT VERNACATOLA
Vincent burst onto the art scene with a fantastic series of video game character sketches about a year ago, now he’s here to tell you more about what he’s been up to since, his recent work, and most importantly, his love for video games and comics.
Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? Where do you live now?
My name is Vincent Vernacatola, and I’m from Berlin Connecticut. I actually moved to Florida when I was younger for 4-5 years before coming back to CT where I currently live.
What is your day job?
I have actually been working from home doing commissions, prints and a ton of other stuff for the past year. It’s been going great so far and I couldn’t ask for anything better. Most of the time, it’s my cats and I just hanging out and drawing all day. They’re probably the best roommates a guy can ask for.
What got you interested in art? What’s your “origin story”?
I’ve been drawing ever since I can remember. Growing up, I always doodled in the back of the classroom during lectures. Somehow I passed all of my classes though! There wasn’t a single assignment that didn’t have some sort of weird doodle on the back. I’ve been a big fan of the Star Wars movies since I was a little guy. Watching all the different aliens and creatures walking around really inspired me to create my own group of critters. I was huge into comics and cartoons as well. I have fond memories of my brother and I sitting down watching the X-Men cartoon for hours.
What influences your artwork?
I think comics mostly influence my work. I always had a stack of comics somewhere in my room. Even now, I have a huge pile stacked right under my computer monitor. I think my main influence would be Star Wars and movies like Pan’s Labyrinth. Seeing my creatures come to life has always been a dream of mine, so seeing a monster from another person’s imagination is really inspiring.
What medium do you typically use when creating your art?
When I went to college, I always loved acrylic and watercolor paints. Once I graduated and started working from home, I quickly realized that I can’t keep wet paint around with my cats wandering about. Painted cat paws constantly showed up on my work space and paints. I ended up returning to the method of drawing that I grew up with, a pencil and paper. My work now is all done with a mechanical pencil on standard computer paper. The sketches are scanned into Adobe Photoshop to color. I’m happy to say that I haven’t had any problems with painted cat paws since.
How would you describe your style?
Messy. Very, very messy. I like to keep everything sketchy so there isn’t as much pressure to make things perfect. If I draw a line that isn’t quite right, or make a mistake, I always leave them in the final image. Seeing all of the pencil lines (right or wrong) in the final drawing really brings me back to the moment I was creating it.
Your artwork spans across video games, TV, movies, and comics. How do you decide which characters you’re going to work on next?
When I first started practicing on Photoshop and my tablet, I instantly jumped to comic book characters. Drawing them helped me get used to the program until I felt more comfortable with everything. Most of the stuff I draw are things that I grew up with. Even the people who come to me for commissions have very similar interests as I do, which makes creating a piece for them that much more exciting. When I find myself with some free time, I always return to drawing monsters like I did during classes.
Tell us about your current projects. What are you working on? Any upcoming shows?
I just finished up a commission of Sora from Kingdom Hearts. There is a list of characters that are on my plate right now. Wonder Woman and Noctis (from Final Fantasy XV) will probably be the next ones out. There may even be a few Naruto characters coming soon. I actually had two art shows on Saturday (August 24th) in Middletown and Hamden, CT. It was a wild day, but somehow I survived. Both were amazing shows!
Do you have a favorite video game series?
Ever since I was little, my brothers and I would always play the Final Fantasy series together. I remember when my older brother came home with the SNES cartridge of Final Fantasy II (FFIV) for the first time. I instantly fell in love. I’ve also been a huge fan of the Elder Scrolls series. We would set up two TVs next to each other and play Morrowind until the sun rose. Surprisingly, I also loved playing Mortal Kombat growing up. That was easily my favorite arcade machine back in the day. The crowds of people surrounding the machine, and the “oohs” and “aahs” that came from them when someone pulled off a fatality is stuck in my mind forever.
What is the best art advice you have ever received?
I think the best advice that I have received was from my teacher, Vladimir Shpitalnik. He helped me understand warm and cool colors and how to utilize them in my drawings. He once told me to use as many colors as possible in a texture to make it come to life. He is, hands down, the best teacher that I could have asked for in college.
What do you like to do for fun?
I like to listen to music or support my friends and their bands. There are tons of great band shows going on in New Haven, CT. You can probably find me hanging out with them every once and a while. When I feel like being a total vegetable at home, I’m probably glued to the TV watching shows. I’m currently hooked on Breaking Bad and can’t wait to see how it all ends!
Are you playing any video games currently? Any upcoming titles that you are excited about?
My video gaming has been a little slow lately, but I’m definitely excited to play Final Fantasy XIV. I’ve always had a soft spot for MMO games, so this is a combination of my two favorite things. Elder Scrolls Online looks like it can be loads of fun as well. It’s going to be hard to choose which one to stick with in the end.
If you could be any character from video games or comics, who would it be?
I’ve actually had this conversation with someone recently. I sat there for a while and it came down to having the power to teleport. If I didn’t get cursed with blue skin and chased around with torches and pitchforks, I would love to be Nightcrawler. The idea of teleporting all around the world would be amazing. Saving money on packing and shipping prints would be a pretty nice bonus too.
What is your most memorable video game experience?
Oh that is a tough question. There are so many moments that blew my mind. If I had to pick, I think it would have to be when I was playing Resident Evil: Code Veronica for Dreamcast. There is a part where you’re walking around an arctic base and zombies are trapped in the ice. Of course, I knew once I picked up the key at the other end of the room, the zombies were going to burst out of the ice and attack, so I prepared myself mentally. As soon as the zombies crashed through the ice, a bird flew into my window. There was a huge bang at my window and a shadow moving behind my curtain. I was completely terrified!
If you could be a dinosaur with any super power, which would you choose and why?
I would definitely be a velociraptor that can survive in any temperature and live forever. I would also need the ability to talk I think. That way I could be alive today and tell everyone about how the world once was. I would bring all the dino drama and gossip with me as well. I’m sure I would have had some pesky dinosaur neighbors that I would need to rant about millions of years later.
Interested in staying up to date with what Vincent is working on? Be sure to follow him on Tumblr for all his latest work. Also, check him out on Facebook, DeviantArt, and his Society6 shop!